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Looking for Rattlecan Advice

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Legattabass, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. Legattabass


    Oct 21, 2010
    Hello Luthiers,

    I was never much of a painter (outside of paint cans and rollers) but have been told "rattlecan" finishes are a newb-friendly way to paint a guitar. Would anyone be willing to offer advice on rattlecan finishes? I've seen many threads which contain bits of info about the process, but usually they just offer links to reranch without much explanation of what to use or why.

    I will post pics after I start, and maybe this thread can serve as a more comprehensive guide for new folks like me.

    So, on to my plans. I'd like to spray paint a sanded pawn-shop affinity P body (sanded so the poly remains but is currently a matte) a nice grass green (or a similar color).

    Major questions include:

    1. What qualities in a paint should I look for or avoid? Enamel? Lacquer? Acryllic? I know very little about any of these terms so any advice or information is appreciated!

    2. Do I need a primer and if so, what brand/type should I purchase?

    3. What safety equipment or considerations do I need for spraying?

    4. Can anyone make reccomendations for a color/brand of spray product?
  2. Here's a quick answer to your major questions. I'll chime in later when I have more time and share more about what I've learned from others and experienced on my own when I have some more time.

    1. If possible avoid enamels. It's tough to find a clear coat that's compatible. It is possible to spray lacquers both nitro and acrylic over enamel, but it is such a touchy process that it's usually not worth it. Even if you are super careful, it could backfire and wrinkle up on you at any time. Acrylic works fine, but nitro is my #1 choice. It's very very easy to work with.

    2. Primer is not necessary, but recommended. It serves a few purposes. I use white laquer based primers. My brands of choice are Reranch and Mohawk. Both are lacquer based and work great. You can also use BINS primer which I believe is shellac based. I've never used it, but I hear that it sometimes doesn't spray so great, but it's workable. Some guys also use duplicolor sandable primer with good results. AVOID krylon primer.

    3 You must wear a respirator when spraying. Not a dust mask, but an actual respirator mask. Especially when using nitro. You can buy them at Home Depot or LowesThis stuff is bad for your lungs. Make sure there is a adequate ventilation when spraying. If not while you are spraying be able to air out the area after spraying. Laquer is flammable so no spraying in a closed up garage next to a water heater. Sounds like common sense, but stranger things have happened.

    4. Reranch is my number one choice and is nitro. I also use duplicolor alot which is generally acrylic. Mohawk is mostly nitro and works well. I've heard mention of Ohio Valley nitro, but never used it. You can also buy tints and mix your own if you want to get that far into it. I use Deft sanding sealer, but I'm not a fan of the clear coat. Both are nitro based. For clear I use either Reranch, Minwax, or Mohawk.
  3. Legattabass


    Oct 21, 2010
    Thank you ThaLowEndTheory!

    Is there a place that describes the step-by-step process of applying and finishing using nitro spray, or would you (or someone else) be willing to go into detail and lay it out for me? This would be order of steps, drying time, when to finish sand, what to avoid, etc...
  4. Reranch 101 has alot of good info. Most of the forum members don't agree with the 3 day turnaround to wetsand. In general 30 days is recommended by the long time members. Myself included. Lacquer continues to shrink for a long long time, so if you wetsand to soon the glass smooth finish gradually dulls and part of the wood grain pattern can telegraph through. I sometimes do this on purpose to somewhat replicate an old finish that has dulled slightly.
  5. bobbolux


    Apr 1, 2011
    I know you stated that you didn't want a link to ReRanch, but that is the best place to learn how to use rattlecans for guitar finishing/refinishing.
    it is very thorough, maybe too much so, you just have to be patient and read the whole lot, then pick out what works best for your particular project.
    Like ThaLowEndTheory, I prefer nitro as it is very easy to work with, it flows nice, and is very easy to sand. I have used BINS primer with nitro, no problem. I have also used ReRanch, Mohawk sealers and nitro, and StewMac stuff - all work well, but ReRanch seems to set up a little quicker. the thing with Nitro is you have to have patience. After your final coats of clear you need to wait at least a week to 10 days before final sanding and polishing, some people wait much longer than that.

    Nitro can be sprayed OVER poly and acrylic, but not UNDER it, so you should be good, just sand your poly coat down to give it some bite, then hit it with a few coats of BINS, sand smooth (respray and resand if you burn through any areas), then onto your color.

    by far, the biggest issue with getting a good rattlecan finish is SANDING and PREP - all of which can be read about in great detail on ReRanch (look for "ReRanch 101").
  6. Legattabass


    Oct 21, 2010
    I concede; I will re-read reranch. In the meantime...

