General rules on staining Swamp Ash?

TheVelvetBulldozer

Active member
Messages
41
:headbang:  :headbang1:  :guitarplayer2:  :bass:  :band:

Going to be my first time finishing, well, anything honestly, and my first time will include staining swamp ash.
Are there any general rules about staining, the do's and the don't's? Any characteristics of Swamp Ash that I should be careful or make notice?
Any general procedures on how to stain wood, apparently for Wudtone, all you gotta do is sand with like 250 grit, then put base coat, steel wool, base coat, and repeat. Is this true?

Thanks!

:headbang:  :guitaristgif:  :party07:  :headbanging:  :headbang4:  :cool01:  :headbang:
 

NedRyerson

Senior member
Messages
453
Depends totally on what you're going for, so....

piratecoderulesguidelines.png


On my first one, I raised the grain with water, then sanded 220 then to 320. I wiped it down thoroughly to get rid of any errant sanding dust.  I didn't fill the grain because I wanted that natural look and texture to show through.

I mixed Trans-tint dyes with water (I didn't have any denatured alcohol at the time), and hand-applied a blend of blues and greens.  The top coat was a series of spray-can lacquer, multiple coats over several days then a few weeks of dry time, then wet-sand to smooth.  After going from 600 to 1500 in wet-sanding, I applied polish.  I used Meguiar automotive polish.

For the second one, I filled the grain after prep, then used my spray gun to shoot purple lacquer. I treated the edges with black lacquer as a sort of quasi-burst.  Same routine as before, multiple coats over multiple days, then weeks for dry time.  I took the wet sanding up to 2500 for this one.  Used Meguiar again, but wasn't as happy because I wanted more of a glossy shine, which I didn't get.

But you might not be looking for that mirror-like shine.  Or you might.  Again, lots of possibilities depending on your desired end goal.

In researching what other builders have done, I've run across more conflicting information than any universal truths (apart from proper prep of the surface before doing anything), so all of my builds have been variations to try to find what works for me and the project at hand.  Each of them have ended up begin quite different from one another.
 

DuckBaloo

Senior member
Messages
300
I have little direct advice to offer because I don't do wipe-on colors and I don't apply stain or dye directly to wood. That's not a condemnation of the process, it's just that if I seal and fill the body first, then I can always sand back past my mistakes.

But I did go and read through Wudtone's instructions to see if I could  The manufacturers finish schedule is the bible for their finish. They know what materials are being used and how to respond.

The finishes are designed to go straight on the wood. As with all finishes, you want the wood clean and de-greased/de-oiled (usually with naptha). The oil in even a finger print can prove resistant to a finish and live a bare spot...the chemicals from the body cutting and shaping process can cause other issues.

Build up thin coats, don't rush things by going heavy. You'll probably have to figure out which way across the grain gets the most flake into the pores.

Lint free cloth. Old, worn tee-shirts that have seen the washer for a decade often work well.

You can get a ash board from places like Woodcraft if you want a scrap to practice with. I always use practice pieces when trying a new process, usually working in a small area no larger 4"*4" (10cm * 10cm).

Be realistic and appreciate the uniqueness of the wood, the process, and your abilities. Small blemishes are part of the handmade process, it (probably) won't be prefect, but it will be yours.
 

TheVelvetBulldozer

Active member
Messages
41
NedRyerson said:
Depends totally on what you're going for, so....

piratecoderulesguidelines.png


On my first one, I raised the grain with water, then sanded 220 then to 320. I wiped it down thoroughly to get rid of any errant sanding dust.  I didn't fill the grain because I wanted that natural look and texture to show through.

I mixed Trans-tint dyes with water (I didn't have any denatured alcohol at the time), and hand-applied a blend of blues and greens.  The top coat was a series of spray-can lacquer, multiple coats over several days then a few weeks of dry time, then wet-sand to smooth.  After going from 600 to 1500 in wet-sanding, I applied polish.  I used Meguiar automotive polish.

For the second one, I filled the grain after prep, then used my spray gun to shoot purple lacquer. I treated the edges with black lacquer as a sort of quasi-burst.  Same routine as before, multiple coats over multiple days, then weeks for dry time.  I took the wet sanding up to 2500 for this one.  Used Meguiar again, but wasn't as happy because I wanted more of a glossy shine, which I didn't get.

But you might not be looking for that mirror-like shine.  Or you might.  Again, lots of possibilities depending on your desired end goal.

In researching what other builders have done, I've run across more conflicting information than any universal truths (apart from proper prep of the surface before doing anything), so all of my builds have been variations to try to find what works for me and the project at hand.  Each of them have ended up begin quite different from one another.

Thank you so much! The first guitar sounds more similar to what I'm going for. A Wudtone stain that is coloured as a light golden yellow, satin gloss finish, and lots of texture of the grain showing (you can actually feel the grooves in the wood). What does raising the grain with water actually do? it makes the grain pop more? The grooves are deeper, so there's more contrast? Thank you!
 

