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Oil On Walnut Or Rustins?

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Hi All,

I've been reading the forum for quite a number of hours and i'm a bit stuck as to what is the easiest/best finish for me. My skills are limited, so I've chosen a wipe on finish such as tung-oil or a brush on finish such as Rustins plastic finish as my two choices.

The wood is walnut and so far is sanded up to 220 grit. I won't be gigging this guitar so a very hard finish is probably not such an important factor, and I don't mind the satin finish of oil, but equally I'm not adversed to a tougher/glossier finish with using the rustins, so I guess for me it just comes to do which one is easier to apply and is less fool-proof.

If I go the rustins route, can/should I still use oil to wet-sand/grain fill the walnut, or is Rustins good enough to go straight onto a sanded surface?

Also, this is probably really a stupid question, but what is the best way to hold the guitar during finishing? I've seen the various hangers/hook setups for spraying, but would it be a good idea to still use one of these for applying the oil/rustins, or should I lay the guitar down on a flat surface - if so, how do you both surfaces without ruining the surface just done - can you do one side, wait for it to dry and then do the other, or will that cause a visible join where the to finishes meet?

Any advice will be gratefully received. TIA

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a lot of my first guitars where done with rustins plastic coating brushed onto the guitar. the stuff build really fast. it does level quite well so you will still get brush marks but what i found best was to layer up a few coats - then do a complete level sand before doing a few more coats. with a bit of patience and a good lacquer brush i was able to get a finish nearly as good as a pro spray job... because the rustins dries so fast it can be sanded quite soon

dont put anything underneath it though!! plastic coating straight onto wood. If you are going to grainfill use epoxy or some other method.... if in doubt test on scrap

i also like oil finishes and they are probably more pleasant to do

here are a couple of my build back when i was doing the rustins with a brush


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Hi Wez,

It was some of yours (and setch's) guitars that I saw the rustins finish on during my research and mightily impressed I was! They look great!

Thanks for the advice in regards to applying it. A couple more questions for you if you don't mind.

The first being, how much rustins is required for each guitar and do you mix the whole batch up and store it between coats, or do you just mix it up as and when you require it?

Finally, just a repeat of my earlier question really - how do you actually apply the coating to the guitar - do you use a hanger/hook or do one side at a time?

Thanks for your help!

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i used to buy the small batches and mix up the whole lot, i aim to get all the coats on within 3 days. So thats maybe 5-6 in the first day, sand back in the morning, and repeat. It sounds like a lot of coats but a hell of a lot gets sanded, Normal lacquer cant take this many coats a day but rustins is a chemical cure like epoxy rather than pureply evaporation and it seems fine with thick coats. When sanding back avoid the edges till right at the end, so easy to sand through. If you dont have 3 days clear to do it then the rustins will last a couple of weeks in a sealed container (even longer in the fridge but i dont reccomend that unless you have an empty fridge).

How much it takes depends on how much the wood soaks up in the initial coats. After you have finished all the coats the rustins will be dry enough to buff quite quickly and its very tempting to do that. but it still makes sense to let it cure for another few weeks before levelling and buffing. I have found it still sinks into the wood for the first few weeks even though it seems completely hard and doesnt really smell of solvents after a few days

For bolt on necks and bodies i usually have a long piece of wood that fits in the neck pocket as a surrogate neck This piece of wood can either be clamped vertically in a vice or horizontally . Either way you will get runs, less so with a good lacquer brush but still there and its a messy process

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Your a star Wez, thanks for all the info! I think i'll do a dummy run on a demo body to see how it goes as i'm a little nervous about dealing with the runs, so I think a tester would be a good start! Btw, I just thought - do you apply this to the neck also, or would it be to 'sticky'?

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its fine on necks if you want it like a lacquered neck. i find that the 'stickiness' of lacquered necks seems to come more from the use of buffing compunds. If you buff necks with micromesh instead they do not get sticky (thanks to whoever it was that pointed that out!!)

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dunno, i get my cousin to spray them all now (the guy playing in the clips). I Havnt personally done much spray finishing at all, and none with the RPC but it should be better and possibly be able to do it in less coats with less sanding back - - if your technique is good

Oh, if you do want colour at any point i have used chesnut spirit stains from axminster successfully with the RPC - even though the instructions are not encouraging when it comes to colour

Some guitars get sprayed with nitro and some RPC - depends on how vintage i am feeling and how busy nath is - but the RPC is definately more forgiving than nitro - just doesnt burn in as well once its all fully cured

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