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Long Awaited Epoxy Photo Tutorial

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Linas, Feb 21, 2006.


  1. Linas

    Linas

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    This is the first time I have attempted to work with epoxy on a fretless bass. I have done this once before a few years back with polyurethane and it did not give me the results I was looking for. Hopefully the System 3 epoxy method will be a success, so far it seems to be ok.

    [​IMG]

    The first thing that I did to the bass was take out the nut. This turned out to be harder than expected, the nut was made out of soft plastic and chipped away as I tried to coax it out. I was left with a badly damaged nut that I had to use a Dremel disc style bit to remove the rest of the nut. After the dremmel, the nut came out cleanly, without chipping any of the surrounding wood.

    [​IMG]

    The next thing that I did, was take 80, 120, 160, and 220 sand paper to the fret board and lightly sanded smooth any imperfections. I did not go balls to the wall sanding, nothing extreme enough to change the radius or anything of the sort.

    [​IMG]

    After that I took a piece of painters tape and taped off the nut slot. You definitely do not want to get epoxy into the slot unless you want problems farther down the road.

    [​IMG]

    The next precaution I took was to tape up the whole back of the neck, except the headstock. I used packing tape, which I read works better than painter tape, because I guess with the painters tape, the epoxy can bleed through a bit. Just have the edge of the tape run along the edge of the fret board and work slowly to make sure it stays perpendicular.

    [​IMG]

    Next, I took regular mineral spirits that you can get at the hardware store, put it on a lint free rag, and cleaned the fret board of any oil and dust that might still be on there. Any oil in the wood will hinder the epoxy's bond to the wood.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, there was some dust that needed removing.

    [​IMG]

    While the mineral spirits are evaporating out of the wood, you can start to measure out Part A of the epoxy.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I used tablespoons, but any other precise measuring device should be fine, just make sure not to use your wife or moms best kitchen stuff. I put 6 tablespoons of Part A into a Tupperware container. After I had the 6 tablespoons of epoxy in the Tupperware I realized this is going to be a bit too much for the amount I will be working with. Next coat I will most likely use 2 tablespoons of Part A. After you have precisely measured out you part A, you are ready to add Part B, which is hardener. The System Three Mirror coat calls for a 2:1 ratio. So since I used an unnecessary 6 tablespoons of Part A, I will need to add 3 tablespoons of part B. I recommend using a different tablespoon than the one you for part A, or cleaning it off with mineral spirits and a clean rag.

    [​IMG]

    After your two parts of the epoxy are in the container, you will want to mix them together thoroughly, but avoiding getting air bubbles into the mix. I used a rubber spatula to mix.

    [​IMG]

    After a good mixing, it should look similar to this.

    [​IMG]

    Now that the mineral spirits have evaporated and dust has been taken off your fret board will look like this and it is ready to have the mixed epoxy applied to it..

    [​IMG]

    Now that everything is prepared, you are ready for coating the fret board. I used a foam brush. Just dip the tip of the brush into the epoxy and start coating the fret board. I started by the nut slot and moved down. If you look at the coating with light reflecting off it, you will notice craters where the epoxy did not bond to the wood. Take your brush and mash it into these spots to make sure it sticks. Try not to put too many strokes of epoxy on, the more times you brush over the more bubbles you will get.

    [​IMG]

    After you have taken care of all your craters (some small ones will stay regardless of mashing in my experience) go over the fret board with the brush in one clean sweep at an even pressure along the entire length.

    [​IMG]

    Your fret board should look like this now. Don't worry about epoxy dripping off the sides, if you have taped the neck correctly, you should have no problem. Also, having a plastic sheet under your work space should make clean up easier.

    [​IMG]

    30 minutes after your final brush stroke, come back to your neck, which will still be wet, and squeegee off all of the excess epoxy. I tore my squeegee off of a winter window scraper. I'm sure many things can be used for this procedure, but this is just what I had laying around the house. I have heard of people using credit cards, but I just used a rubber squeegee because System Three says use a squeegee, not a credit card.

    [​IMG]

    Again, I worked from the nut to the opposite end.

    [​IMG]

    Now, your first coat of epoxy is ready to sit in a room where the vents and windows are closed and there will not be a lot of traffic. You want to keep dust to a minimum because any dust that settles on the epoxy is going to mean more sanding and more room for error later on.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Moderator Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto/Niagara Falls, Ontario
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Levy's Leathers
    Great!

