View Full Version : two best and worst things in the shop

chuck in ny
10-30-2015, 10:40 AM
there is magic in the things that dry and set up, for a woodworker it's glue and finish, and construction in general you have concrete and mortar, tar and adhesives. for the potential of great joy or great misery we have glue and finish.
normal production woodworkers, luthiers here won't consume large amounts of material, will stay with the same finish decade after decade out of being conservative and the fear of getting a bad batch of something they aren't used to either using or sourcing. some always buy price which is stupid in its way but works out because the products perform. cheap coatings always cost more per foot applied but don't tell that to a tightwad.
friends have had jobs fail on them and had to refinish acid catalyzed conversion varnish woodwork on the site and eat the loss. i like to stay with the good suppliers in the area whose stock moves quickly and sell quality name brands figuring halfway they are getting any potential bad feedback from their larger-than-me volume shops and there is an extra margin of safety built into the supply chain before a can finds my hands.
i can see you shellac guys sleep better at night. you mostly don't shellac a set of commercial cabinets and it leaves me staying with spray process for instruments otherwise i could be tempted to change process.
i made friends with the chemists at seagrave last century (! we are getting older) and spent the time with my jaw on the floor. they are reminiscent of japanese engineers, always pushing and going forward. with coatings you may get grooved in the process, no small feat, but you don't know much, and then with the sands shifting as these guys tweak chemistry and nature itself you can't possibly be up to speed on the properties of the products made by a dozen or two coatings outfits. things could be changing before you use up your pail of nitro.
it makes a good reason to be conservative and e.g. continue to use nitro. it's a one part finish. setting up to simply try some two part finishes can cost $500 or $1000 just to see how things go. even with the less expensive routes it is still time and money and potential gremlins.
seeming fear of the unknown is usually a good dose of common sense. there's good reason to stay with what you are used to doing.

10-30-2015, 06:19 PM
there's good reason to stay with what you are used to doing.

I think most people find something that works, they are comfortable with and they stick with it regardless of all evidence to the contrary because, well, they are comfortable with it. I know several professional luthiers that have thrown in the towel long ago and don't even mess with finishes anymore. They just send them out to shops that specialize in these things. Hey, I can relate. Finishing is a separate art in itself. Send out the raw instrument, wait awhile and it return perfectly done. No muss no fuss. Pass costs onto the customer. Nothing wrong with that.

chuck in ny
10-31-2015, 05:52 AM
i have trained tradesmen friends and employees in other shops with using spray equipment. you can go through books and the web and not get a concise simple yankee take on spray process.
the gun is just a carburetor of sorts, two screws. as with a carb you gently turn both screws clockwise until they are just seated. then you stand there and utter 'i don't know how to spray lacquer'. good. you thin some lacquer down a quarter or a third, plenty enough, and load the gun. then the intimidated doesn't know person very slowly turns both screws the tiniest bit counterclockwise. slow. they spray out into a lighted area and gradually see the emergence of a tiny cloud. their confidence goes from zero to sky high as they have just proven to themselves that they understand exactly how this gizmo works, and they really do. i have them practice laying out films on scrap pieces of cardboard on the bench or horses and play with adjusting both screws to their taste. it starts with a choked down gun and laying down inadequate quantities and goes from there. they are typically good to go in ten minutes.
aside from some volume of steady exhaust many get by without a booth not naming names. for doing a few ukuleles at a time it would be difficult to get into trouble with zero safety precautions unless you were in a phone booth with a lit candle. with ventilation and the normal time of process, one coat at a time and so forth, things stay reasonably safe.
you can give out finish work if you want to. what i have found is that many people have an unreasonable fear of what is essentially a simple process, and there is great joy in doing this last and dazzlingly beautiful step for yourself. luthier skills are of a higher order than spray skills.