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View Full Version : Stupid question: Can a satin finish be re-done in a gloss finish?



uke4life
09-13-2011, 04:31 PM
I was wondering if a satin finished ukulele can be re-done with a gloss finish? And if that can be done, can a sound port be added? I apologize for the possibly stupid question.

maclay
09-13-2011, 05:40 PM
It will be expensive......but yes, they can both be done.

Trinimon
09-13-2011, 06:11 PM
You missed this thread... looks great all glossy!

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?31578-Kala-Acacia-Tenor...All-Dressed-Up&highlight=acacia

wickedwahine11
09-13-2011, 06:45 PM
Yes, you can. I had my Kamaka ukulele refinished from satin to gloss, they charged me $50 to do it. I'm not certain about the sound port addition.

itsme
09-13-2011, 08:05 PM
Yes, you can. I had my Kamaka ukulele refinished from satin to gloss, they charged me $50 to do it.
Where did you have that done? That sounds pretty cheap, but I know you would only take your Kamaka to a trusted place. :)

buddhuu
09-14-2011, 01:00 AM
You missed this thread... looks great all glossy!

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?31578-Kala-Acacia-Tenor...All-Dressed-Up&highlight=acacia

Yeh, that's cool.

I have transformed a couple of satin finish ukes to a kind of vintage gloss with T-Cut style automotive compounds. Also did it to a Fullerton Gloucester mandolin. Worked great on all 3 projects.

Cost: < 5 for compound and cloths.

I see no reason why it shouldn't be possible to add a soundport to pretty much any conventional acoustic 'ukulele if you want to.

Note that it's a significant structural change that is bound to nuke your warranty. Also, best done by a pro' if you want to be safer from mishap.

Tudorp
09-14-2011, 01:22 AM
I've done several satin to gloss refinishes (in fact, doing one now for a customer), also have done a couple gloss to satin work. All came out very nice.

jackwhale
09-14-2011, 08:18 AM
On my Pono mahogany, I used fine wet sandpaper (400 and 600 grit) followed by automotive rubbing compound (3M medium and fine) followed by automobile cleaner/wax. I don't have a buffing wheel so all sanding and rubbing was done by hand.

I was very worried about sanding through the finish and initially didn't put enough time/effort into sanding. After using the rubbing compound, I found that I had to go back to a second round of sanding. It really pays dividends to take a LOT of time around the bridge and fingerboard--I masked off the bridge and fingerboard so I wouldn't put sanding marks on them. ALWAYS sand with the grain because-cross grain sanding marks are nearly impossible to remove with rubbing compound.

The process took most of an afternoon but it looks and feels much so much better with the gloss finish.

Rick Turner
09-14-2011, 09:12 AM
What you're all missing here is that satin lacquers or polyurethanes have flatting agents added to them to get the satin look. It's not just a surface treatment on normal finish material. You can shine them up a bit, but never to the degree of gloss that you'll get with a dedicated gloss product. And because satin finishes are typically thinner than gloss finishes (I'm talking production instruments here), there is a real danger of burning through to bare wood if you try to sand and buff and do a full rubout.

And I highly doubt that Kamaka refinished a satin instrument for $50.00. Buff it up, sure...but literally refinish? Nope...

When I do what I call "smooth satin" with pores completely filled, it's over two coats of epoxy pore filler/pre-sealer, then two coats of a urethane isolater sealer, and three coats of polyester sanding sealer that has been sanded dead flat. I then shoot two very thin coats of WLS flat urethane...a catalyzed finish, and that's it; it's done. I would not try to gloss that up by sanding and buffing as I'd probably burn through to the sanding sealer, and it would look like hell.

jackwhale
09-14-2011, 11:51 AM
I agree that the finish on my Pono after buffing doesn't compare in quality with the deep gloss finish on my Graziano uke. Just getting the surface smoother and more reflective resulted in a satisfactory improvement which superficially resembles a glossy finish. Not good enough for a professional luthier.

wickedwahine11
09-14-2011, 06:34 PM
Where did you have that done? That sounds pretty cheap, but I know you would only take your Kamaka to a trusted place. :)

I took it to Kamaka in July of last year. I saw Fred Kamaka Jr. at last year's Honolulu Uke Festival and asked if it could be done. My uke was a NAMM showpiece and apparently they prefer satin finishes on their instruments but I wanted gloss to bring out the curl. It took about four days and cost me $50, their going rate for a refinish.


And I highly doubt that Kamaka refinished a satin instrument for $50.00. Buff it up, sure...but literally refinish? Nope...

Don't know what to tell you Rick. I know they said the first six coats or so are the same and only the top coat determined gloss or satin. They said they would sand out the scratches (which they did) and refinish it glossy. Maybe they lied to me, but it now looks and feels the same as the finishes on all the glossy Kamakas I see.

