PDA

View Full Version : Finishes



Ron B
01-16-2014, 05:51 AM
hello all,

Have built 2 tenor size instruments which got good reaction from the recipients. (they're pretty talented musicians) Obviously I'm now hooked and am going to build some more. I sprayed can lacquer on the first instruments with wet-sanding between coats. The finish looked as good as I would wish it to look.
My question is probably pretty common. What's the best finish as far as sound qualities? It seems likely that some approaches would detract from the soundboard's ability to perform. Would all of these instruments perform best if they weren't finished at all? If the finish is primarily a protective preservative, why aren't we applying some on the inside too? Any house painter would tell you that wood lasts longer if you paint the back side before you nail it onto the house. The differential moisture absorption rates are what causes wood to warp and twist.

I'm basically looking for a simple but correct finish approach that won't compromise the sound and tone of the instrument.
If there are previously posted discussions of this topic here, I'd appreciate a lead to them.

Thanks,

Ron B

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-16-2014, 06:50 AM
Take your pick below. Don't get caught up with the 'best finish for best sound' thing. Wait a decade for that when your instruments are consistent enough to maybe hear it on a blue moon,...with a spectrum analyser.

~ Finishes you need a rag for
Shellac/French polish
Tung Oil rub

~ Finishes you need equipment for
Nitro
Poly etcetcetce

Michael N.
01-16-2014, 08:09 AM
Keep the finish thin. That seems to be the considered opinion. Many instruments that are made in a factory setting are very thick spray coatings that are designed to cover every single blemish of the wood.
To add to the above: Brush or sprayed.

Spirit (shellac based)
Oil Varnish (there are numerous types). Perhaps the one that really does show wood at it's best.

PS. The inside isn't (usually) finished simply because it isn't necessary. 4 or 5 hundred years of stringed instrument making tells us that, despite what the house painter says. Pretty hard to argue with that amount of experience.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-16-2014, 08:56 AM
Who said we don't finish the interiors? I'm with the house painter on this one and so are many of my peers. Tradition be damned, I always seal the interiors of my uke bodies. I have found it beneficial on many levels.
When considering types of finishes to use you need to look at what end result you are comfortable with, what your production level is, how concerned you are about your health, how much time you are willing to spend (and charge for) what kind of equipment you have or are willing to buy, what local regulations are concerning those types of finishes, etc. Knowing those parameters will be helpful in narrowing down your choices.

hawaii 50
01-16-2014, 09:23 AM
IMO..Chuck Moore does the best Nitro finish in the Ukulele world...my Milo/Spruce uke is unreal....nobody close...and the inside is nice too!!
Rick Turner does the best Polyester Gloss I have seen

btw Ryan who works with Noa at Ko'olau very good too..with nitro finishes...

but if the ukes don't sound great(like the guys above)..all to waste

my 2 cents...

Ron B
01-16-2014, 10:07 AM
Thanks guys. This is all very helpful. I might give the insides of the next builds a light spritz of sealer, though it occurs to me now that doing so without getting any on the surfaces to be glued might be complicated. I can see the point about keeping it thin since the wood's ability to vibrate has to be affected eventually. Picture 6 coats of house paint on a 1/16" soundboard. Also, intuition tells me that an oil that penetrates might make the wood "soggy" rather than "brittle". That concept also makes me wonder about grain fillers and whether filling the pores is a negative step. I'd really like to investigate waterborne finishes since I work in the cellar, and the finishing process inevitably allows some smells to get upstairs. It's likely I'm overthinking this, but there's a lot of time and effort involved, and a bit of research is worth it.
Any thoughts on odorless/low odor/ waterbased finishes would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Ron B

mzuch
01-16-2014, 10:44 AM
I've tried most of the finishes suggested in this thread, and in my experience, the best finish for the home-based, hobbyist builder is Tru-Oil. It is forgiving in its application, requires no special tools besides a clean rag, goes on thin, doesn't spew highly toxic solvents into the air, and makes an attractive satin finish. With that said, lately I've been spraying nitro in a homemade booth vented through a window, mainly because I'm a masochist and prefer a glossy finish.

