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CA glue finish?


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What, if any, are the pitfalls of a CA glue finish?

The reason I ask is, there’s an adage that says “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

I’ve had a go at using CA glue, as a finish, on various scraps of wood, from the guitar I’m building, and try as I may, I don’t seem to be able to screw it up.

I’m not even using branded super glue, just cheap stuff!

I apply a few coats, flat sand it, apply a final coat then sand to 3000 grit, then give it a polish by hand.  I get a flawless mirror finish each time!


I’ve seen a few YT videos on the subject and the people who’ve done it all seemed very positive and the finish looked great.

So what am I missing, is it really this easy to get a high gloss finish?

If it’s this easy why isn’t everyone doing it?

Are there issues that will crop up, in the long term, with this finish?


The only real issue I can think of is, I don’t like the finished product and I will have to remove it.  During my trial runs I’ve managed to sand through the finish a couple of times, so even this doesn’t seem a major drawback.

There are particular reasons I’m looking into this, the main one being I’ve simply got nowhere for any sort of paint or lacquer spraying, even if I did, I would be restricted to acrylic, automotive type, rattle cans.

I could go for an oil finish, however in the current situation, where I am the post is chronic, it could easily take months for something to arrive here.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

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CA seems to make a great finish and it also is very tolerant. The biggest issue is the vapours. It's really nasty stuff for your lungs!  A proper respirator and preferably a ventilated painting booth are a must if you care about yourself. Outside with the wind in your back might work as well if there's no particles flying.

For a wipe on finish you can mix it yourself. Basically it's just lacquer, boiled linseed oil and turpentine all of which should be pretty widely available. The biggest issue is to find the suitable lacquer as the terminology varies around the world: Lacquer, Poly, Varnish, Clearcoat, Paint... An oil based lacquer that can be thinned with turpentine should be a safe choice for the mix.

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down sides for me would be:

idk how I'd apply it without it being a massive pita/mess.  hell i get it everywhere using a pipet and doing binding!!

i think it would be hard to control in terms of laying down an extremely thin finish

vapors make my eyes sting!!

wouldn't hesitate to use it if the context called for it.  just another tool in the box.

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Regarding dust and vapour from CA glue, not so much of a problem for me, as all my work is done outside, so a lot easier to manage that sort of hazard.

What is the ratio of boiled linseed oil to turps and will this give a high gloss finish?

I've experimented with how to apply the CA glue, IMO it's really not that difficult to apply, either drops of glue onto the surface and rub it in with a cloth or apply to the cloth first, I didn't notice any real difference.  The only thing I haven't tried, so far, is applying it to a surface as large as a guitar body, I guess small areas at a time.


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23 minutes ago, Woodworm said:

What is the ratio of boiled linseed oil to turps and will this give a high gloss finish?

I've heard about a recipe of one third each. The application method is similar to any oil i.e. you flood it, then when it starts to get tacky you'll wipe it off with a clean towel and wipe any sweating excess off again after about five minutes. Let cure, repeat daily or even twice a day depending on temperature and humidity. The lacquer will eventually build to a solid buffable surface. Basically that's similar to Crimson Guitar Finishing Oil or Danish Oil or Tung Oil. A higher lacquer content will build up faster but it can be more difficult to apply evenly. Lower lacquer content will penetrate, the curing oil hardening the wood deeper than just on the surface.


Truth to be said, getting a high gloss finish with that is a tedious job. It's doable, I've seen Tung Oiled guitars that look like glass, but it requires lots of layers. A satin sheen is pretty easy to achieve, though.  This tutorial may also be of help: https://www.projectguitar.com/tutorials/finishingrefinishing/bedroom-builders-wipe-on-varnishing-r67/

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I've used CA glue as a clear pore filler on guitars for decades, its nothing new to me.

I've never used it as a stand-alone finish, but I've built it up to the point where I can level-sand the guitar body.

So, although its not my cup of tea for a final finish, I see nothing wrong in doing it.

I say you're good to go.

The only thing I've learned over the years is to be aware of the humidity level when applying it.

My preference is outdoors on a reasonably warm and dry day, humidity as near 50% or below as possible.

Under those conditions, it goes down easy (I do wear a respirator when doing it)

I usually use a plastic throwaway squeegee/putty knife to apply it.

If its humid, you can get white spots (trapped moisture) in it.

And I don't do 'small areas', I bang the whole thing out all at once.

I don't leave puddles, I scrape it across the surface just like I was applying a pore filler product for the initial first coat.

You will need to do 2-3 coats to do what you're talking about, you won't nail it all in one application.

Apply the first, let dry, sand as level as you can, then apply a second coat.

To build a final finish with...you'll have to be a little dexterous with your putty knife because you're not scraping it across, that's only for the first coat. The following coats will be like applying paint with a paintbrush-ish.

You'll be using the putty knife more like a paintbrush, which will take a little dexterity and thought.

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