In fact, they actually left a bubble in the finish that I had them remove when they repaired my seam and remove a couple scratches this last time. And this time I was charged $100 - $50 for seam repair and $50 for a refinish to get the bubble and scratches out.

maclay
09-14-2011, 06:36 PM
And I highly doubt that Kamaka refinished a satin instrument for $50.00. Buff it up, sure...but literally refinish? Nope...

Rick is correct.....changing a satin instrument to gloss a long process, and it takes some expertise. $50.00 will not even get you close to a real gloss finish.

wickedwahine11
09-14-2011, 06:40 PM
Rick is correct.....changing a satin instrument to gloss a long process, and it takes some expertise. $50.00 will not even get you close to a real gloss finish.

I defer to yours, and Rick's expertise in this area. But I know where I took it. I know what I paid. And I know what I received back in return. As I stated in my reply to Rick, they actually left a bubble in the finish (as some UU members can attest to as they saw it firsthand). I don't know how that could result from a simple buffing. It also now is the same finish as every other Kamaka I have seen. I don't want to argue with you guys, if you don't believe me, so be it.

As to expertise, I would argue after nearly 100 years of uke making, they have expertise to do the job, albeit with a bubble left in the finish. Though if anyone else doubts it you can always call Kamaka and ask what they charge to "refinish" a uke. Perhaps they scammed me, but I prefer to think not. And I certainly have my credit card receipts to know what they charged me. Shrug...

Rick Turner
09-14-2011, 06:54 PM
You know where you took it. You know what you paid. But you don't know exactly what they did, and I'll tell you that if they literally refinished it...which means strip to bare wood and build back finish...they lost their butts on that job, and I know they could not do that in four days. It's possible that they shot one or more clear coats of what would be a gloss top coat over the existing finish, but that is called "over-spray" not "refinish". Sorry to be picky, but there are real words that describe very specific actions and processes in this business.

wickedwahine11
09-14-2011, 06:59 PM
You know where you took it. You know what you paid. But you don't know exactly what they did, and I'll tell you that if they literally refinished it...which means strip to bare wood and build back finish...they lost their butts on that job, and I know they could not do that in four days. It's possible that they shot one or more clear coats of what would be a gloss top coat over the existing finish, but that is called "over-spray" not "refinish". Sorry to be picky, but there are real words that describe very specific actions and processes in this business.

Fair enough. They told me only the top coat differentiated the gloss vs. satin. So be it. I don't care if it overspray or refinish. I'm sure you are correct technically. I just called it refinish because that is what they call it, and typed on my invoice. That is what I have heard them describing to others, on the phone as I sat in their factory. Perhaps their finishing process differs from yours.

If not, then perhaps they should use other terminology then, because I just went by what Fred Kamaka Jr. and Chris Kamaka called it to me...in person, on the phone, and on my typed invoice. My bad. I certainly don't dispute your knowledge, or experience. But I also trusted their description. According to you guys they are lying or being deceptive, or I am. Perhaps instead they just use a less particular terminology than you guys. I don't know. I just answered the OP with the knowledge I was given by Fred, Chris, and the front office folks at Kamaka Ukuele.

I don't mean to dispute your account. Their technical terminology is clearly in error then, I'm just stating what they told me.

Rick Turner
09-14-2011, 07:23 PM
The language of lutherie is very specific. It has to be in order for us to be able to accurately communicate what it is what we do. It breaks down between luthiers and players, however, and bridging that gap is something I've been trying to do as a writer for many music magazines and on line for the 40 years I've been getting paid...and not...to write. I care about the language, and I may care more than some of the more casual builders who are fine, ethical, and perhaps verbally imprecise.

In your case, all that matters is the final result, but I'd prefer that the myth of it being a refinish for $50.00 not be perpetuated. That sets up incredibly unrealistic expectations among those who may be considering having an instrument refinished and who become shocked at the true cost.

A full professional, high quality, pores filled, gloss refinish on a uke that involves stripping to bare wood is worth at least $250.00 USD with about $100.00 of that being the work of stripping the old finish, sanding, and prepping the wood for new lacquer. My associate Addam Stark gets a minimum of $350.00 to do a complete gloss lacquer finish on guitars that come to him sanded and ready to spray. I'll ask him what a strip and refin on a uke would cost just for general info here.

Here's the thing. If you come to a forum entitled "Luthier's Lounge", you are virtually stepping into a place where we have a vocabulary that is very specific to our craft. Don't be offended if some of us insist on using language correctly so that we can be effective and truthful among ourselves and communicate accurately to our clients and interested musicians. It's no different from how medical professionals have to communicate with one another and with their patients...other than this is not life or death. Words matter unless you're lazy, and the lazy don't get ahead very well in this world.