Chris_H
01-16-2014, 10:58 AM
If you want to aim towards really nice finishes, I think waterborne finishes are not a great direction to go. They are not as friendly to work with as nitro, I have not used one that rubs out as well as good nitro, like Cardinal, and the color rendition over wood, in my experience, is terrible. Seconding what I understood Michael N. to say, oil varnish may be tops as far as bringing out the best in the color of wood, and is very friendly to work with once you have a system down. Using shellac as a sealer beneath waterbornes helps with color, but still.. waterborne finishes are a pain, IMO. Some people probably love them though.. French polish is not too stinky, and can be as beautiful as any finish. Actually, for the size of an uke, oil varnish might be a good way to go also, if you want to stay away from nitro. I like nitro for ukes, but if you are starting from scratch, tooling up for safe, professional application of nitro is not cheap, and there is a learning curve.

rudy
01-16-2014, 02:38 PM
Hi Ron,
I've been doing small shop application for close to 30 years and have tried just about every small shop solution possible. There are pluses and minuses to just about all of them; the best thing I've found to use is Minwax satin wipe-on poly. I built and sold many instruments and can tell you that satisfactory results can be obtained with just a bit of practice. You can check out my Tenor Uke build utilizing it here:

http://www.bluestemstrings.com/pageUke1.html

Tru-oil is probably the next best thing but requires WAY too much time due to a slow finish build requiring far too many coats. The other thing that factors into Tru-oil is that I've found it not to offer enough surface protection on a softer wood top such as spruce. My Tru-oiled spruce top instruments always ended up with surface dings and scratches, so I opted to find another product for that reason coupled with the need for too many coats for a good finish build.

Bruce Sexauer
01-16-2014, 03:10 PM
This subject is always extremely controversial as there are many different approaches that work, none of them actually easy if you're after professional results. That is to say there is a learning curve. Anyone who has climbed the ladder tends to like the ladder they climbed the best. I have done just about everything EXCEPT the modern technological UV cure variants. And I won't likely try them as I am a traditionalist as well as being an old guy and set in my ways. I started with Oil Varnish and went through nitro and waterborne where I stayed for many years before nostalgia took me back to my roots just for old times sake.

When I first used Varnish, back in the 60's and 70's, I learned to apply it with a brush, not unlike the Yachties do. This works great, and is low on tool requirements as a good brush (that is a can of worms) is basically it. There is a lot of sanding, an under rated skill. A brushed varnish is quite easy to get super thin, like .002, though it may not be as even as wished till that sanding skill is well honed.

When I started back at it I brushed, but having got quite skilled at spraying I tried that out with the varnish. For the last ten years I have never looked back. The negative is that it is messy for the gun. For that reason I favor the Harbor Freight $15 touch-up gun. When it gets ugly (every 12 instruments or so) I just toss it.

If the OP or anyone else is interested in my schedule, email (Not PM) and I'll send you it. If you want a visual sense of it look at the nearby Healdsburg thread.

Ron B
01-17-2014, 03:09 AM
Thanks again. I sort of knew that the waterborne route was wishful thinking. Never did see it used on a hardwood floor without being disappointed. Too bland looking, and does nothing to warm up the wood 's appearance.
I have used a few wipe-on products for small stuff over the years, and I think I'll focus on that approach. Any spray method just puts too much smell in the air, and I'm not really set up to arrange for a booth and ventilation.

