Advice/critique on my finishing plan?


New member
I've just received my mahogany (lefty!) Nomad neck and body. I'm looking for a transparent finish that sits anywhere between transparent red and heritage cherry. I'm not looking to nail a specific color - just somewhere on that red to brownish-red spectrum -  but I would like to enhance the grain a bit. I'm going for a smooth and glossy finished look.

All my research points me to Tru-Oil, dye, and dark or even black grain filler. I've got a bottle of Tru-Oil on the way, and I've ordered a bottle or red ColorFX dye (which is apparently the Canadian version of Trans Tint). In researching the ColorFX, it sounds like I can tint the Tru-Oil and use it like a toner, so I should be able to really fine-tune the color of the guitar with numerous thin coats of dyed Tru-Oil.

One question - should I start with the grain filler on the bare wood, or would it be wise to apply a coat or two of un-tinted Tru-Oil before the black grain filler so it doesn't stain or bleed into the wood?

Another question for my fellow Canucks - what's your preferred grain filler that's easy to source up here?

Any and all advice appreciated!




Senior member
Not a Canadian here, but my guess is you can source Timbermate up there since its a water-borne product and thus you don't have the same regulatory issues as fillers suspended in volatile petroleum distillates.  I've used it on a number of projects and while it usually requires several applications to get the job done all the way, it's easy to use and clean up.  There's an ebony-tinted version, but you can also tint with universal tints such as Mixol.

Second, and this is really crucial:  TEST YOUR FINISHING SCHEDULE ON SCRAP LUMBER.  Get a strip of mahogany and test your products and order of operations before you go inflicting your plans on that very expensive guitar body you just paid for. 

I have not tried using Tru-Oil with the ColorFX/TransTint dye concentrates,but I have seen lots of folks use artists' oil colors and universal tints to make a toner out of Tru-Oil.  It'd be worth some research, in any event.  You could also use the dye concentrate to make a toner with a water-based product like Crystalac and spray using a Preval unit. 

Anyway, congrats on your purchase, and best of luck on finishing.  Remember that all shortcuts in finishing are fraught with misery in the long run - just go slow, be patient, and walk away from the project to cool off if you get frustrated.




Senior member
I can confirm that Timbermate is available in canada.  If you're in Ontario up around Ottawa, you can get it at the woodSource.

I'd also echo Bagman's comment:  Do a test board!  :)


Senior member
Also veering away from your specific steps, but I just did a mahogany body as well.  I didn't tint the filler.  I used Aqua Coat, as is, then followed with Trans-Tint yellow and green, then finished with multiple coats of poly (THAT was a learning experience!).

The natural reddish tone of the mahogany breaks through the green, so depending on the lighting and angle, it can look either green or even brown.  According to a veteran woodworker friend of mine (who used to be a wood shop teacher at a school I supported as an IT field tech) he said that particular slab of wood was highly figured so the details were quite rich.

When I look at it at my shop where I have fluorescent overhead lighting, it looks totally green.  At home with incandescent lighting, it looks more brown.  So if you're going for red, I think you'll be very pleased without too much tweaking needed.

and walk away from the project to cool off if you get frustrated.

My goodness, ain't that the truth!  A couple of runs and drips in the poly almost had me trashing the whole project more than once!  That was part of my learning experience.