Nitrocellulose Finishing Schedule

In manufacturing on April 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Standard process for finishing an instrument with nitrocellullose lacquer

Introduction

Nitrocellulose lacquer is synonymous with well-crafted, vintage and modern instruments. It’s relatively easy to apply and buff to a beautiful, high gloss finish. The look, feel, and tone of nitrocellulose is hard to surpass, and it is easier than many finishes to repair or touch-up.

Stringed Instrument Lacquer produces a hard, durable finish that’s less brittle and more flexible than standard furniture lacquer, to accommodate the expansion and contraction of wooden instruments. The finish has better resistance to cold-checking and scuffs. It’s ready to spray with no thinning required, for faster finish build-up in multiple coats.

Application tips
Nitrocellulose finishes should have a total 6-12 coats — sealer, color, and clear coats combined. The total number will depend upon how thick your coats are, how much sanding you do, and what your final desired film thickness is. Beginners should spray 10-12 coats to avoid sanding or buffing through the finish. As you gain experience, you’ll find that fewer coats are required.

The first coat should be a light, misting coat to the instrument — often referred to as a “tack-coat.” After 45-minutes or so, apply another, more deliberate “wet-coat.” Future coats should be wet, and be sure to give 1-2 hours between coats to allow the solvents to rise out of the finish. Be careful when applying wet-coats, as it’s easy to create a run or sag on edges, or while trying to apply finish into the tighter areas of an instrument.

If you do get a run or sag, simply let the finish harden (24-hours) and level sand the blemish using 400-grit sandpaper and a backing block.

 

Wood Preparation
• Clean up surface imperfections
• Sand to 220-grit
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Stain (optional)
ColorTone Concentrated Liquid Stains
dissolved in water or alcohol
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Porous Wood
Rosewood, Mahogany,
Ash, Koa, Walnut, etc.
Non-Porous Wood
Maple, Spruce, Alder,
Ebony, Basswood, etc.

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Washcoat (optional)
1-2 coats • 1-2 hours apart
Washcoats are very thin coats using thinned finish. We recommend thinning your finish 50:50.ColorTone Aerosol Guitar Lacquer
— or —
ColorTone Aerosol Clear Sanding Sealer
— or —
Behlen Nitrocellulose Stringed Instrument Lacquer
— or —
Behlen Nitrocellulose Vinyl Sealer

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Grain filler
Fill wood. Sand with 320-grit before next coat.
ColorTone Grain Filler

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Sealer
Build a level surface with
ColorTone Aerosol Guitar Lacquer
— or —
ColorTone Aerosol Clear Sanding Sealer
— or —
Behlen Nitrocellulose Stringed Instrument Lacquer
— or —
Behlen Nitrocellulose Vinyl Sealer
3-4 coats • 2-3 coats per day • 1-2 hours apart

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Color Coats (optional)
Behlen Nitrocellulose Stringed Instrument Lacquer
tinted with ColorTone Concentrated Liquid Stains
or colored with ColorTone Liquid Pigments
1-3 coats • 2-3 coats per day • 1-2 hours apart

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Clear Coats
ColorTone Aerosol Guitar Lacquer
— or —
Behlen Nitrocellulose Stringed Instrument Lacquer
4-10 coats (4-8 for thin “vintage” finish)
• 2-3 coats per day • 1-2 hours apart

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Wet Sand and Buff
Allow finish to cure 10-14 days
Wet sand with 800-grit and finer sanding papers, then buff to a high-gloss using sanding papers, polishes, and buffers. For more information on buffing and polishing, click here.
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