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Aug 19, 2019 - 1:07:34 PM

DSmoke

USA

709 posts since 11/30/2015

Hi all! I bought a TB3 from the classifieds and it just arrived. I immediately broke it down to clean and setup. I noticed the red dye coming off and with a little research here discovered this is common. I was going to put a thin french polish on it to seal it. But, being an all original Gibson I thought I better research this. So, I found this thread (link below) and now have another question. My shellac is dissolved in denatured alcohol and according to the thread:

"Denatured alcohol causes color changes and drying problems."

I've not had any problems with it on other banjos. So, do I need to go get grain alcohol for this job? I am hesitant to test it when I am sure someone here will know for sure.  I appreciate your insight, thanks!
 

https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/336002

Aug 19, 2019 - 2:01:42 PM

443 posts since 5/19/2018

I think I would just leave it alone.

Unless you work with French polish on a regular basis, it can be a bit tricky to use over existing finishes.

If you must over do an existing finish, it might be best to leave it to a luthier and not risk having a sticky mess on your hands or put yourself in a position where you are doing a complete refinish.

Aug 19, 2019 - 2:05:55 PM

DSmoke

USA

709 posts since 11/30/2015

I have done a few banjos with French polish, it is my preferred finish. I can't leave it alone as I want to play the banjo and the dye is coming off on my hand from the neck. I need to seal it to maintain the original finish.

Aug 19, 2019 - 2:36:16 PM

rcc56

USA

2209 posts since 2/20/2016

quote:
Originally posted by DSmoke

Hi all! I bought a TB3 from the classifieds and it just arrived. I immediately broke it down to clean and setup. I noticed the red dye coming off and with a little research here discovered this is common. I was going to put a thin french polish on it to seal it. But, being an all original Gibson I thought I better research this. So, I found this thread (link below) and now have another question. My shellac is dissolved in denatured alcohol and according to the thread:

"Denatured alcohol causes color changes and drying problems."

I've not had any problems with it on other banjos. So, do I need to go get grain alcohol for this job? I am hesitant to test it when I am sure someone here will know for sure.  I appreciate your insight, thanks!
 

https://www.banjohangout.org/archive/336002


I'm the one who wrote the note on denatured alcohol.  I personally experienced drying and color problems, and consulted another luthier about the problems.  He recommended the switch to grain alcohol, and I have not had any drying or color change problems since I changed over to grain alcohol.

All denatured alcohol is not equal.  The formulas vary depending on the manufacturer.  I was buying my denatured alcohol from Ace Hardware.  I'm not going to experiment with other brands, though, since I know that grain alcohol will work.

Since you are dealing with a collectable instrument, it is up to you whether you want to take the risk of using up the shellac you have, or mixing up a fresh batch.  Bear in mind that liquid shellac has a limited shelf life.  Some people throw it out after a month, some longer.  All I know is I mix it in small amounts, and throw it out after 2 or 3 months at the most.

If you decide to go ahead with over-coating your TB-3, you might want to consider spraying your shellac or lacquer rather than doing it by hand.  If you decide to do it by hand, I would suggest that you apply a very light sealing coat, let it dry for several days, repeat, wait again, and repeat once more.  If you try to handle it more quickly and heavily, you might end up dragging the old color all over the place and spoil the evenness of the finish.

I prefer to keep risk as low as possible, especially when I'm working on old instruments.  If I don't get it right the first time, I've got trouble.  So I throw out old glue even if the bottle is 3/4 full, and pay the extra for grain alcohol.

Edited by - rcc56 on 08/19/2019 14:51:08

Aug 19, 2019 - 2:59:23 PM

Jbo1

USA

813 posts since 5/19/2007

And if it works out well, you can raise a toast to yourself, or if it doesn't work out you can drown your sorrows, with the grain alcohol.

Aug 19, 2019 - 3:04:35 PM

DSmoke

USA

709 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56
 

I'm the one who wrote the note on denatured alcohol.  I personally experienced drying and color problems, and consulted another luthier about the problems.  He recommended the switch to grain alcohol, and I have not had any drying or color change problems since I changed over to grain alcohol.

All denatured alcohol is not equal.  The formulas vary depending on the manufacturer.  I was buying my denatured alcohol from Ace Hardware.  I'm not going to experiment with other brands, though, since I know that grain alcohol will work.

Since you are dealing with a collectable instrument, it is up to you whether you want to take the risk of using up the shellac you have, or mixing up a fresh batch.  Bear in mind that liquid shellac has a limited shelf life.  Some people throw it out after a month, some longer.  All I know is I mix it in small amounts, and throw it out after 2 or 3 months at the most.

If you decide to go ahead with over-coating your TB-3, you might want to consider spraying your shellac or lacquer rather than doing it by hand.  If you decide to do it by hand, I would suggest that you apply a very light sealing coat, let it dry for several days, repeat, wait again, and repeat once more.  If you try to handle it more quickly and heavily, you might end up dragging the old color all over the place and spoil the evenness of the finish.

I prefer to keep risk as low as possible, especially when I'm working on old instruments.  If I don't get it right the first time, I've got trouble.  So I throw out old glue even if the bottle is 3/4 full, and pay the extra for grain alcohol.


