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Yet Another Grain Fill Question...


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What do Drak & Co. recommend for mahogany?

I was planning to dye the mahogany back a darkish brown, spray a couple of light coats of nitro lacquer, then grain fill with the Stew-Mac clear waterbased filler.

But after reading the black epoxy grain fill thread I'm wondering if that would look better and give better results (flatter, harder finish?) Do I run more risk of sanding through to the dye with the epoxy method? :D

Thanks for your input. :D

Mike

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Either should work. Mahogany doesn't have massively huge pores, remember. I personally like clear grainfiller, and the waterbased stuff StewMac carries works quite well (you will probably need 2-3 applications, but it's very easy to sand).

Caveat: I'd use shellac or similar as the seal coat; I don't know how fast nitro will dry hard enough to be compatible with the waterbased grain filler.

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I like clear grain filler for some things, colored pore filler for others.

My opinion is that Mahogony looks better with a colored pore filler as opposed to clear, it's the colored dark pores that help highlight the grain and the overall look.

To do pore-filling with either the oil or water based pore fillers 'by the book', there IS NO sandback, that is only for specialized pore filling like colored epoxy or CA glue filling. You CAN sand it back if you want to, but you don't have to.

The oil or water based fillers require you (going by the book) to RUB the remainder of the pore filler back off after it has dried to a haze, so there is no sanding involved, pretty much just like waxing your car.

Any time you stain a body first then pore fill then SAND, you will Guaranteed sand into your dye and ruin the job. But you can do it if you're rubbing the pore filler back off, then you're OK.

There are many many ways to pore fill to different effects. :D

Mahogony? I wouldn't bother with the epoxy, too much unnecessary pain-in-the-buttcakes sanding back, it's really not worth the time. I would just use the traditional method of wiping it back off with your filler.

Also, you can pre-tint your oil or water based fillers before you apply them if you know the correct tinting/dying medium to use for each type of filler. You can take red or dark brown or whatever dye/pigment and add that into your filler before you apply it, then you are pore filling AND dying all at the same time.

Many ways to skin this cat. B)

PS, the 2 big things about those fillers:

Oil-based filler- you want to let it dry for 2 weeks before you apply any finish to let the oils completely evaporate.

Water-based filler- you have to work pretty fast and keep it to a minimum, waterbased dries REALLY fast and wiping waterbased filler off is like wiping car wax that was left to dry too long in the sun, it's harder to wipe off than the oilbased.

Everything in life has it's upsides and downsides. :D

I was planning to dye the mahogany back a darkish brown, spray a couple of light coats of nitro lacquer, then grain fill with the Stew-Mac clear waterbased filler.

Well, as I said, there are many ways to skin the cat, but I would be doing ALL my pore filling before I ever thought of spraying any lacquer.

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I ain't Drak, but...

1) Dye. Get the colour right

2) Sand/seal. Seal the colour in with a VERY thin coat. Hopefully this will also 'pop' your grain, becase waterbased products are completely USELESS at popping grain, so unless you sand all of it off the surface, leaving it only in the pores, it ain't going to look as nice as it could.

3) Pore fill. You want the stuff in the pores only. At least, I do.

4) (if necessary sand/seal again, depending on if you sanded through the sealer anywhere. This is why shellac is great; goes on with a piece of kitchen paper/paper towel.)

5) Nitro clear coats.

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Your steps in post #4 sound fine to me, the only note I'd make is when you're dying the mahogony after pore filling, don't wipe and wipe and wipe the dye around a wholel lot, get it done and let it go, so you don't redissolve a bunch of pore filler and pull it back out of the pores.

If you add the dye into the filler beforehand, you don't have to worry about that happening. :D

PS, there is no 'figure' to 'pop', it's just Mahogony for gosh sakes, not figured Maple or something.

And on my side of the fence, I see no need or reason to 'seal' the dye in.

But we all have our own ways of doing things... B)

Long story short:

Mix the dye into your filler (as long as the dye and filler are compatable together!!!)

Apply dyed filler and wipe back off

Lacquer guitar

It's that easy.

And unless you have some great attachment/love for sanding sealer, drop that too, just go from dyed pore filler straight to lacquer, that's all thats really required. If you want to add more steps, up to you, I like to keep things as simple as possible. :D

Let's be honest here: The Pore Filler Fills The Pores, Right?

WELL, IF YOUR PORES ARE FILLED THEN WHAT DO YOU NEED SANDING SEALER FOR? JUST SO SOME MANUFACTURER CAN SELL ANOTHER CAN OF THE STUFF?

