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Sanding sealers


cycledude
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I am new to building guitars. My main interest is strat and Les Paul styles. I have a half-assed Les Paul DIY kit I am currently working on with a really decent tiger stripe maple top which I dyed a light blue and the back being mahogany I dyed a combo of blue and black. Mahogany being a somewhat grainy wood I dyed and hit with a couple coats of Varithane sanding sealer to fill in the grain and there's the issue. This stuff does a lousy job of filling anything and is so limp you can basically sand though it in no time and ruin the dye job below. Can anyone recommend something that works better. I'll probably go with a top coat of poly since I'm working in my basement and even though I have lacquer on hand it seems like a less healthy choice when ventilation is an issue. Note DYI kits usually have really shit components I replaced everyone of them so I want this thing to be more than hack job. 

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It's a clear sealer, isn't it? If so, you've done the right thing by dying first as the sealer most likely won't take dye. That way you'll have dye in the bottom of the pores. Then after sanding you'll have to dye the wood again, this time to apply dye on the leveled wood. That's a normal procedure.

You can also add dye to the sealer but again you'll have to reapply dye after sanding. The sealer is meant to fill the pores only, not act as a primer for the clear coat.

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On 12/5/2020 at 3:26 PM, cycledude said:

Can anyone recommend something that works better

I hesitate to recommend this, because it's messy and stinks and not good to breathe......but CA does a really good job of filling pores and they stay filled. It used to be pretty common to use it around here, but you don't hear about it much anymore. I used it again for the first time in years on my last build and am super pleased with the way it came out.

SR

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/5/2020 at 4:48 PM, Bizman62 said:

It's a clear sealer, isn't it? If so, you've done the right thing by dying first as the sealer most likely won't take dye. That way you'll have dye in the bottom of the pores. Then after sanding you'll have to dye the wood again, this time to apply dye on the leveled wood. That's a normal procedure.

You can also add dye to the sealer but again you'll have to reapply dye after sanding. The sealer is meant to fill the pores only, not act as a primer for the clear coat.

I know cycledude hasn't been here since the day he joined...but for future reference anyway...

Sorry, but none of that is the 'normal' way to proceed, just FYI (kinda misleading info but very well-intentioned I'm certain).

For brief educational purposes:

Sanding sealer is (usually) lacquer with soap added to it to make it easier to sand.

That's why you're sanding through it so fast, it's just lacquer with soap additives in it.

How thick is a coat or two of lacquer? ...Not very.

It's Not a Pore Filler, and that is your problem and the real answer (of clarity) you're looking for here.

Maybe they make a waterbased pore-filler now that's not lacquer based (probably do).

Even if it is waterbased, sanding sealer Is Not pore filler, that is the important part of this discussion.

Two different products designed to do two different things, and sometimes they get mixed up and confused.

If you want a level finish, you need to fill the pores with a pore filler.

Sanding sealer is a product designed for total newbs to make sanding almost effortlessly easy (thank you to Mr. Soap flake additives).

But it's almost always unnecessary, and usually confusing to most people.

 

That's the answer you're looking for here, you're looking for a pore filler.

And pore fillers go down First, before any dye or anything else (9 times out of 10, with exceptions).

There are exceptions, but for this conversation, those exceptions aren't necessary to talk about really.

I do do those 'exceptions' if you want to ask about them, but I think they're beyond this conversation.

 

So to get to the point, to answer your question, you're looking for a Pore Filler.

I use Timbermate, its a really good product.

It's reasonably cheap and comes in small containers

It's available online and safe to ship anywhere

It's water-based and very easy to use

It comes in lots of colors

It can be tinted with your own colored products if you want to customize it to taste

It sands really easily

And...wait for it...It Fills Pores!

It loves to completely fill your pores, as if it was designed from birth to do just that <I kid a little, of course>

There's a bunch of YT's on it.

So you can get that glassy smooth finish we all love so much.

 

And, a sidenote to @ScottR, I still to this day use CA glue to fill pores when the situation calls for a clear filler.

Many tools in the toolchest to use, many different hammers to hammer with.

