"Metal Flake" Finish Tips

Advice on using automotive sparkle finish products for specialty woodwork items. August 30, 2005

My question is about putting a metal flake or sparkle finish on a maple electric guitar body. So far, I've found hardly any detailed information on the web relating specifically to instruments. Is it done with automobile finishing products such as a catalyzed urethane? Or can it be done with a more traditional musical instrument finish such as NC lacquer? I did check a guitar finishing site in Texas and there are only about three lines on it - they recommend against NC lacquer. Any detailed information on any aspect of this process or pointers to any other info sources would be greatly appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor T:
I have been using automotive mica to add a metallic effect to my specialty projects. If you seal, then spray the metallic coat or coats, then topcoat with a clear have given me the best results. I'm using Chemcraft's Opticlear.

From contributor D:
If you are going to use metalflake then you may want to make sure that you use a dedicated gun for the metalflake. I made the mistake of using my regular gun. Despite repeated cleanings there were many furniture projects I did subsequently which would have some metalflake in the coating. That looks ridiculous on a cocktail table. I had to in-paint the metalflake bit to hide it (them). I would suggest that you use a gravity gun for the metalflake. You want the flake to be oriented in a uniform direction.

A source of metalflake is House Of Kolor.

You can use automotive finishes for guitars. Or you can use lacquer or any of the cabinet coatings. If the coating is acid catalyzed then you need to concern yourself if the acid in the catalyst will react adversely to the metalflake.

Sources of information on doing metalflake are Stewart MacDonald and the many DIY $20 books on auto body repair.