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Thread: Why? .... Urethane? Gloss? Satin?

  1. #21
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    Feb 2019
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    I have a couple instruments with traditional French polish and, they looked great for about a week. Very quickly the finish turned to goo where my arm and hands touch and most of the finish a real mess after a few years. Look like it was left out in the rain for a few days! Of course I live in hot and humid Nuuanu Valley and I'm sure French polish will fare better in more temperate climates. On the other hand my instruments with polyester finishes look and feel like new after years of gigs and practice. I do think the French polish sounds better but proved not to be a practical finish for me.

  2. #22
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    Apr 2019
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    Wisconsin, central USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBearUkes View Post
    From this luthiers perspective on the best finish, its one that can be repaired or renewed if needed. That leaves varnish, shellac, oil and nitro lacquer. I hate the poly stuff.
    That's the same experience that I have with using shellac on furniture. I'll use light cuts ( 30-50% ) to raise the grain, thoroughly dry, then keep adding 5-10 light layers, buffing with 0000 steel wool between dried coats. After drying in low humidity for 3-4 days I start applying/buffing with a wax product called "Brixwax". The effort is similar to French Polishing, but fewer coats and less likely to give that sticky feel in subsequent humid climes. Customers must lightly re-wax every few years to maintain protective surface.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. #23
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    Apr 2019
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    Wisconsin, central USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Howlett View Post
    Web Parrot (do you have a real name?) If you did a thorough search of this site you would have all your answers and it would save a lot of boring repetition...
    Thank you for the concise reply. As to your parenthetical question, my friends call me Web; my Mother calls me Webster. You can call me "Sir"

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Australia.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    I have a couple instruments with traditional French polish and, they looked great for about a week. Very quickly the finish turned to goo where my arm and hands touch and most of the finish a real mess after a few years. Look like it was left out in the rain for a few days! Of course I live in hot and humid Nuuanu Valley and I'm sure French polish will fare better in more temperate climates. On the other hand my instruments with polyester finishes look and feel like new after years of gigs and practice. I do think the French polish sounds better but proved not to be a practical finish for me.
    Peter,
    Your experience with FP must be very disappointing, although not that surprising, as it is well documented that some body chemistries react poorly with FPed finishes. The fact that it started to deteriorate after only a week seems atypical of a well executed job.
    FPed shellac is one of the first finishes that I went close to mastering (perhaps not close enough), and I have one classical guitar build that I see fairly frequently that is still in good shape, finish-wise, after circa 25 years. It is part of a large collection, so it probably doesn't get a regular 'flogging'.
    The downfalls of good FP application include: Using too much lubricant/oil, too many 'coats' in too shorter time with insufficient drying time between, coating too thickly, having too much water content in the alcohol solvent, and using old, age-affected shellac flakes. I can vouch for the last one after an elderly cousin gave me some flakes out of the back of his shed that he had last used on a school woodworking project. The flakes swelled and then turned to jelly without dissolving completely.
    All of the mistakes listed have, sadly, been learned by experience, or more accurately, by inexperience.
    I would never discourage any new builder from trying this process, as there is something about an FPed finish that soothes the senses.... perhaps it comes from the knowing that this is one of the techniques used by the old masters.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    Central Texas
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    I'm no pro builder.... Not by a longshot but I do have an opinion. I use tong oil for my instrument builds. It applies easy (just wipe on and wipe off) with a light sanding between coats. It brings out the grain of the wood, ages well, cures to a fair hardness, and has little effect on the tone and is (for those on a budget) inexpensive. I apply 3 to 4 very light coats then finish with a good carnauba polish to bring out the shine. It's easy to maintain and repair and allows wood that changes color as it ages like cherry to do so better than some of the finishes mentioned earlier.

    I do however agree with the what is good for one may not be good for all sentiment expressed by pretty much everyone here.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Grand Junction, Colorado
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    Royal Lac is applied like shellac but can be buffed to a high gloss in 1 week and is doesn't react to sweat, heat, alcohol. It's like a wipe on poly but shellac based. Better put, it is shellac that has stuff in it so it dries like poly.

    French polish can be made super shiny- but why bother?- after one session playing the gloss finish (which takes freakin ages to achieve) is "ruined" in that it becomes a satin/matt finish (which is lovely btw).

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