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Maple neck, wipe on poly, how many coats?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Eilif, Sep 22, 2008.


  1. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    If you want to skip the backstory, head to the last paragraph.

    Here's the situation: I just got my new warmoth neck (maple/rosewood) for my frankenjazz back from my brother in law who painted the headstock and body matching red with auto paint (more on that in a later thread). Finishing the back of the neck has fallen to me. After considering Tru-oil (not available near me) and Tung oil (my preference, but voids the Warmoth warranty) I decided to go with Minwax Satin wipe on poly. After completely taping up the headstock face and fingerboard last night, I've applied two coats on following the process below

    1) 0000 steel wool rubbing

    2) tack cloth

    3) brief second dusting with a sprits dampened cloth

    4) application and rubbing in of poly

    5) wait 2-3 hours and repeat.

    It felt great this morning, very smooth, but not sticky at all. However I want to properly protect the neck.

    Is 2 coats enough? If not, how many should I apply? I'm used to tung oil, where 5-10 rounds is not unusual, and i've never used wipe on poly before.
     
  2. I would say 2 coats of Minwax is enough to protect the neck from moisture etc, but maybe not enough to be dent resistant. on mine, I used 4 coats of glossy poly, and then rubbed off the gloss with scotch brite, it is super tough.
     
  3. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    Thanks! 4 coats sounds good. One more quesiton...

    Since I put the last coat on late last night, do I have to wait 24 hours before adding more, or can I start putting the last two coats on as soon as I get off work today?
     
  4. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    I'd go with at least 6 thin coats. On a Carvin bass kit I did I did something like 12 thin coats on the neck and that wasn't too much. It sure stood up well to wear. You can re-coat as soon as it's dry enough to sand, which depends on temperature and humidity. The Minwax wipe on when I use it, at above 72 F. is usually dry enough to steel wool and then re-coat in 6 hours or less, as long as you don't goop on thick coats. Minwax wipe on poly is basically Minwax polyurethane varnish thinned out with mineral spirits to allow it to be wiped on rather than brushed. I can make my own comparable product to wipe on using regular Minwax fast dry polyurethane thinned with an equal amount of mineral spirits (Varsol or paint thinner)

    Give it about 4 days after the last coat to harden enough, then buff it smooth with steel wool. It actually takes several weeks for those poly finishes to harden completely. Once they do they stand up to wear better and are more waterproof.
     
  5. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    That stuff builds very thin. It's really hard to put on too many coats if you're doing it correctly.

    I believe it says on the can that you can re-coat after 4 hours. Since it's a polyurethane, successive coats don't melt in, so you want to be fairly sure it's dry or you can get clouding etc, when the moisture tries to work its way through the top layers of finish.

    also, be a little more careful sanding. you don't want to sand through it. Just sand very lightly to take off any dust that stuck to it, etc. If you sand through it'll leave a subtle line, even after re-coating. Make sure the surface is as smooth as you want it before hand. It's not the greatest stuff for filling grain/scratches.
     
  6. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    Thanks 62Bass,
    I'm using very thin coats (kind of like I would with tung oil), and I'm not in a hurry. I can do 6-12 coats no problem. I am really likeing how easy this product seems to be to work with.

    Arx,
    I appreciate the warning. I haven't been scrubbing too hard with the steel wool, but I could probably stand to lighten up a bit. The can says to wait 2-3 hours between coats, and 24 hours before final use. I was curious if I waited more than 3 hours if I had to wait all the way to 24 before adding more, but it appears that this is not the case.


    2-3 more coats tonight, and we'll see how it goes. If the hipshot ultralights get here soon, I could have this thing put together by next week's wednesday night practice, and potentially next friday's gig!
     
  7. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    Nah, as far as I know, there's no real time limit. With a lot of epoxy based finishes and such you do have that "window". Do it early, and it'll chemically bond, or wait until it's good and hard so you can sand it to get a mechanical bond.

