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JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 03:14 AM
Anyone have any idea what I can use as a finish? The only work area I have has no ventilation whatsoever.

dhoenisch
11-19-2012, 03:20 AM
You can use Tru-oil with really good results, or do a french polishing. I'd vote for Tru-oil though for the mere ease of it. Of course, I'm not a professional, and others on this board will give you much better tried and true ideas.

Dan

Pukulele Pete
11-19-2012, 03:33 AM
A good shellac will have only an alcohol smell , which I like.

Sven
11-19-2012, 03:35 AM
If "no ventilation whatsoever" means exactly that, I'd pick french polish over tru-oil. But there might be some kind of finish with even less odor. French polishing is something that takes a bit of practice, and some woods are easier than others.

Sven

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 03:42 AM
You can use Tru-oil with really good results, or do a french polishing. I'd vote for Tru-oil though for the mere ease of it. Of course, I'm not a professional, and others on this board will give you much better tried and true ideas.

Dan

I'm a little hesitant to do a French polish - it seems rather involved. Also, there are no good supplies of Tru-oil in Canada other than Cabelas, and they're out of stock...

ModlrMike
11-19-2012, 03:47 AM
I'm a little hesitant to do a French polish - it seems rather involved. Also, there are no good supplies of Tru-oil in Canada other than Cabelas, and they're out of stock...

Have you tried looking for a gun smith? They might have it in good quantity. Conversely if you're near the border you can pop down to the States and pick some up.

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 03:54 AM
If "no ventilation whatsoever" means exactly that, I'd pick french polish over tru-oil. But there might be some kind of finish with even less odor. French polishing is something that takes a bit of practice, and some woods are easier than others.

Sven

You got it - my workshop space is in a concrete box (i.e.: basement with no windows). My house has no duct work, and I'd rather not open all the windows - it's a little chilly here right now.

Anyone ever use walnut oil as a finish? I know that it's used for kitchen tools/bowls?

PhilUSAFRet
11-19-2012, 04:11 AM
To date, have only used Tru Oil on gun stocks. It has an odor, but have never found it to be a "problem."

thistle3585
11-19-2012, 04:13 AM
Out source the finishing. You could go so far as to send it to a company that specializes in complete instrument finishing or find a local cabinet shop that will hang it in their booth and spray lacquer on it as they spray cabinets. Once its dried for a couple days then you can bring it back and do the final sanding and buffing.

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 04:26 AM
Out source the finishing. You could go so far as to send it to a company that specializes in complete instrument finishing or find a local cabinet shop that will hang it in their booth and spray lacquer on it as they spray cabinets. Once its dried for a couple days then you can bring it back and do the final sanding and buffing.

Thanks for the suggestion. I do know that this is an option. However, i'm just a hobby builder and don't really need any sort of particularly fancy finish. Plus, I don't have the cash to out-source; i'd rather buy more materials/tools for the next build. Lastly, I like to be able to do touch ups myself, should I need to.

mrhandy
11-19-2012, 04:30 AM
Do you have Dicks sporting goods in Canada? We have them all over the place down here, and they stock it in store.

Edit, Tru Oil that is.

resoman
11-19-2012, 04:36 AM
Here's a really good tutorial on french polish http://www.milburnguitars.com/fpbannerframes.html

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 04:49 AM
mrhandy -

We don't have Dick's Sporting Goods in Canada, though apparently there are lots of Dicks in the US ;)

I can get it shipped up here from various places in the states but i'm not keen on waiting nor paying the shipping.


resoman -

Thanks for that, looks super detailed and helpful. I think, perhaps, I'll think about giving it a try on my next build.

resoman
11-19-2012, 04:51 AM
You used to be able to get TrueOil at most gun dealers

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 04:54 AM
You used to be able to get TrueOil at most gun dealers

I don't think there are quite as many gun dealers here... In fact, I would be hard-pressed to tell someone where to go to buy a gun.

resoman
11-19-2012, 05:16 AM
LMI and Amazon both carry it.
Birchwood Casey has it on their website too.

Rick Turner
11-19-2012, 06:22 AM
Boy, you are unbelievably resistant to good suggestions; you are impatient; you are looking for something that doesn't exist; and you are completely unrealistic about building and finishing ukes if you have no ventilation in your workshop.

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 06:59 AM
Boy, you are unbelievably resistant to good suggestions; you are impatient; you are looking for something that doesn't exist; and you are completely unrealistic about building and finishing ukes if you have no ventilation in your workshop.

