New (to me) Sunburst Technique

The Achilles' Heel of Luthiery
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BlindBo
Posts: 139
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2023 12:53 pm

New (to me) Sunburst Technique

Post by BlindBo »

This has become a game changer for me. I’ve probably done 5 or 6 sunbursts. My std has been vintage amber, cherry red and tobacco brown. Until the current one, I used the technique described in the StewMac recommendations: buy their Colortone rattle cans, make a cardboard masking form, elevate off the surface with screws, and apply the color starting with the amber and the proceed towards the edges using the masking form to create the color transitions. To be honest, it was probably more of an operator error, but, I couldn’t seem to get a consistent looking burst. I’ve since added a homemade spray booth, a Devilbiss spray gun, DeKups, and individual toner colors. This gives me much more flexibility on colors.

While discussing sunbursts with John Hall, he told me was now applying his in the reverse order. Tobacco (or black) first, followed by red, and then amber last. At first I thought he’d been hitting the “gummies”. But, I decided to give it a try on this project.
My observations:
First, I can control the application much better with the spray gun over the cans.
Secondly, if I get a little too heavy with the brown, I can let it cure overnight and feather sand the interior edges to get the shape I was intending. (Same thing goes for the red.)
Third, DeKups let me mix the red and amber cups at the same time so that both are ready to apply. Since the red doesn’t show up on the brown, you can work the red out from the edges to help control the amount of red towards the center. No need to monkey with the cardboard.

I prefer more of an orange tinted center as opposed to just pure amber. So on this project I applied the red as usual and then dusted a VERY light coat of the red over the center. While it was still wet, I applied pure amber over the red “dusting” and the two colors blended together to give me the orange tint I wanted.

Here is the result straight out of the booth, no sanding yet. While my limited vision keeps me from getting anything perfect, I’m pleased with the results. Next time you get ready to do a burst, you may want to try this reverse application on some scrap and see if you like it.
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