    I believe with poly, dry is dry. Once it's dry enough to re-coat, it doesn't matter if you do it right away, or after a week. Hopefully someone more experienced will confirm. :)

    When I did my body, I did several coats on the first 2 days, since it was a weekend, and 3 coats a day for the next couple days while I was working. One in the morning, before work. One right when I got home after work (about 10 hours dry time) one before bed (4-5 hours) and one the next morning, (about 8 hours dry time)

    I haven't noticed any problems with the finish so far (about 6 months or so since I did it)

    Keep in mind, that was a swamp ash body, and not a maple neck, so YMMV, but I expect that any differences will likely be in your favour. You don't have to worry about the wood soaking it up like a sponge, etc.
     
  8. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    There is a "window" with polyurethane as well. For example, Varathane poly floor finish-they say within 12 hours for proper adhesion. But sanding or steel wooling helps with bonding a fully cured layer so it's not much of a problem here. Actual drying time depends on temperature and humidity. I've been able to sand in 2 hours when the temperature was 87 F during the summer. The stuff was setting up before I could smooth it out properly.

    Sounds like you're doing it right Eilif.
     
  9. these 2 guys got you covered and they really know their stuff :)
     
  10. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    Thanks guys,
    I really appreciate you all sharing your experience. I put two coats on last night and one this morning. It seems to be going on very smooth. I have noticed a few minor dents in the wood that I hadn't noticed before, but nothing major. :meh:

    On the other hand there don't appear to be any uneven spots or blemishes in the finish that I have applied so far. :hyper:
     
  11. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    Excellent. Just take your time and it'll look great. The hard part is knowing when you have enough coats put on. It gets fun to do after a while.
     
  12. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    I got to stop at home durring my lunch hour and put on an extra coat of poly. Everythink is working out well. A brief rundown of the rest of the process

    -I finished assembling, wiring, etc. the body on Monday night.
    -Coat# 12 (the last one) will be going on late this evening
    -I'm going to allow 42 hours of dry out time after the last coat.
    -The Hipshots should be arriving tomorrow afternoon.
    -Assembly and basic setup on Friday night
    -Tweak the setup Saturday morning
    -Hopefully it will be at practice Saturday afternoon!

    I'll post pics and details in the "bass guitars" section next week.
     
  13. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    Just be careful with it for the first while. When I did mine, it seemed to take several weeks before it was completely cured.

    Fine to play it that way, but it's a bit softer, and make doubly sure your hands are good and clean.
     
  14. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    That's right. It does take several weeks before it really hardens. All oil based finishes are like that. Keep the bass in a warm place. That'll speed it up.
     
  15. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    Thanks for the advice guys, I don't think I'll be able to keep from playing it, but I will go easy and use clean hands. Luckily, I don't think I have particulalry acidic sweat.

    The 12th and last coat went on about 2 hours ago.
     
  16. 62bass

    62bass

    Apr 3, 2005
    Great. We'll want pictures of course.
     
  17. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    Of course. My camera isn't good enough to show the finer details of my shortcomings as a luither, but I'll definately post a full review of the bass and the process.

    I untaped the headstock front and fingerboard. Unfortunately I found that poly residue and steel wool shavings have hardened in a few spots inside the tuner holes. Nothing that a bit of carefull sanding can't take care of.
     
  18. Arx

    Arx

    Jan 22, 2008
    Yeah. It'll be fine. I'm always amazed that some people can let their finishes cure for weeks. I barely had the discipline to wait until the next morning before playing mine.
    I only finished the body, and the only thing that I noticed is that where I had my palm resting on the body was slightly tacky, but barely perceptible. I played it a LOT for the first while, and there's been no noticeable effect on the finish. Maybe I wouldn't even call it tacky, it just didn't feel completely dry, and it still smelled funny for a while.

    Mind you, I was just practicing with it. So I never got it excessively sweaty, and I washed my hands any time I was playing. I think grease would be the real killer. No chicken wings before playing. ;)

    -Nick
     
  19. why not play it for a few weeks, then buff and polish it, so any damage you make is buffed out?
     
  20. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    That's a good suggestion, but not only is it a satin finish, but this bass isn't going to be deserving of that kind of attention.

    Don't get me wrong, it's going to look good, but there are already some indentions in the back of the neck wood that I must have put there before I put on the finish, and the body has some fine finishing issues. But I don't want to give tooo much away you'll have to wait for the full unveiling of the bass to see them...:smug:

    I'm going to baby it for a few weeks, and then hopefully play the crap out of this thing.
     

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