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High gloss poly finish: Best option without spraygun?

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Hi there,

What's currently the best option to get a high gloss poly clear coat without the use of a compressor / spray gun?

Probably still the SprayMax 2K clear? Or are there better options in a spray can? What about these wipe-on poly finishes? Can they really come close to a proffessional finish?

Many thanks in advance!!

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Thanks for your answer Scott. I knew that tutorial already - it's great btw. But he writes about the wipe-on poly:

  • It will never look quite the same as a well applied and properly buffed spray finish
  • It isn't as tough as a commercial poly finish - but it is tough!


So my question was aimed at finding the best way to get a poly finish without a spray gun / compressor. I will probably get a better finish with the SprayMax 2K spray cans than with the wipe-on I think?

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Probably. I would say get it good and leveled before you spray your final coats. Whether the thread mentioned it or not, with poly you will get witness lines if you sand through layers.

You can avoid that with something like Reranch nitro lacquer in a spray can. I've not used it but understand that it is good stuff.

I also understand the 2k is good stuff as well.


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  • 2 months later...
  • 3 months later...

Here is a risky idea, but it came to me as I thought, "If my life depended on it, what would I do".  I have successfully dipped small parts in 2K urethane and had them come out good, especially if cutting / buffing.  

SO maybe mix up a batch of your favorite coating, pour it on, maybe use a brush to help it, but get it on thick and move it constantly til it levels out.

Considering most guitar body coating involves screwing a handle into the neck pocket for coatings, you have a handle on a relatively light weight pc of wood, so you can turn it constantly to counter the drips and runs.  I have never done this to a guitar body, (did it to table legs poured / coated with 15 mils of 100% solids UV cure coatings) but with my 30 years of finishing experience, I presume that it would work.  You will end up with a heavier film build than usual, but once its hardened, you can cut and buff.   

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Gonna piggy-back on this thread for my own question. ;-)

I understand the witness lines created by sanding through one layer into the underlying layer(s)-- but the comments about the "final spray" seem to indicate that they visually vanish with that final (non-sanded) coat. Is that the case? Like, if you sand through your layers of poly and get some crap-looking witness lines (but are working towards a smooth and level surface), does that final coat visually eradicate the lines?


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On ‎17‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 5:49 AM, GregP said:

they visually vanish with that final (non-sanded) coat. Is that the case?

Hi Greg,

I spent a lot of time experimenting with this on my LP build. What I found was:

  • Yes, the witness lines will disappear with the last coat but only if the sanding grade is very fine. I found that I could only achieve this once I got to 1600-2000 grit or a mild fibre scouring pad. Even then, if you use sand paper with folds in it or raised areas from poly build up this will set you back. Changing the paper every 10-15 seconds did the trick, or for something that lasts a bit longer, 0000 steel wool but that is problematic because it leaves a lot of steel particles behind in the process. Fibre pads left the least amount of breakdown  for me..
  • Don't sand the first few coats of wipe on poly if you use it. If you sand through the thin layer and affect your stain or paint in some way underneath its very difficult to fix.  I like Feast-Watson Wipe On a lot but you have to be very patient and put aside at least a week for it.
  • I did ten coats of wipe on ploy over a week and that was pushing it
  • Then applied 4 coats of Cabothane. Cabots clear gloss poly spray, and found that to be a good product. Last coats laying flat. 2 weeks all up for finishing.
    On ‎17‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 5:49 AM, GregP said:

    does that final coat visually eradicate the lines?

    Yes! If you're patient (which I'm not so it was the hardest part for me) and accept the fact that a high gloss finish takes time without the use of compressed air guns etc then you're all good!


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Thanks for the detailed reply, MJ! As chance would have it, I bought my finish earlier today-- decided to go with vinyl sealer and lacquer finish from spray bombs. But I'm still interested in trying out the poly some day. :)


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