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To All You Staining Gurus


dayvo
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I recently read to avoid your stain coming out blotchy/patchy a washcoat of shellac or lacquer

should be applied first to the bare wood (in my case, lacewood), a light sand then apply the stain and it should come out quite evenly

My question is will this method work if I use waterbased analine dye (its all I have) and if so would I need to

spray it or can I wipe it on?

dayvo :D

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I'm sure that the shellac method would work great, but I have been wondering something that came to mind when reading the other thread you were speaking about dayvo. What came to mind is the basic staining tutorial Perry did in one of his older threads, I think a superstrat thread. In said thread, Perry does a couple rounds of very light moistening the top in order to raise the grain, without any sanding. So what I was wondering is whether this practice would help to prevent any blotchiness? It seems as though it would as you would help to raise any grain that would be compacted and more resistant to stain, therefore you would create a more even staining surface. Anyhow, it just came to mind when reading that other thread and felt it might be worth addressing here, in case it is helpful. Anyone have experience in this practice? Well, best of luck dayvo! Let us know how it turns out. J

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I seriously do not understand how sealing the wood will help it absorb stain, and this is the only forum ive ever seen that mentioned (but i dont search for staining threads...). Having said that, ive never had blotchy stain problems except with low grade pine, which im never going to use for a guitar anyway. I prefer to avoid water based stains, because i had a fading issue over time with some LMII stuff. I also dont want any water near a guitar that is about to be sprayed.

I think most people just like to make things hard for themselves, especially with staining. Just slap the stain on, and wipe it off with a clean rag. All this rubbish about stain black, sand back, wash coats, standing to the left while mixing, and waiting until the first movement of the suns solstice until rubbing a foxes inner ear lobe is all too much effort for me.

Raising the grain first just stops the furriness you can get after the first coat of lacquer. Ive never had an issue with Lacewood or Sheoak, other than getting the colour right.

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Raising the grain first just stops the furriness you can get after the first coat of lacquer. Ive never had an issue with Lacewood or Sheoak, other than getting the colour right.

Thanks for the clarification Perry. I knew that it helped with the fuzz deal, but it seemed like it would also help stain accept more evenly as well, which is why I asked. I always think back to that superstrat thread because of how amazing that guitar turned out with such a simple process. It turned out better than I would ever expect a guitar to turn out and it was minus many days of extra work that are suggested in most finishing processes, which is why I liked it so much. Again, thanks for the clarification. J

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1. Washcoats are used very frequently with acoustic finishes, Spruce and Cedar being woods that will indeed splotch.

2. Stain black and sand back is an excellent process if that's the look you want.

3. Finishing processes that are spelled out in great detail with lots of steps are just trying to cover as many bases as they can to protect the majority of the people who will try it.

4. Your best bet is to always test your own processes on scrap before creating a lot of trouble for yourself by ruining a perfectly good guitar by doing something to it you don't even understand yet.

5. Sealing the wood does not help it absorb stain, it helps it absorb stain More Evenly by reducing the differences in dye absorption.

I think most people just like to make things hard for themselves, especially with staining. Just slap the stain on, and wipe it off with a clean rag. All this rubbish about stain black, sand back, wash coats, standing to the left while mixing, and waiting until the first movement of the suns solstice until rubbing a foxes inner ear lobe is all too much effort for me.

6. This statement deserves a 'Bad Advice' stamp. :D :D

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The dye black and stain thing always makes me think of these

Boneyard-Aged-Tiger-lg.jpg

some people may like the look of them - i really dont, especially in person when you realise the wood has lost all of its 3d magic thats makes figured woods so desirbale in the first place.

admittedly that is an extreme example of the dye black and sand back technique but it does illustrate what can go wrong with it!!

