Deft vs Mohawk Lacquer


Active member
Anyone have any input on whether there is a difference between Deft and Mohawk Lacquers.  I am working on a mahogany tele deluxe, also posted under Tele Deluxe, Firs Build hoping for the best."  I have stripped the body and neck back to the wood after having some serious blushing problems.  I suspect I may have been too impatient, applied too heavy and too frequently, and not not waited long enough between coats, applied too heavy and too frequently.  I am also wondering if my use of the Mohawk Lacquer could have contributed.  I see a lot of mention about using the Deft in many of the boards.  As my first project I certianly have learned a lot of lessons, some of which were already explained here.  I am back to grain fill and want to do it right this time.  I have done black grain filler, waited a week, sanded, and will be starting the clear grain filler, as recommeded, tomorrow when it arrives from Stew Mac.  I am using the oil based grain filler they sell.
The blush usually means you have too much on there.  Several factors can go into it, but the general procedure for spray can coating is to spay it on lightly and stop when it just about is shiny over the entire surface.  The spray cans stuff has levelers in it so it should make a continuous coat.  When I used the Deft, it would just blush at this point, and then I would let it dry for about 30 minutes and it would become clear.  If I stopped short of this, it would leave a gritty coat, more than this and blush droplet areas would form.  The blush happens when the solvent from the can gets stuck under the "skin" of the dried lacquer.  The water in the air and the organic solvent in the spray can don't mix well and become hazy.  As much as is pains me to say, patience really is the key to the process.  There are not real shortcuts.  Also, you should let it dry for several days.  CB recommends a week between coats.  It says otherwise on the can, but there is a reason for his advice.  The experiment you can try is to leave the body in a room for a day.  If you can smell the lacquer solvent in the room after leaving it there for a day, you might want to let it dry longer.  This topic is a heck of a lot bigger than what I have covered, there are a ton of other good tips to be learned.  But from the sounds of it, you might have sprayed a bit much.

Gritty is ok.... each coat does not have to be like the final one.  You'll find that the next coat will melt into the one under it anyway....

Mohawk is generally good stuff, although I've not used their rattle can lacquer.  They have a chart someplace that shows the relative hardness of their products.  Try to use a hard finish.

Then, there's reranch lacquer too, which I might just try next time (this time really... its spray season in a few weeks)
Thanks for the help. I really should have heeded the advice I read here before I started my project.  I got too anxious to get the build done.  I should have really slowed it down and done the lengthy dries that CB talks about in all of his postings.  When I was sanding back the last finish, and I easily had 15-20 coats on because it was simply not looking right and I kept spraying it on thinking my coats were too thin, it was apparent to me that the finish was not even close to dry.  It was very gummy under the top finish and smelled like fresh paint.  It was rolling into globs on the sandpaper.  On the surface it seemed to be dry, although it never really would buff out correctly.  This time nice and slow with plenty of drying time.  I see in one post a recommendation of 4-10 coats. Is that true for rattle can application?  The most difficult part for me was being able to tell how much was enough.  I wanted every coat to look glossy and thick.  What exactly should I be looking for as I build up coats?

I applied my first coat of clear grain filler tonight, several coats of the black first, not to mention whatever was still in there from the last go around.. Can says let it dry 24 hours, is that enough?  It is the oil based Lawrence McFadden sold by Stew Mac.  I believe part of my problem last time was not enough filler so I had to go heavier to fillin the grain that was still showing.  Should I be sanding back after every coat of the clear filler.  I am applying with a brush, letting it skin up, then wiping off with burlap and then drying.
If you go really nice thin coats, oh... I can see five light shoots, then one mo' heavier ones as the final finale.  If you get it where you think it needs to be, you can wet sand it (400g) making it all nice and level (if really dry).  Then clean it off with naphtha and shoot a bit heavier as the last coat.  Let that dry and dry and dry... then you can sand it wet with 600g.  Wetting medium?  Kerosene, lamp oil (hate the smell though) or Formby's lemon oil (REALLY!).  As long as you wash it well with naphtha, zero issues.  It works 100x better than water or soapy water, etc.  Thank Frank Ford for that idea, please.
I might be way off base with the oil based filler, because I have never used that particular brand, but...  You probably should wait until you can't smell it either.  Same deal, wait a good long time and leave the body in a room that you can shut the doors on (Extra closet maybe?)  If the place is warm (70-80 or so degrees F) and the filler has solvent in it, you will smell it.  If you can smell it, it probably is not dry.  Remember that this will be going under the lacquer, so it would be best if it were quite dry.  Jack did an oil based grain fill on his blue dyed bass.  You might look that up for more details.