"Progress through experimentation, but don't re-invent the wheel"

or as my first boss used to say, "work fast! we'll need time to do it over"

ksquine
01-17-2014, 04:45 AM
If I could invent a finish that truly went on thin, was tough and durable, looked good, and gave a professional mirror finish quickly with no effort I'd be a millionaire.....but everyone would poo-poo it for not being traditional. :rolleyes:

afreiki
01-17-2014, 06:05 AM
Following advice from luthiers on this site, I finally tried sanding meticulously, followed by an expoxy grain filler, scraped off with a credit card type item, sanded down from 220 to 6000 (I like the 3M polishing papers best after 600 grit sandpaper). Then Tru Oil, 2-3 very thin, thin coats, with a light once over with the 6000 paper between. I think it dries pretty quickly if you keep it thin. You get a surprisingly glossy finish this way. The Z-poxy is almost odorless, and the tru oil is just slightly musky smell (reminds me of a mink oil, although the tru oil is not truly an oil, from my understanding). No spray booth required, can do it all indoors, although ventilation is ALWAYS good.

Anne

finkdaddy
01-17-2014, 06:05 AM
Something else to look at would be Tru oil in a spray can.
I think you would still want to do a wipe on coat of Tru oil or even shellac first to help fill pores and what not, but I find the spray can works very well with virtually no oder at all.
I bought mine at Woodcraft, but I'm sure you could get it online too.

gerardg
01-17-2014, 06:31 AM
I agree with Anne.
See video here, about my way, with Danish Oil Liberon.
twice grit: 400 - 600 - 800 - 1000 - 1200 - 1500 - 2000 (Tamiya sand papers).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HKKkvhDN5M
All my ukes are finished like this (pics on my website).
Glassy finish, baby skin touch.
No spray, just open the window 20 mn, it will be ok...
Bye,
Gerard.


Following advice from luthiers on this site, I finally tried sanding meticulously, followed by an expoxy grain filler, scraped off with a credit card type item, sanded down from 220 to 6000 (I like the 3M polishing papers best after 600 grit sandpaper). Then Tru Oil, 2-3 very thin, thin coats, with a light once over with the 6000 paper between. I think it dries pretty quickly if you keep it thin. You get a surprisingly glossy finish this way. The Z-poxy is almost odorless, and the tru oil is just slightly musky smell (reminds me of a mink oil, although the tru oil is not truly an oil, from my understanding). No spray booth required, can do it all indoors, although ventilation is ALWAYS good.

Anne

Michael N.
01-17-2014, 07:29 AM
Just a few more thoughts on finishes that I've tried.
Tru Oil. I finished a Guitar entirely with Tru Oil some 12 years ago. I can't remember how many coats I gave it but I think it was well in excess of 20. You can get Tru Oil to a high Gloss finish, it's just not quite as glass hard looking as something like Nitro or French Polish. It's a nicer gloss IMO, a bit more friendly looking. That was my personal Guitar for 10 years. Tru Oil is a relatively soft finish though. No question about it. Providing you are very careful with the instrument it should hold up fine. It won't last forever but then again it's a simple affair to add more coats. 25 coats may sound like a lot but they are quick wipe on, wipe off. To coat a Back would take less than 1 minute. It's already been mentioned: you need a bit of cloth to apply it. It's low in VOC's. Being an Oil based finish it pops the grain.
Danish Oil (with resin). These vary enormously, depending who makes the stuff. The types that contain resin should hold up better than Tru Oil. The Liberon mentioned above contains a resin. Still a little on the soft side, at least the few brands that I've tried were. Again, apply enough coats and you can sand/buff to a pretty high gloss finish. I know because I've done it. You may need even more coats than the Tru Oil. It also has a lot more VOC's than Tru Oil.
Oil Varnish (applied with a brush). Most modern makers who use Oil Varnish are using a variation of a Spar Varnish. Epifanes is fairly common, Captains another. Pratt & Lambert 38 is also used by some makers. They contain a modern resin (either Phenolic, Alkyd, Urethane or combinations) in a drying Oil. The higher the resin to Oil ratio the harder and more brittle the varnish. Behlens Rockhard is one that I've tried. It's been the hardest Oil Varnish that I've ever used and straightforward in use. I disliked the heavy chemical smell and the strange colour caste that it gave to light coloured woods. I only used it once and then went back to using natural resin varnishes. I've also recently tried a pure Alkyd varnish that is more like the old fashioned Yacht types but it's simply too early to give any definitive views on this stuff. So far I'm liking it.
All the above require very little in terms of equipment. Some of them will need adequate ventillation - mostly just an open window. If I was wanting a real simple but fine looking finish I would go with the Tru Oil and accept that it needed some maintenance along the way. If I was looking for a harder and more durable finish I would opt for a short Oil Varnish brushed on finish. Either that or a Spirit Varnish/French polish. The Oil varnish looks better than a French Polished finish in my experience.
Nitro I wouldn't go within 100 yards of. It can look mighty fine but the fumes/health effects are simply not worth it - at least not for me.
Oil varnish and Spirit (Shellac) can both be sprayed but obviously that involves a lot more equipment and VERY good extraction.

