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Newb Finishing Questions

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I'm planning to finish my alder body with automotive (polyurathane) paint (from halfords) in a solid colour

1) Do i need to use grain filler? If so, what type?

2) Do i need to use sand and sealer / sanding sealer? If so, what type?

3) Should i use the normal automotive primer?

4) Do i need a separate clear coat, or should i just buff the solid colour?


Any help would be most gratefully appreciated!

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The ReRanch site has a few answers to your questions. If you are going for a solid color and want some shine you might get by the clear coat by applying gloss paint and then buffing/polishing. One of the reasons I prefer to use a clearcoat is to provide a hard, semi-scratch resistant surface over a dyed color job. It also gives the finish that "wet" look. But the poly based paint you plan to use should give you the same surface properties (hardness/scratch resistance) as a poly clearcoat.

Primer is a good idea, it will give a uniform surface for sticking your finish coat. Remember 90% of a good paint job is underneath the finish coat. Make sure you use the correct primer, there are autobody etching primers (used for applying to bare metals) and there are filler primers, which would be more applicable for your uses.

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I'm doing up an old strat copy as finishing practise for guitar #1.

it's alder (i'm pretty sure it is anyway) and here's what i've found.

(btw, i'm doing block automotive colours from halfords too)

Yes, a sanding sealer helps, 2 coats of the stuff, i used the sealer from screwfix, cheap and works well. sand it back.

Yes, grain filler is a must, i've done the front (without grainfiller) and it's taken over 10 coats of primer and filler primer to get level. On the back i used some grain filler (from either axminster power tools or craft supplies) thinned down in white spirit, applied and sanded back, the primer took 2 coats to look flat.

as you may have guessed, automotive primer is fine, and yes buy the laquer while you are there, it's 3 for the price of two at the minute!

good luck

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It's always tricky translating american terms, took me ages to find 'sand and sealer', and find stuff here in england, B&Q and Homebase are pretty poor,

although i think polyfilla make a very fine filler for grain filling, so may give that a whirl. Does the shellac sealer work ok with the car paint then?

Some pics of the finished strat would be cool!!

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Hey davros,

yes, the sanding sealer is fine under the primer. I think is supposed to just stop the wood soaking up the next layers of paint etc.

The grain filler I used is rustins grain filler, bought from axminsters (day and a half delivery time) but you can get it from craft supplies

There are places in the uk, but it really is a case of finding or being let in on the secrets of where to look, here's where i've found:

Screwfix is good for sanding sealer, grades of wet-n-dry sandpaper, buffing stuff and tools. If you haven't used em before put me down as a recomender and i get a voucher for a couple of quid when you place an order! :D

craft-supplies.co.uk is in my home county of derbyshire, lots of sealers, grain fillers, dyes, woods, etc, the wood supply is stunning, worth a visit but you need an appoitment and a few hours to spare. they supply wood for PRS so they can't be that bad!

Axminster power tools has lots of fillers and finishing supplies, they're based in devon. v. quick delivery for me. for a brushed finished you can get rustons plastic coating from here too. but i'm gonna use the halfords spray for this one.

Pictures of the upgrade of the worlds worst strat to a bad strat are being taken, i will post them soon. it's the walnut and wenge creation for guitar number 1 that is really exciting me!

Good luck again, get the rustins thing before you start, it'll save you a fortune in primer, i promise.


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I think i'll grab the grain filler and sanding sealer both from axminster - their delivery is cheaper than screwfix, and would prefer to get both from the same


I also got my template bit from axminster, only a tenner, 'perform' brand - not tried it yet though, so cannot comment on its quality!

Anyone know which sanding sealer is best for automotive paint, as axminster sells

shellac, acrylic and cellulose, or if any are incompatible?? They also sell rustins MDF sealer, but i presume this isn't the best stuff for alder!!

I've got everything for building, just not the finishing stuff. I spent (too much) on a body blank from pincotts, pre-glued and sanded, as i only have limited access to a wood shop, so just want to be able to get straight onto the machining!

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I bought the shellac one, no problems with it.

Final priming total : front (no grain filler) - 12 or maybe 14 coats - I've begun to lose count

: back (with grain filler) - 4 coats.

And the back looks better! - metallic british racing green starts tonight - if it doesn't rain!

for your next blank, give craft supplies a call (it's more efficient than email with them) and get their sound wood catalog, my 1 piece african walnut was less than 30 quid.


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