The gibson version photographs a lot better but will still have less 3d impact than if it had been finished natural or had one direct stain

274402.jpg

but thats kind of the point isnt it. You compromise some of the 3d effect for a different visual effect. In this case a guitar that photographs well and looks better on stage - rather than a guitar that you could spend hours holding the guitar staring at the top and feel like you are being sucked in

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5. Sealing the wood does not help it absorb stain, it helps it absorb stain More Evenly by reducing the differences in dye absorption.

to me sealing suggests stoping it absorbing anything, i think wiping the wood with a clear spirit/ thinners before you apply the spirit stain/dye helps keep it even because it helps to prevent that initial absorbtion than can lead to most of your dye being soaked in before you have covered the guitar - which i find leads to streaks - but usually within a few wipes its all quite even anyway!!

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I recently read to avoid your stain coming out blotchy/patchy a washcoat of shellac or lacquer

should be applied first to the bare wood (in my case, lacewood), a light sand then apply the stain and it should come out quite evenly

My question is will this method work if I use waterbased analine dye (its all I have) and if so would I need to

spray it or can I wipe it on?

As far as I know, water based dye won't stick to lacquer. I don't know about shellac. If the dye is a powder or concentrate you can use it in alcohol, thinner, clear lacquer, etc., whatever is compatible with your sealer coat. If you use a sealer coat the dye won't actually dye the wood. That's what sealer does. It seals the wood.

Some (like Hamer) don't use dye on figured wood at all. They use an oil (like boiled linseed maybe?) then use toner/shader coats over that. The oil enhances the figure and the toner adds the color.

http://www.hamerguitars.com/?fa=workshoptour&tournum=17

http://www.hamerguitars.com/?fa=workshoptour&tournum=19

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IMO, the advice to seal with shellac prior to staining is a carry-over from furniture finishing. In that case they refer to a stain which primarily sits *above* the wood, and colours it with minimal penetration. That is very different from a dye, which is what is usually used to colour a guitar by soaking into the wood.

In furniture, it is often advantageous to colour wood in a way which mimises the variations in grain and colouring, since it lets you create a harmonious piece of work without having to perfectly colour match your timber. In a guitar, most finishers want to accentuate the grain - different aims, different techniques.

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Unless you alrady have the dye and are forced to use it with water, I would mix it with denatured alcohol if you can. I am not sure what type of wood the entire body is, but if you had to use grain filler, it won't accept water based dye, it just beads off. But it will accept alcohol based nicely. I test both alcohol and water based and must say that I prefer the alcohol based. Dry time was not that big of an issue. In fact I was unhappy with how long the water based took to dry and was not keen on the idea of adding that much water to the body when I was that far along.

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Granted the words 'sealcoat' and 'washcoat' can mean many different things to many different people, and it does not always infer completely sealing the wood. This is where a lot of people fall off the boat of comprehension when discussing these topics.

Sealcoat maybe, but not washcoat so much, and the words are typically used interchangably far too often and the real meanings convoluted and lost a lot of the time.

Wes, use spellcheck please, I find it hard to take anyone seriously who cannot spell correctly, even to this day.

I know I should be more internet understanding by now, but I still find little excuse for people who are proclaimed professional craftsmen who cannot spell correctly and make several grammatical errors in a single paragraph.

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Wes, use spellcheck please, I find it hard to take anyone seriously who cannot spell correctly, even to this day.

I know I should be more internet understanding by now, but I still find little excuse for people who are proclaimed professional craftsmen who cannot spell correctly and make several grammatical errors in a single paragraph.

Its worse when you consider i am a teacher, although admittedly not a teacher of english!! I am however quite dyspraxic and mildy dyslexic, not trying to use it as an excuse but i figure i can get my meaning across even with the odd typo

and to be quite honest, i dont really give a damn if you choose to take me seriously or not!

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Well I am glad this came up because I am in a similar boat with my current build. I have Analine Dye which is supposed to be mixed with water (hot water to be specific) I had intended to try mixing it with denatured alcohol but I am not sure if the alcohol would need to be heated first (carefully of course...BOOM!) I will try it without heating the alcohol first and see how it turns out.

Anyway, I intend to do a test (on figured Maple) as follows:

Orange dye.

Sand back.

Yellow dye.

