Aging wood with the Universal UV, 4 foot FR32 lamp

Just pulled out another blank for comparison. These two blanks came from the same board. The one on the right has no exposure (ok, a little on the corners, I had it in the testing room in a corner and left it there overnight, but I will sand that out). The example on the left is after 10 days of exposure to the lamps.

Before and after 10 days of aging wood.

To do this with a full size guitar would take 6 of the lamps. I’m only running them at 32 watts, which is the lowest pressure we recommend. If you want to age them faster, you can use 40 watts or 45 watts….even 60 watts. The lamps can take it. Keep in mind that aging is a chemical process, so you can just cut the time in half by doubling it, but you can reduce it down. What I like about it is how it seems to darken the grain just a bit more than the whitest part of the wood, makes the grain pop. I need to do some shots in the studio, these were just taken in the lab. Still, you can see that aging the wood simply makes it look older, in a good way, and the color is genuine. Unlike the ugly “vintage” stain products, aging the wood with UV guarantees it will looks EXACTLY like it would from being 20 or so years old, because it is using the exact same processes.

It is why we call the Universal UV “Electric Sunshine In A Tube”. It really does simulate the sun almost perfectly, so your wood product looks naturally faded. If you are trying to match up old cabinets or just put some years on a new wood project, there really is no better way to do it. The examples you see here were sanded a bit, but there are no chemicals or treatments used except exposure to the Universal UV lamp.

I will note that the wood looked different every day. The first couple of days, it was ashy looking, not good. Then it turned a bit yellow, then it settled into the golden brown. This is part of the chemistry. Once you start using lamps for aging wood, you will quickly get a feel for it. What I recommend is that when you are aging something, bring in another board of a different type of wood, and experiment with it at the same time you are getting work done. Usually, there is room for another same, and even a 2″x4″x1″ blob of wood will get you a nice reference for later.

Aging is a process, and it will continue after you turn off the lights. What we do with the Solacure lights is simply rush the first decade or two. As long as you are willing to wait a week or two, you will love the results these lamps give to pine. I just bought an guitar body made out of Swamp Ash. We are going to crank up the lamps on the raw wood in January, and see what it does to hard, grained wood.

Before we start aging the swamp ash guitar

Here is a color corrected image of the guitar as I bought it on eBay. I haven’t even received it yet, but it has some really interesting grain, and should make for a great experiment.