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Pukulele Pete
09-16-2011, 10:48 AM
I have a 60's Martin style O and have been thinking of doing an over spray. It has a few surface cracks that I would like to consolidate and then do an overspray. I've heard that an over spray is routine when a Martin guitar goes to the factory for a repair. I think I am capable of doing this but wonder if I should just leave it alone. The cracks are just in the lacquer, looks like maybe it was dropped on the lower bout. There are maybe 9 surface cracks 1/8 inch away from each other in the shape of the lower curve. This is my favorite uke at the moment and it would be pefect except for those surface cracks. Would I be commiting a sin if I do this? The cracks are on the back.

fahrner
09-16-2011, 10:54 AM
In some circles it's called patina and a sought after characteristic.
Not sure spraying over the cracks would completely hide them while it may help hold the 'skin' together to prevent further age checking.
My vote (may not be worth much) would be to wear the wrinkles proudly.
Be advised that as we got older my wife agrees on this less and less.

strumsilly
09-16-2011, 12:04 PM
my vintage Gibson has finish checking [cracking] all over the place. I think it just adds mojo, and have been told it would diminish the price if "fixed' I'm not a luthier, but I'd say leave it alone, it's perfect as it is.

Pete Howlett
09-16-2011, 12:40 PM
You'd probably faint if you saw the condition of my guitar... leave it; nothing devalues an instrument more than dicking around with its original finish.

Tudorp
09-16-2011, 12:58 PM
My vote is to leave it alone. That Martin has worked long and hard for those wrinkles.. Same with Botox.. Just say "No"...

hmgberg
09-16-2011, 01:16 PM
Leave it alone and stop thinking about the finish cracks. Or, sell it and get one without cracks.

Pukulele Pete
09-16-2011, 01:32 PM
You guys are right. I won't touch it. I thought I had decided that a while ago but I was playing it and then looking at it and focused on the cracks and said,.........Jeez,I wish those cracks werent there.

hmgberg
09-16-2011, 02:19 PM
You guys are right. I won't touch it. I thought I had decided that a while ago but I was playing it and then looking at it and focused on the cracks and said,.........Jeez,I wish those cracks werent there.

There you go! The trauma occurred when you stopped playing the ukulele and started looking at it instead. My 60's Martin O has a few of those "issues" as well. When I am playing it, they magically disappear.

Rick Turner
09-16-2011, 02:37 PM
Overspraying rarely knits lacquer checks back together. All you do is put a temporary film over the crackled lacquer...and your new film will fairly quickly crack, too.

Look into Behlen's "Qualarenu", known here and by finish specialist Addam Stark as "the magic sauce". It can replasticize and knit together a good 90% of nitro lacquer checks. It's amazing stuff. I brush in onto and into checks with a tiny brush, and the fissures disappear before my eyes. In the best situations, you can deal with the crackling and dings and then just re-rub out the existing finish. Otherwise, do the cracks, then spray a very thin coat of Qalarenu over the whole instrument (except bridge and fingerboard) and then overspray. The Qualarenu will soften the existing old finish just enough to help the new lacquer bond better.

The nice thing is that you can do the first step and just see how good it works, and then decide whether to overspray or not. You can also do the Qualarenu thing and then French polish.

southcoastukes
09-16-2011, 07:24 PM
Overspraying rarely knits lacquer checks back together. All you do is put a temporary film over the crackled lacquer...and your new film will fairly quickly crack, too.

Look into Behlen's "Qualarenu", known here and by finish specialist Addam Stark as "the magic sauce". It can replasticize and knit together a good 90% of nitro lacquer checks. It's amazing stuff. I brush in onto and into checks with a tiny brush, and the fissures disappear before my eyes. In the best situations, you can deal with the crackling and dings and then just re-rub out the existing finish. Otherwise, do the cracks, then spray a very thin coat of Qalarenu over the whole instrument (except bridge and fingerboard) and then overspray. The Qualarenu will soften the existing old finish just enough to help the new lacquer bond better.