Shellac.

Sand.

Orange burst (this is where I was unsure about using the alcohol vs. the water base)

Shellac.

Sand

A bit of red on the edges of the burst.

Shellac.

Sand.

Finish coat (haven't decided on that yet) has anyone used polyurethane for this??

Sand, sand, sand.

Polish.

Any comments?

Thanks!

STV.

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Its worse when you consider i am a teacher, although admittedly not a teacher of english!! I am however quite dyspraxic and mildy dyslexic, not trying to use it as an excuse but i figure i can get my meaning across even with the odd typo

and to be quite honest, i dont really give a damn if you choose to take me seriously or not!

Excellent response. :D

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You can not compare the finishes on and Epi to a Gibson. Epi is just a veneer and the Gibson is a maple cap, no matter what you do, you will not get a decent 3D effect on a veneer unless it is more than 1/8" thick.

And I think that all is in how you do the prep work on the wood that will dictate the final outcome. Not the sanding or not in between stain coats. Most of the people that kill the figure are the ones that once they sand back, don't clean the maple good and stain the next color right into it. Staining all the dust that is stuck inside the figure making it dull and darker! One thing that I have tend to like better now is to stain a darker color of what you want, instead of black. Since after you finish your sand back all you got left is a tiny bit of black in the end of the grain and everything else is a light gray! I done this in my last 2 builds and the figure is much better than with plain black!

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Anyway, I intend to do a test (on figured Maple) as follows:

Orange dye.

Sand back.

Yellow dye.

Shellac.

Sand.

Orange burst (this is where I was unsure about using the alcohol vs. the water base)

Shellac.

Sand

A bit of red on the edges of the burst.

Shellac.

Sand.

Finish coat (haven't decided on that yet) has anyone used polyurethane for this??

Sand, sand, sand.

Polish.

Any comments?

Thanks!

STV.

I'd be wary of using alcohol-based dye over shellac (especially if you wipe it on)... alcohol is the solvent for shellac so you could end up with a mess.

IIRC - One "traditional" burst method would be to wipe or spray the yellow dye on the unsealed wood, seal it (shellac or laquer washcoat) then do your burst with toned lacquer.

There's also Myka's burst method - all done with water-based dye applied directly to the unsealed wood. Nice, but it's a slightly different look.

FWIW YMMV....

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You can not compare the finishes on and Epi to a Gibson. Epi is just a veneer and the Gibson is a maple cap, no matter what you do, you will not get a decent 3D effect on a veneer unless it is more than 1/8" thick.

And I think that all is in how you do the prep work on the wood that will dictate the final outcome. Not the sanding or not in between stain coats. Most of the people that kill the figure are the ones that once they sand back, don't clean the maple good and stain the next color right into it. Staining all the dust that is stuck inside the figure making it dull and darker! One thing that I have tend to like better now is to stain a darker color of what you want, instead of black. Since after you finish your sand back all you got left is a tiny bit of black in the end of the grain and everything else is a light gray! I done this in my last 2 builds and the figure is much better than with plain black!

i know they are opposite ends of the spectrum but the 3d effect still occurs in veneer because its caused by the grain direction at the surface of the wood - you dont need to see into the actual wood. I hate working with veneer tops for stains though - far more chance of sanding through and the heavily quilted ones with good 3d figure are less stable when cut that thin. i have had some crazy 3d veneers at .6mm but they are unstable and a complete bitch to work with - good enough for lots of furniture makers though

anyway - my point was to show a bad dye and sand back and the epiphone does show that. The gibson has been finished better but also has the advantage of a much higher grade of flamed maple

edit: oh, and i completely agree about using a darker shade of your desired colour rather than black if using this technique!!

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You guys should go back and search my old posts, I have posted on stain and sand backs many times over, and spelled out the effects of using different colors under other different colors and the ramifications of said color coordinating tops.

Just typifying a stain/sand back as always using black as the base is completely limiting in nature, it's like saying the only pictures you will look at are black and white. Complete nonsense.

