Advice on finishing mahogany

RayM

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So for this new project I am about to start I am now thinking of going with keller vintage mahogany shells from aitwood.com instead of the maple ones. As I have never worked with mahogany before, I will start with just one shell, a 6.5x14 snare, and see how that goes. I love the look of natural mahogany so I will not add any kind of color, dye or stain, just clear coat it.

I have read that in order to get a professional mirror flat, high gloss finish on mahogany, it is best to apply a wood grain filler. Since I don't want to add any color to the finish, I was looking at crystalac clear waterborne grain filler. But I am concerned about using a nitro lacquer over it. Will this be an issue, or do I need to lay down a coat of zinsser sealcoat before the lacquer?
I have also thought about using something like ColorTone waterbase gloss finish from Stewmac. Can I get the same high gloss mirror like finish with this as I can with traditional nitro lacquer?

One other thing, do I need to lay down a coat of zinsser sealcoat before applying the wood grain filler?
 

swarfrat

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I'm not sure it matters as much if you're doing clear, but I believe most people do a seal coat first, then any grain/pore tint, then grain fill, then the finish.

I've got a guitar I'm doing the same for. My plan is to seal it up with shellac, clear grain fill, then a wipe on poly.

Drums see less handling than a guitar body. Some folks have skipped the grain fill, but you pretty much need to shoot matte or the pores will look like craters. That's for the wet but unfinished look.
 

Tommy D

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I believe aitwood is no longer selling Keller shells. There was a company who bought out all their stock. Someone posted it here about a year ago.
 

jccabinets

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Sorry, all of the info did not come with that link. This is a post cat product.
 

RayM

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I would rather have the texture of the wood show through as well, but I was under the impression that the uneven grain would translate the the finish, making it not perfectly flat.

Can I just seal the shell with the zinsser seal coat, sand it flat, then shoot the clear coat?
 

swarfrat

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Shellac by itself won't fill the pores without a LOT of coats.
 

RayM

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Shellac by itself won't fill the pores without a LOT of coats.
That's about what I figured. I would really prefer the glass smooth high gloss finish on this project, but with some pop to the grain. Maybe I will tint the grain filler with some brown mahogany transtint. I see a lot of people have tinted with black with nice results on mahogany, but I think that would be too much contrast for what I am looking for.

Anyone have experience with Timbermate grain filler? I see they have a mahogany tinted flavor that might add a little contrast to the grain.
 

swarfrat

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I'd be careful with "mahogany" finishes on mahogany wood if you're trying to preserve or pop grain contrast. I think those are mostly for making poplar/pine/"whitewood" look like mahogany,
 

jptrickster

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Here's a Rogers I did with rattle can gloss lacquer. I used a wind up string method hanging off a tree. wind it tight then spray as it unwinds to get and even finish all the way around. I prefer the organic look of unfilled mahogany, grabs the light much nicer , has a sparkle to it.
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To anyone wanting to alter the depth and or color, and also preserve the light reflective shimmer of wood species, I highly recommend using transparent dye stains instead of traditional wood stain. Rockler and Woodcraft are stores in the states who stock these products.
These are sold as either powder or liquids, and being highly concentrated should be mixed with lacquer thinner or alcohol, depending on your preference. Always make test samples on scrap pieces before proceeding.
 


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