View Full Version : Hilo soprano refinishing project

01-23-2010, 01:57 PM
My cheap Hilo was showing some nasty signs of wear. So, I decided to strip that ugly dark factory matte finish off and apply a new high gloss clear coat. I left the fret board alone. The nato wood turned out pretty raw after sanding BUT, after 4 coats of Minwax Polycrylic High Gloss clear, the result was more than I had expected. It gave a deep bright honey color. The first 2 pics are "before" the last 2 are "after".

01-23-2010, 03:05 PM
Wow! What a result!

How did you apply the coats though? Can you explain what you did, like instructions?


01-23-2010, 04:46 PM
What a differance. You got a new 'ukulele. How is the tone, did it change any?

01-23-2010, 04:52 PM
Wow! That grain is poppin'. Any way you go about it that looks awesome!

01-23-2010, 05:10 PM
Wow! I've got a battered old Hilo baritone that I've been thinking about doing that to, and now you've really spurred me on.

01-23-2010, 05:33 PM
thats great would you mind posting the instructions in like a outline step format that we can follow it if we want to do this. also, did it affect the sound at all?

01-24-2010, 11:34 AM
Any chance for some instructions? I have that exact instrument and might like to do something similar :)

Doug W
01-24-2010, 11:47 AM
Beautiful job. Someone showed up at our house the other day with a Hilo, which had the look of a beginner uke but I was surprised at how well it held intonation and had a nice tone too.

01-24-2010, 02:51 PM
That grain is poppin'.

It looks something I'd put at the front window of a store!

Hobgoblin Steve
01-24-2010, 06:04 PM
thats great would you mind posting the instructions in like a outline step format that we can follow it if we want to do this. also, did it affect the sound at all?

this. please.

01-26-2010, 03:50 PM
instructions coming soon, i gotta find the different grades of sandpaper i used....give me a day to post it...

01-26-2010, 03:53 PM
Nice work,great result. Some people might quibble with polyurethane, as killing tone, but I don't really see that it would make a huge difference in a little, relatively inexpensive uke. If you like the looks of your uke, it always sounds better anyway, right?

01-26-2010, 03:59 PM
Wow. That really is pretty. Great crafty-ness.

02-01-2010, 06:32 AM
ok, here's the instructions of exactly what i did. First, take off the strings, nut, saddle-nut, tuners. Second, get the existing finish off using 60 grit sandpaper to get it started then get down the 100 or 120 grit as you get closer to the actual bare wood. The last thing you want is gouge marks on the wood you plan to coat because the grit was too hefty. Sand in a tight circular motion. Careful not to round out edges or corners too heavily. Be patient, the finish will come off, but not easily, take your time (sand outside or in the garage, this step makes a lot of dust). Third, get a quart of Minwax Polycrylic clear gloss polyurethane finish ($15 @ home depot paint department, has an aqua colored label). Using a Purdy 1.5 inch fine bristle brush (also @ home depot $8, this is the best brush you can buy, I've painted for years) dip lightly into the finish and spread evenly and deliberately, don't use too much per coat you don't want drips...and this stuff DOES drip. It's best to get a wire coat hanger and go to the basement, straighten the hanger and bend the ends back, loop one end through one of the tuner holes and hang the other end on a nail from a floor beam or joist. This setup will allow you to walk all the way around your uke without touching it with your hands and only the brush. Remember to coat lightly! My uke took 5 coats. Wait a day between coats. This is not a weekend project, it's a WEEK project. The sanding takes the most time and effort. The refinishing requires a lot of waiting. Good Luck! I want to see some pictures, people!

02-01-2010, 07:15 AM
It's beautiful! Hard to believe it's the same instrument. Did you sand between coats of polyurethane?

05-26-2010, 02:17 PM
no. but thin coats is key.