Dan Uke
09-14-2011, 07:36 PM
Wow $50 for a refinish? They charge $50 just for a setup at my guitar shop!!

wickedwahine11
09-14-2011, 07:49 PM
I completely understand your point Rick, and your insistence on correct terminology. If I offended I apologize. In my defense, it is my job as a moderator to read all sections of the forum, including this one - I didn't mean to step on toes. In my defense, I was only posting what I had been told by Kamaka. Perhaps your true issue should be with them as they are selling a service specifically called a "refinish" and that is part of the problem. I will accept being less informed than outguess on this topic, obviously. I only meant to answer the OP with the info Kamaka gave me. If I, and the Kamakas are wrong, I will accept that and apologize for the misunderstanding.

I do admit, I take some umbrage at being called lazy though. My repeating information from Fred and Chris in this case appears to be mistaken, and incorrect. Lazy is a stretch. But I definitely defer to your knowledge. And I'm not sarcastic, genuine instead. My bad. Though I think I have hijacked this post enough, sorry for doing so. Any other discussion on this point I should probably do via PM, I just wanted to explain my logic here.

buddhuu
09-14-2011, 10:56 PM
The level of skill and expert knowledge in this forum never ceases to impress me. Absolutely awesome.

If we could just slightly tweak the level of tact and diplomacy when dealing with people who don't share that depth of experience, it'd be perfect. :)

I'm sure Rick is right when he says that buffing won't produce results that equal an original full gloss finish. That's why I described my own results as "a kind of vintage gloss". They look like older instruments, not brand, spanking new instruments fresh from the shop. Which is all good... High gloss is not my preference.

Allen
09-14-2011, 11:13 PM
A satin finish is achieved with the addition of a flattening compound added to the exact same product that will give you a gloss finish. This in most cases is Talc, as it's cheap and does the trick nicely, but with some manufacturers there may be other products added.

A satin finish is no where near as hard as a gloss one because of the addition of the flattening compound. Nor is it as clear. The flattening compound clouds the finish.

In Australia the product I use is made by a company called Mirotone. They have a sanding sealer that is essentially their lacquer with a heap of talc added to it to bulk it up. The talc makes it easy to sand as it acts as a lubricant to the sandpaper and greatly reduces the tendency to ball up on the sand paper. You can then spray a clear high gloss finish over the sanding sealer to get a gloss coat. Yes it works.....the same as spraying a gloss coat over a satin one.....but it is not the same as going gloss the whole way over a non clouding pore filler. It is not what I would ever consider to use on an instrument.

You are also putting a hard finish over a softer one. Everyone say "That can't be good".

To an untrained eye you might get results that are approximate to one done the correct way from the ground up, but that said have a think about it. Even just giving a uke a quick spray of clear. How long do you think it would take to do this process? Even by a highly skilled professional? You have to take off the hardware. Mask up the parts that you don't want to spray. You have to sand the surface. Spray the finish with at least 2 coats. Then sand and buff out any imperfections. Then reassemble the instrument.If you can do this under 2 hours then there is a job waiting for you in any number of places.

Now take what you think is a fair door rate for any business. Add the material costs. Hazardous waste disposal fees etc. and see if you could honestly say $50 was the going rate.

My shop rate is on the low end compared to some high rent areas, and my quote to do the job would be $200 for the gloss over the original finish. And most likely $350 for the full strip and finish. I would want to see the instrument first though, as it could go higher. It sure as hell would't be lower.

Michael N.
09-14-2011, 11:13 PM
There are at least two ways to produce satin, go gloss and dull it i.e. put scratches in the finish so that it scatters the light. That is essentially what happens when you wirewool a gloss finish to dull it. The other method (better IMO) is to put a flattening agent into the varnish/lacquer.
I'm guessing that's what happened to the so called refinish. Originally the flattening agent was in the last coat or two (common practice). They removed this coat and buffed.
Whatever they did it is highly improbable that it was a total refinish. $50 pays for a Top Nut and perhaps a saddle if you are very lucky, not a refinish.

buddhuu
09-14-2011, 11:16 PM
"That can't be good..."

Seriously, thanks for the detailed description.

Rick Turner
09-15-2011, 03:34 AM
Buddhuu, some of us are silly enough to try to do this stuff for a living, so we do know what we're doing. I apprenticed as a guitar repairman in 1963...yes, 47 years ago...and I've made most of the mistakes in the book and more than my share that were never in there. Sorry, newbies, but experience does count for something. Don't be so quick to dismiss decades of hard earned knowledge.

Michael, agreed on the dulling of gloss to achieve satin, but nobody I know at the more industrial end of the lutherie scale does that. The "satin right out of the gun" materials are just too much easier to work with, and there are flat and satin nitro lacquers as well as urethanes.

