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Thread: Finish/refinish old uke question plus what wood is this?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Greenville, VA.
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    I swapped my camping mountain dulcimer for two old banjos, meaning I had no real investment in them. Both banjos needed work and both were filthy. I wanted to put in the minimum amount of work that would make them trade-able again at a higher level. I scrubbed the wood with a dampened Mr. Clean scrubbing pad and off came the dirt and the flakes of finish. A single thin coat of Tru-Oil made the wood presentable to the eye and touch without hiding the age or dings. The mando-banjo sold right away on ebay for enough to make the whole effort worthwhile, and I still have the tenor banjo that I may set up as a baritone uke banjo. Its a pretty much skill-free method to keep the old warriors out there making music.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Walla Walla, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcalkin View Post
    I swapped my camping mountain dulcimer for two old banjos, meaning I had no real investment in them. Both banjos needed work and both were filthy. I wanted to put in the minimum amount of work that would make them trade-able again at a higher level. I scrubbed the wood with a dampened Mr. Clean scrubbing pad and off came the dirt and the flakes of finish. A single thin coat of Tru-Oil made the wood presentable to the eye and touch without hiding the age or dings. The mando-banjo sold right away on ebay for enough to make the whole effort worthwhile, and I still have the tenor banjo that I may set up as a baritone uke banjo. Its a pretty much skill-free method to keep the old warriors out there making music.
    Thanks I was thinking about exactly that. There's some reddish gunk on the heel that my first thought was, "Dirt eraser!" And I've been looking for something to try Tru-Oil on.
    Kiwaya KTS-6
    Enya X1 soprano
    Kiwaya KTC-2
    Ohana BK20

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Walla Walla, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1931jim View Post
    The art of French polishing needs patience. The days and weeks for curing between applications will no doubt deter you from this endeavour. Quality finishes are not acquired " easier and faster "
    You are so right.
    Kiwaya KTS-6
    Enya X1 soprano
    Kiwaya KTC-2
    Ohana BK20

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Little River, California
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    1,600

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziret View Post
    Sequoia, what gentle solvent would you recommend?
    This will make some people just freak out but a gentle solvent is called plain old soap and water. Yes soap and water. However, a little gentle soap and a little water and immediately dry off. Water is just not a good thing for wooden instruments in any form so get it out of there quick. But for removing human grease, goo, sweat, funk and dirt, soap and water works good. You might want to follow up with some naphtha.... By the way, I've been thinking about what kind of finish this thing has on it. This is important. I don't know, but a mid to late 60's Luna might be nitro finish and putting shellac on top of that without taking it completely down to bare wood could be problematic.

    In the end maybe a gentle cleaning followed by some gentle sanding followed by an oil finish and some buffing might be the way to go. Good luck! Send pictures!

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Walla Walla, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by sequoia View Post
    This will make some people just freak out but a gentle solvent is called plain old soap and water. Yes soap and water. However, a little gentle soap and a little water and immediately dry off. Water is just not a good thing for wooden instruments in any form so get it out of there quick. But for removing human grease, goo, sweat, funk and dirt, soap and water works good. You might want to follow up with some naphtha.... By the way, I've been thinking about what kind of finish this thing has on it. This is important. I don't know, but a mid to late 60's Luna might be nitro finish and putting shellac on top of that without taking it completely down to bare wood could be problematic.

    In the end maybe a gentle cleaning followed by some gentle sanding followed by an oil finish and some buffing might be the way to go. Good luck! Send pictures!
    That sounds like what I want to do. Thanks so much. I will post before and after. With luck, after will be better.

    I really appreciate all the help from everyone. Thanks for sharing your expertise, it's a valuable commodity.
    Kiwaya KTS-6
    Enya X1 soprano
    Kiwaya KTC-2
    Ohana BK20

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    3

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    I got this exact ukulele on Craigslist last month. The inside label was gone when I got it, so I’m happy to know more about it!
    I did the following:

    - rehydrated for a week
    - repaired/cleated 3 cracks
    - glued loose brace
    - stripped/scraped old finish
    - reglued Bridge
    - new strings
    - 8 coats rubbed oil (Tried & True linseed).

    I still need to smooth a few fret ends, but I need a safe edge file.

    I can’t believe how the grain popped and transformed the thing. Sounds and looks pretty great now! Good Luck! I did take off the Luna decal, but I’m happy anyway. Here are my before and afters. Cheers, Mary 1473EEC4-A18B-496D-9A3B-38A7C2E622DB.jpg 22FBCEA2-3D5D-4CE2-AA12-373E01D8B5E9.jpg 23180811-9D4F-4E4F-9B78-A59C20571311.jpg
    Last edited by maryvu; 10-02-2017 at 07:50 AM. Reason: Adding more info

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Walla Walla, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by maryvu View Post
    I got this exact ukulele on Craigslist last month. The inside label was gone when I got it, so I’m happy to know more about it!
    I did the following:

    - rehydrated for a week
    - repaired/cleated 3 cracks
    - glued loose brace
    - stripped/scraped old finish
    - reglued Bridge
    - new strings
    - 8 coats rubbed oil (Tried & True linseed).

    I still need to smooth a few fret ends, but I need a safe edge file.

    I can’t believe how the grain popped and transformed the thing. Sounds and looks pretty great now! Good Luck! I did take off the Luna decal, but I’m happy anyway. Here are my before and afters. Cheers, Mary 1473EEC4-A18B-496D-9A3B-38A7C2E622DB.jpg 22FBCEA2-3D5D-4CE2-AA12-373E01D8B5E9.jpg 23180811-9D4F-4E4F-9B78-A59C20571311.jpg
    Mary, that turned out great. The bridge popped off mine when I was testing stringing it, and there were two undisclosed cracks, but I would have repaired all that but for the finish. Someone played it a lot, which is great, but they also sweated a lot and the salt had melted into the finish and probably the wood, and couldn't be easily removed. So I was looking at a much bigger project than I bargained for. Which is normal. Anyway, I lost heart and the buyer took it back. You have a beauty there! I'm a little bit envious!
    Kiwaya KTS-6
    Enya X1 soprano
    Kiwaya KTC-2
    Ohana BK20

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