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Hi guys!

I'm looking for a website where I can purchase VERY nice figured woods (preferably maple) for a guitar top, but I want a site where I can see the EXACT piece of wood that I am buying. I've tried ebay, and I just ended up with some dull piece of spalted maple that some guy soaked in water before taking the picture and neglected to mention it (buzzsaw international hardwood- I wouldn't recommend this guy!). So.... any ideas? Thanks a lot!

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It is pretty standard procedure to wet down wood before photographing it for sale online. This does give a fairly good idea of how it will look when it's finished, better that dry wood anyway.

http://www.galleryhardwoods.com/index.html has some nice wood. You have to click the Gallery link to see the guitar tops. They're all wetted down.

http://www.cookwoods.com/ has some very nice looking wood on eBay, a lot of good sized pieces for guitar tops, if you have the capability to bookmatch.

There's some great looking wood on eBay, but it's tough to know what your going to end up with. Some of the bigger outfits have a refund policy.


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it's kinda in everyone's best interest to photograph the wood to show it's best possible quality and figure... weather or not you know how to bring that figure out once you get the wood depends on your knowledge and experience,..... half of which you can gain here with the aid of everyone's support :D

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it's not impossible to finish....just tougher.they have some stuff at my local ace hardware which you spread onto the wood(after it is glued on the body)and it toughens up the punky spots.other than that i bet ca glue(super glue) spread on and sanded flat would also seal up those punky spots.as far as making it look as if it is wet...that is what clearcoating does.

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I have to give a retort since you 'named the name' on-line, and that can have consequences...

I also bought some Maple from Buzzsaw, it is in the *TOP 5* pieces of wood I have *EVER* bought, and brother, I have bought a lot of guitar wood over the years.

In fact, I called the guy up and commented him on the superior quality of his wood, I found it so SUPERIOR, something I rarely do, but this stuff was Grade 5A +++ Prime.

I'm guessing (no harm intended, seriously) that you don't have a lot of experience finishing wood (yet?).

If this be the case, I think you should print some kind of retraction later on when you find out just how cool that piece of wood is.

I highly recommend Buzzsaw, he's got some of the absolute finest guitar-wood out there right now (for e-Bay anyway)

I think you dogged the wrong person here.

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Bought from Buzz as well and got nice stuff. Sorry yours wasn't as good as you hoped but from the pic (even wet) I suspect this will look nice when finished.

Most figured woods don't look like much when dry. They get better often when sanded but really shine when the finish is applied. I have some flame maple I'm doing test strips with right now. Flame is drastically better when stain is applied and even better yet when Lacquer went on.

Suggest you cut some of the "scrap" area and do some tests. Finish is clear only and maybe flip and try some stain or dye and then clear. You may still hate it but you may love it.

Good luck and let us know.

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I think you should just forget that piece of wood and give it to me so I can properly "dispose" of it. :D

Seriously, that is a beautiful piece of wood. I've never worked with spalted because everything I've read says "don't finish yourself". I'm sure if you go to the local hardwood dealer or flooring shop someone will have all the info you need to make that look even more beautiful than it is in the picture above.


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I think you should just forget that piece of wood and give it to me so I can properly "dispose" of it.  :D

Or better yet, if you don't have a lot of finishing experience, you could hang onto that top for a later project, and buy something easier to finish this time around - perfect your clearcoating skills on a piece of more uniform closed grain wood.

If you do use the wood, take John's advice and do a lot of test pieces before you do the final go. I was actually kind of surprised when you referred to this wood as dull. I think it will look stunning if you can get a good finish on there.

I wonder if using conversion(component) finish would make sense here because of it's ability to flow and fill? Any thoughts?


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Well, its clear that I'm a moron. I've had a fair amount of finishing experience, but none in the field of guitars. And judging by what you guys have said, I'm excited to see how the wood will come out. When I called it "dull" I definitely wasn't refering to the look in the pic!! I've been fascinated with the woods I've seen at buzzsaw and, having never bought wood online, it was a bit of a shock to see the wood in real life. I would DEFINITELY like to retract my statement. I felt like I had been decieved, but obviously Im an idiot. Thanks for setting me straight!

So, as far as technique, I was planning on following the finishing tutorial at Guitar ReRanch. I was going to use grain filler for a start, as recommended. What I'm really looking for it the right stain. On a test piece I tried a little bit of Miniwax Golden Oak, which generally isn't a very dark finish, but it made the wood come out DARK brown, and it didn't seem to enhance the grain much.

Sorry again to buzzsaw! This just proves that nothing I say should be taken seriously :D

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you have to sand it smooth(NO scratches)rub it with steel wool,and clean it thouroughly before clearcoating it.the grain will come out.all wetting it down does is show whatit will look like cleared.

i am not a finishing expert,but i don't think grainfiller would be the right thing for spalted maple.unless it was clear.that's why drak uses ca glue.

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Dude, you're not an idiot or a moron, just learning!

The only problem I had was you openly dogged a supplier and 'named the name' openly on-line. You have to be VERY CAREFUL about doing something like that. You can describe what happened or what you got, but leave the name out of it unless you've been openly ripped off or truly 'taken to the cleaners'.

You could possibly cost that guy hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost revenues just by mentioning his name and attaching something like you said to it. That's why I had to balance your statement out (just for future reference).

Here are my recommendations for a piece of wood like that, FWIW.

No (normal) grain filler, it will completely ruin the look of that wood (to me anyway).

Folks generally don't use grain-filler on highly figured woods.

The problems with spalted wood usually deal with the fact that the actual 'spalted' parts of the wood can be what is referred to as 'punky', or soft (sometimes VERY soft and somewhat delicate). So you have to use a hard backer block to sand it with.

