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White Swamp Ash Finish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bassmanhamilton, May 5, 2010.


  1. bassmanhamilton

    bassmanhamilton Commercial User

    Nov 21, 2007
    Georgia
    Owner, J. Hamilton Guitars
    I will be starting a new build soon and the client is wanting a transparent white finish. We are planning on using Swamp Ash and I want to highlight the grain underneath the finish. My thoughts on the process are to apply a black dye then sand back through the black leaving it only in the grain. Spray topcoats of white tinted clear finish until I reach the desired color, followed with coats of clear.
    This is similar to the look that I am shooting for but I want a little more pronounced grain showing through.

    Up for any suggestions or comments on the process.

    FBassBN5_White.
     
  2. Dadagoboi

    Dadagoboi CATALDO BASSES Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2005
    Florida Swamp
    CataldoBasses: Designer/Builder ThunderBuckerPickups:Consultant
    Dye will work but ebony or black wood filler would fill the grain better and be easier to top coat after you sanded it back. Apply with a plastic squeegee or similar and press it into the grain. Immediately scrape it off, it should mostly stay in the grain. Let it dry, then sand. With a little practice you should be able to do a minimum of sanding before you topcoat. 2 coats sealer, then use white toner to get the look you want. Finally clearcoat.
     
  3. your plan with the dye will give you the effect that you are looking for. another way is to just control the grain showing with the amount of white blonde finish that you use. swamp ash grain generally shows through white blonde pretty well if the finish is thin enough. Always test out on a scrap of swamp ash first so you know which method is best to go with for the desired effect.

    Good luck!
     
  4. Just make sure the ash that is used has plenty of figuring. Sadowsky has many, many great trans white on ash examples that make me drool every time I see them. BTW, that's my favorite color.
     
  5. Grantrudd

    Grantrudd

    Jun 26, 2007
    Boston MA
    I am prepping a body for that finish right now, and i used the rosewood color LMII grain filler paste to darken the grain.

    http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdpr...rodHeader=LMI+Micro-bead+Acrylic+Paste+Filler

    i thought it worked really well. just glob it on, scrape it off asap, then sand at 150 grit when dry until just the grain is filled. i think it turned out really well.

    PICT0417.

    and next to the MM for comparison

    PICT0416.
     
  6. Good info here. I'd suggest spraying a light "wash coat" of clear lacquer before applying grain filler. It helps to prevent the color from being soaked up by the rest of the wood. Makes sanding after much easier giving a nice contrast between the dark grain and the rest of the wood. Also reranch sells Mary Kay white in a spray can. I like to then it further which allows me to spray several coats to build up the color slowly. I used dark brown grainfiller instead of black. Black would show even better.

    Couple of my projects
    DSCF1651.
    DSCF1372.
     
  7. bassmanhamilton

    bassmanhamilton Commercial User

    Nov 21, 2007
    Georgia
    Owner, J. Hamilton Guitars
    Thanks for all of the input guys!
    Sounds like sealer then a black pore filler may be a good way to go.
    I will be adding this build thread as soon as we iron out a few more details.
    Thanks again!
    Joe
     
  8. bassmanhamilton

    bassmanhamilton Commercial User

    Nov 21, 2007
    Georgia
    Owner, J. Hamilton Guitars
    Thanks for the input on this process. Here are a few progress pictures that I took to get my clients approval for his build.

    Sanded the ash to 320 grit, sprayed two thin coats of sanding sealer, filled the pores with black filler several times then sanded back with a 320 grit to remove the unwanted filler.
    100_4810.

    I mixed white pigment with an ultra clear gloss poly from Target coatings. I sprayed multiple coats of the trans white poly to a desired level of white.

    100_4826.
    100_4834.

    Sprayed a couple more coats of the trans white to take it a little more white (this is for sample purposes) then applied a few coats of clear over that. No buffing has been done to the finish at this point.

    100_4842.
    100_4846.

    Ready to get the approval and get going on this one. Thanks again for the input!
    Joe
     
  9. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    hamilton,
    If you want the wood grain to be even a bit lighter, you could always bleach it too.
     
  10. bassmanhamilton

    bassmanhamilton Commercial User

    Nov 21, 2007
    Georgia
    Owner, J. Hamilton Guitars
    That's a good idea! I may try another sample with that approach.
    Thanks
     
  11. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    You can use household "chlorine" bleach, with decent results.

    When you're done with the bleaching, you can neutralize it with hydrogen peroxide, then flush it with water, then It'll accept
    the tinted clear.
     
  12. mamaumunga

    mamaumunga

    Jun 5, 2011
    Hi Bassmanhamilton, sorry to resurrect this so long after your original posts, but I'm about to start finishing a swamp ash body and want pretty much exactly the finish of your blank above immediately after you grain filled it but before you began applying your white and clear coats - in other words I want a natural looking finish but with the heavy black grain that the filler has produced. My plan is to finish with several coats of Tru-oil directly over the grain filled wood, which brings me to my question which is if I should skip the sanding sealer step in your process? I'm assuming if I am finishing with Tru-oil that the sanding sealer should be avoided altogether...? Also, in order to achieve that look on the swamp ash, how many rounds of filler and then sanding did you use, and how long was each coat of filler left on before sanding off?

    Thanks for now :)
     

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