The nice thing is that you can do the first step and just see how good it works, and then decide whether to overspray or not. You can also do the Qualarenu thing and then French polish.

While reading through this thread, I was about to suggest this when I came to Rick's post. For a good while I was one of the only reps for both Behlen & Mohawk Finishing. They had recently merged when I went to work for them.

Nothing much to add to Rick's comments except that Pete, you really should do this. Cracks may look "vintage" at the moment, but in time they'll become flakes, then they'll be gone and an instrument without a proper finish is an instrument in jeopardy.

Behlen's Qualarenu is now the same formula as Mohawk's Ammalgamator. You can get whichever is most convenient. If you're using a lacquer overcoat, seal your crack repairs with shellac or even better, a shellac based sealer after the ammalgamating process Rick described.

You wouldn't let other parts of your Martin go bad. This "let your instrument's finish deteriorate" nonsense is an insult to a fine creation.

Pete: this is restoration - much different than refinishing. In America, the "shabby chic" has ruined the restoration business. I didn't think it had happened in Europe as well.

Rick Turner
09-16-2011, 07:37 PM
Here's the basic thing about nitro lacquer...

It is NOT a forever finish. By it's very nature and makeup, it starts to decompose the day you spray it. The DuPont chemists figure nitro is good for about 75 years, and anything beyond that is borrowed time. Eventually, all nitro finishes will need to be restored or replaced. We are just now entering that critical post 75 year mark for nitro on instruments. That started in the late 1920s. French polished Martins from the 1880s look a whole lot better than late 20s lacquer jobs, and that beloved checked finish look is, as indicated by Mr. South Coast, just a "cool" look on the way to chunks of finish simply falling off. It's already happening on a lot of vintage Gibsons, for instance.

Nitro is a temporary finish that needs to either be refreshed or replaced eventually. By temporary I mean 75 to 100 years. Varnish and shellac are much better in the long haul. We don't yet know about the latest catalyzed finishes, but they do well in accelerated aging tests.

If I had to go back to "hand finishing", I'd do epoxy sealers, shellac, and then Epiphanes varnish top coats.

Pukulele Pete
09-17-2011, 12:53 AM
My first plan was to consolidate the cracks with a little acetone. Next I was going to wipe it down with naptha and then a light sanding with fine steel wool then another naptha wipe down. Then I would spray the body ( the neck is fine ) with lacquer. I thought the acetone would melt the cracks back together. I asked about doing the overspray before on this and another forum ( four string farmhouse ) and until now everyone has freaked out and told me not to do it ,I would ruin the value of the uke. I'm thinking I can do this and only an expert would be able tell if it had an overspray.
I've heard that Martin does this routinely to their guitars , why can't I do it. Thanks for the encouragement and the info. I'd hate to see all the vintage ukes turn to dust , at least this one won't. I'm looking at this as routine maintainance.

Rick Turner
09-17-2011, 02:57 AM
Don't use acetone, use Qualarenu; it's not as aggressive as acetone, and it seems to seep into tinier cracks. It also adds plasticizers, so it doesn't just flash off. Not sure what the naptha will do; probably can't hurt, but I wouldn't use it.

Pukulele Pete
09-17-2011, 03:13 AM
Thanks for the excellant advice.I will use Quarenu . My original plan came from advice at Frets.com . The naptha was to remove old wax or polishes and generally clean the surfaces to be oversprayed. What should I use ? I've done this before on a 30's Style 1 Martin I bought for 66 bucks a few years ago. It still looks good and sounds great. I've been going back and forth on this project for quite a while, whether to do it or not. Can't let these old ukes keep aging like this or they won't be around another 80 years .

southcoastukes
09-17-2011, 04:05 AM
Naptha is a good 1st step - a cleaner/prep. Then your Qualarenu or Amalgamator. Then a coat of french polish or spray a coat of Zinsser sealer. This shellac based sealer has a little nitro resin to promote a better bond on subsequent coats.

