Finish Application Methods – Aerosol Sprays

Aerosol Spray Finishing
Methods for Applying A Guitar Finish:

You have many options available to you in the application of your guitar finish. This can range from sophisticated spray booths and compressed-air setups, down to the very basic application by means of aerosol spray cans.

While these different methods will undoubtedly affect the final results, it does definitely open the door of the complicated finishing process to persons who don’t either have the money for a complicated system, or the desire because they only intend to build one or two guitars.

Application With Aerosol Cans:

The use of aerosol based guitar finishes has gained favor over the past several years, and for good reason. The product is the same nitrocellulose product as is used for compressed air spraying with some significant differences. Because this is a low-pressure spray, the product is thinned down quite a bit. Also there are fisheye inhibitors added to the mixture to prevent the formation of nasty fisheyes because you are not applying the product in a controlled environment, such as a spray booth.

Because this product is thinned quite a bit more than air-compressed lacquers, the resulting finish tends to be rougher because it does have the same flow characteristics and the sprayed layers are thinner, requiring more coats to be applied. This results in quite a bit more work of sanding between coats and this stretches out the finishing operation quite a bit.

But, compared to the cost of developing the controlled atmosphere of a spray booth and the purchase and installation of a compressed air system, this is a small price to pay, especially for just a few instruments.

There are even complete guitar finishing kits available now (see the link at the bottom of this page), which is a very convenient way for the first-timer to get everything that is required to completely finish their first guitar, without the worry of forgetting a crucial element during the finishing operation.

The Virtues Of Using Aerosols:

Besides the economics, simplicity, and quality issues of using aerosols for a guitar finish, the big picture of this method is even more all-encompassing. This is a great way to ‘get-your-feet-wet’ in the very challenging finishing operation.

I remember that when I went head-first into a compressed air system, I was faced with a lot of problems for a ‘newbie’ and it was overwhelming to say the least. This system will let you learn as you go, and tackle one condition at a time and when you graduate to a more sophisticated spray system, it will be something that is much easier to get your arms around.

Aerosol Spray Finishes – The Advantages:
  • An very economical way to get started into guitar finishing. This is a great method for finishing one or two instruments.
  • Products are easily applied and you don’t need compressors, spray guns, spray booths, or any of the equipment that is required with these systems.
  • Sprays the same product as compressed air systems (Nitrocellulose Lacquer).
  • Cleanup is as simple as tossing the product cans. (responsibly though)
  • An ideal way for the beginner luthier to get started in finishing operations.
Aerosol Spray Finishes – The Disadvantages:
  • The sprayed layers are thinner due the low pressure spray. Therefore it will take more coats to ‘build’ the proper finish thickness.
  • Because the resulting finish is rougher, it takes more time to sand the finish smooth between coats.
  • If you will be finishing more than one or two instruments, this is NOT a very cost-effective method.

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