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nkgibbs

FINISHING MAHOGANY ENDS

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This may be a question that has been answered before on C.net but I have failed (maybe due to not searching properly) to find a relevant thread.

 

I am restoring a mahogany ended 20b Lanchenal Anglo that has needed some heavy TLC on its ends (water damage, lost fretwork, loss of end bolt holes etc). The repairs have been done and the ends are back to bare wood - I now need to finish them. I have experimented with various approaches in the past but never really come up with a method that gives a simple, good looking, durable finis.

 

I would be grateful to hear of any tried and tested methods (sequence from bare wood to final finish) of finishing.

 

Many thanks,

Neil

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I usually finish ends by French polishing.

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I managed to replicate the 'finish' on my 1923 Lachenal using a generic French polish.....but.....when stripped (entirely down to bare wood ) it became apparent that the original FP included a pigment/stain.  As I only needed to re-finish one end the difference is obvious.  Personally, I think the FP'd "natural" mahogany is very attractive but it is not original, or matched on mine.  I used late 1800's Mahogany for the infill work which is a perfect match ( from a re-claimed, machined down Parquet tile )

 

If required - FP plus appropriate pigment (or pre-pigmented FP ) would appear to be 'a' way to go.

 

Images are in current listing as below. (Ignore the matt black Anglo image)

 

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For me French Polish is the way to go. The shellac flakes can be bought in a range of colours and depending on the amount of time you want to spend working on the finish you can achieve a range of finishes from a dull lustre to a high gloss finish. My personal preference is for the Blonde flakes, which result in a very attractive golden polish that allows the beauty of the grain to come through. Attached is a pic of one I finished last year, in Blonde. The instrument is mahogany, badged as Campbells of Glasgow but is probably a Lachenal?

 

I also like to finish both ends the same, so even if one of the ends doesn't require any work there is a good opportunity to repolish it the same shellac.

 

There is a lot of myth around french polishing but with some  basis tuition and a bit of practical experience you can get surprisingly good results. I did a refresher course for a day with an ex-luthier in Lincoln and an very encouraged by the results I am now getting. In fact, this is my favourite part of renovating a concertina.

 

 

IMG_1570.JPG

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French polish is very nice , if your looking for a simple solution try Tru oil , used for gun stocks and often on my mandolins.

I've never tried it on concertina ends but it does make a very pleasant finish. 
good luck with your project  

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Many thanks for your observations and the very impressive results of your finishing. French polishing sounds like the route to follow for a true restoration although Tru Oil sounds interesting.

I realise that it wouldn't be 'authentic' but has anyone tried a clear nitrocellulose sprays that seem to be used extensively by guitar (especially electric) restorers?

 

Thanks again,

Neil

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5 hours ago, nkgibbs said:

I realise that it wouldn't be 'authentic' but has anyone tried a clear nitrocellulose sprays that seem to be used extensively by guitar (especially electric) restorers?

I have a Stagi that was finished in nitrocellulose (confirmed by Stagi that all their mahogony ended boxes were finished with nitro). The finish has absorbed moisture and turned milky.  I have been trying to strip it so that I can refinish it.  Nothing that I can buy legally in Canada will touch it - I have tried acetone, lacquer thinner and various really agressive paint strippers.  Heat (a lot of it) softens it a little,  but it sets up again almost instantly.   Nitrocellulose lacquer and nitrocellulose lacquer thinner are restricted in Canada for many reasons: health, environment and flammability.

 

The only way I have found to remove this stuff is to  use woodworker's cabinet scrapers, even then it is slow work and I have to be very carefull not to gouge the wood.  This stuff is tough!

 

If I ever get this stuff off then I will refinish it with French polish.

 

Don.

 

(Nitrocellulose lacquer is not the same thing as the paint lacquer and lacquer thinner that is readily available in paint shops)

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