    Would you mind PMing me when you do so? I tend to forget to check back on this thread often :(

    -Mark
     
  3. Linas

    Linas

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    Mark, i sent you the PM, and sorry about having just links for the pics, i am not a cool member that paid money, so i cant add tons of huge pictures, unless someone can tell me how to add them to an HTML script.
     
  4. Beav

    Beav Graphics Whore

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Tennessee
    Disclosures:
    Designer: Beav's Graphics
    This is the first time I have attempted to work with epoxy on a fretless bass. I have done this once before a few years back with polyurethane and it did not give me the results I was looking for. Hopefully the System 3 epoxy method will be a success, so far it seems to be ok.

    [​IMG]

    The first thing that I did to the bass was take out the nut. This turned out to be harder than expected, the nut was made out of soft plastic and chipped away as I tried to coax it out. I was left with a badly damaged nut that I had to use a Dremel disc style bit to remove the rest of the nut. After the dremmel, the nut came out cleanly, without chipping any of the surrounding wood.

    [​IMG]

    The next thing that I did, was take 80, 120, 160, and 220 sand paper to the fret board and lightly sanded smooth any imperfections. I did not go balls to the wall sanding, nothing extreme enough to change the radius or anything of the sort.

    [​IMG]

    After that I took a piece of painters tape and taped off the nut slot. You definitely do not want to get epoxy into the slot unless you want problems farther down the road.

    [​IMG]

    The next precaution I took was to tape up the whole back of the neck, except the headstock. I used packing tape, which I read works better than painter tape, because I guess with the painters tape, the epoxy can bleed through a bit. Just have the edge of the tape run along the edge of the fret board and work slowly to make sure it stays perpendicular.

    [​IMG]

    Next, I took regular mineral spirits that you can get at the hardware store, put it on a lint free rag, and cleaned the fret board of any oil and dust that might still be on there. Any oil in the wood will hinder the epoxy's bond to the wood.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, there was some dust that needed removing.

    [​IMG]

    While the mineral spirits are evaporating out of the wood, you can start to measure out Part A of the epoxy.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I used tablespoons, but any other precise measuring device should be fine, just make sure not to use your wife or moms best kitchen stuff. I put 6 tablespoons of Part A into a Tupperware container. After I had the 6 tablespoons of epoxy in the Tupperware I realized this is going to be a bit too much for the amount I will be working with. Next coat I will most likely use 2 tablespoons of Part A. After you have precisely measured out you part A, you are ready to add Part B, which is hardener. The System Three Mirror coat calls for a 2:1 ratio. So since I used an unnecessary 6 tablespoons of Part A, I will need to add 3 tablespoons of part B. I recommend using a different tablespoon than the one you for part A, or cleaning it off with mineral spirits and a clean rag.

    [​IMG]

    After your two parts of the epoxy are in the container, you will want to mix them together thoroughly, but avoiding getting air bubbles into the mix. I used a rubber spatula to mix.

    [​IMG]

    After a good mixing, it should look similar to this.

    [​IMG]

    Now that the mineral spirits have evaporated and dust has been taken off your fret board will look like this and it is ready to have the mixed epoxy applied to it..

    [​IMG]

    Now that everything is prepared, you are ready for coating the fret board. I used a foam brush. Just dip the tip of the brush into the epoxy and start coating the fret board. I started by the nut slot and moved down. If you look at the coating with light reflecting off it, you will notice craters where the epoxy did not bond to the wood. Take your brush and mash it into these spots to make sure it sticks. Try not to put too many strokes of epoxy on, the more times you brush over the more bubbles you will get.

    [​IMG]

    After you have taken care of all your craters (some small ones will stay regardless of mashing in my experience) go over the fret board with the brush in one clean sweep at an even pressure along the entire length.

    [​IMG]

    Your fret board should look like this now. Don't worry about epoxy dripping off the sides, if you have taped the neck correctly, you should have no problem. Also, having a plastic sheet under your work space should make clean up easier.

