Monday, December 13, 2010

French Polishing... Is It Really Suitable For Guitars?

The short answer is no. Why? Okay, here comes the long answer.

I just finished applying a French Polish onto a guitar by using both a traditional mix-it-yourself approach and Behlen's Qualasole. Qualasole is a premixed shellac containing solvent and oil so it's ready to apply straight from the bottle. The mix-it-yourself approach requires dissolving shellac flakes into denatured alcohol and applying with a small amount of boiled linseed oil. I won't go into the details about how I actually did the French Polish (this site has great info on the technique), but it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. Both solutions went on about the same, but the Qualasole emits a horrendous vapor. WEAR A MASK!! I did one side of the guitar with my mix and the other with the Qualasole. After 6 coats of both, I let it cure for about 2 weeks. In the end, I felt the results, while they looked very nice after wet sanding and buffing, just aren't durable enough for an electric guitar. For one thing, shellac isn't alcohol proof. Maybe not a big deal for most people, but if you plan to play your guitar in a club where alcohol is served, you'd better plan on a different top coat. Also, despite the two week curing time, the surface was too soft. I could scratch it easily with my fingernail. I suppose the finish might harden with more curing time, but if that's the case, I'd just as well use nitrocellulose lacquer.

In the end, I've decided to strip the shellac off and try a new water based lacquer from Target Coatings called Emtech 6000. I've heard great things about this product, so I've placed an order for one gallon. Stay tuned!

2 comments:

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