Questions - Finishing a Warmoth Body

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Gully Foyle, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. Gully Foyle

    Gully Foyle

    Sep 28, 2014
    Near Boston
    Hi there

    So, I’ve a swamp ash body coming from warmoth, and I’ll be finishing it myself.

    I’ve never done an instrument body before, and I’m hoping some of you folks with finishing knowledge can check my thinking and plan for errors, mistakes, unforeseen issues, and general stupidity.

    I’ve been searching the web and reading a lot, including of course here on TB.

    My goal is a dyed finish, with the grain accentuated via dyed grain filler, then clearcoated. Not too smooth, still woody and with some texture. Ceruse-type finish, but with dark grain and lighter undercolor.

    Here is the overall plan:

    1. Check the factory sanding, touch up as needed with 220 (all steps with gloves, to avoid hand oils)

    2. Wet the body to raise the grain, sand back, repeat 2-3 times.

    3. Clean body with naptha or mineral spirits just in case

    4. Wet gently and dye with a water based dye (prewet is to avoid blotching) (dye 2x as needed)

    5. Apply couple coats of shellac or sanding sealer (advice wanted here, for a sealer that will be gentle in filling the open grain areas, to leave room for tinted grain filler)

    6. Fill the grain with the dyed grain filler (advice here, epoxy? Drywall mud? Other?), let dry till hazing/getting matte, rub off against grain, scrape with plastic or rubber, dry fully and sand gently

    7. Clearcoats and polishing (advice here, want something easy, in cans, that won’t yellow (perhaps simple krylon water based polyurethane?)

    Imagine I will dye the cavities, and have read that some coating (perhaps the shellac/sealer step) in the cavities is also good for keeping water out of the wood, but not a lot of coats. Advice welcome.

    So, what do you all think?
  2. hsp-sandiego


    Oct 22, 2014
    San Diego
    geez.. no replies? I have done 2 warmoth swamp ash clear finishes. epoxy fill then mohawk spray-can sanding sealer several coats with very fine/light sand, then nitro mohawk satin spray up to 10 thin coats! with very fine sand then wet-sand when built up. Those are long gone but I wish I still had them. about to pull the trigger on another. just a 4 string dinky jazz swamp body. necks are headstock nitro finish with minwax rub on poly back or neck only. easy enough! you will have a boutique usa jazz bass that will correctly age. *another tip is that i like to cut my own nuts using simple tools. dremel cut off wheel and then welders "cleaning file set" cheap and works amazing. I just set up my guitarists strat using these files; the instrument now plays very very well.
  3. hsp-sandiego


    Oct 22, 2014
    San Diego
    almost forgot, yes! your note re: naptha or just denatured alchohol prep is a must. sounds like you have done your homework. project started? or near complete? it really is pretty easy. I did a warmoth swamp ash body clear with a maple neck with pau ferro board 5 years ago and it got a lot of play then sold it. I am going to do it again. actually it is the instrument in my avatar. - Harry @ San Diego, ca.
  4. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    LowEndWooly likes this.
  5. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    If you want the grain to show through, I would do an oil finish instead of a hard clear finish. Using a hard clear finish, especially gloss, with the pours not totally filled looks unfinished.
  6. Pocket4

    Pocket4 Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Looks like you are right on track. The similar body that I did was prepped and coated with an aniline black dye, and I did a lot of sanding after that. That project wasn't well prepared and the result was interesting as the body perimeter really soaked the dye in, and there were also a lot of sketchy spots that were a result of the density of open pores in the wood. There is a lack of uniformity in the remaining black finish, but it was a learning experience. The really nice aspect of that project was a good coat of shellac alcohol solution to level everything out and protected with nitro clear.