    Aside from Lacquer, can a nice finish be achieved from, for example, gloss enamel (such as the Krylon indoor/outdoor sprays) and if so, how?

    It's hard for me to tell which "spray-paint" finish in yonder thread (http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/spray-painted-basses-lets-see-em-613458/) is which.

    I think a lot of confusion from us inexperienced bystanders comes from distinguishing between different finish types that can all be "sprayed", and then trying to take that knowledge to say, Walmart, or Lowes, to find an appropriate (and often poorly labelled) product.
  7. You can use enamel but it's a risk. It generally doesn't react well with clear coats. You can go without clear coats, but I've never seen anyone get the same kind of gloss that you get with clear coats. There are ways to apply clear, but like I said it's risky and can often backfire on you even though it worked the last time.

    You can find sealers, primers, and clears at Lowe's or home depot. I buy minwax clear lacquer at Walmart. In general most of the color paints you'll find at these places are going to be enamel based. You can find duplicolor paints at auto parts stores. They usually play well with nitro.
  8. silentk


    Feb 7, 2011
    I'm in the midst of spray painting a guitar with Krylon's water-base latex, and so far, so good. I used their water-base primer, which has made a big difference based on the few test pieces I did first with and without the primer. I'm going to apply at least one more coat and then spray it with my own mix of shellac from a Preval sprayer, then follow that with Target Coatings water-based lacquer. I'm using water-based stuff because I don't have facilities where I can safely spray nitro, and they aren't as nasty for the environment so I want to see what I can do with them. I've used the Target lacquer on a few projects and I'm very impressed with it -- I'm brushing it on, sanding every 5-7 coats, then level sanding and polishing with micro-mesh pads, followed by a couple coats of wax. It's a great looking finish. Time will tell about the Krylon-painted guitar. I've been spraying in the back yard when the weather's been OK, then letting it dry inside, and I've been impressed so far with how evenly it's gone on. With the mild amber tint of the shellac I'm hoping to end up with an olympic white-ish looking finish. Definitely post pix of your progress!
  9. Okay, I'll be someone else. Here's a refinishing example:


    And a description of my process:

    What I started out with was an unmarked (no scratches or dings) used black Squier Bronco. If there had been any damage to fix I would have used automotive glazing putty and/or Bondo. All paint is from rattle cans. I should add that I've been using rattle cans a loooooong time; I've used up thousands of 'em.

    1.) Scuff sand with 220 and 320 grit dry sandpaper; basically, taking the gloss off the factory finish; don't even think of sanding to bare wood.
    2.) One coat Zinssers BIN White Shellac Primer; dry overnight.
    3.) Scuff sand the primer and apply a second coat; dry overnight. Zinssers is very thin and under fairly high pressure; can run easily; many people find it too fussy. With experience it makes a fine surface that promotes good adhesion of the following coats.
    4.) Two coats Dupli-color Burnt Copper; first coat very light, second a little heavier. Dry overnight.
    5.) Two coats Dupli-color; first coat fairly heavy, second quite heavy. This will about use up the can. Dry overnight.
    6.) Four coats of Minwax Clear lacquer; from very light to slightly heavier coats. Dry overnight.
    7.) Repeat Step 6. Dry overnight.
    8.) Repeat Step 7 with four coats that are as heavy as you can spray without having runs develop. The 12 clear coats will use up two cans. Dry for a week.
    9.) Wet sand with grits from 400 to 1500, polish with fine automotive compound, polish and wax with automotive products. I use Meguiar's.

    I never sand until the last coat of clear is sprayed. I spray outdoors and dry indoors. I've sprayed at temps as low as about 35 degrees. I don't spray if the humidity is high.

    I hope this helps.
  10. Good point about the humidity. Anything above 50% and there's a chance of blushing.
  11. Legattabass


    Oct 21, 2010
    Thanks for the step by step Ponticat. Unfortunately for me, I live in Maryland which is, for all intents and purposes, a swamp.

    To test krylon enamel for myself, I've put some minwax poly on a piece of wood and will do a series of sprays per their instructions. If the krylon seems like a bust, I'll man-up and prepare myself for lacquer.
  12. Stu L.

    Stu L.

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    IME wet sanding is the real pita. I cannot do it. Period. I have a real nice fiesta red P body, but looks horrible. Orange peel everywhere.
  13. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    work in a clean dust free pet free area
    shake the can a lot
    start spraying before you are over the object
    hold the can 12 inches away
    latex equals rubbery, not good
    let it dry for recommended time plus
    wet sand
  14. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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