Thank you!  I have read/heard about using grain alcohol, and that sounds like the best option and a wise move to make.  Thank you for your explanation.  I will make that change, but I won't be spraying it so I will follow your advice above.

Aug 19, 2019 - 3:06:58 PM

DSmoke

USA

709 posts since 11/30/2015

I should probably ask, what cut ratio would you recommend for this?

Aug 19, 2019 - 3:29:17 PM

rcc56

USA

2209 posts since 2/20/2016

Good question. I'm not sure I know the right answer. But I'd probably mix a 1 lb. cut, make a very light pass in the morning with a fairly dry pad with little or no oil, and avoid any back and forth stuff. Maybe wait 3 or 4 hours and repeat. The idea is to seal the old color in as best you can. If you're too aggressive, or try to put it on too heavily or quickly, you'll pull the color out. You don't want that. If the surface seems to be stabilizing, you can try another light coat or two before you call it a night, maybe with a drop or two of oil. If it doesn't seem to be stabilizing, quit and wait a couple of days before going any farther.

After you get the first few coats on, leave it alone and let it cure really well before you consider making another pass. The trick is going to be not building the finish too fast. If you do, you risk ending up with a real mess.  Instead, you want to err on the side of building too slowly.  After you think the color is well sealed, wait at least 3 or 4 days if you decide to build it thicker.

Edited by - rcc56 on 08/19/2019 15:43:19

Aug 19, 2019 - 4:29:20 PM

beegee

USA

21293 posts since 7/6/2005

I worked on an MB-3 years ago that had the same problem. I sprayed several dry coats of nitro lacquer over the stain and let it dry for a couple of weeks. Then I steel-wooled it and sprayed a couple of wetter coats of nitro over it. I rubbed it out with rottenstone to give it a dull sheen.

Aug 19, 2019 - 5:17:34 PM

DSmoke

USA

709 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by beegee

I worked on an MB-3 years ago that had the same problem. I sprayed several dry coats of nitro lacquer over the stain and let it dry for a couple of weeks. Then I steel-wooled it and sprayed a couple of wetter coats of nitro over it. I rubbed it out with rottenstone to give it a dull sheen.


That makes sense to me.  However, I am not a fan of lacquer.  It is probably because of my limited experience with it.  The vintage (1920's) banjos that I've had through my hands for repair/restoration that were oversprayed, it was clear to tell they were oversprayed.  It was way too thick and shiny.  I am sure this is not representative of your work, but I really aim to have it almost unnoticeable.  I just want to prevent the red dye from coming off.  Fingers crossed!

When I started in with this banjo work a few years ago it seemed like french polish was the technique to learn for vintage instruments.  I've been using shellac for 20+ years in home restoration, and absolutely love the stuff, so was more than willing to learn french polish.  I have read, watched, and practiced.  While still a novice with it by many respects, I am getting good results.  I guess this will be another test. 

This is going to sound so wrong but I am formulating my plan.  What's the worst that can happen, I mess up the tenor neck that in reality, nobody (OK, very few) wants.  So, I will start with the neck.  The rest of the parts will remain untouched and original and retain all their value to anybody who wants to put a 5 string neck on it.  If the neck goes well, then the rest gets done.

Aug 19, 2019 - 7:06:35 PM

Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22217 posts since 6/25/2005

This 1925 RB-3 that I used to own had the resonator reworked by traditional French polish. The original finish was varnish, making French polish the choice over lacquer.

http://frets.com/FretsPages/Museum/Banjo/Gibson/RB3/RB3Views/rb304.jpg

Aug 19, 2019 - 9:59:25 PM
like this

14786 posts since 2/7/2003

Just so we are clear here, by 1924 Gibson was using sprayed nitro lacquer, except6 in rare cases such as Bill just mentioned you cant be wrong by using the same sprayed nitro to refinsh or touch up

Scott

Aug 20, 2019 - 11:27:02 AM

DSmoke

USA

709 posts since 11/30/2015

Hey rcc56, does the grain have to be 190 proof? I need a license to buy that in PA, but can get 151, not sure if that will work though at only 75% alcohol. Thanks.

Aug 20, 2019 - 2:27:56 PM

rcc56

USA

2209 posts since 2/20/2016

I don't know. If you're in Carlisle, you're close to Maryland and Virginia. You could take a field trip and buy some.
I know that 190 proof will work. That's what I get here.

Aug 20, 2019 - 2:40:36 PM

DSmoke

USA

709 posts since 11/30/2015

quote:
Originally posted by rcc56

I don't know. If you're in Carlisle, you're close to Maryland and Virginia. You could take a field trip and buy some.
I know that 190 proof will work. That's what I get here.


I should have thought about that, yes I can drive down to the Maryland line.  I have to meet up with a friend to return his banjo anyway.  Thanks again!

Aug 20, 2019 - 4:27:06 PM

rcc56

USA

2209 posts since 2/20/2016

Moonshine can still be found around here, but I won't vouch for the purity.

I didn't find out about setting a shot's worth afire to see if it burned with a clear blue flame until after I stopped drinking.

Don't be surprised if you get a smart remark when you ask for the stuff at the liquor store.

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