Procedure for staining a basswood body? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2003, 01:02 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3
Procedure for staining a basswood body?

Hi guys,

I'm in the process of refinishing what was a Jem 777sk.

I've decided on the typical colored stain / thick lacquer finish, but have a few questions on how to arrive at it.

The body is, of course, basswood, which I've taken down to bare. There isn't a hint of paint nor undercoat anywhere left. I even cleaned out the tremolo cavity. That wasn't fun.

And all that effort compels me to try to get this right.

I have a water-based stain from my local paint store that was mixed to precisely the color I want.

1: Are these off-the-shelf woodstains really appropriate for this type of finish? Does it matter?

It's a Minwax water-based stain, FWIW. What's the real difference between this and a dye?

2: Should I use a grain filler on the bare wood before applying the stain? I've read conflicting opinions on this. Basswood is soft, I know, and would filling the grain allow a finer control of the staining process?

Sorry for the newbie questions. Any hints would be appreciated. Thanks.

PS I have the ReRanch and project guitar sites bookmarked already.
stubb-a-dubb is offline  
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2003, 02:40 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: California
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Don't put anything under the stain! (Or maybe you will, let's find out.) Grain filler is used on very porous woods, like mahogany and ash. Basswood is soft, but tightly and uniformly grained. Plus, grain filler will block the stain and look horrible.

The problem with any stain is that it will soak into the endgrain more than the top/sides. Is your stain dark or light? That makes a difference. Is it a rainbow color or a woodtone? If it's a light woodtone that will blend with the basswood you can just start staining IMO. If its a darker woodtone, you might experiment on scrap basswood (very cheap) by wetting the endgrain so it doesn't absorb as much stain as the sides. If it is a rainbow color like blue or purple, It is likely you'll have to saturate the grain to cover up the basswoods creamy-yellowish hue. Some recommend a couple wipedowns with a damp sponge to raise the grain, sanding between them. That can produce a more uniform finish, but for a rainbow color I like to use the actual stain to do that, sometimes thinned out. Wetting/sanding can also knock down the grain so your darks aren't as dark.

Either way, you should be sure that your body is sanded all over to the same grit, because that will affect absorption. I will sometimes sand the body to 220 or so, but hit the endgrain with 600-800 to slow absorption there.

If it was an oil/alcohol based light/medium woodtone, the minwax pre-stain works well, but it really prohibits absorption.
frankfalbo is offline  
post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2003, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Originally Posted by frankfalbo

The problem with any stain is that it will soak into the endgrain more than the top/sides. Is your stain dark or light? That makes a difference. Is it a rainbow color or a woodtone?
It's a dark but somewhat desaturated "forest" green. It looks a little greener in real life, but here's the actual Minwax swatch:

I tested it on a piece of scrap veneer that has a similar look to the basswood body, and after sanding to 220 the color tends to dominate the grain on that (a lot more than the swatch above). I'll definitely get some real scrap basswood, sand that, and test it as well.

All in all the stain seems pretty potent - a little much for my tastes to be honest. I'd rather have a stain I could tweak to perfection with more coats rather than a stain that dominates the grain so quickly.

In fact, the stain almost looks like paint from a few feet of distance. I guess the stain could use a bit of thinning before I use it.

Thanks very much for the reply, frankfalbo. I really appreciate it.
stubb-a-dubb is offline  
post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 12-09-2003, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: California
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If it's too potent then I would do the sponge/sand twice before starting. That should mute the absorption a little and even it out. I would also go over the whole body with 400 grit first. Or use 400 as your sandpaper in between sponging. I should clarify, you're sponging, then letting the gutiar dry completely before sanding it. Then I'd wait a day before staining to let any surface moisture fully exit the wood. The final 400 grit should come right before the stain. Thin it only if you have to. That can actually increase absorbtion more than lightening the color, depending on how much you thin, and what your stain is like right now. Good luck!
frankfalbo is offline  

basswood body , tremolo cavity

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