TheVelvetBulldozer

Active member
Messages
41
DuckBaloo said:
I have little direct advice to offer because I don't do wipe-on colors and I don't apply stain or dye directly to wood. That's not a condemnation of the process, it's just that if I seal and fill the body first, then I can always sand back past my mistakes.

But I did go and read through Wudtone's instructions to see if I could  The manufacturers finish schedule is the bible for their finish. They know what materials are being used and how to respond.

The finishes are designed to go straight on the wood. As with all finishes, you want the wood clean and de-greased/de-oiled (usually with naptha). The oil in even a finger print can prove resistant to a finish and live a bare spot...the chemicals from the body cutting and shaping process can cause other issues.

Build up thin coats, don't rush things by going heavy. You'll probably have to figure out which way across the grain gets the most flake into the pores.

Lint free cloth. Old, worn tee-shirts that have seen the washer for a decade often work well.

You can get a ash board from places like Woodcraft if you want a scrap to practice with. I always use practice pieces when trying a new process, usually working in a small area no larger 4"*4" (10cm * 10cm).

Be realistic and appreciate the uniqueness of the wood, the process, and your abilities. Small blemishes are part of the handmade process, it (probably) won't be prefect, but it will be yours.

Thanks for actually taking the time to go on the Wudtone Website. May you send me the Wudtone Finish Schedule (odd name), I just want to know if it's the same thing I'm looking at. I emailed Wudtone and they told me to actually NOT use naphtha: "Do not use any liquids on the wood before using Wudtone , especially Naptha as this will be a barrier to the dyes and colouration." So I don't know how I'd remove the oils now. Maybe sanding the wood with a low grit will get rid of the oils. I'll be sure to use gloves and an old t-shirt. Any alternatives to the old t shirt? Thanks for the advice, I'll try to find a piece of Ash that I can practice on!
 

Rick

Senior member
Messages
4,541
Rules?  Practice and get a book like Michael Dresdner wood finishing
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,483
TheVelvetBulldozer said:
Tonar8353 said:
Here is a step by step thread I did on swamp ash. I always grain fill it first, then seal it with clear to make sure it is level, then use shading lacquer to get a beautiful even base color. https://www.unofficialwarmoth.com/index.php?topic=2971.msg30614#msg30614

Very kind of you, thanks for the reply! Wow, you sir are an artist. Beautiful work.

He is indeed.

One thing to bear in mind though is Tonar8353 has done an excellent write up of a more traditional approach with lacquer etc and for that method it is spot on.

However if you are using Wudtone the approach and philosophy of Wudtone is different and it achieves a different result with different materials.  So is their finishing approach true, it is for that approach but not all approaches will achieve or intend to achieve the same result.


As we are on the subject of staining ash, here is one I did a few years back with tea.

Natural Ash Tele

But again if I was using Wudtone I would follow the instructions they provide.
 

TheVelvetBulldozer

Active member
Messages
41
stratamania said:
TheVelvetBulldozer said:
Tonar8353 said:
Here is a step by step thread I did on swamp ash. I always grain fill it first, then seal it with clear to make sure it is level, then use shading lacquer to get a beautiful even base color. https://www.unofficialwarmoth.com/index.php?topic=2971.msg30614#msg30614

Very kind of you, thanks for the reply! Wow, you sir are an artist. Beautiful work.

He is indeed.

One thing to bear in mind though is Tonar8353 has done an excellent write up of a more traditional approach with lacquer etc and for that method it is spot on.

However if you are using Wudtone the approach and philosophy of Wudtone is different and it achieves a different result with different materials.  So is there finishing approach true, it is for that approach but not all approaches will achieve or intend to achieve the same result.


As we are on the subject of staining ash, here is one I did a few years back with tea.

Natural Ash Tele

But again if I was using Wudtone I would follow the instructions they provide.

Another artist, amazing work! Love that Telecaster Ash body, and the finish with Tea was really sweet. Nice rosy colour. Honestly, for the Wudtone staining, I found a lot of information on their sites, in the downloads section (under "About Us"). Probably last question: when waiting for the stain to dry/cure, I heard that you should probably hang the body. But how do you do this? A clamp? But then where the clamp is holding off of (probably the neck joint cavity), that area won't be cured like everything else (not exposed to air, but instead, to the clamp!).
 

DuckBaloo

Senior member
Messages
300
You don't finish inside the neck pocket. many of us tape even it off to make sure finish doesn't get in there. Some people go into elaborate reasons about wanted wood on wood in the joint, but the logistical reason is because finish builds up and makes the pocket slightly too tight to fit the neck.

I screw a 1x2 board on at the neck pocket and use that to hang the body for spraying.