Then laquer sanding sealer, also for good bond, scuff, then your laquer topcoat.

hmgberg
09-17-2011, 05:19 AM
Well, I didn't know much of this when I replied earlier! I guess it's good we have some pros who know what they are talking about on this forum. I am now reconsidering the finishes on my ukes. Most of all, I love to play mine, so the idea that the finish is a little messy has not been much of a concern. However, the idea that I will eventually have no finish left to protect my ukes IS a big concern. I am aware of what folks say about overspraying and refinishing adversely impacting the value, but given what Rick and Dick write, all of our ukuleles will be in the same boat eventually. Besides, I'm probably depreciating my ukes every time I play them.

One thing that Rick wrote is borne out with a couple of mine. I have an early 20s ukulele that was most likely French polished with shellac, and a late 20s one that was probably nitro'd. The finish on the earlier one is fine. The finish on the later one is beginning to deteriorate.

So, now I have another question. If I understand correctly, a couple of end methods have been proposed to address the problem. One involves overspraying, presumably with nitro, and the other french polish with shellac. Is one preferred over the other, or are there factors to consider in making this determination?

It isn't something I would try on my own, but should I have the opportunity to discuss it with an experienced luthier, I'd like to have more info in my pocket. Thanks for the advice.

Pete, I would certainly appreciate it if you would let us know how you go about working on your Martin, and how you like the results. Thanks for asking this question.

Pukulele Pete
09-17-2011, 06:48 AM
I think I may just go to my local Luthier and let him do it. My spray booth is my wife's garden shed and with all the different surface preps I think maybe I should let a pro handle it. As far as leaving it alone like alot of people say you should , don't let these great old ukes and guitars keep deteriorating , You have to stop the wear and tear at some point or they won't be around years from now. Just like an old house you have to maintain them or they become useless. Visit your local Luthier. Keep these old instruments in good shape so they will be around for years to come.

southcoastukes
09-17-2011, 07:41 AM
So, now I have another question. If I understand correctly, a couple of end methods have been proposed to address the problem. One involves overspraying, presumably with nitro, and the other french polish with shellac. Is one preferred over the other, or are there factors to consider in making this determination?



The method Rick spoke of, and I outlined above, pretty much repairs the crazing, but don't worry if it doen't all come out. It's an old instrument, and saving and prtecting the original finish is the most important aspect of a restoration - not a totally new appearance. The most important thing about Qualarenu are those plasticizers - they stop the crazing from continiung - in other words, they stop the breakdown of the original finish. Without that, the finish would continue to deteriorate below whatever you used for a topcoat, so the important part of any procedure on nitro (or an oil varnish) is the Ammalgamator or Qualarenu.

I would favor the method, I outlined above for Pete's instrument, since that is more of a ture restoration. The intermediate thin shellac & seal coats are only acting as binders for the repaired original base. Your then topcoat with nitro, which was also original to Pete's Martin.

If you were restoring a french polished finish, the preference would be to finish it off that way. The Ammalgamating is not as important with shellac - the resins don't break down like nitro - so sometimes just a cleaning, light sand, then polish over. If you see some cracking, Ammalgamate between the cleaning and polish.

hmgberg
09-17-2011, 08:05 AM
The method Rick spoke of, and I outlined above, pretty much repairs the crazing, but don't worry if it doen't all come out. It's an old instrument, and saving the original finish is more important in a restoration than a totally new appearance. The most important thing about Qualarenu are those plasticizers - they stop the crazing from continiung. That would happen with whatever you used for a topcoat, so the important part of any procedure, especially on nitro, is the Ammalgamator or Qualarenu.

I would favor the method, I outlined above for Pete's instrument, since that is more of a ture restoration. The intemediate thin shellac & seal coats are only acting as binders for the repaired original base. Your then topcoat with nitro, which was also original to Pete's Martin.

If you were restoring a french polished finish, the preference would be to finish it off that way. Simply french polish it out after the Ammalgamating process.