Ron B
01-17-2014, 09:21 AM
Hello again,

I'm really appreciative of the depth of peoples' answers and suggestions. I'm going for a finish that shows off the wood and work, but I don't want people to be afraid to touch it. I've used Formby's wipe-on "tung oil" finish with pretty good results on some small non-instrument projects, and have been pleasantly surprised. I get the feeling that the Tru-oil is a similar system, and I'm going to give it a try. The thought of all of those brushes and spray-guns I won't be cleaning is a pretty good one.

Thanks again,

Ron B

Bruce Sexauer
01-17-2014, 09:47 AM
Penetrating oils are generally thought of an inappropriate for instruments because they change the nature of the wood and cannot be removed without also removing wood. I think of Danish and TrueOil in this category. Sealing with epoxy (described above) would subvert this issue, but then you'd be epoxy/plastic coated, which I cannot stand the idea of. Also, penetrating oil are designed to penetrate and be wiped off the surface, so not penetrating means they'd be close to entirely wiped off, which means MANY applications and uncertain results.

Spar Varnish (which I've tried) is the wrong stuff for our purposes. It never entirely dries, stays flexible, and always feels slightly sticky, assuming we mean actual spar varnish as you get in the Marine Chandlery. What we do want is designed to be used in the interior of houses. It used to be called cabinet varnish, maybe still is somewhere. It is not meant to be waterproof, though it pretty much is. There are still a number of makers of this kind of thing, but the reformulation for modern requirements is handled in different ways and often seems to work aginst us. Behlen Rockhard is a good example. I used it for years and then suddenly the next can was a greenish amber color, and took much longer to dry. I am currently (over five years now) using something carried in my corner hardware store called Ace Interior Oil Varnish. It is a non-pretentious product that really does the job, and it's not even expensive! Seal with Zinnser Sander/Sealer NOT Zinsser Shellac which is waxed. Both are spirit based shellacs.

afreiki
01-17-2014, 10:14 AM
I believe tru oil is not a penetrating oil, and the name is somewhat misleading. And yes, it is a very thin wipe on/wipe off coat, but you don't need more than 3 coats.

Anne

cedarwax
01-17-2014, 10:34 AM
First, my disclaimer:
I've not built a ukulele (yet); I will this Spring. I have, however, built custom furniture for the last 30 years. I've tried all sorts of finishes, including spraying.
So, that being said, shellac is a wonderful sealer/filler. Easy to apply, not expensive, quick drying, allowing a number of coats in a day. As Bruce Sexauer correctly wrote, make sure to use de-waxed shellac for good adhesion with your oil of choice topcoat(s). Shellac has a 'flexible' nature, which I suspect, could help, not hinder, the vibration of the soundboard/top. If one seals/fills the wood well and achieves a nice level surface, then only 2-3 thin applications of oil will give a beautiful finish. We all know each finishing method has it's charms, and detractions; I personally love the warmth, and 'friendliness' of oil over shellac.

