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Finishing The Ends

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As you will see from previous posts, I am getting on well with sorting out this Latchenal.

Anyway, I'd appreciate advice on this:

Dave Elliott suggests in his book that the ends are French polished.

I recently renovated a guitar and used 'Rustins Plastic Coating' This gave a fantastic high gloss, strong and durable finish (a luthier had suggested it to me and Rustins do seem to do a lot with furniture restoration).

It was expensive and I have quite a bit left over.

It seems to me that it would make a good finish for the Latchenal too, but I don't want to make a disasterous decision, and use a wholly innapropriate finish.

Your Thoughts please.

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I have used the plasic coating extensively, its an epoxy based polish, sets like a hard shell, in the paint world it would be a 'two pack clear'. Too glass like for may taste on an instrument. The next re-finish (initially on a low end anglo) that I do will be with an acrylic finish.


The key points in all re- finishing are:


Preparation to avoid trapping old polish (so as to avaid reactions), grease, and old dust in the fretwork & screw holes


Patience, leaving sufficient dwell time between coats


clean and dust free environment


plan how to support the instrument so it can be manipulated for coating and it can cure without sags or runs.



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Hi Nick,


Plastic Coating will give you a good and very durable finish...... A few tips....


It can look a bit too high gloss and 'plasticy' but if you leave it for a few days till it is really well cured, you can get a great matt finish by gently cutting it back with a wad of 0000 grade wire wool lubricated with some soft wax.


I would suggest that you cut the polish by about 10% with thinners and apply in thin coats. Leave each coat to dry and cut back with a very fine 'wet or dry' carborundun paper ( I would use 600 or 800 grade) in between coats.


Aim for a consistent but reasonably thin finish. A really thick coating will tend to feel plasticy and just looks 'wrong'


Do not leave too long between coats or it has a tendency for subsequent coats to peel after a while. I seem to remember around 2 - 3 hours max but see the instructions on the pack.


Hope this is of help



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Hi Nick,


Here is another project using the Plastic Coating;




The finish is perfectly suitable and easy to apply. I find that the skill after applying the coating is to first get a 'flat' finish using wet and dry and then to buff to the required gloss using rubbing compound and polish.


By the way, French Polish is NOT for the feint hearted, I can guarantee that you will end up removing the first, second AND third attempts on a fretwork end before getting anywhere close. If you do try it DO NOT use a rubber on the fretwork, brush it on otherwise it will build up in the cut-outs........nasty!





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I was going to offer my two pennorth but it's all been said. i.e. thin coats, flatting with 'wet and dry', buffing out, etc. I've used it on several instruments, concertinas, guitars etc, and several British luthiers use it.


A couple of tips when using 'wet & dry'.

1. Use a small, flat, HARD sanding block, especially on the fretwork. If you use a soft sanding block or your fingers, you'll go straight through the finish on the corners, and a concertina's got a helluva lot of corners!

2. Instead of water for lubrication, use white spirit. This means that if you do go through the finish (but try not to) the white spirit will not swell the wood, as water does, lifting the grain AND the finish. DAMHIKT (don't ask me how I know that).


The only problem I have with Rustin's is that you can't get it where I live.

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You can often bring the finish back with a dose of Pledge or if the tina isnt worth spending a lot of time you could try a sanding block known as Garryflex Use the 240 grit and then wax polish as often as not it brings the finish back.If you drop me a note I will send you a bit

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Thanks everyone

Really grateful for this advice.

One of the ends had quite a crack that I have filled with a strip of venneer. I am currently working at quite a few coats of Rustins over the repair, bringing it right back before every coat. It's working well as the slight imperfections have nearly disappeared.

I shall take on board the other suggestions.

I am really enjoying this renovation even though I am certain that the time and money spent on an old 20 key Lachenal does not really make financial sense.

Of course, now I've fixed the bellows, pads and valves I have found that the reeds need lots of work (and I'm sure it's not in concert pitch).


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