Behlen Master Gel

Behlen Master Gel
« on: June 30, 2011, 08:36:38 AM »
I am about to apply a Behlen Master Gel finish to a strat build in progress.  Has anyone out there had experience with the MG, and if so, some questions:

1.  How many coats do you recommend?  Note that while I want a deep finish, and one that will not result in sand-throughs in the polishing stage, I know there is a point of diminishing returns and that the urethanes/polys can get smokey with too many coats.

2.  For scuffing between coats, would 000 synthetic be okay?  Or do you have an alternative recommendation?

3.  How much time did you allow between coats?

4.  How did you polish it out (I am considering the micro mesh, starting at 6000, but VERY concerned about avoiding sand-throughs.)



Thanks in advance for any and all input!


Offline pabloman

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Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2011, 08:51:28 AM »
Does it have directions??

Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2011, 08:54:50 AM »
Of course, but those directions (1) do not answer all the questions I have posed nor (2) allow for "real world experience."  For instance, the directions may call for only two coats to promote an "ease" of finishing, but a master woodworker might recommend several more for a deeper, richer look.  Same comment with regard to polishing the finish, which is not addressed in the directions. Hence the posting.


Online Cagey

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Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2011, 09:20:07 AM »
I'm still fighting with the Strat I'm going to put Master Gel on, so I don't have direct answers for you yet. But, there are some general truths you can consider. First, Master Gel is a polyurethane finish, and they aren't generally "built up" like you do with lacquer. 1 or 2 coats is typical. Also, you'd have to work the hell out of 6000 grit micro-finishing pads to achieve burn-through. Your arm will wear out long before the finish does.

The biggest problem with and failures in finishing usually result from poor prep work. The finish is, by definition, the last step, not an integral part of the process. Kinda like taking a shower after sex <grin>

All the grain filling, staining, sealing, sanding, etc. are what eats your life and wears you out. You want the body to be absolutely perfect before you finish it. Otherwise, you're wasting your time. The finish won't fix it, and the results will show that.
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Offline pabloman

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Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2011, 10:23:52 AM »
Ok what I was getting at was the people that make the stuff generally know best. There are a bunch of different ways to do things and because it worked for one guy doesn't mean it will work for someone else. There are too many variables when you get into deviation from the recommended procedures.  If the directions state 2 coats then obviously start there. If it isn't built up satisfactorily do more. From what I've heard synthetic pads are ok to use. I would trust they are. As for final polishing it depends what the finish looks like before you start. You may need to start with 2000 and work your way up.

Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2011, 11:24:03 AM »
Cagey:

Prep work is all good.  Filled the body using Timbermate three times to ensure a smooth surface, and followed that with Behlen dye coats AND once over with a Minwax stain to try to put some binder/sealer in place. (From past experience I have had the finish coat, when wiped on as opposed to sprayed, lift the dye and leave some "uncolored" areas.  Hopefully with a light hand this will help avoid that result.)  Overall the body looks good and ready now for the finish, but having not used the Master Gel before I want to avoid any known pitfalls.

Regarding the provided instructions, I have indeed been in touch with the Master Gel technical folks. They, just like us, work as much from experience as from the instructions.  For instance, the very helpful person I spoke with suggested three coats, and allowed that a couple more would not hurt if I wanted to add them for depth. He did warn, however, that too many could lead to a cloudy finish, but he wasn't sure just how many would be too many, so that is why I posted the question.  Same for the roughing of the surface between coats. He says he has used 320, which seems a bit abrasive to me, but also suggested 4/0 steel wool.  As he has not worked with the synthetic 000 pads, he was not sure if that would be too abrasive, so I posted that question too, to see if others had experience/suggestion. 

In any case, I am diving in today and should have some answers shortly, at least as to how my project works out.  For now, here are some scans of the body as it sits right now:


Online Cagey

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Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2011, 11:40:05 AM »
I'll take your word on the prep work; the picture quality is reminiscent of some I've seen of the Loch Ness Monster...


Kinda leaves some open questions. Might want to invest $39.95 in a decent camera <grin>

In any event, it's likely you'll beat me to the punch on using the stuff, so I look forward to your reports.





« Last Edit: June 30, 2011, 11:43:48 AM by Cagey »
1. Slow down to speed up

2. Always use a metronome

3. Dare to suck

Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2011, 11:41:38 AM »
Old iphone.

Too lazy to get the better camera out...

Online Cagey

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Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2011, 11:48:01 AM »
Off topic, but actually the sensors in most phones are good enough to produce some decent images. But, they're also very, very small and not very sensitive, so you need good lighting for them to return usable results. Even a cloudy day will have plenty enough good light, so a porch or a deck will make a great (read: free) studio for such a camera.
1. Slow down to speed up

2. Always use a metronome

3. Dare to suck

Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2011, 11:50:18 AM »
That's good to know. I will give it a try before I apply the finish coats.

Thanks!

Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2011, 05:07:44 PM »
First coat is on.  As I was advised would be the case, it went on a bit "stiff."  By that I mean it was not easy to work after a couple of minutes, unlike Tru Oil which can be wiped for quite a bit longer before starting to "gum up."  The folks at Behlen advise that this is due to it absorbing somewhat into the wood, and that subsequent coats will go on easier.  Notably, the finish is dull in several areas, but again, they advise that this, too, will be remedied with subsequent coats.

On a very positive note, so far the self-leveling is terrific.  I cannot find any wipe lines or the like.  As the gloss develops we'll see if this remains the case.

Regarding an earlier post, above, I found that the instructions on the plastic container actually differ from those on the spec sheet I was provided by the distributor. Not a big deal, but further supports the point that there are many ways to apply a finish, and experience is probably the best instruction of all.

Will keep the blog posted.






Online Cagey

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Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2011, 08:22:03 AM »
I'm happy to hear about the "self-levelling" aspect. I'm so sick of sanding that even looking at a piece of sandpaper makes me wanna spit. What did you use to apply it with?
1. Slow down to speed up

2. Always use a metronome

3. Dare to suck

Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2011, 08:53:39 AM »
Very old tee shirt.  Second coat just went on after a rub with 000 synthetic. Don't like how it goes on, though.  You have very little time to spread it out (like less than one minute, at a temp of about 90 degrees).  That nice sheen you get with Tru Oil that allows you to see where the finish is on and to some extent how "thick" turns matte very quickly with the MG.  And it does not seem to be a good idea to try to work it at all.  I am crossing my fingers that with additional coats this will get easier, but not sure.

I will keep you posted.

Online Cagey

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Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2011, 10:44:18 AM »
Very old tee shirt.

Pocketless Ts need love, too! <grin>

I was going to use one of those wedge-shaped foam "brushes". It will almost certainly put on a thicker coat, so I wonder if that'll allow a little more working time? I tend to obsess over the horns on Strat bodies, so I can see me spending too much time there to the detriment of the rest of the body.
1. Slow down to speed up

2. Always use a metronome

3. Dare to suck

Re: Behlen Master Gel
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2011, 10:58:11 AM »
My experience has been MG is a no brainer ... as in don't think about it ... just get it on there and it'll take care of itself.
I had no trouble with 2nd, 3rd, 4th coats. Yea. it feels a bit different than the first but that didn't bother me.