Sven
01-17-2014, 11:00 AM
I'm struggling with French polished shellac. It's hard but dammit I've set my mind to it and I will persevere. I bought a buffing wheel and mounted it on my lathe but the compound I bought was rubbish, so the jury's still out on buffing the shellac once it's on. You're not supposed to need buffing but I wanted to try.

cedarwax
01-17-2014, 11:15 AM
Hi Sven,
Buffing shellac is dicy. It's a comparatively 'soft' finish. Too much speed with the buffing wheel can warm, and drag the shellac, even with a compound. I've managed (after much learning the hard way) to achieve very nice satin, semi-gloss, or gloss shellac finishes by rubbing out with a slurry comprised of mineral oil and either pumice, or rottenstone. Pumice comes in different grit/coarseness grades (2F, 3F, etc.). Rottenstone is the finest grit/grade; suitable for a lovely gloss.

Michael N.
01-17-2014, 11:49 AM
I believe tru oil is not a penetrating oil, and the name is somewhat misleading. And yes, it is a very thin wipe on/wipe off coat, but you don't need more than 3 coats.

Anne

Doesn't really matter what you call it but it's still Oil based. As such the 'tone police' will not like you putting it on bare wood.
I've been putting Oil on bare wood for years. The interesting thing about putting Oil on bare wood is that it's supposed to be a 'tone killer', dampening the sound. But that is exactly what numerous Lute makers are doing, probably as I type this. The tension of a Lute string is around 3Kg, very low. If Oil had such a detrimental effect on the sound you can be sure you will hear the effects on a Lute. It doesn't seem that anyone can though. There's some world class makers (not to mention Players) whose instruments have had an Oil finish (quite often Liberon Danish Oil) directly applied to the soundboard. They can't hear it and neither can I.
I have to disagree a little with what Bruce stated about Spar varnishes. Generally speaking he may be correct because Spar Varnishes are designed to remain flexible given the conditions under which they are exposed. Not all Spar varnishes are the same though, which is also true of oil varnishes that are designed for internal house woodwork. High Oil ratios/low resin content is what gives the Spar varnish it's flexibilty and relatively soft feel. For example my recent Spar varnish has a much higher resin content than the Pratt & Lambert 38 - which is not sold as a Spar varnish. There's no doubt that my Spar varnish will dry harder and less flexible than the Pratt & Lambert.

Michael N.
01-17-2014, 12:08 PM
Hi Sven,
Buffing shellac is dicy. It's a comparatively 'soft' finish. Too much speed with the buffing wheel can warm, and drag the shellac, even with a compound. I've managed (after much learning the hard way) to achieve very nice satin, semi-gloss, or gloss shellac finishes by rubbing out with a slurry comprised of mineral oil and either pumice, or rottenstone. Pumice comes in different grit/coarseness grades (2F, 3F, etc.). Rottenstone is the finest grit/grade; suitable for a lovely gloss.

I agree that the buffing wheel is not the safest way to work shellac. I'm not convinced of producing satin or semi gloss with abrasives though. I've tried it (including the wirewool) and if you look closely (especially in raking light) you can always see the micro scratches. That only leaves the use of flattening agents mixed in with the finish and even those have drawbacks. The only semi gloss that I've achieved with Shellac/french polishing is to avoid the glazing/polishing stage. I flatten with 1,000G and then do a series of straight lines with the pad, not so dilute as glazing polish though. No oil. The thinned polish is enough to fill in the scratches left by the 1,000G but not thin or dry enough to give a full glaze. It effectively leaves some very fine straight lines from the cloth, enough to scatter the light. Some French Polishers would think it was an unfinished surface but if you want to avoid the 'sheet of glass look' that is one of the better methods that I've found. It does have a certain 'organic' look to it though. It's certainly not the usual method of french Polishing but I quite like the fact that it isn't so refined.
Sven. Instead of going through all the grits and the polishing compound try the more traditional way of finishing using the pad and glazing. Rub down with 1,000G and then fill in with very dilute polish done in straight lines. You can use a bit of Oil if you want. You may have to do 6 or 7 sessions of straight lines to fill in the scratches (drying time inbetween). Each session (say on a Back) will only last a few minutes. No need to spend lengthy sessions on this. Allow it to harden for a couple of days. The very final 'polishing' is done with a pad that has very little moisture in it, almost dry - you almost think that such a pad would have any effect. This is the bit that turns it into glass. ALWAYS remove the oil after any session of French Polishing. I rarely see this advise highlighted. If you use too much oil and fail to remove it you tend to get clusters of semi dried oil and witness lines showing up. You might not notice them until you go to the high gloss - right at the end.