    [​IMG]

    30 minutes after your final brush stroke, come back to your neck, which will still be wet, and squeegee off all of the excess epoxy. I tore my squeegee off of a winter window scraper. I'm sure many things can be used for this procedure, but this is just what I had laying around the house. I have heard of people using credit cards, but I just used a rubber squeegee because System Three says use a squeegee, not a credit card.

    [​IMG]

    Again, I worked from the nut to the opposite end.

    [​IMG]

    Now, your first coat of epoxy is ready to sit in a room where the vents and windows are closed and there will not be a lot of traffic. You want to keep dust to a minimum because any dust that settles on the epoxy is going to mean more sanding and more room for error later on.

    [​IMG]




    There ya go
     
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  6. ElBajista

    ElBajista

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Location:
    Sebring, FL
    great tutorial! I'll definitely make good use of this when I start my fretless project.

    Thanks!!
     
  7. Linas

    Linas

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    Thanks beav2k2! It looks alot nicer that way doesnt it? :)
     
  8. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2004
    Location:
    Stockton, Ca
    Added this link to the FAQ thread. Thanks for your contribution!

    paul
     
  9. Beav

    Beav Graphics Whore

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Tennessee
    Disclosures:
    Designer: Beav's Graphics
    Much! If you want to add them to your post, just qoute my message, copy it, remove the quote stuff and then paste it in. Then I'll remove my post.
     
  10. takeout

    takeout

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Kansas City area
    So you only went to the edge of the board? Not down the sides of the board, up to the neck finish? You don't think you might get chipping there at some point?
     
  11. deathbloomslife

    deathbloomslife

    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    How many coats of the epoxy should you use to get a nice playing surface???

    -ryan-
     
  12. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Disclosures:
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    why would you squeege it off?
     
  13. takeout

    takeout

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    Kansas City area
    For the first coat, you want to force it into the pores. Rosewood has some deep ones. If you scrape, you're left with a level fretboard (wood plus epoxy filling in the gaps). The next coat you do will be nice and glassy, and likely won't require squeegie-ing - just sanding.
     
  14. Linas

    Linas

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    From what ive read, it takes about 5. Give or take.

    Takeout, from the research i have done this is what it says to do. I hope it doesnt chip, but i guess i will find out shortly.
     
  15. ElBajista

    ElBajista

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2005
    Location:
    Sebring, FL
    What resource did you use to learn how to do this?

    Would I do anything different to a Maple fretless board?
     
  16. Linas

    Linas

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    There were 2 main resources. First is the talkbass seach function, which i read about every thread there is on how to epoxy a bass. Second was information on System Three's website, which they have alot of. Pretty much i just followed the directions verbatum that i got with my epoxy bottles. With maple the only thing i can think of that might interfere is that usually maple fretboards have some sort of laquer or shellack on them. You will most likely need to remove this before you epoxy, but i am really not sure, since i have never done this before. And if you do remove the coating, you have to be careful to keep your radius, and not oversand spots. Again, this is just what i assume you should do, i am simply making an educated guess that might be incorrect. Nateo did an epoxy on a maple fretboard, he might have some better insight into your question.
     
  17. perrytelephone

    perrytelephone

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Burlington
    do you have any pictures of the full bass.
     
  18. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Great work, the only thing that doesn't look like a good idea is measuring off the epoxy with spoons above your bass!
     
  19. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Disclosures:
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    You didn't have to re-radius the bass when you were done.?....t
     
  20. Linas

    Linas

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    Chicago
    Its just an illusion, i was measuring close to the bass, but farther foreward.

    I was going to re-radius the bass, but after i finished the polishing and whatnot, the bass played fine and i feel it didnt need it.

    [​IMG]
    fretboard still has some sheen to it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All i need now for the bass is 2 knobs.

    Here is what i did to the bass.

    -Sanded headstock, restained and refinished.
    -Expoxy treatment
    -Push/Push series paralell switch
    -Put in Dimarzio model J pickups, with new pots and wiring
    -made the wooden pickguard
    -installed a new nut
    -installed threaded inserts
     
  21. Suburban

    Suburban

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2001
    Location:
    lower mid Sweden
    Good tutorial, but before Basschair adds this to the sticky, please fix the pics. They are references to a non-TB URL, which usually works well, but not always. I can't always see them, anyway. Seems to depend on where on the internet I hook up...?
     

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