Thanks Dirk:

My 60s style O has very little crazing. The one I'm concerned about is a 3M from late 1920s. The finish isn't crazed, but there are a few spots where it has been abraded (on the lower bout where one's arm holds the ukulele) and also on the other side of the lower bout there are a few small spots where it is mottled in appearance, patches where the gloss is not glossy. There is also some strum wear on both sides of the upper bout. The finish is extraordinarily thin on this one, much thinner than on my 60s Martin. I'm wondering whether it is nitro at all. I understand that Martin didn't use nitro on the bound ukes until the 1930s.

hmgberg
09-17-2011, 08:27 AM
I just reviewed an earlier post to which Rick had responded. I think what I have to do is have it cleaned and French Polished. In fact, I think I understand a lot better now about finishes. I also know enough not to mess with it myself.

Rick Turner
09-17-2011, 09:55 AM
I would not use a stearated lacquer sanding sealer on an instrument. It build fast and sands easily, to be sure, but it's too soft, even under a harder top coat. If you're going to use nitro lacquer, then doing it over shellac would be terrific. Shellac is the one sealer/primer that works over practically anything and under practically anything. It's great stuff.

Lacquer sanding sealers are fine for furniture but are not so fine for musical instruments that get handled a lot.

And yes, the naptha for de-waxing is a good idea; I forgot that aspect. There are also specific de-waxing products. Another good cleaner is xylene, though take care to use it in well ventilated places. It's the standard in the violin world for cleaning fiddles and getting off accumulated rosin.

southcoastukes
09-17-2011, 10:35 AM
Rick - you bring up a good point about sanding sealer. It is soft, and too much of it is bad, no matter where it's used. Too many people try to build - pore fill with it, etc, because it does dry fast and sand easily. A hard topcoat with a thick, soft undercoat doesn't hold up well.

That said - I'd still use it here. The key is only one thin coat. That won't cause you any problem. It's not a step that's absolutely neccesary. Shellac, as you noted, is an almost universal sealer. Still, the bond between the shellac coat and lacquer coat is almost all mechanical, not chemical. The lacquer sealer, in addition to having those other qualities, bonds better to the shellac. Then the hard lacquer coat has a bit of a chemical bond, as well as mechanical.

Of course, people pass over this step all the time with no problems. I've done it a lot myself. Just the same, I've seen instances where the lacquer coat wants to de-bond. It would be more likely to happen over a slick surface like you would get with french polish. That's why I'd take the extra step - but just one coat!

Rick Turner
09-17-2011, 12:41 PM
Fair enough, but I do not know one luthier or instrument finish specialist (I've got Addam Stark sharing spray booth space with me, and he's Mr. Nitro having run SCGC's finish department for several years and having been out on his own for five years) who will use nitro sanding sealer as a part of the process. Everyone has tried it in the past, and yeah, fast fill, takes care of what pore filler didn't, and all that, but the final result just didn't cut it. I've got the SCGC guys right across town doing 60 nitro finished guitars a month; we talk all the time about this stuff, and everyone is down on nitro sanding sealers.

I've done a fair amount of finish restoration using Qualarenu followed with drop fills with shellac into dings, topped off with French polish, and it's time consuming but beautiful, and it does meet "museum standards" being reversible should someone in the future have new and better materials to work with. Museum conservation methods are incredibly conservative, to make a pun of it. Every technique is supposed to be reversible, every new material is suppose to be removable, and ideally no original material is ever removed unless it is simply rotting away.

Work like this is incredibly time consuming, and the hardest thing is to determine when you've done enough.

southcoastukes
09-17-2011, 05:41 PM
Fair enough, .... fast fill, takes care of what pore filler didn't, and all that...


I think these applications are why sanding sealer has a bad name. It was not designed for any of those things, and the people who use it for those purposes end up with a poor finish. Whether in restoration or in new construction, it should be a sealer (or bonding agent) only.

In new work, it's designed to raise the grain and sand easily after. In restoration, it can be used as a bonding agent. In either instance, using it to build or fill is asking for problems. Nonetheless, lots of folks see how quick it builds, how easy it sands, and can't resist the tempatation. It's a sealer - not a shortcut finish - and a sealer consists of one coat.