Bruce Sexauer
01-17-2014, 01:46 PM
I have used 2 quarts of P&L 38, though both went off in the can in less than a month after being opened, which is faster than I use Varnish. It is THE fastest drying oil varnish I have used. It is also out of production, according to the source I had been getting it from, though that may well have changed. This experience was around 6 years ago.

Varnish formulae are all over the map since it is a class of finish which is not specific to the the solids or the hardeners. Therefore it is not entirely useful to say things like "Spar Varnish" and expect it's very meaningful. The Spar Varnish I had trouble with was Man'o'war, though it didn't seem a lot different than "Ancient Mariner", a brand I have used only for bright work on boats. Epiphanes I have not used, but it is a 2 part system, I'm told by my associate Laurent Brondel who has championed it to me. This makes it outside my experience and I have no idea.

I also cannot comment re French Polish as I haven't done it. The reason I haven't done it is it is simply too high maintenance for real world stringed instruments in my experience. Lutes are an excellent example of non-real world instruments, and high end classical guitars are another. I mention them so you will know what I mean by "real world", hopefully. I like my instrument to be able to be "taken along" for whatever adventure their owner is up to next. If I were going to buff FP, I think I wouldn't bother padding it at all, but would take the spirit varnish route and spray it. It doesn't actually take that much investment in equipment to spray something as small as a Uke because the compressor needn't have more than around a ten air gallon reserve, though more is always better.

Sven
01-17-2014, 08:03 PM
Bruce, cedarwax and Michael, thanks for the advice. Really appreciate it.

backwoodsmark
01-22-2014, 08:07 PM
I like the idea of the shellac/oil finish. Do you fill the pores with shellac? I've never had any luck sanding or trying to level shellac. Do you have a method for that? I could use a pore filler I guess. Do you have an oil or varnish that you favor? One of the problems I have with slow drying finishes like oil is the dust. In my little shop all the dust making tools are all right there.

Sven
01-22-2014, 08:41 PM
I'm very hesitant in recommending some of my methods, be it planing, carving or finishing. As i've stated in this thread I haven't mastered the final steps yet to achieve that lustrous shine. And what works for me and my safety around sharp tools when carving may not work for others.

Shellac is a fragile finish and I suspect some people's sweat can wear it down/off quite effectively. The main advantages for me are 1. It's non toxic. 2. It dries fast so the risk of dust particles getting stuck is small. 3. It's great fun and quite meditative. 4. You don't need equipment beyond a good muneca, mine has a wool core and is covered with rags from my old clothes.

If you want to experiment with shellac I can recommend this article that got me in the right direction:

http://classicalguitarsint.com/article/Introduction_How_To_French_Polish_Classical_Guitar s

But now I do lay it on a teensy bit heavier for the bodying coats and I use less oil. But the method in the article is a good place to start. Pore filling depends on the wood of course. I never pore fill cherry, don't need to. I have done the pumice method on mahogany but the one I'm working on now really didn't need it, the pores were much smaller.

So do listen to the warnings about durability but do also try it for yourself. If you don't feel like doing a solid shellac finish after a few attempts, shellac is very handy to have in the shop as a sealer.