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Thanks @Drak, again a good lesson about triple checking my vocabulary. I guess I meant pore filler despite talking about sanding sealer. English not being my native tongue is one reason, another being that on this side of the pond same words can mean different things, can be used synonymously or can be swapped. After all, by the name one can easily think that a sealer somehow closes something that's open like pores.

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  • 3 months later...

@Drak,  Just to be completely on the same page on my end, if I have already used a grain filler, a Sanding Sealer is not necessary prior to primer(if the grain filler is applied correctly)? 

 

My plan was to use a high build sandable lacquer based primer, then base, color, clear coats.  I wasn't able to really find a proper guidance on this.  Intuition told me that a high build sandable primer essentially is the same thing as a sanding sealer at least vert similar by description.

 

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Sanding sealer, in my world, is never, ever 'necessary', ever, for any reason. Ever.

Its an option, and one I personally don't prefer. If others do, and you want to use it, that's fine with me too.

I just find it unnecessary and a waste of money otherwise better spent on other products or tools or girls or a haircut maybe...

Primers, OTOH, are about proper adhesion, which is important depending on what products your using and what they need to do.

You're concerned with your final finish product adhering properly to your substrate.

That's what primers do, tho they offer additional features besides that too.

In terms of finish build to attain a dead-flat surface, which is, I think, what you're really asking about...

I don't know between the two of them which would build the fastest. Just depends on the particular product.

You'd have to look up each one and its solids content to see which would give you a level finish the fastest with fewest coats.

TBH, I don't think either product has, as a primary characteristic, finish build.

Enter your grain filler, which will do 90% of that job, then you won't need much product to get to dead-level, tho you will need some.

Primers are concerned with adhesion, (lacquer) sanding sealers are concerned with making it super-easy to sand.

When I see the word 'primer', I think good and proper adhesion, not a thing wrong with that if its necessary.

When I see the word 'sanding sealer', I think soap flakes (stearates).

That's the additive in sanding sealer that makes sanding easier on those tiny little weak muscles that can't handle sanding regular lacquer.

(I speak in ironic terms here, of course, because I find the product superfluous)

I don't look at either as much of a 'coat builder' on the way to a dead-flat surface, although both will if you use enough of them.

If you use any finish that builds, you'll get a dead-flat surface sooner or later.

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5 hours ago, Drak said:

If you use any finish that builds, you'll get a dead-flat surface sooner or later.

Tru dat! When I introduced the flake paint 2k clearcoat at the workshop, we took a block of mahogany and rounded both the end and one side to get all possible grain directions sorted. Our Master Luthier was surprised how nicely it filled even the end grain shiny and without too much orange peel. On second thought, that should not be surprising considering the original purpose. The flake covered surface is pretty rough and you can't sand between layers so it has to build fast without running.

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Sanding sealer isn't meant to fill the grain. You need grain filler for that - I only use sealer to stop colour running on a stained top. If you've already sealed the stain in, you can go over that with a grain filler. I like to use a coloured grain filler that accents the grain and I find a open weave dish cloth works well to apply and wipe it off because it picks up all the excess and leaves the surface smooth. Once that's try you should be able to lacquer straight over the top.

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thanks for the timbermate tip... might have to give that a try... after I get through the lifetime supply of filler I have.  I don't recall the name, but i searched online and it came recommended from many sources.  it is water based and very clear... but my gripe with it is that it recedes so much... I was literally gobbing it on my last build only to have it recede beyond the wood line!  doesn't react to nitro... so there's that.  really not font of the stuff. might leave the jar open because it is very soupy to begin with, and perhaps drying it out would make it work better.  having to do 5 applications of it to get it level seems ridiculous!

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12 hours ago, mistermikev said:

thanks for the timbermate tip... might have to give that a try... after I get through the lifetime supply of filler I have.  I don't recall the name, but i searched online and it came recommended from many sources.  it is water based and very clear... but my gripe with it is that it recedes so much

I know you're on TDPRI. I was reading a thread there (probably in the finish section) Someone who had tried, like, a half-dozen pore fillers over the years. He mentioned his favorite (clear pore filler) and I YT'd it and it seems way better than even Timbermate. It has NO shrinkback at All, none. Must be some sort of soluble epoxy product or something. Even Timbermate, being water-based, has shrinkback as the water vapor evaporates out of it. I have my own way of dealing with that, but this product seemed better. The only drawback is that if you leave too much of it and its sitting ON the surface, it leaves a milky-white residue.

