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Thread: Finish work? which would you use?

  1. #1
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    Default Finish work? which would you use?

    i doing research on finishing an ukulele. what methods do you prefer? i'd be starting out so i don't have expensive equipment. i've heard good things about the french polish. what do you guys think?

  2. #2
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    French polish is great but has a bit of a steep learning curve to achieve the results you see from experience people. While it has it's benefits, it does have some weakness's too. Doesn't like water / sweat so absolutely no good at all in the tropics.

    Other low tech / cost options are drying oils such as Tung, Walnut, Danish. They all can produce a very nice finish. Don't know where you live, but a good place in Australia to source these types of finish are in the floor finishing section of the hardware store.

    They have the benefit of being applied with a clean rag. Wipe on and wipe off. Let dry, then apply another coat. Light rub back with very fine sandpaper or 0000 steel wool between every 2 or 3 coats.

    Oh, BTW never toss oil saturated rags in the bin. They can very easily catch fire. Lay them out to dry before discarding them.

  3. #3
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    I wish this sort of stuff crossed the cultural and literal borders... I've just returned to the UK from visiting my daughter in the frozen wastes of Saskatoon. Bought essential tools I just cannot get at my local hardware store B&Q (like a very poor man's Home Depot) - veneer press screw from Lee Valley Tools as well as 18" rules... 2" round dowel for a set of travel spool clamps at Canadian Tyre, scoped out stuff at Home Depot I'm gonna buy when I visit the US. we just don't have much choice here in the UK. Thank goodness for the internet.

  4. #4
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    Having finished a few gunstocks in my younger years, I intend to use Tru Oil to finish my "enhanced" grizzly kit, and I will try the Armorall drying tip recently submitted on this forum. I have only done one dulcimer kit and I think I used min wax products. I can't imagine a shorter, easier route to a decent finish. Learning curve is short. If it looks as good as the gunstocks I've done, I'll be extremly happy. I'll keep this room posted. Maybe I will try and do some photos. Wish me luck.

    PS: If you know any "pitfalls" using this finish on a uke, please advise.
    Last edited by PhilUSAFRet; 02-22-2011 at 10:35 AM.
    Soooooo many ukes, sooooooo little time

    Soprano: Pre-war Martin "O"; 81-82 Kamaka White Label; Grizzly kit;
    Concert: Pono MCD-E; Kala Reso-burst; Rally banjo; Bruce Wei Acacia teardrop; KPK acacia Cutaway; Mele Solid Mahogany 6 string; Ohana CM35-8 Taropatch; Goldtone Metal Resouke;
    Epiphone LP vintage burst; Asmus solid maple/spruce; Alida Jazz electric
    Tenor: Risa semi-hollowbody electric (red one); Mele Koa; Kala solid mahogany A/E cutaway

    Bass: Oscar Schmidt Curley Maple;

  5. #5
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    The Grizzly kit has veneered/laminated parts. Because of the way veneer is made it can be uneven in its take-up of finish and quite 'thirsty'. Make sure you use the sand and seal process linked so many times in this forum to William King's website/blog.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukujes View Post
    . . . i've heard good things about the french polish. . .
    I'd like to know what you heard, and who you heard it from. A French Polished finish is super easy to repair. Of course, sort of comes with the territory because its so fragile in the first place. Only guys that really do French Polishes well, will attest to its value. Anything less than a well done French Polish is basically a Shellac finish that needs to be buffed out, IMO.

    Personally, lacquer finishes are super easy to repair as well, and they're not as fragile, unless you're into vinyl.

    My preference, spraying, anything. I use lacquer mostly, but have also done polyurethane. I like both - urethane requiring more skill to spray. I've done French Polish, will not do it again. I've seen a shellac finish, buffed out, which I'd rather do than French Polish (learned that from Les Stansell). Can't claim it as a French Polish finish, so the price has to drop a few $$$. Of course, I'd probably use the shellac as a base, and spray nitro over it eventually.

    I started out cheap, already had the compressor, and bought a cheapo $100 gravity feed HVLP conversion spray gun, which did the trick, until I got the Sata. Of course, I already knew how to spray - see Allen's videos for his lessons, hopefully more to come.
    But I didn't know how to fill, until a few years ago - thanks to Rick Turner.

  7. #7
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    Target coatings makes a waterbase lacquer that is probably the best waterbase around. It can be brush applied and cure very fast (like apply to polish in a few days) The one thing to stress about this stuff is you have to get it done within a few days. If you let it cure more than a few days you will never get the sanding scratches out when you are polishing.
    Check it out here.
    Eric DeVine
    www.DeVineGuitars.com

    Simply the finest custom ukuleles and hand made guitars in the world.

  8. #8
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    If you're in the US or can access Sherwin Williams products, their Fast Dry Oil Varnish (Interior) thinned 4 parts Varnish with 3 parts Naptha is a low tech, high performance finish. It can be brushed or sprayed. You just have to be patient as it takes about 5 days before you can buff.
    If you want higher tech a lot of folks are using KTM-SV waterborne Spar Varnish http://www.newenglandluthiers.org/co...ed_finish.html

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeVineGuitars View Post
    Target coatings makes a waterbase lacquer that is probably the best waterbase around. It can be brush applied and cure very fast (like apply to polish in a few days) The one thing to stress about this stuff is you have to get it done within a few days. If you let it cure more than a few days you will never get the sanding scratches out when you are polishing.
    Check it out here.
    Good to see you here Eric. Do you use the EM6000? I know Gomes does here as well as a couple of other guys. Complaints have been a sightly bluish cast and the tendency to show witness lines when sanding. I've got some but have yet to try it out. Like any other finish I think it too, have a learning curve. I've recently discovered Sherwin Williams nitro and I'm extremely happy with it. I can walk into the store and buy it right off the shelf. No more having to order it from the Mainland and mess with haz mat fees. Still, I'm tempted by the Target stuff.
    Chuck Moore
    Moore Bettah Ukuleles
    http://www.moorebettahukes.com

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