Good luck / Sven

backwoodsmark
01-23-2014, 02:23 PM
Anne I wondered if you had left a thin layer of epoxy over the whole surface or is it just in the pores? Also I wasn't aware that 3m made polishing paper up to 6000 grit. Where do you get yours? Do you apply the tru oil then wipe it off right away? Sorry for so many questions at once. I used to finish guitars with tru oil, but I was wiping it on and leaving it. when I got to the last coat I just prayed that it dried smooth, but there was always dust nibs.

backwoodsmark
01-23-2014, 02:40 PM
How can I find out which varnishes have a high resin content? They don't tell you on the can. Its very understandable that not everyone wants to share all their secrets. I just wanted to find a high resin fast drying oil varnish.

Michael N.
01-23-2014, 08:24 PM
It's not simply a matter of having a high resin content. That usually gives you one factor i.e. hard. Hard materials also tend to be brittle though and you need to know that the stuff will bond to the surface. Hard doesn't always equate with tough. Even on my non real world instruments :confused: I've used long oil varnishes. They tend to scratch more easily but fracture less. If you want a 'safe' approach just use Epifanes and follow the procedure of Laurent Blondel. It's on the net somewhere.
Alternately ask the manufacturers of the varnish the Oil/Resin ratio. They may give you that information. It hardly reveals the actual recipe.
Shellac as a 'resin' is a pretty hard material. Try scratching a flake with the fingernail. The misunderstanding with Shellac comes from people who don't allow enough time for the Shellac to fully harden and the fact that french Polishing results in an extremely thin finish. There is also a huge variation in the different types of Shellac. It's near impossible to think of a Shellac finish as being one standard product. There are simply too many variations, not only in the Shellac itself but the method of applying it.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
01-26-2014, 06:50 AM
Michael,

What shellac(s) do you use and where do you suggest getting them from??

thanks

cedarwax
01-26-2014, 07:01 AM
Michael N.'s comments are very good. Shellac is a very tough finish once it's had time to cure. It's also comparatively simple to repair. I brush it on with a good quality brush, in continuous strokes, not 'back and forth'. I'll build up a few coats (usually a 2lb. cut); then lightly sand with a sanding block and 220 grit to level everything. Final treatment is a matter of choice; 400, 800 grit paper; or pumice or rottenstone. The finish will protect an instrument; it's thicker than French polish done this way. Of course, shellac doesn't like alcohol or water spilled on it. Play sober.

cedarwax
01-26-2014, 07:38 AM
oops!
To Beau:
I've been pleased with shellac flakes from Woodworker's Supply (pro.woodworker.com). The brand was 'JE Moser's. Then you can mix the quantity and cut you want to use.

mzuch
01-26-2014, 08:25 AM
http://www.shellacshack.com/

Michael N.
01-26-2014, 09:01 AM
Michael,

What shellac(s) do you use and where do you suggest getting them from??

thanks

I use a few types but it nearly all comes from Shellac.net. It's not so easy to get the very light coloured grades here in the UK. Most of the stuff seems to come through Liberon.
I use the light coloured Button Polish from Shellac.net a lot. It adds a touch of colour but not as much as the readily available Button polish. I've never seen the stuff sold in the UK.
Cedarwax is basically doing a Spirit varnish. I do more of a Spirit varnish than French Polishing these days. It's much faster and produces equally good results IMO. It does take practice to become proficient at it. Don't think it's an easy way out, it isn't. You need a decent brush but they don't have to cost a lot. I like the Chinese Hake (Goat hair) brushes even though I have brushes that are 20 times the price.

http://www.amazon.com/Royal-Langnickel-Large-Chinese-Brushes/dp/B000H86SUQ

Mine are similar but have the metal ferrule. I doubt that it matters. They are soft, floppy brushes - which is what is required for brushing Shellac. I use much thinner Shellac than Cedarwax, it's very water like consistency. Probably a 1 lb cut. I can brush 'back and forth' but maybe 3 strokes maximum, then I have to move. Quick, confident overlapping strokes. See a 'mistake', forget it. Don't ever try to go back and correct. I can do as many as 16 coats but it really does take seconds to do a coat on a Back.