My satin finishes are done over very tough and hard undercoats of epoxy, urethane, and polyester, so while the very surface may be softer than with a gloss finish, the undercoats are very protective. Also, by only shooting one or two very thin coats of the satin, there is a clarity that I like with the satin surface on top.

buddhuu
09-15-2011, 03:49 AM
Buddhuu, some of us are silly enough to try to do this stuff for a living, so we do know what we're doing. I apprenticed as a guitar repairman in 1963...yes, 47 years ago...and I've made most of the mistakes in the book and more than my share that were never in there. Sorry, newbies, but experience does count for something. [...]
Sorry, Rick. I thought I had explictly acknowledged your experience and its value when I said:


The level of skill and expert knowledge in this forum never ceases to impress me. Absolutely awesome.[...]
I would never dream of challenging someone like you or Dave Cohen, Hans Brentrup, Paul Hostetter, Frank Ford etc on matters of luthiery. The stuff I have read by you guys here on UU, on MandolinCafe, on guitar forums and on Frets.com has saved me from making several expensive n00b mistakes over the years and I'm grateful.

But please treat us mere mortals gently. Believe me, our ignorance frustrates us even more than it does you... :)

Rick Turner
09-15-2011, 06:18 AM
I am always respectful of those who respect the craft, those who do their homework, and those who ask questions from an honestly curious place. I tend to be extremely dismissive of wankers and those who haven't or don't or won't do at least a minimal amount of research and prep work before announcing their brilliance to the world or who won't step up to honest discussion and even debate about the methods, techniques, theories, and materials we use in our craft.

You'll note that over in that very contentions thread, my basic question STILL has not been answered. Why?

BTW, we are at a point in lutherie where many techniques that had formerly been considered pretty industrial are now available to small shop luthiers, not the least of which are side bending tricks. Finishes, however, remain quite split between amateur and professional systems with the real stumbling point being whether or not you have a "real" spray booth. I do know what I'd do if I didn't have a fully legal spray booth, but having one is such an advantage...

It is interesting to be able to think ahead to the day when I'm not in such an industrial-style shop...probably about five years from now. How will I approach going back to a much more "hand lutherie" style? Pretty easily, I suspect.

Flyfish57
09-15-2011, 08:28 AM
Finishes, however, remain quite split between amateur and professional systems with the real stumbling point being whether or not you have a "real" spray booth. I do know what I'd do if I didn't have a fully legal spray booth, but having one is such an advantage...


Yes, a "real" spray booth is a big plus...I wouldn't be spraying two-part urethanes without one. I've sprayed some of the water based systems in my shed with decent results.

finkdaddy
09-15-2011, 09:15 AM
Yes, a "real" spray booth is a big plus...I wouldn't be spraying two-part urethanes without one. I've sprayed some of the water based systems in my shed with decent results.
I tried a water-based varnish on my last uke, but I was very unhappy with how it looked. It didn't enhance the wood the way a lacquer finish would. Is there a trick to making a water-based finish darken and "pop" the wood like a true lacquer finish would?
I'm building a new shop in the spring, so I will try and make room for a decent spray booth if I can.

Allen
09-15-2011, 10:12 AM
The only way that I know of involves epoxy pore filling. So if you are trying to get away of the toxicity of the solvent based finish, this might not be for you.

Flyfish57
09-15-2011, 10:27 AM
I tried a water-based varnish on my last uke, but I was very unhappy with how it looked. It didn't enhance the wood the way a lacquer finish would. Is there a trick to making a water-based finish darken and "pop" the wood like a true lacquer finish would?
I'm building a new shop in the spring, so I will try and make room for a decent spray booth if I can.

I grain filled with epoxy, which makes the grain really pop. I used the Stewmac color tone sealer and clear. It took awhile to cure. I think I buffed it two weeks after the last coat. Like I said, it came out decent. I think if you put the time in, you can get good results with any of the systems made for luthiers. I even liked the results I got from the two ukes I sprayed with the color-tone satin spray-bombs. I like to try all the things available to me for finishing. I should probably stop that since it cost me a fortune!

Rick Turner
09-15-2011, 11:38 AM
I still say that the main ingredient in water borne instrument finishes is wishful thinking. I'll believe a good water based finish is here when Bob Taylor switches over to it.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-15-2011, 01:07 PM
Test for adhesion when using water-borne over your grain filler. I've had issues with Color-Tone over epoxy but that was many years ago. I recently revisited the Target 6000, which some believe to be the best of the water based finishes. Still can't get past that lack of clarity thing which is really noticed on a wood like koa. For the time being I'm taking all the safety precautions that are practical with nitro including using a fresh air respirator, wearing a moon suit, and spraying with a turbine driven HVLP system (keeps the particle size bigger) in a well ventilated booth. If I lived on the Mainland and turnover time weren't an issue I'd probably be shipping my ukes to Aadam Stark for finishing and live a lot longer.