But for what we do, no one should be leaving that much pore filler on a body. I actually am going to switch and try it if and when I need to go down that road again. The other drawback is that I forgot the name of the stuff. And, Firefox just did an update (its a long story) and I just lost years worth of bookmarks, of which I had saved the stuff in a bookmark.

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6 minutes ago, Drak said:

I know you're on TDPRI. I was reading a thread there (probably in the finish section) Someone who had tried, like, a half-dozen pore fillers over the years. He mentioned his favorite (clear pore filler) and I YT'd it and it seems way better than even Timbermate. It has NO shrinkback at All, none. Must be some sort of soluble epoxy product or something. Even Timbermate, being water-based, has shrinkback as the water vapor evaporates out of it. I have my own way of dealing with that, but this product seemed better. The only drawback is that if you leave too much of it and its sitting ON the surface, it leaves a milky-white residue.

But for what we do, no one should be leaving that much pore filler on a body. I actually am going to switch and try it if and when I need to go down that road again. The other drawback is that I forgot the name of the stuff. And, Firefox just did an update (its a long story) and I just lost years worth of bookmarks, of which I had saved the stuff in a bookmark.

well my first q is... how does it react to nitro?  I like nitro a lot.  just makes things easier.  if it works with that... I'm sold!!  

I gave up on trying to keep bookmarks in firefox/chrome.  just keep a word doc and make links in it.  that way - I know where it is and it's cross browser.  have dif pages for 'guitar parts', 'forums', etc. 

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4 hours ago, Drak said:

Firefox just did an update (its a long story) and I just lost years worth of bookmarks, of which I had saved the stuff in a bookmark.

You may be able to find them. In the Firefox profile there's usually several bookmark backups so reverting to one should do the trick. The easiest way to check that is to go to the Bookmark panel (Ctrl+Shift+O within Firefox) and use the Import/Backup tool: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/restore-bookmarks-from-backup-or-move-them

If that doesn't work, then your update most likely has created a new profile (32 to 64 bit version?) in which case the old one should still be available in the same folder with the new. %APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ is the location (or see https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profiles-where-firefox-stores-user-data ) and 'bookmarkbackups' is the first folder there. You can copy and paste that from the old profile to the new one.

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As I said...its a long story, but to ease your mind that they're gone for good, I'll give you the brief rundown.

I detest the new Firefox, so I decided to revert to an older version, the last good update of the one I loved and used for years.

When you update to a new version, it transfers all the bookmarks across, but when you revert to old, it doesn't save anything.

It's basically a brand new install, although an older one, and there is no recognition of one to the other when going backwards like that.

I should have known better, I know how to save a copy of my bookmarks, I've done it before, but hadn't done so in a long time.

And I just wasn't thinking ahead. Shit happens, life goes on, there's always a reason for everything, no coincidences. I'll live.

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14 hours ago, mistermikev said:

well my first q is... how does it react to nitro?  I like nitro a lot.  just makes things easier.  if it works with that... I'm sold!!  

If I could remember the name of the stuff, I'd link a few YT's of it.

It works great under lacquer, they used lacquer as the topcoat in the YT.

I mean, I'm not throwing my Timbermate away, I have it in several colors.

This product was a clear pore filler, tho I'm sure you could add your own colors to it if needed.

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2 hours ago, Drak said:

It's basically a brand new install, although an older one, and there is no recognition of one to the other when going backwards like that.

There might, just might be the profile folder of the previous version as well. They don't easily get deleted unless you really want to.

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Had I known that 2 days ago, it may have worked, probably would have.

But now, with a new install, its just showing a brand new install, no history of updates, etc.

But thanks for the info, may come in handy one day down the road.

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  • 6 months later...

Thanks for the Timbermate suggestion.  Love the stuff.  I’m in a quandary about the Timbermate color to choose for my current build.  The wood is Padauk and Bloodwood and would like to choose a color that will make the grain pop as this will be mainly a clear only finish.  
 

Drak, are you thinking about Solarez?  That’s a product I’ve been interested in trying for nothing else but it supposed UV protection. 

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