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Sealer, Stain, Laquer - Home Depot vs. StewMac


GuitsBoy
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Hi all -

Im just wondering if the specialized guitar products from stewmac are worth the price difference vs. generic stuff from the big box (Home Depot or Lowes). Basically, these components all have counterparts available at both types of retailers:

Stain

Sanding Sealer

Clear Laquer (rattle can)

Polishing Compound

Seems like you stand to save 50% or more by buying home depot stuff. Is there a major drawback to buying generic products? I would assume that the clear laquer would not be nitro based, but would you still get as good results? Anybody have any good results with particular brands?

Thanks much!

-Tony

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Straight out....the StewMac stains are worth every penny!

Home depot stains don't absorb into wood...they coat it more or less.

In my experience. Stew mac is the place for stains.

I use rattlecan clear for headstocks so far. I haven't even buffed them, and got decent results (As long as your spray technique is good)

I am currently finishing a body with the same material, and it looks good, but I have yet to polish it (or anything for that matter)

Check out the "painting questions answered" post on the top of the page. Lot's of good info.

-Seth

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It depends on the product.. my experience is that most products offered by hardware stores are more for quick "weekend warrior" furniture jobs..they get the job done quickly with OK results to the untrained eye.

Stains: Don't be tempted to use a Minwax stain. There is a big difference between a stain and a dye...stains are usually mixed in with a sealer, and as Seth said, don't do a good job of getting into the wood. A Dye on the otherhand has no sealers mixed in with it and will give you much better depth. Dyes come in a few types: Alcohol Soluable, Water Soluable (both powdered) and the liquid type that Stew Mac sells. These can be mixed into lacquer when spraying, but if you lack spray equipmnent, you can't do it that way.

Sanding Sealer: This is always a debatable product...I'm a huge advocate of it. It's like a clear primer - fills small grains, flattens the surface, and sands/levels very easily. Sanding Sealer in a Rattle Can is almost always nitro based. It has more solvents that I would every mix in - and because of this, it can bleed a dyed finish. I've used it in the can in the past with pretty good results tho. Vinyl Sanding Sealer is the best bet - but I've never seen it in a spray can.

Clear Lacquer: If you're using lacquer to finish your guitar, you want to use Nitrocellouse Based Lacquer. This may be difficult to find in a rattle can anywhere other than Stew Mac or ReRanch. Again, this is mixed with a lot of thinner, and takes a while to cure - but can yield a really nice finish. Avoid any waterbased lacquers.

Polishing Compounds: These are going to be pretty much the same anywhere you go - I never use polishing compounds, rather I have always prefered to wet-sand the gleem out. A little more work, but much less of a chance for burn through. Granted, I don't have a nice arbor, and have used the "foam pad" on a drill that Stew Mac Sells...but if it's your first attempt, doing things by hand will reduce the "OH CRAP!" moments.

My suggestions would be to buy a container of Alcohol Soluable dye (and some de natured alcohol to mix with it), Stew Mac Sanding Sealer and Lacquer, and the wet sanding paper. The dye and papers can be ordered through Re Ranch.

FYI: experiment with applying the dye to the wood AFTER you've used the sanding sealer - you can get great depth and very even color (it doesn't oversaturate areas)

Hope that helps and Good Luck!!

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Any idea how a cheap or mid-priced spray gun compares to spray cans when it comes to clear nitro? I've seen some spray guns around $50 (of course, you need a good compressor) and have wondered how they do compared to a spray can. I have a steamac video on spray finishing and I think they are using more expensive equipment but I'm not sure.

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They're worth their weight in gold!! Anyone who goes from using spray cans to a spray gun will attest - night and day. I was scared off by prices, and if "santa" hadn't brought me an air compressor, I'd still be using the rattle cans...but I was very surprised what you can get for a reasonable price. You can spend TONS on an spray gun...and there's the whole HVLP set up that you can use - for under $200, I have been EXTREMELY impressed with the quality of my equipment. Also, check classifieds in your town for compressors...they pop up pretty often..

Here's my set up:

Gun: http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?i...temnumber=G5352

Compressor: http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?i...temnumber=H4518

The quality is so much beyond a rattle can - and you can now control how thin you want the lacquer - or what type of lacquer you want...and even tint it! ok, too much coffee for me...

-Ben

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Spray nozzle is what I was really asking about anyway. I guess working with sucky nozzles is better than paying three times as much after shipping. I doubt if I'll be using rattle cans anyway, it'd be kind of foolish when I already have spray equipment. Can you use regular "spray guns" that you can get for like 20 bucks? I have access to a compressor that'll more than handle most things, but I want an affordable gun and already have some of these big ones that I think will work fine. I guess the biggest thing is that I'll probably have more waste. Where do you get your nitro lacquer? I can't seem to find it anywhere but Stewmac and a few other places that have to ship it. It'd be nice if I could pick some up at Lowes or Walmart or something. I've looked at Wal-mart and the guy didn't have any clue what nitrocellulose lacquer was (not a big suprise). How can you tell if it's nitro based?

Thanks,

Devon

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Switching from a rattle can to even a cheapo gun will probably give you way better results, as you can adjust the fluid level, fan, pressure, etc.

That Deft stuff Wes mentioned so far seems like nice stuff. I used the rattle can version on my ione of my Mexi Strat's neck, and just water sanding with 600grit (no buffing needed) gave a beautiful finish, though it seams soft, but I think that may be due to it being from a can. I've sprayed the gallon version of the Deft on a stool I built, no guitars yet, and it sprayed quite nicely, though I was using a siphon feen gun, and I didn't thin it at all, so it was a bit rough. I have been doing some sample pieces recently, thinning the lacquer by 10% - 20%, and I can get quite a nice finish with my Campbell Hausfeld HVLP gravity feed gun.

BTW, I buy the Deft lacquer at Windsor Plywood. Lee Valley also sell the stuff, and they mention it as being a Nitro based lacquer.

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I can't imagine going from rattle can to spray gun and not using automotive poly. That's like driving a sports car in 1st gear the whole time you owned it. For those who missed the link I posted about 6 months ago check it out. Click on this link and pick the link Number 3 2003 Dupont Magazine to download the PDF file. It has an article about PRS.

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Okay, I just purchased a HVLP spray gun. Where should I buy the clear for it? Should I purchase the DEFT clear polyurethane from home depot or lowes? Should I try and find clear automotive paint? Should I buy from an online distributor? I'm paint stupid, so please let me know what to look for.

Thanks,

-T

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If it was me, I'd go with the automotive poly. Most guitar manufactures use that kinda paint. Like I was saying PRS uses Dupont ChromaPremier Clear, but then again it's not a cheap paint. It will completely air dry in 24 hours time and leave you with the glassy look you want. I personally have used Nason Select Clear which is their cheaper brand, but it works really good. There are many other brands so go check them out at your local automotive store. Go talk to them and they should be able to help you out with buying, using and safety precautions you need to know about.

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