Shellac is also a great sealer, and gives a beautiful undertone to your work. As I mentioned earlier, there's no chemical bond between shellac and lacquer, so what you need to do is judge the amount of mechanical bond you get if you use a shellac sealer and lacquer topcoat.

One coat of shellac - no need for sanding sealer over that. You'll have a strong mechanical bond. Once you build with shellac to the point where your surface is somewhat slick and filled, that's when I'd put down a light coat of sanding sealer. The mechanical bond is greatly reduced at that point - better to have some chemical bonding.

Rick Turner
09-17-2011, 07:14 PM
If we're talking new work and not refinishes, then I love using two coats of thin epoxy as the "tie coat". Then a urethane adhesion promoter, then your choice of nitro, polyester, or varnish. I get incredibly tough finishes that are thin and allow literally gluing the bridge to the finish. Yeah, I know...weird, scary, radical...but it works, and with polyester I can clean up any glue squeeze-out with superglue solvent. My employees are too chicken to do this, but I do. I indulge them, but make them use hot hide glue wood to wood, but I think the fit with my method is actually better.

southcoastukes
09-17-2011, 08:22 PM
All right Rick,

Now you've gone into territory that I can only describe as weird, scary and radical.

As tough as it is, I doubt I'll be doing a polyester procedure, though the idea of gluing the bridge on over the finish makes it tempting. What glue?

Pukulele Pete
09-18-2011, 12:36 AM
Man , I thought this was going to be a simple thing to do . A little acetone on the cracks , then a thin coat of lacquer from a can and then polish.
You guys are scaring me.

Rick Turner
09-18-2011, 02:57 AM
You should be scared! Finish restoration is probably the toughest detail work in all of lutherie, followed with finishing on bare wood.

On new instruments, amateur looking finishes are easy, but anything resembling what comes out of a factory setting like Martin, Collings, Bourgeois, etc. is really amazingly difficult. It's that dead flat, super thin, mirror thing that is so tough to achieve.

When gluing bridges to poly finish, I use fresh medium viscosity superglue, and do the clamping with my hands. Yes, it works...

southcoastukes
09-18-2011, 06:39 AM
You should be scared! Finish restoration is probably the toughest detail work in all of lutherie, followed with finishing on bare wood.

On new instruments, amateur looking finishes are easy, but anything resembling what comes out of a factory setting like Martin, Collings, Bourgeois, etc. is really amazingly difficult. It's that dead flat, super thin, mirror thing that is so tough to achieve.

When gluing bridges to poly finish, I use fresh medium viscosity superglue, and do the clamping with my hands. Yes, it works...

The finish restoration doesn't seem difficult to me, but then again, I've been doing it a long time. A while back, I used to teach classes on the subject, and though they were for intermediate level finishers, we always had a few outright beginners. Thinking back on those pupils, I'd have to say that without some close at hand guidance, it's probably best to leave that work to someone with some experience at it.

That is, unless you have something you don't mind practicing on. Harmonys, Regals, etc. don't have that high a value. The worst you could do in those cases is lose your old finish altogether - then you're putiing on a new finish entirely - refinishing in other words - and you have, indeed, lost value. With those brands, however, that value wasn't too great in the first place. In other words, Pete, don't make a Martin your first attempt (and remember - Qualarenu - not acetone).

The subject of new finishes deserves another thread or two, so I won't start on that. Even though it's off topic though, I have to throw in on the subject of bridges that, Rick, you are a brave man. I always suspected this, but now I know for sure, as only a brave fellow could have hands steady enough for superglue bridge clamping (using the little railroad ties?).

Somewhat back on topic are some of those finishes you mentioned earlier. I haven't looked at the repairability - in other words, the ability to overspray - on those finishes in quite some time. Used to be there was no chance with Polyester - iffy with the varnishes. Have things improved with those topcoats?

