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Juntunen Guitars

Burn Ins And Graining (Fixing Dings And Dents That Can't Be Steame

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I didn't see any tutorials on the forum on doing burn ins so I figured I'd do a quick write up on it. For those who don't know a burn in is for fixing dings that can't be steamed out. It's pretty common in the furniture repair and finishing industry but is very useful for any type of wood working. I'll show the way I did it on one of my acoustics that had a western red cedar top I dinged on accident.

Some things to consider. Burn ins WILL be visible no matter what, a lot can be done to hide them and to make them less visible but a trained eye can find them because they will reflect the light differently than the wood.

Some spots that you would do a burn in on may need to purposely be damaged more to work right. If the piece is fractured you may need to chip out the fractured parts and cut the edges flat and square to keep from risking sanding through the burn in. Remember that sometimes it may be necessary to just make a patch to fit into the wood rather than do burn ins. I usually only do burn ins on pretty small spots instead of large dents.

Some dents can be steamed out with a soldering iron and a wet paper towel by heating the paper towel from the top and lifting up several times with the soldering iron.

Anyways, onto the topic.

I dinged this top on accident after I started spraying. You will want some type of finish on that can handle heat relatively well so you don't burn the wood and it just makes the process easier. I'm using nitrocellulose here.


Here's what you need. Obviously the burn in stick itself. You can buy these from Mohawk, they are called E-Z flow burn in sticks and you will need a burn in knife. I like the plug in ones but you can get ones that go into a mini furnace but they need to be constantly heated and re-heated, usually you have two to work with. Another option is a butane powered knife but I prefer the house outlet knives just for convenience and they aren't very expensive. You will also need graining fluid and a graining powder.




When choosing a color tilt the wood around in the light to see how it matches a stick. Since the stick isn't wood it will reflect light differently. Florescent and incandescent lights will change the look of the reflection so it's good to have both lights handy when doing this. What you want to do is heat the knife up until you can touch the fill stick to it and it melts into a pool of liquid. You want it to be runny and not like a glob of semi melted wax. Once you have a good amount on the knife you turn the side of the blade with the melted stick on it down and pull it across the ding being filled. Don't pull to fast or slow or you will burn or not fill the hole, a steady and light pull will do, you don't want to push to hard or you could mess up the finish even more. Once the filler is in the hole lick your thumb and press down on the fill stick to make sure it's in the dent and not just on top. Once the burn in has cooled sand it down flush with the wood.



After you get it filled and sanded down take your graining powder and mix it with graining fluid to get an ink like consistency. Mohawk also sells graining pens. I've never used them so I can't be much help there, I've always used the powders. Once mixed I use a very fine tipped paint brush to paint on grain lines. It helps to practice these on scrap wood. Once the graining lines are painted on spray your finish over it and see how it looks.


Here's how small I'm talking for a repair like this typically.


When you're done it should look like the wood and like nothing happened. See if you can find the burn in.


It gets difficult to match colors when you have streaks in the wood you are repairing, sometimes you just have to go with what's close and deal with it. Also note that the graining powders can be bought in different colors. It's good to have a variety to be able to mix and match from to get the right color.

You can also mix burn in sticks to get different colors to match the wood. Like everything though these take some practice but when you can do them pretty well it's a valuable thing to know for repair work.

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