Refinishing Mahogany Iceman

ice man

Active member
Messages
33
Well, it's been about 6 months since I finished my iceman project, and I am going to refinish it.  The tru-oil looks great, but it is not durable enough and I want to do something a little more exciting.  So, I removed the neck (mahogany) and sanded it back. A few questions about what I am about to do:

1. Do I need to grain fill the neck?  I have the stew-mac grain filler (water based).  I want to do a black die, sand it back, do an amber die, then nitro laquer.  If no fill is required, how many coats of nitro?

Next is the body.  I used varathane oil based black cherry stain with tru-oil, no grain fill.  My plan is to sand this back completely, black die rub, then amber, leaving a black burst around the edges and black sides.  Then grain fill, and nitro.  Will this work?  The graining on this body is really nice for mahogany, and I know the amber will look dark on mahogany, but I figure if I do the neck first, I will get some idea of the outcome.  Any suggestions or feedback on my ideas?  Thanks guys.

Mike
 
W

Watershed

Guest
Hey Mike,

Congrats on taking on a more challenging project.

Generally speaking, you will need to grain fill the neck, as you would with most any mahogany you are finishing.  Well, you don't really NEED to, but if you want to get anywhere close to a smooth level surface, it is necessary.  It is a very important step to do correctly if you are going for that smooth finish.  Plan on more than one application of filler. 

I have used the Stew-Mac waterbased grain filler and had fairly good results on a mahogany acoustic neck I refinished for a friend.  I did not have very good luck with a Korina body I finished.  I switched over to the McFadden oil based stuff StewMac sells.  It comes in clear, but you can add pigment to the mix to get the desired color you want.  I personally think it’s easier to work with, but you do need to give it ample time to dry before you spray it.  Just wear gloves.

There is a decent amount of information scattered around on this board if you use the right search terms.  If you are using rattle can lacquer, something like 10 coats would be good if you plan on wetsanding back to get a glossy smooth shine.  You could also give it two light coats, leaving a quasi satin finish, and call it a day.  It’s hard to say really, everything “works”, it’s just a mater of getting the effect you were after.

Good Luck,
James


 

ice man

Active member
Messages
33
Hey James,

Thanks for the info.  I'm going to start staining today, then I'll tint the grain filler and have at it.  I'll take some picks and post them of the progress.
 
W

Watershed

Guest
Hey Mike,

Looking forward to those picks.  Are you going to tint the grain filler black? 

My understanding is that you are planning on achieving a sunburst effect by sanding the black stain from the center of the top of the body, then staining the body amber.
If I got that right, it sounds like the pores will end up being black anyway from the initial stain.  In this situation I might consider not tinting the filler.

The reason I bring this up is that if you apply black tinted/pigmented grain filler on top of the amber stain, the black grain filler will very likely stain the amber black again, even with a wash coat (lacquer diluted 50% with thinner) of lacquer.  Trying to sand the residue from the black grain filler is likely going to create nothing but problems for the stain underneath (sandthrough).  This may cause you to be working backwards and create a whole bunch of extra work.

I'm not totally clear on the order of steps you are planning.

James
 

DangerousR6

Senior member
Messages
15,456
Sounds like a plan ice man, for what it's worth I have a mahogany neck and didn't grain fill. I just used 2 cans of Deft clear satin nitro on it and sanded smooth about every 4 coats with 400 grit paper. Then a final wet sanding with 1000 grit and a light buffing after about 4 weeks drying time..And it's slick as owl shit...
 

ice man

Active member
Messages
33
I thought what I would do is black dye, sand back, amber over everything, then tint the grain filler amber, then nitro.  If I can avoid the grain fill on the neck, and still get a smooth finish, then of course that's what I'll do.  So yes, I want to create a burst-like effect, having just the back side of the neck a 1 3/4-2" section of amber, with soft edges.  The body would be black around the sides, with a "burst" in black around the front and back, and I would also tint the filler amber.  My biggest concern is the sanding of the filler coats.  I don't want to go too far or not far enough, so trial and error I suppose.  If I do fill the neck, it would be a good test run.  I also have a mahogany board that I can try this on, so if it looks like poo I won't be re-doing the guitar.
 
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