I don't think most people who use wipe on finishes do the whole body at once, they work in sections, letting the first section dry before moving the body to do the next one, but they finish a whole coat before moving to the next one.
 

NedRyerson

Senior member
Messages
453
I have a bunch of hook screws in the joists in the basement and garage of my main home, and in the workshop at my vacation home.  I thread some gardening wire through the bolt holes in the neck pocket then hang up the body on those hooks.  While that means some contact with either the color or finishing chemicals where the wire might touch the back of the guitar, that's usually where the neck plate is going to go anyway.

I've seen similar rigs where a stick, dowel, or pencil is inserted into the bolt hole and then the wire is attached to the ends of the stick to reduce/eliminate that contact at all.

It can be a little disconcerting in the dark when I see a couple of guitar bodies just hanging from the ceiling and swaying gently like slabs of meat. :)
 

TheVelvetBulldozer

Active member
Messages
41
DuckBaloo said:
You don't finish inside the neck pocket. many of us tape even it off to make sure finish doesn't get in there. Some people go into elaborate reasons about wanted wood on wood in the joint, but the logistical reason is because finish builds up and makes the pocket slightly too tight to fit the neck.

I screw a 1x2 board on at the neck pocket and use that to hang the body for spraying.

I don't think most people who use wipe on finishes do the whole body at once, they work in sections, letting the first section dry before moving the body to do the next one, but they finish a whole coat before moving to the next one.

Yes very good point about not wanting to paint inside the neck cavity! I was talking about the outside though, sorry for not being clear, if I put a clamp it would be touching the inside (that's no problem at all) but the outside too where there's finish (maybe that's a problem). But then again I'd be covering the outside part with a neck plate. I read from Wudtone that between each coat you gotta give it around 2 days to cure, so I'm pretty sure during those 2 days the whole body would be stained. I'll use some hooks or rope and put them in the neck screw holes.
 

TheVelvetBulldozer

Active member
Messages
41
NedRyerson said:
I have a bunch of hook screws in the joists in the basement and garage of my main home, and in the workshop at my vacation home.  I thread some gardening wire through the bolt holes in the neck pocket then hang up the body on those hooks.  While that means some contact with either the color or finishing chemicals where the wire might touch the back of the guitar, that's usually where the neck plate is going to go anyway.

I've seen similar rigs where a stick, dowel, or pencil is inserted into the bolt hole and then the wire is attached to the ends of the stick to reduce/eliminate that contact at all.

It can be a little disconcerting in the dark when I see a couple of guitar bodies just hanging from the ceiling and swaying gently like slabs of meat. :)

That's hilarious!  :laughing7: I'm only going to be hanging one so it shouldn't look too creepy... I'll try your gardening wire trick.
 

TheVelvetBulldozer

Active member
Messages
41
Also, everyone, when do you drill holes for the pickguard, strap buttons, control cavity, etc? Before the finishing? Or after? I think after makes more sense because you don't want the holes you drilled to fill up with paints and top coats, but if you do it after, won't drilling into the top coat crack or something similar to that? I know I'm using Wudtone Top Coats, it's not poly or nitro cellulose or something, but still, something to consider.

Thanks for all the help, this is amazing!
 

ragamuffin

Senior member
Messages
1,008
TheVelvetBulldozer said:
Also, everyone, when do you drill holes for the pickguard, strap buttons, control cavity, etc? Before the finishing? Or after? I think after makes more sense because you don't want the holes you drilled to fill up with paints and top coats, but if you do it after, won't drilling into the top coat crack or something similar to that? I know I'm using Wudtone Top Coats, it's not poly or nitro cellulose or something, but still, something to consider.

Thanks for all the help, this is amazing!

Drill the holes after finishing  :eek:ccasion14:
 

NedRyerson

Senior member
Messages
453
I've done it both ways, and ultimately, I prefer "before."  I can plug the holes with toothpicks or painter's tape as necessary (just being very careful with the amount of color or finish so those things don't inadvertently get glued into place by the drying chemicals; I've done that before :( ), or clear out anything dried in there with the screw I plan to use anyway.

When I'd drill after, there were times when a drill bit or screwdriver wandered, which led to scratching or damaging both the body and the finish. Or I misaligned the screw hole placement after I drilled the pilot holes.

Before finishing, and especially with a solid/opaque color, it's not as heartbreaking to just fill the bad hole and start fresh.  With transparent, I was able to repair some smaller dents to where it's barely noticeable (I know it's there, but nobody else does :) ).

Like mileage, preferences will vary based on personal experience and technique. I fully admit I'm nowhere near expert, but I'm discovering what works for me and my comfort level.
 

TheVelvetBulldozer

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Messages
41
Thank you, both of you!

Because I'm staining, I think it's not too worrisome if drill afterwards-- however maybe it's best to drill after the top coat varnish.
 
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