Rick Turner
09-18-2011, 07:31 AM
Dirk, things have improved with regard to finish touch up, but you know, I never bought into the myth of the repairability of nitro lacquer...at least as it is practiced by 95% of the repair luthiers out there. Nobody gives the new touch up enough time to cure before rub-out, and so the job may go out the door looking good, but in a few months, the new lacquer has shrunk back and it becomes incredibly obvious that the work has been done. At least with poly fixes (often done with thin superglue), what you see is what you'll be getting now and in the future. Some of the problem with nitro touch up and over-spray is with the clients who want their instruments back NOW, and have little patience. At least they don't really notice the job looking worse and worse over a year or so!

Also, the poly finishes are just so tough that they protect the wood a lot better than nitro. Normal wear and tear that would really show up on a nitro finished instrument just doesn't faze poly much, and the adhesion, at least the way I've learned to apply the finishes, is just incredible. I'd be willing to bet that in 50 or 75 years, good poly finishes done now will look a whole lot better than similar vintage nitro. This is just the technical evolution of fine finishing. And I also suspect that there will be a major change in attitude re. refinishing 20th Century nitro finished instruments as the old lacquer chips, crazes, and de-laminates on tens of thousands of otherwise fine instruments.

I'm now of the opinion that shellac and both spirit and oil varnishes are wonderful and very long lasting and modern polyurethanes and polyesters are great as well, but nitro will prove to be a finish that has no future. It's like celluloid movie or photographic film. A blip in the history of materials science. Time to move on forward or backward.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
09-18-2011, 07:36 AM
This has been an enlightening and worthwhile discussion. Just the kind of stuff I like to see here. Thanks guys.

Flyfish57
09-18-2011, 08:01 AM
This has been an enlightening and worthwhile discussion. Just the kind of stuff I like to see here. Thanks guys.
As I was reading, I thought the same thing--Time well spent on a Sunday afternoon.

Rick Turner
09-18-2011, 09:45 AM
Just FYI, when I worked for Gibson...1988 into 1993...in various capacities, one of the issues that came up in a corporate meeting was that fully 1/3 of the labor time/cost in the average Gibson guitar was tied up in the finish process. That's a lot, folks, and that's at a factory with people who do nothing but sand or spray or do rubouts. That percentage will be lower if you do a lot of decorative upgrades...purflings, laminated necks, inlays, etc., but it's still an impressive...or depressive...statistic. It's no wonder that a number of guitar factories have gone to robotic spraying and even guitar buffing. I've seen both at Martin.

hmgberg
09-18-2011, 10:29 AM
This has been an enlightening and worthwhile discussion. Just the kind of stuff I like to see here. Thanks guys.

Absolutely! But, I wish I could learn more about finishing and restoring finishes. I had no thought of attending to my ukulele on my own, but given the intricacies of the field, I'm no longer feeling very positive about entrusting it to a local luthier. Arrrgh! Keep talking. I'll just listen.

Rick Turner
09-18-2011, 11:24 AM
Finishing is really a very specialized skill. Many top-tier luthiers sub-contract out their finish work, and it's practically traditional in the classical guitar world to do so. I see a lot of guitars come through my spray booth via Addam Stark who shares the finish room space with me. Everything from Somogyi to Dean custom shop work, Graziano ukes to Kathy Wingert harp guitars, and a lot of classicals. If I were on the market for an instrument, I'd rather buy a great uke or guitar from a great maker who subbed out the finish work to a great finisher than have the builder do a sub-pro job just because he or she insists on doing the whole process.

southcoastukes
09-19-2011, 04:59 AM
One thing that makes me uneasy about what a lot of people are doing now, is that on much of the new work, there seems to be no regard for the ability to recoat. That is the bedrock of traditional finish work - "maintenance", as Pete called it. There's no finish tough enough to withstand all types of damage. At least on the vintage instruments, you shouldn't have to worry about repairability issues.


... given the intricacies of the field, I'm no longer feeling very positive about entrusting it to a local luthier. Arrrgh! Keep talking. I'll just listen.


Wish I could give you some definitive guidance on where to have an ukulele restored - I don't have a good sense of the skill level in the luthier community at large. Based on what Rick is indicating, it may not be that high. With the lack of emphasis today on restoration work in general, you may have a very valid concern.