Is there any benefit to applying sanding sealer after the filler?  I have seen several mentions by Tonar of applying a wash coat of lacquer after his oil based filler applications.  I also read on the reranch site that oil based filler will stabalize if top coated.  Given this information, I am wondering if since I am using oil based filler, I should apply several coats of filler, let dry overnight and topcoat with sandable sealer, let dry for a week, sand and then recoat with filler, repeating this process.  I am also wondering if once the grain is looking good, if I  should use the sandable sealer to finish off the grain fill, prep before beginning with top coats.souldad
It is very difficult to tell if the grain is filled on the mahogony body and neck.  I have tried holding it ant an angle to a bright light and cannot tell if I am seeing grain or just the coloration of the grain.  Any advice on this?
jpowers123456 said:
It is very difficult to tell if the grain is filled on the mahogony body and neck.  I have tried holding it ant an angle to a bright light and cannot tell if I am seeing grain or just the coloration of the grain.  Any advice on this?

How long have you let what ever all you have applied cure? If using oil-based filler you should let each application dry at least a week. If you've done that, sanded back the filler and done either a wash coat of lacquer or sanding sealer, as applicable, you should be bale to see some shrinkage back into the grain pores when you hold the body up in bright light as mentioned above.

Keep in mind that lacquer finishes cure for a LONG time, and it not unusual to see some further finish shrinkage into the grain months after you're done.
Okay, thanks.  After my haste of the first attempt to do this finish job, I have been waiting a full week for each applicaion of the filler to dry.  It seems to be coming along fairly well. I have noticed the shrinkage everyone is talking about.  On Sunday it looks good after I have done the application, however, come Friday, it looks like I have hardly gotten anywhere. It s definetly moving along though. Thanks again for your help.  I will post a few pics of this go around.
Most lacquers ( Nitrocellulose) Dry fast, as it dries it pull in moisture out of the air, that is the blushing you see
Never shoot lacquer when it is raining or humid.
Never shoot lacquer in the wind.
To fix, wait for good whether, put a heavy coat of lacquer on and let dry in the shade.
Most times this will take the blush out, also don’t walk fast to put it in the shade as air flowing over it will also make it dry to fast and bush it again.
Dave a furnisher refinisher
PS Mohawk is the best for can lacquer
Many times... blush will disappear on its own after a short time.  Before a respray you can try a bit of gentle heat from a safe source like lights.  Instead of respraying with lacquer, there are blush outs... but I dont like them as they tend to soften the finish too much.  A better way is to gently mist the surface with plain 'ol acetone.  Acetone is the main ingredient in lacquer thinner, and fresh acetone will absorb a lot of water.  The misting will soften, release and trap moisture out of the lacquer itself.  But... be careful.. because its the evaporation, and the cooling, that is making the problem, so do this in a warm area like sunny outside places.

Lacquer doesn't really "pull in" moisture, but... as it drys via evaporation, you get condensation within the finish, from the moisture thats already there.  I've seen finishers take a hair dryer to blush areas (who? me do that?  hehheehhe).  This works, just dont get it too hot, and keep the air moving.

Anybody have a take on how the stewmac spray cans stack up vs. mohawk & deft?  I recently bought a bunch and am planning to shoot a body with it...hoping it doesn't suck!
You'll be ok with either - dont mix them though, and keep the coats THIN.

I cant stress enough - thin coats, and long drying.