Stain/sand backs are a complete world unto themselves of colors over top of other colors, it is a magical world of possibilities and rich color combinations when you understand how to unlock the secrets of stain/sandbacks. Quite sad that so many want results so quickly and don't have the patience to spend unlocking the true secrets of stain/sandbacks...

But you have to do a little legwork to educate yourself I guess...

There is a saying that goes like this: Contempt Prior To Investigation

This includes people who openly criticize or poo-poo a subject when they honestly only know the bare minimum necessary to even talk about it, they do not truly understand it much at all, but set themselves up as critics when they know very little about a thing...such is what I typically see when it comes to posting about stain/sandbacks, I RARELY EVER see anyone posting about this who has spent ANY real time experimenting with it, and if they have, they are not criticizing it, because they understand it.

It's fine to not care for the look, but I laugh at people who talk about it as if they understand what it's really about when it's painfully obvious they have no real clue.

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I have seen your finishes before drak and i certainly have no criticisms of the results you achieve - its definately impressive stuff.

One thing you hint at in your last post is that we all obviously lack the skill and expertise to achieve a stain and sand back type finish like you can. Obviously we should all follow your lead to the letter - any other way just has to be wrong!!

There is a lot of skill involved in such a finish and you have provided excellent advice on how to achieve it over the years. But the way i see it, its a technique that will not serve most people well untill they are a little more skilled.

The stain/sandback technique is often spouted by people as a way to 'pop' the figure. This gets misinterpreted and rehashed to mean that it can make a slightly figured top look like AAAAAAAA grade stuff. I think we both know this isnt the case.

I have tried to provide a balanced argument in this thread. I agree with perry that fancier wood is the best solution but i also think the stain/sandback technique has its place - especially when trying to improve depth of colour. I do not feel it does much for depth of figure as is often thought by some people newer to the game!!

Personally its a technique i am still experimenting with. I have no problem admitting i havnt found a technique i am completely happy with, but then i am not claiming to be the authority on the subject either. I do practice these techniques quite regularly even if i havnt had chance to use them on many guitars yet, i have lots of experience with methods i dont like and i have found some that come close to what i do like but havnt quite got it pinned yet. The thing i have discovered is that the easiest and most reliable method is a direct stain like perry's - and thats why its the method i encourage people to do when they start asking about finishing maple. the fact they are asking tells me they possibly dont yet have the skill to do a good stain/sandback and they will be happier with a good direct stain than a poor stain/sandback

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As with everything I do, I will do tests between the two on the scrap I have currently. So far I have tested numerous different things against other methods, like I have with gluing, sealing, cutting, and more. I have seen the numerous stain and sand back guitars here and it seems that was the hot ticket before and around when I came here and for a while after. I definitely never had any problems with the look, always turned out nice in my eyes. However, the way that perry did the guitar I had originally mentioned and probably does most of his guitars, is more or less staining it the color that you would sand back to anyway. If you can stain to this effect without having to sand back, then why not go that route. Like I said I have seen all the guitars that have been sanded back, all were very nice and I felt the same way about Perrys, they look amazing. It's instead of staining it dark and sanding back to grey or light brown, stain it a very light brown in the first place.

Like I said, as with everything I do, I will test the two against each other. However, as with the results that I have already seen between the two, I don't see any problems with going with the light direct stain in the first place over darker stains and sanding them light. I do understand the grain of maple and how sanding can leave certain areas darker as they have absorbed deeper, however, I didn't find that the light direct stain did any worse of a job showing the grain. Again, I'll want to see for myself, but if I find that the two are no different in overall look, I will go with the direct stain as it just makes more sense to me. I think both look great regardless and either way would be fine, it just made more sense to me to do a light direct stain, instead of a dark stain which you will sand until it is as light as the light stain. Whatever works right? J

EDIT: When I say staining dark and sanding light, I don't mean staining it a dark color I mean staining it with a heavy concentration, just to clarify, poor choice or wording in that respect.

Edited by jmrentis
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