THERE IS NO REASON AT ALL TO USE SANDING SEALER IF YOU'RE STARTING OUT WITH A FLAT LEVEL SURFACE TO BEGIN WITH, AND IF YOU DO A GOOD JOB WITH YOUR PORE FILLER, YOU'VE GOT YOUR FLAT SURFACE.

I NEVER use sanding sealer for ANYTHING. EVER. To me, sanding sealer is a useless product for weak-armed people.

The only thing it does is makes it easier to sand by adding SOAP into lacquer.

Do you want SOAP (which is soft) in your finish?

I don't. :D

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In retrospect, you actually almost HAVE to tint your filler first, or you better have a dark colored filler from the start. You don't want to be filling Mahogony pores with a natural-colored pore filler, that will look terrible, the pore filler will be a lighter color than the Mahogony, you do not want that! B)

You can dye waterbased pore filler with any waterbased anilyne dye. :D

PS, if the pore filler dries up on you too quick, you can redissolve it with a damp rag. Not too much water, or you'll start pulling pore filler back out of the pores. :D

Damp, that's all.

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Well, I'm getting closer to this step too.

So, here's the question I've been wondering...how exactly do you know when the pores are filled?

Might sound like a stupid question, but I'm quite serious!

Also, when you're talking about mixing dye into the grain filler -- I have a can of black wood stain here, is that what you mean? Or is there some highly concentrated dye I should be using?

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No, that's a very valid question, and one I don't see asked or answered too often.

When you're wiping the filler back off, hold the guitar up very close to a bright light source, and get your face right up on top of those pores. You'll be able to tell with your face close enough and a bright enough light source. Use the light effectively, moving the light over the face of the guitar, looking closely for any depressions.

Rub CROSS grain to remove the excess. :D

When you've gotten most of the excess off, you'll be down to using almost just a finger or two on your rag or t-shirt to remove the last bits of excess.

Like anything else, practice a little on a scrap piece first to get the hang of it and to get a feel for it.

As far as tinting the filler, whatever color you use will be dying the guitar too, so I wouldn't be recommending you use black anything. It doesn't HAVE to be black to make the pores dark enough to get you where you want to be.

As I said before there are literally all kinds of ways to get the job done to different effect. You could do as mattia said, that will give you a different effect, but after all these years, I really try to keep those steps as basic as I know how, the more steps and the more products you do/use, the more chances for something to go wrong, that's my personal experience talking, but if there was a reason to do added steps, for a special effect, then by all means do it.

I just sort of dislike some sites that promote all these different steps without clarifying why you're doing them and telling you that you don't HAVE to do all of them.

But they're usually trying to shoot for the safest and most profitable way to tell someone that has never ever finished something how to go about it, so I don't blame them necessarily, but when given the chance, I like to clarify why you don't always have to do all that stuff.

Like, if you really wanted black pores but didn't want to go the black tinted epoxy route, then mattias method would be closer to the mark, since locking in your first dye coat with a sealer coat, THEN using a black tinted pore filler, that would 'lock out' the filler from dying the wood, it would just fill the pores since you did a sealer coat which is also called a BARRIER COAT, since it sets up a barrier between the first coat of dye which went directly onto the wood, and the next step, which is pore filler.

And as mattia mentioned, shellac is well known as being probably the best barrier coat product around.

Many many ways and combinations and methods to pore fill. :D

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I just grain-filled a mahogany guitar with clear 2-part epoxy. Going with a solid paint finish so I don't care about what the grain looks like. :D Anyway, prior to filling I lightly ran my fingernail across the grain. After filling, curing and sanding I did the "scratch" test again to judge if the filling is being effective. When your fingernail just glides across the surface you have achieved your goal.

Edited by Southpa
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I just grain-filled a mahogany guitar with clear 2-part epoxy.  Going with a solid paint finish so I don't care about what the grain looks like. :D  Anyway, prior to filling I lightly ran my fingernail across the grain.  After filling, curing and sanding I did the "scratch" test again to judge if the filling is being effective.  When your fingernail just glides across the surface you have achieved your goal.

How did the mahogany look after filling, though? Still look good? I want to be able to just clearcoat right over mine and be done with it. Simple.

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If you want a really 'pure' Mahogony look, then a clear filler like southpa used would be great, you could sand it back and clear over it and be done, and the 2-part epoxy dries hard as a friggin' rock, so it gives you a great flat base with which to clear over top of.

Mahogony that has clear pore filler and mahogony that has colored pore filler definitely has 2 different looks to it, both are attractive, just depends on what you want.

