Any experience with wipe on/off polyurethane satin gels?


The urethane wipe on/off satin gels are new (at least to me) and I've not found a lot about them.

What little I've heard (directly from folks that've used them and in postings on the web) indicate that they are almost foolproof, easy to use, and generally give very good results (assuming one wants a satin finish in the first place.)

I'm specifically thinking about using Rocklers on my Warmoth padouk Strat body and 1/4 sawn maple neck (some vintage tint under the finish on the neck.)

In any event, I though I'd ask opinions here before moving ahead.

I know that common wisdom is that lacquer is IT when it comes to git finishes and all that.

*IF* I had a shop and supplies to support putting down one good coat, much less the multiple coats required to do it right, I'd be doing that. I've worked in custom cabinetry and am familar with woodworking and finishing - enough so that I know doing a good lacquer job in my current situation just is not realistic...
What shop and supplies?

Lacquer is EASIEST to do... it shoots great from an aerosol, from Deft, or from ReRanch.  Colors shoot from Mohawk.  You can burst ok that way too.

All you need is a reasonably calm day outside, with medium or lower humidity and temperatures suitable for working in shorts and tee shirt (think from about 72F on up).

Works just great.  Now... if you're shooting white, sure, you might want a super clean place - a booth.  But for bursts or less bright solid colors, you'll be fine.
While I appreciate your post and the intent and thank you, I do have some idea what I'm doing...

For example, I live in the Great Pacific Northwest. It'll be months (3-4 months at this point and most likely, if not longer) before the weather is 72, clear, no excessive humidity, and still enough to not get dust bunnies up the kazoo in a finish shot outside.

I redid a cheap guitar with Minwax wipe on poly satin finish. Wet-sanded between coats, final polish with rubbing compound. Cheap, not perfect, I could have done a better job, but it feels allright and looks fine from a distance. By all reports, the Rockler poly is better than Minwax.


ldelo said:
While I appreciate your post and the intent and thank you, I do have some idea what I'm doing...

GREAT!~ Another thread wrapped up!~
I've done several guitars this way, and it works fine. If I was doing a padouk body, I'd be strongly tempted not to put a hard coat on though, just use some Howard's Feed n' Wax now and then to keep it zoomy. There are two ways to color the neck. One is to actually tint the poly with a concentrate of dye - it's harder to guess right through multiple coats though, scrap wood experiments help. It's more predictable to dye the wood with a water-based aniline dye under the poly, but you'll have to put a couple of coats of sanding sealer in between the water-based dye and the water-based poly. Wax-free shellac is the ticket here. You can mix up your own using the shellac flakes you get from LMII (good dyes too) or you can get some "Zinnser's Bullseye Sealcoat" which is a premixed quart for about $10.

Michael Dresdner's "The Wood Finishing Book" can probably be requested from your library, you might glean some things from his website too.
He now lives in PUYALLUP? Gasp - it IS a conspiracy....  :help:

The last time I bought some Bullseye Sealcoat the Zinnser website didn't have it, but my hardware store could still order me a jug. It looks like they have about three newer products that would all do the trick, but I know the Bullseye works and I wanted it to get done.... The wood finishing field is changing so fast due to modern chemistry that it's hard to keep track - one thing's for sure, guitar companies used nitrocellulose in the 1950's because that's all they had, not for sonic reasons. Music Man is using poly, the Fender Clapton is superglue, "shooting nitro" has a romantic appeal like dressing up like cowboys and knights I guess. :toothy12:

A few hints - when using the water-based dye, you can make a weak concentrate and just keep brushing it on and letting each coat dry. If it gets too dark you can wash it with bleach and start over, but it's easiest to just do things slowly and right the first time. I have a recipe for "amber" - 8 parts yellow, 2 parts brown, 1 part red, but if you're fanatic you'll want to get red, brown & amber powder from LMII and do the whole mad-scientist eyedropper trip, get a white lab coat too, what the heck.

I find it much easier to brush on the poly with a water-moistened t-shirt ball (some layers wrapped up in a piece), and use multiple thin coats about 45 minutes apart - the damp/wet rag dilutes it somewhat (squeeze/not squeeze). After the first three coats I let it dry a few hours and sand lightly, the start back up. For covering floors, the poly instructions advocate a few, thick, full-strength coats, but the curves and various sides on a guitar mean that the poly won't settle itself in the same way as on a flat surface. It's almost completely stink-free - I do it in my kitchen and stash them in a closet between coats. 9 coats = 12 hours or so though, loan your cat out for the day mebbe. Of course you want to have your clamps/stands/procedures thought out ahead of time.

Another great book is Dan Erlewine's "Guitar Player Repair Guide", just buy it, the finishing section is solid procedurally and it'll tell you what else to chase at the library. It'll save you thousands of dollars eventually with everything else in it, wiring, fretwork, superglue ding-filling etc.