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Need feedback on finish for this amazing Buckeye Top???

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by campbems, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. campbems

    campbems Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2013
    Im in the final stages of my Custom build and have a very nice Buckeye Burl too that I will have a Poly finish. The question I have for those who know is will the Pic with the mineral spirits be what it will look like finished or will or should I do something different? I want it to be darker like and show all the browns and various colors shown with the mineral spirit picture. Any ideas or feedback to make sure this bass top really shows through?
    A32CD04B-3D0B-4D95-A91F-D658351B25BF. D63C7875-4B7E-4301-A6B3-89638FB03214. E7FEAAEA-5BBC-48F2-A9B2-233D2E4F28F6. 804ABAEA-ADFD-44B3-9592-0E2ABBCBDE6C. DE0EE268-27A1-41A8-BD54-C604F6B8552C.

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  2. Give it a few coats of shellac before you lay down the poly. It will bring out the beauty of the wood like the mineral spirits do, if not more so. Poly will stick to shellac no problem.
    campbems likes this.
  3. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    My buddy Mike Lipe (whose shop is right down the hall from mine) does a lot of Buckeye Burl tops on his guitars. I help him with some of the operations on them. We hate the stuff, but the customers love it! It's such awful wood to work with.

    The usual sequence is: We resaw the board into slices about 1/4" thick. Use a router fixture to joint the edges and glue the halves together into a bookmatched top blank. Still just rough bandsawn at this point. I coat it on both sides with Smith's CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer), which is a water-thin epoxy that soaks all the way in. The CPES helps holds the stuff together. Then Mike runs it through his drum sander to flatten the surfaces and bring it down to about 1/8". Then it gets glued onto the body in a vacuum bag.

    Then I put on a heavy coat of West Systems epoxy. The natural amber of the epoxy really brings out the contrast and color of the burl, plus it soaks in and fills all the holes and pores up to the surface. He sands the surface flat and trims the perimeter of the body. Sometimes we have to add more West Systems to fill more holes.

    Once the burl is all filled and solidified with the epoxy, the polyurethane or polyester clear coats go on easily and can be leveled and buffed up to a gloss. The epoxy won't sink down over time. We've done a lot of burl tops over the years, and filling it with epoxy is the surest way to get a good finish over it. If you put polyurethane right on the burl, it's going to take a lot of coats, a lot of sanding, and a lot of frustration. And it will still sink in over time. Buckeye Burl is a colorful wooden sponge.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
    tbrannon, Matt Liebenau and campbems like this.
  4. campbems

    campbems Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2013
    @Bruce Johnson
    That’s very good insight into the process. My builder uses Sharon’s Cline to do all his finishes. Brady Muckelroy uses her on all his to. She is supposed to be one of the best acxording to all that have got one done by her. I will find out a little more about her process.

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