Mr Turner,

I do appreciate and consider all of the feedback given by responders to my original post. Perhaps, I should have been clearer as to what my goals and restrictions are so that I can elicit the best and most helpful responses.
I am aiming to build ukes for fun and in such a way as to not break the bank. My goal is not to produce perfect, flawless instruments. For me, good enough is good enough. I have done only a few from-kit builds so far. With each new build, I try to stretch myself a little and add on something new. In my current build, these new techniques have included: thicknessing a sound board by hand, cutting a sound-hole and using a router to cut away the over-hang.
I am a beginner and have made lots of mistakes but continue to learn from them.

The finish of this particular instrument is not a priority. I am simply looking for something that I can accomplish myself in the space I have available. French polish sounds intriguing, but the time and learning involved are not in the cards for this build. As for Tru-oil, I am concerned about the lack of ventilation.
Perhaps you are right, and I am being impatient. But, I am excited with how well the rest of the instrument is turning out and would like to string it up as soon as I can.

I appreciate the fact that you are a premier builder. Clearly, you do not subscribe to the "good enough is good enough" philosophy of building; everyone can see this by looking at any of your instruments. They tend toward perfection. I also appreciate that this is the Luthier's Lounge, though my understanding was that this forum was for all ukulele builders, both green and experienced.

Aside from your suggestion of simply giving up on building entirely since I do not have a suitable space, do you have any thoughts on a finish that does not require ventilation nor a great deal of time and practice (i.e.: french polish)? or does this simply not exist?

~Jamie

Rick Turner
11-19-2012, 07:04 AM
Good enough is good enough...but that means something like TruOil or French polish or brushed on varnish. All have fume issues to a certain extent, but really not what you are imagining. Those simply are the best finishes for low-tech shop setups. Unless you want to go through the pain of trying to deal with water borne lacquers or urethanes, which are best sprayed.

My dad used to use TruOil on his gunstocks, and the fumes really are no big deal.

ModlrMike
11-19-2012, 07:12 AM
I forgot to mention that you could use Minwax Wipe On Poly (in the silver can). I've used this regularly over a spit coat of shellac and it works quite well. You don't really need much ventilation with this product as you're only applying a little at a time. I use the Zinser Shellac that you get a Home Depot. Make sure you get the clear, and that the label says dewaxed.

LINK - Minwax (http://www.minwax.ca/wood-products/interior-clear-protective-finishes/minwax-wipeon-poly)

LINK- Zinsser (http://www.rustoleum.ca/CBGProduct.asp?pid=116)

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 07:13 AM
Good enough is good enough...but that means something like TruOil or French polish or brushed on varnish. All have fume issues to a certain extent, but really not what you are imagining. Those simply are the best finishes for low-tech shop setups. Unless you want to go through the pain of trying to deal with water borne lacquers or urethanes, which are best sprayed.

My dad used to use TruOil on his gunstocks, and the fumes really are no big deal.

Thanks, Rick.

I used Tung Oil on my previous build and found that I had to have ventilation (it was the summer and I could run my giant exhaust fan - this sucker pulls a gale-full of air through the windows on the far side of my basement, enough to keep my shop area vented). I was satisfied with the result.

I looked a bit at water-based varnishes. What about these is problematic to brush on?

thistle3585
11-19-2012, 07:24 AM
So, there is ventilation then? If that is the case, then plumb and incoming air duct right next to the outgoing fan, put the uke just below the duct work and it will create a direct air flow that wont sap your home of all its heat.

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 07:43 AM
So, there is ventilation then? If that is the case, then plumb and incoming air duct right next to the outgoing fan, put the uke just below the duct work and it will create a direct air flow that wont sap your home of all its heat.

No there is no duct work and no ability to exhaust except when the weather is warm(er than room temp). The exhaust fan I spoke of is a whole-house cooling device. It is about 2.5 feet square and embedded in the ceiling at the top of the stairs on the second floor. It is meant to be used in the summer to suck the hot air out of the house and to bring in cool air through the windows from the outside. It works great in the morning to bring in the cool night air. I can use it to vent my workshop by opening the two windows on the far side of the basement from my workshop, then closing all other windows in the house. When the fan is on, the air is sucked in through these windows, through the workshop, up through the rest of the house and out the exhaust fan. Installing ductwork up from the basement and to enclose the giant exhaust fan is, unfortunately, not feasible. It would probably be easier to install an additional, small, exhaust fan and a small amount of duct work and vent out through the dryer duct.

Someday maybe, but first I should probably put in some sort of barrier to block the saw dust from getting on all the clean clothes in the laundry room adjoining my workspace!

Pete Howlett
11-19-2012, 07:44 AM
Doh... you've been given great advice and you don't take it - best of luck with whatever you do.

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 07:53 AM
Doh... you've been given great advice and you don't take it - best of luck with whatever you do.

