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May 5, 2021 - 8:34:54 PM



85 posts since 1/27/2021

Hi all, banjo #2 is nearly ready. I was planning on staining to a walnut colour but after testing it out on some scrap I have thought better of it. Banjo #1 I used boiled linseed oil which wasn't bad perse but I'm not a huge fan of how it coloured the wood. So I think I would like to just use a transparent clear finish that won't change the colour at all. What would you all suggest as the best options?

May 5, 2021 - 11:33:49 PM
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banjo roo


46 posts since 5/12/2010

Never used it, and I am not on top of the pros and cons, but polyurethane may be an option.

May 5, 2021 - 11:47:21 PM
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3 posts since 6/25/2013

Nitrocellulose lacquer is classic.

May 6, 2021 - 3:20:07 AM
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922 posts since 11/8/2014

I use one of three clear finishes on wood, depending on the final use of the piece. I've used all three of these on banjos, and each has it's own advantages/

Hammerl Gmbh & Co has made what I consider the best current duplicate of the Cremona finish used on musical instruments in the 1600's. They sell both a spirit version and an oil based version. Both are very well made finishes, expensive, but give great results if you take the time to apply, dry, and polish them.

I use Deft lacquer when I want a lacquer finish, both the spray on and the brush on formulations. Lacquer has its pros and cons, well reviewed in other posts.

Ken Levan recently posted about a finish he found, polyurethane and water based, Crystalac. I bought some, and found that this is the best polyurethane finish I have ever used. It flows out flat when applied with a brush, dries relatively fast for applying additional coats, is clear, can be used to some extent to fill cracks and small defects, etc. I've mixed it with wood dust to fill larger crevices in wood, and although it takes longer to dry, it dries fine in the end and can then be sanded and coated with a final top coat. So far I have not found any issues with it at all. I used it to finish a cherry desk I built for my wife, and found it to be better than the lacquer finishes I have used for this type of work in the past. It is more expensive than other water based polyurethane finishes, but it is well worth the extra money paid for it. I have not used their full set of fillers and sealers, only the top coat, but recently bought the filler and sealer and plan to use them in some future projects. If they are as good as the top coat, I think this is going to become my go to finish for most wood projects I undertake. The sanding sealer is said to have a clear amber tone, which is why I steered clear of it for the desk, as I wanted the full color of the cherry. I'm also planning to try their "Knot" shellac in an outdoor Adirondack chair out of cherry to see if it gives a base that is truly waterproof, and potentially weather proof. A good product line to look into.

Edited by - rmcdow on 05/06/2021 03:21:49

May 6, 2021 - 7:31:49 AM
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Players Union Member



25 posts since 3/5/2018

I use Oli Natura hard wax oil. It doesn’t darken the wood as much as linseed but provides a beautiful smooth finish. It is also my finish of choice for furniture.

May 6, 2021 - 10:34:24 AM



85 posts since 1/27/2021

Thanks folks, I will investigate these further. Seems like Nitrocellulose lacquer is the most popular option

May 13, 2021 - 6:54:09 PM
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2 posts since 3/22/2020

I am a woodworker and one of thenfinishes I love to use is ChrystaLac. It is easy to touch up, does not yellow and polishes nicely. I know some have used it on instruments. All finishes have pros and cons and I use many but I would not be afraid to use CL on a banjo

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