If you feel uncomfortable with an ukulele or guitar luthier's knowledge of finish restoration, one idea would be to check out the violin luthiers in your area. They are fanatics in the area of traditional finishes, and usually do a lot of restoration work as part of their general business.

Rick Turner
09-19-2011, 05:45 AM
One of the issues vis a vis violin folks is that they are used to varnish, not nitro lacquer, and they also tend to be rather dismissive of stringed instruments that are not of the violin family. Some of the weirdest guitar repair work I've seen was done by "violin makers"!

There is a big difference between repair and restoration, too. I tend to think of repairs as "get it working again" with aesthetics and historical accuracy taking a back seat to the practical aspects of making the instrument perform well. Restoration takes on a bit more rarified aspect with historical accuracy and museum collection presentability being more important.

It's worth noting, by the way, that of the 1,100 or so known and authenticated Stradivari violins, fewer than 10 are in anything like original condition. Most have had necks replaced, lengthened, neck angles drastically changed, bass bars replaced, etc. The violin world is more about performance than obsessive compulsive attention to originality.

And...the vintage automobile world. Nobody keeps original rubber on the wheels, restoring with full refinishing is normal, leather seats are reupholstered, batteries and wiring is replaced, etc., etc. This is all stuff that in the guitar collecting world would be considered heresy. Then again, they clean the tread grooves of the tires with Q-tips when showing the cars...and that's a bit much for me...

Pukulele Pete
09-23-2011, 03:16 AM
Well , I listened to you guys and got a bottle of "magic sauce" qualarenu . All I can say is "wow" . Thank You so much for this tip.
I got it yesterday and put it on last nite. I thought I had screwed it up but after a little buffing it looks great , so much better than it did. I had asked about this stuff months ago , I called it "secret sauce" and the guy who wrote about it would not say what it was. Now I think it should be called "magic sauce" . It worked GREAT. Thanks again.

Rick Turner
09-23-2011, 04:50 AM
Don't be quite so quick to buff. Let it knit the old finish back together and then cure up a bit. There's no rushing oil varnish, shellac, or nitro lacquer.

Pukulele Pete
09-23-2011, 05:22 AM
Don't be quite so quick to buff. Let it knit the old finish back together and then cure up a bit. There's no rushing oil varnish, shellac, or nitro lacquer.
You are absolutely right , I just freaked out a little and thought I had messed it up ,so I buffed a little to see if I had effed it up. ( can I say effed ? )
Anyway , I'm letting it sit for a week and then I will continue my buffing. I'm so excitied it worked so well I can't wait to buff it but I will.
I'm old ,61 , I am still amazed with computers and the access I have to information I could never find before. Thanks again to all you builders for all this info.

Rick Turner
09-23-2011, 05:39 AM
You think you're old! Hah! I'm 68...

mendel
09-23-2011, 05:49 AM
As a wrestler, I have many battle-scars. I have cauliflower ears, a broken nose, and many scared and healed up lacerations. Each one tells a story and I feel as if I have earned every darn one of them. My philosophy is simple... try not to get the scars and injuries, but when they happen, wear them proudly, as they speak volumes about who you are and where you've been. I think this holds true for instruments as well. Best of luck with whatever you choose.

hmgberg
09-23-2011, 06:18 AM
One thing that makes me uneasy about what a lot of people are doing now, is that on much of the new work, there seems to be no regard for the ability to recoat. That is the bedrock of traditional finish work - "maintenance", as Pete called it. There's no finish tough enough to withstand all types of damage. At least on the vintage instruments, you shouldn't have to worry about repairability issues.





Wish I could give you some definitive guidance on where to have an ukulele restored - I don't have a good sense of the skill level in the luthier community at large. Based on what Rick is indicating, it may not be that high. With the lack of emphasis today on restoration work in general, you may have a very valid concern.

If you feel uncomfortable with an ukulele or guitar luthier's knowledge of finish restoration, one idea would be to check out the violin luthiers in your area. They are fanatics in the area of traditional finishes, and usually do a lot of restoration work as part of their general business.

