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Freeman Keller

Barncaster

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My wife and I belong to a conservation organization known as a Land Trust. We give small donations each year and sometimes volunteer for projects - trail building, noxious weed pulling - something a couple of old farts can do without getting in too much trouble. The Land Trust recently obtained about 1500 acres in the foothills behind my town - they have set aside this land for wild life, hiking and biking and equestrian use and to keep it from development. On the property are two old homesteads with a couple of old barns. I don't exactly know how old the bars are, lets say a hundred years, but one was showing the ravages of age and a project to stabilize it was initiated.

 

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There was a minor problem - a great horned owl was nesting in the barn so all of our work needed to be scheduled around her. (If you look carefully, there is an owl just below the bright spot)

 

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Fortunately her chicks fleged and we were able to get th work done. While I was poking around in a scrap pile I found a nice ten foot long 2 by 16 (do they even grow trees like that any more) that I assumed was ponderosa pine - I cut it into manageable lengths and hauled it home. Ran a piece thru the sander - it looked promising

 

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so I cut out something that looks familiar

 

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Patched a few holes in the back

 

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and made a few more in the front

 

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Edited by Freeman Keller
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Now I've got a problem - I've always finished my instrument in lacquer - either nitro or water born. I'm set up to shoot it, get good results and would ordinarily use it here. However this seemed like a good time to experiment - one of the products that home builders talk about is TruOil - its a polymerized oil finish (aka varnish) designed for use on gun stocks. People report acceptable results on guitar by applying many thin coats, giving it lots of drying time and then sanding and buffing in the usual fashion. Since I didn't want a super high gloss finish I thought I would try it.

 

Well, 16 coats later and over two weeks of cure time I was totally unimpressed with the results. I sanded to 2000, then tried to buff it but couldn't get a nice shine - in fact it still seemed like it was soft.

 

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I could sand it back and keep screwing around with the TruOil, but I said the hell with it and sanded it back to bare wood. Two coats of shellac to seal it and a dozen coats of nitro and it was pretty acceptable. Since I didn't want a PRS wet look finish I decided to leave it alone - being nitro I can always go back and buff it later.

 

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I looked all over the barn for some hundred year old maple to make a neck out of - do you think I could find anything? So, I'm ashamed to say, I cheated and bought a premade neck (I promise, if I find a suitable board I'll make a proper one). Seemed only fitting that I pay some tribute to Momma Owl

 

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So I inlayed a little piece of rosewood...

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Shielded the cavities and hooked up some wires and things

 

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screwed down the shiny bits

 

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made a nut and fiddled around with a bunch of screws - I won't bore you with all that stuff, you've seen it before.

 

Took into the house, opened a nice home brew and plugged it into my home made amp. Introduced Barncaster to Lester - they are going to have to get along together

 

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Edited by Freeman Keller
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That turned out really nice. And the owl inlay is--God help me--a hoot. I keep saying Teles are butt ugly and then I keep seeing gorgeous Teles like this one. The way things are going I might end up owning one someday.

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Great work Freeman - and good for you guys for your efforts on the part of the Land Trust! :philthumb: :philthumb:

 

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Awesome thread in everyway a thread can be awesome!!! I'll bet that new guitar is a real Hoot!

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The guitar is awesome in its own right, but the history behind it... reclaimed 100 yar-old barn wood, the owl... well that's just too cool for words!

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Top stuff. That looks really special and the back story just adds to the build. Thanks for sharing.

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Logged in for the first time in forever just to say how beatiful that is, and what a great story behing it as well.

 

Very nice as always, Freeman! :thu:

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Thank you all for the wonderful comments. The other part of the story which I don't yet know how to pull off is that I want to somehow donate it to the Land Trust. I can either sell it and give them the proceeds or possibly they can have some sort of auction. I'm not rushing into this but its in the back of my mind.

 

Meanwhile, I'm sort of enjoying playing it - might have to build another for myself.

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If you have any of that 100 year old ponderosa pine left, maybe you can build something a bit off the path, like maybe a Tele with a Strat tremolo and a belly cut? Or maybe a Telemaster?

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You always do such wonderful work, and love the background story.... that wood may be well aged, but I am green with envy.

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16 coats later and over two weeks of cure time I was totally unimpressed with the results. I sanded to 2000' date=' then tried to buff it but couldn't get a nice shine - in fact it still seemed like it was soft....[/quote']

 

 

I feel your pain. I've never used TruOil on anything but Walnut (gun stocks). I always seal coated with polyurethane first, using it as a grain filler (apply heavily, let thicken up and towel off across the grain followed by steel wool to remove the excess after drying). I always used the palm of my hand to apply the TruOil and spread it out so thin that it became tacky as you spread it. When your hand starts to feel a "drag", you move on to the adjacent area and overlap slightly. 4-5 hand-rubbed coats max and it's done and ready to cut and buff.

 

Never tried it on pine but what you described was my experience on open grained or end grain areas without a poly seal coat first. On maple necks, I would assume it doesn't soak in and builds quickly as many have mentioned good results on their necks.

 

Trust me, with your expertise, I am the last one to give you advice but the poly grain fill was the ticket to a good hard TruOi finish on open grain.

 

Nice work as always and the owl is very cool too.

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6down, thank you - that is helpful. I'll be the first to admit that TruOil probably wasn't the best choice here and that I probably didn't do it right - they have a sealer which I didn't use. There are a lot of really good finishing systems out there that I've never tried - problem is that I've kind of figured out lacquers and when I've invested several hundreds of dollars in a piece of wood I hate to try anything new. However if I was finishing the stock on a prized Browning skeet gun I sure wouldn't use nitrocellulose lacquer LOL.

 

I'll add that I've experimented with grain fillers and have been most impressed with thin epoxy (Zpoxy) but I'm not sure how the TruOil would work over that. Finishing remains one of the most difficult parts of home building - the more I learn the more I don't know.

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Thank you all for the wonderful comments. The other part of the story which I don't yet know how to pull off is that I want to somehow donate it to the Land Trust. I can either sell it and give them the proceeds or possibly they can have some sort of auction. . . .

If you're looking for votes or suggestions, I like the auction idea. I just hope it ends up going to someone who will appreciate it.

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