CYA Hot Stuff be the grain filler you seek (superglue). It will soak in and harden up all the soft parts of the spalt (hard like a freaking rock!)

If you stain it and don't like it, it will be very hard to get all the stain back out of it. Wood like that soaks up stain in a big way.

Just be sure if you stain it you like the stain color very much.

If I had that wood, I would use FRESH-ly made orange shellac for 1, maybe 2 coats. You can add in a little Solar-Lux anilyne stain (whatever color you like, my favorite is Medium Red Mahogony) into the shellac if you want also...That should add a nice warmth to it. Then I'd apply the Hot Stuff, lightly sand back to a somewhat smooth feel, then finish with whatever you had in mind.

Another alternative for clear grain-filling is 2-part Epoxy, I know some other builders use it with great results, but I haven't used it myself, I'm used to sticking with the CYA when I need a clear filler.

Another way is to use orange shellac first for some color enhancement, then use clear shellac for several coats to pore-fill and help level everything out.

Reason I mention that is that shellac is so safe and easy to use, you can wipe it on, it blends back into itself...but the finished product won't be super-tough. Decent-tough, but not super-tough.

Garnet shellac is much darker, maybe you like that shade better...

These are just a few ideas, there are many others...

If you aren't sure how to do any of the steps, don't 'experiment' on that wood, before you do anything to it, be sure whatever you're gonna do is going to work first, practice on a scrap piece. You don't always get a second chance with spalted. B)

I'm sure you'll do a fab job with it. :D

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If I had that wood, I would use FRESH-ly made orange shellac for 1, maybe 2 coats. You can add in a little Solar-Lux anilyne stain (whatever color you like, my favorite is Medium Red Mahogony) into the shellac if you want also...That should add a nice warmth to it. Then I'd apply the Hot Stuff, lightly sand back to a somewhat smooth feel, then finish with whatever you had in mind.

Great tutorial Drak,

By "orange shellac" do you mean orange tinted? Why do you add the hot stuff after the shellac goes on? wouldn't you want to put it on first so it would soak into the wood? Will the shellac show the texture of the wood, or will it produce a smooth surface?


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You mean like if you wanted to use it like an acoustic top kind of thing?

Tone is a subjective word, good tone, bad tone, ...I stay out of those debates. :D

But it would be fine if you soaked it in Hot Stuff, that would strengthen it up so it would not be considered 'delicate' anymore if that's what you mean. The soft areas would be saturated with the glue and gain strength.

CYA is used by some builders to solidify, or 'tighten up' softer woods like Spalted, Redwood, Perota, all those soft woods that will easily dent with a fingernail...

Traditional acoustic builders don't use it much tho, preferring shellac on Spruce and that kind of thing...but if it's going to be an electric guitar and get banged around and whatnot, I'd definitely use the Hot Stuff for protection.


Re: Sven...

Fresh Shellac flakes (that you mix yourself in Alcohol) come in 3 different varieties:

De-waxed clear



Garnet is kind of dark reddish, Orange is Orange, and I believe is the most commonly-used form of shellac, clear...I forget what they do to clear to get it clear!

If you 'Hot-Stuff' it first, then the wood is sealed and you can no longer stain it. The anilyne dye mixed in with the Shellac allows you to stain the wood safely first before adding the CYA. But you can only get away with a coat or two so you don't break the golden rule 'soft coats over hard coats OK, soft coats under hard coats = trouble down the road. As long as you keep the shellac coats thin, you shouldn't be in trouble with 'the golden rule'...

If you're just wiping on a thin coat or two at the most, hell, most of it will sink into that spalt and you'd be hard pressed to even see any difference (until you put a finish on it) so the wood wouldn't show much difference at first.

The CYA toughens it up, nothing else like it for hardening up spalt, but I don't know of anything you can add into CYA as a coloring agent, thus the use the (thin)shellac coats first.

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Thanks for the tutorial! :D

I was thinking the guitar would look like a solid body, but I would carve out sections of the body wood a little on each side (solid wood would still run down the center). I was planning on using that aerosol nitro lacquer from Guitar ReRanch.

I'm a little confused about the details of the process you described in your tutorial. How much would I sand before applying Hot Stuff, how would I apply the Hot Stuff, and how much would I sand afterward? Also, as funkle said, would it work to apply the Hot Stuff, then just clearcoat with nitro from there? Thank you soooo much!

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That's not really a 'tutorial', it was just ideas I was throwing out.

There are lots of ways to get where you want to go.

I just posted about applying CYA Hot Stuff in another thread here a day or two ago, I'll find it and steer you there shortly.

But for really figured wood like that, my personal 'way', is to start off sanding it at probably 220, going up to 4000 grit, make that muthu shine like a mirror! :D

Then I'd apply 1-2 'thin' coats of toned shellac (if you want to) then go on to the CYA (see other post for details)

Then once you've got 2-3 coats of CYA on it, just start level-sanding it and see where you're at, different woods take in different amounts. I wouldn't sand higher than 320 on the CYA to make sure you still get a physical bond between the CYA and whatever finish you use.

If you don't have a respirator and goggles, you couldn't use the CYA anyway, the fumes will have you for lunch!

PS, just so you know, you can ALSO just shoot clear lacquer coats on that thing right from scratch until your coats are built and bang, you're done. If all this CYA/shellac stuff is throwing you, just shitcan all this info and keep it simple if you need to, just go straight to lacquer! I wasn't trying to confuse you, and I don't want you to jump in over your head with lots of different formulations if you're not really 'there' yet. Better to keep it simple and be able to finish it and play it.

I was just saying what 'I' would do if I had it, it doesn't mean there aren't other (there are) ways you can do it.

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