The long standing truth about finishing a guitar is that the end result is never quite what you envisioned in your mind when you started the project, but either way the end result is always something you are proud of.
At some time you are going to be faced with the decision of Natural or Colour finish & here we'll attempt to outline and understand the differences between the two. Each method has different product types you should & shouldn't use. We say product 'types' because there are countless products or brand names on the market & you can use a variety of any, but the product type is important to ensure you get the right result.
A Natural Finish allows the grain of the wood to show through beneath the sealant. It has a more classic look to it. You can choose to change the colour of the wood before sealing by using wood stains. We recommend CLOU Wood Stains which we do have for sale. They're water based, cheap and really easy to work with. You simply mix the contents of the sachet in with water and then apply to the wood. They also come in a variety of different colours.
If you like the look of the wood as is then there is no need to stain the wood & you can jump straight to the clear coat sealant. The clear coat is always recommended. Its a sealant that protects the wood from UV, bumps which cause dents, liquid spills etc. A sealant is a lot like a varnish although we don't recommend using a varnish as a varnish leaves a sticky finish once dried and also needs to reapplied about once a year, which you want to avoid.
Arguably the best sealant for a Natural Finish that we have ever come across is Tru-Oil which we also sell. Tru-Oil is wood sealant traditionally designed for the butts of guns but works wonders on a guitar. It has a semi gloss finish and hardens over time. We sell them in 90ml and 240ml bottles. If 90ml is used sparingly you can complete one guitar, but if you are looking to do more then about 2 or 3 coats then you'd want to look at either 2 x 90ml bottles or 1 x 240ml bottle.
The general rule on number of coats is, the more you do the glossier the finish becomes. There really is no wrong or right number but rather your preference.
A Colour Finish is a finish where you paint over the wood thus loosing the wood effect of the guitar. Here you could pretty much have any colour in any brightness or shade you could possibly desire.
The best type of paints to use are polyurethane based lacquer paints. Again though there is no wrong or right but rather what your preference is.
We do add a fair amount of sanding sealer to the wood before selling the kits to stop the wood from warping whilst being transported. If you're serious about getting a quality finish then you could add some grain filler, then sanding sealer then a primer before starting your colour coat. Once the colour coat is applied and you're happy with the result you would then apply a sealant to seal it all in and again protect the paintwork from UV, bumps which can cause dents & liquid spills.
Paints can come in either a tin where you would use a brush to apply or a spray can format. If using a spray can avoid spraying too close to the wood that the paints runs and if using a brush avoid heavy brush strokes that leave streaks. You'll figure out the best method (-:
Most paint finishes will be either matt or gloss & you can choose as per your preference. We'd advise that where possible use the same brand of sealant as you do paint. They usually compliment each other well!
If you're nervous you might get it wrong an stuff up your guitar, you probably want to practice on a scrap piece of wood before moving to the real thing. Some good advice is to forget that its a guitar, however you would want a piece of wood to look once you're finished with it, is exactly how you should go about finishing you DIY Guitar Kit (-:
Feel free to contact us for any help you might need.