Haven't done anything yet, Pete. I'm just trying to find a solution that works with what I have. Tru-oil in the summertime would be ideal. Perhaps, I need to be patient and wait till then or see if I can do the finishing in my parents' garage over Christmas.

Someday, once I've figured some of these things out, I don't doubt that i'll be ordering one of your kits. Have any idea when they're going to be back up on your site?

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-19-2012, 08:17 AM
Why finish in your basement?
Go outside (anywhere with no people, or people who won't complain) and use a cheapy spray on like:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Zinsser-12-Oz-Clear-Bulls-Eye-Shellac-Spray-00408-Set-of-6-/110914067135?pt=Paint_Paint_Supplies&hash=item19d2fe5abf

Good enough results for your first few attempts and dries in a few mins.

Even if its snowing outside this would be doable.
Windy? Use a cardboard box or a midget dressed as a clown as a wind break.

You can brush on anything (Cardinal Nitro etc), just be prepared to sand/cut back in proportion to how flat you can brush it on. High brush marks need more cutting back, and longer drying times.

JamieFromOntario
11-19-2012, 08:34 AM
Why finish in your basement?
Go outside (anywhere with no people, or people who won't complain) and use a cheapy spray on like:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Zinsser-12-Oz-Clear-Bulls-Eye-Shellac-Spray-00408-Set-of-6-/110914067135?pt=Paint_Paint_Supplies&hash=item19d2fe5abf

Good enough results for your first few attempts and dries in a few mins.

Even if its snowing outside this would be doable.
Windy? Use a cardboard box or a midget dressed as a clown as a wind break.

You can brush on anything (Cardinal Nitro etc), just be prepared to sand/cut back in proportion to how flat you can brush it on. High brush marks need more cutting back, and longer drying times.

Thanks for the suggestion.

I think I might try this over Christmas at my parents' place (yet another thing I can't do right at my house - it's a town home and they get up in arms about pretty much everything. I put my garbage out 20 minutes early once and got a written 'warning'). I think I even have a can or spray shellac floating around.
Would you be at all concerned about leaving the uke to dry in the dry and cold outside?


Could you provide me with the midget clown? Is this what you use? Any particular benefits? Sounds like more fun than a cardboard box. :)

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
11-19-2012, 08:54 AM
I keep my midget in his own cardboard box so its a win-win- i stand them next to each other while spraying and watch him make balloon animals while i spray ;)

do a few tests on scrap to determine dry times etc and to practice spray can method (or any method, including method acting which is what my midget majored in). Shouldn't more then 5-10 mins dry time - use wire hook through tuner holes to hang it- i wouldn't be concerned with hanging- apart from if its really chilly or its windy where dust and other foreign objects (like Australians) can upset a finish.

Rick Turner
11-19-2012, 09:32 AM
French polish and use 190 proof ethanol (drinkable grain alcohol) for the thinner. Mix your own. Drink it when you get fidgety. Yes, you'll smell the stuff, but both the shellac and the alcohol are non-toxic in reasonable doses. Use walnut oil in it, and you've got salad dressing...for a shiny salad...

I fail to see what the problem is unless you're doing this in a closet. Paranoia? Is it thinking that just because you can smell something it must be harmful? You can do the TruOil thing in a reasonable sized closed room without it being a big deal. Sure, you'll smell it, but so what? You're not doing production work.

Michael N.
11-19-2012, 10:14 AM
Just learn to brush Shellac on. It's quick (actually very quick) and about as minimalist as one can get. Oh, and the finish is extremely good if you practice a bit.
This and Tru-Oil are pretty harmless unless you are spraying the stuff.

dhoenisch
11-19-2012, 10:17 AM
To add about Tru-Oil, I was applying it to some scraps of different kinds of wood. Pre-sanded them in my shop and took them home with me. Every night after work, I would sit on my recliner and apply a coat to each piece of wood until I got 7-coats in, with awesome results. Nice glossy and even finish. Just watch YouTube for some videos on applying the stuff. Easy as sin, and the "fumes" is nothing more than the smell of the stuff. I know a gun shop owner who applies the stuff in his small back room and is still alive to tell about it. There's absolutely nothing in Tru-Oil that will kill you. Safe stuff, apply it while watching TV. Can't be easier.

Dan

Gyozu
11-19-2012, 10:27 AM
Any chance there is a place you can go apply a finish at? I know out local community college has a razzle dazzle high tech wood shop and an autobody shop. Both of which have finishing areas. I also have several people in the woodworking community that will allow me to come into their shop to do work that I do not have the tools to do what I need. Several of the local high schools have science labs with fume hoods. Mooch around, something will appear that will work for your project and budget.