The best luthier in my area (for restoration without a doubt) works on guitars and violins. He's done some virtually invisible crack repair and finish touch up to my Ramirez classical guitar. He's secretive about what he will do and definitely respects the instruments a lot more than his clientele, which is understandable if off-putting. What I mean is, you leave the instrument with him for what seems like an eternity (months and months); he doesn't tell you what he is going to do; then when you get it back he lets you know how much he's charging for the work he's already done. It looks so fabulous and you've been without the instrument for so long that you'll pay any amount. I've even offered to pay him just to watch and learn, but he refused. I suppose I'll bring the ukulele over to him and see what he ... um, doesn't say.

hmgberg
09-23-2011, 06:25 AM
Oh, this is funny...kind of. I was singing this luthier's praises to someone I know. She told me that he restored her cello. He charged he over $5000.00 to restore it. Her reaction was the same as mine. The fee was unexpectedly high, but she happily paid it because the work was so good and she wanted her cello back. We conversed for a while about how grouchy and unpleasant he always seems and then I told her that I had offered to pay him to teach me, or really just let me watch. She said she would never want him to teach her anything.

southcoastukes
09-23-2011, 01:39 PM
You are absolutely right , I just freaked out a little and thought I had messed it up ,so I buffed a little to see if I had effed it up. ( can I say effed ? )
Anyway , I'm letting it sit for a week and then I will continue my buffing. I'm so excitied it worked so well I can't wait to buff it but I will.
I'm old ,61 , I am still amazed with computers and the access I have to information I could never find before. Thanks again to all you builders for all this info.

Pete,

Check back on the procedure I outlined. In the case of a nitro restoration, it's best to seal the restored base with a light coat of shellac, then "over spray" again with nitro to give it some protection.

Be very careful buffing an unprotected old finish, even if it looks like there's still a good film left.

coolkayaker1
07-28-2013, 03:24 AM
This is a useful 2011 thread that I just found. Excellent input from Rick and Dirk.

Question: Is there any benefit to using Qualarenu alone? In other words, if a uke is not severe enough to need a complete finish overhaul, but just has some crazing (quite a but of crazing, actually), is it reasonable to use Q, or does it just wear off?

Pete, what did you do to that particular uke after you used Q?

http://www.woodworkingshop.com/product/b61100055/

Pukulele Pete
07-29-2013, 12:21 AM
This is a useful 2011 thread that I just found. Excellent input from Rick and Dirk.

Question: Is there any benefit to using Qualarenu alone? In other words, if a uke is not severe enough to need a complete finish overhaul, but just has some crazing (quite a but of crazing, actually), is it reasonable to use Q, or does it just wear off?

Pete, what did you do to that particular uke after you used Q?

http://www.woodworkingshop.com/product/b61100055/
Well , I used the qualarenu and it did what it is supposed to do but the finish on my uke is so thin from what looks like alot of polishing from previous owners that I was afraid to buff it too much. When I put on the qualarenu it turned the finish a milky white and the buffing took it away but I figured I would stop before I buffed away the finish that is there. A good overspray would not stop me from buying a uke, the factory routinely oversprayed their guitars that came in for repairs. It takes an "expert" to tell if an instrument has been oversprayed, and then it is just their opinion , they could be wrong.

Pukulele Pete
07-29-2013, 03:25 AM
I just have to add that I mentioned my early 30's style 1 . It had more that a dozen cracks in the wood , a hole and other damage but I fixed them and resprayed the body with lacquer after wiping down with naptha and it came out fine. I has been years since I did it and it still looks fine. It sounds excellant to me but it is the only 30's Martin I've ever played.

Pukulele Pete
08-07-2013, 12:13 AM
I just want to add that after overspraying I waited two weeks for the lacquer to cure and then block sanded , and buffed the uke. I added this after seeing a uke on Ebay that had been oversprayed
and it looked like the seller sprayed over the fretboard ( no, don't do that) and mentioned a drip ( that should have been sanded and then buffed) . OK , I feel better now.

Pukulele Pete
08-07-2013, 12:55 AM
I may be wrong about that uke on Ebay but that is how it looks to me.