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As far as tinting the filler, whatever color you use will be dying the guitar too, so I wouldn't be recommending you use black anything. It doesn't HAVE to be black to make the pores dark enough to get you where you want to be.

Well, I DO want the guitar to be black --the ideal will be that the guitar will be nice n' glossy black (with the clear coat) but you'll still the pattern of the grain.

I'm assuming the pores will automatically be a darker black than the rest of it, which is all I'll need to achieve my Rickenbacker nirvana... :D

Plenty of scrap here, though, so I'll be experimenting....

But it seems that one way might make it easier to achieve a even tone as opposed to the other?

Southpa, your 'scratch' test makes perfect sense, since the fingertip is extremely sensitive to variations in surfaces (well, my left hand's getting some pretty decent callouses now... :D )

Oh yeah, I also have a rattle can of black-tinted finish here --looks pretty good, but it hides more of the grain than I want.

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I can see a very clear difference between stained grain, waterbase-finished mahogany, and something that's been oiled, shellaced or laquered. Mahogany grain may be fairly 'boring', but it's got a complex, colourful, shifting grain that shows up something lovely with a nice, wetting basecoat underneath gloss. Tinting the grain highlights the grain lines, but does affect the chatoyance. For maples, direct staining makes things more dramatic, but a bit less subtle/3-D, although it's a look I like. For mahogany, I'm tempted to stain with stain, and stick with clear filler for everything else, because it's a look I like, and something I've had good success with.

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I can see a very clear difference between stained grain, waterbase-finished mahogany, and something that's been oiled, shellaced or laquered. Mahogany grain may be fairly 'boring', but it's got a complex, colourful, shifting grain that shows up something lovely with a nice, wetting basecoat underneath gloss. Tinting the grain highlights the grain lines, but does affect the chatoyance. For maples, direct staining makes things more dramatic, but a bit less subtle/3-D, although it's a look I like. For mahogany, I'm tempted to stain with stain, and stick with clear filler for everything else, because it's a look I like, and something I've had good success with.

So (to sum up because I'm getting confused ....been routing all day!) the steps would be:

1. Apply (black) wood stain (since I'm using black)

2. Grain fill

3. Spray with finish

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Here is another mahogany guitar I did about 3 years ago.

http://img125.imageshack.us/img125/3311/pickguard0hc.jpg

I used Minwax red mahogany stain, sanded back and didn't grain fill. I just went ahead and laid many coats of clear gloss polyurethane. Its not a bad way to go because the poly has to be sanded between coating sessions anyway. So what you are doing is filling the lows with the poly and then alternately taking down the highs by sanding to reach that level ground.

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Boy this is a timely thread! I just ordered my first parts body and neck from warmoth, it's mahogany and I want to finish in the classic 60's Heritiage SG look-

As you point out there seem to be many, many, many ways to do this- But here's some of the issues I'm dealing with and I would sure appreciate your input-

1. Grain stain- I've been told that black or brown grain stain is a good idea as it makes the grain stand out in the classi SG look- Can anyone confirm this?

If so, it sounds like I could add black die to the grain filler? Oil grainfiller ok?

2. Since I'm mainly after a redish translucent look, I would then need to sand seal to keep the black away from the red?

3. Then I would stain red until I get the look I want?

4. Then clear coat? I would like to rattle can poly if I can

Southpa, it sounds like this is essentially what you did but I was surpised me when I look at your finish- To me it looks rather 'natural' ie I would have thought that you had only put wax on top of the die.

I'm looking for a sligthly reder color, but want it to be much, much shinier. Any suggestions on how to get this look?

Thanks all

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Maybe it would interest you to know that back in the '60's, GIBSON did their classic Mahogony SG's with a DYED FILLER. Cherry Red filler. They wiped it on, wiped it off, the guitar was dyed, the pores were filled, all in one simple step, and slam...finished it in clear, that's all there was to it.

Interesting? Thought so. :D

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Hmm, that one made me pull the ol' Melody Maker off the wall (well, I was going to play it anyway, that's my "house" guitar :D )

What's really interesting is how deep the color in the grain gets, especially in the neck, where the grain looks nearly black...

But since this was their entry level guitar, it's doubtful they would have wasted much more effort and materials on it than they did on the SG.

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Assuming it goes on evenly, yeah.

And, well, sanding between coats (I do it every 3-4) generally decreases the amount of sanding necessary pre-buffing. Level it with something fairly agressive (400 or 600), shoot the final coat which melts out all the scratches, and is practically ready to buff right there.

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