If you want to reduce your finishing, build the bodies out of High Pressure Laminate like Formica. Before you laugh/scoff http://www.martinguitar.com/ukuleles/item/140-0xk-uke.html
I have a basement shop and am limited to outdoor woodworking. It is what it is.

Safety is paramount , you are the most important tool in the shop.

jcalkin
11-19-2012, 11:28 AM
This has been a fun string. I've often hoped elves would sneak into my shop at night and do my finish work, but I never considered a midget clown. I've often asked H&D for a hunchback dwarf assistant. He could sit at his own little bench and pull the tape off my bindinig work, and do a little dwarf dance when the radio played the right music. God, this is getting so sick, and I know I'm going to hell for admitting this.

resoman
11-19-2012, 12:30 PM
I'm always kinda hoping the Menehune will come in when I'm asleep and do my finishing but all they do is rearrange my shop so I can't find anything.
Little rascals anyways!!

Rick Turner
11-19-2012, 03:17 PM
Do it in your bathroom with the fart fan on.

Liam Ryan
11-19-2012, 05:51 PM
Do it in your bathroom with the fart fan on.

Are we still talking about ukes?

southcoastukes
11-19-2012, 05:51 PM
What woods, Jamie?

oudin
11-23-2012, 04:38 PM
Let me preface this by saying that I do this stuff full time, so I have a biased perspective. Tru-Oil fumes are NOT "no big deal." The bottle warns to use with adequate ventilation due to petroleum distillates. Don't ignore this. Unless permanent brain damage is no big deal, use this stuff outside and/or with a ventilator. If some of you guys think I'm over reacting, let me reiterate that I use this kind of stuff weekly if not daily, and I want to be able to continue doing so for a long time. It only took one major fume high and forty eight hours of headache for me to take health consequences more seriously. If you want very similar results to tru-oil, get 'tried and true varnish oil' from lee valley. It takes two or three weeks to dry, but thats no big deal ultimately. Or get some stand oil, fir resin, and d-limonene. This will cost you next to nothing and work great, take two or three weeks to dry, and feel freakin hesh to execute. Furthermore although french polish is difficult and time consuming, shellac is not. One or two coats of flake/everclear shellac will look like six coats of tru-oil and probably sound better than any other finish. Just practice on a couple of chunks of whatever sanded up to 300 grit to get an idea of what you are doing.

ukulian
11-23-2012, 09:52 PM
. Then you can apply a bees wax or carnuba wax finish at home.

Apply the wax with a fine (000 or 0000) wire wool and buff between coats. Leave for a week before stringing.

Doc_J
11-24-2012, 02:29 AM
Apply the wax with a fine (000 or 0000) wire wool and buff between coats. Leave for a week before stringing.

That's what I was thinking, why not just use paste wax (or Howards Feed N Wax) on the bare wood? It's not a very good finish, but if nothing else will do....
They used to use wax on hardwood floors here in Atlanta, before the days of polyurethane. Professional flooring folks would wax and polish the floors about every year or longer.

Hey, what about boiled linseed oil? It is non-toxic, but can have a strong odor (nauseating) and can spontaneously combust if rags are not stored properly.

Pondoro
11-24-2012, 02:57 AM
Order some Tru-Oil on line or wait for it to come into stock at your local sporting goods store. Canadians hunt and fish. Wal-Marts in rural areas of the US often have Tru-Oil, city Wal-marts do not.

Tru-Oil it outside, or in an enclosed parking garage, or in your kitchen. Yes it has petroleum distillates, no it does not have a lot of fumes. It is fairly low volatility. All the other wiping stains/varnishes have more fumes, in my experience.

Liam Ryan
11-24-2012, 03:38 AM
just whatever you do, don't open a bottle of hooch in the house. All sorts of safety rules could be compromised.

eor
11-24-2012, 05:24 AM
hey jaime

tru oil is super easy, i have done a bunch of gunstocks over the years. all it smells like is linseed oil. no chemical smell really and the odor is not very persistant, easy clean up. its also very common in canada though not always easy to get "right this minute". ask any hunters you know because its "the" product for gun stock refinishing. its often on ebay .ca and kijiji ( was on kijiji ontario a few months back.). try walmart, crappy tire, any sporting stores ect... olso easier to find in the fall. its made by a company called birchwood - casey a well known company in gun supply circles.


I enjoy your posts and your guerrilla (sp) building perspective.

i have a bit of a bottle of tru oil here and will be using it on a shotgun i am redoing but if you want i could spare a small sample, enought to get a feel for it. pm me and i can put it in the mail this week.

good luck

eor