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Stripping bass body with a heat gun

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by FArfel, Jan 11, 2012.

  1. FArfel

    FArfel

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    I'm thinking about stripping the polyurethane finish off of my p bass. Using chemicals and sanding are not an option.

    After stripping the body, I would like to leave it natural. Would the heat gun leave burn marks? And how much (if any) sanding would have to be done afterward?
  2. Staccato

    Staccato Supporting Member

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    For this kind of project, I usually stick w/ google responses from multiple music forums with (google) search terms like 'removing guitar finish.'
  3. 96tbird

    96tbird Supporter Supporting Member

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    No, a heat gun won't burn the wood if you use it correctly. If you burn the wood, You did it, not the gun;). Is it a clearcoat? Color coat?
  4. miramadar

    miramadar

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    Why can you use heat but not sandpaper? If it were me, I'd remove the hardware and sand the finish off. Then I'd use polyurethane or shellac to finish the bare wood.
  5. FArfel

    FArfel

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    Solid color coat.

    Sanding is more time-consuming, and messier. I just want to get it done as quickly and cleanly as possible. If there isn't a clear coat underneath the paint I'm probably going to tung-oil it.

    Would there be any sanding after peeling it off?
  6. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

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    You will have sanding to do regardless of the method used to strip.
  7. BobWestbrook

    BobWestbrook Mr. Supporting Member

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    Sand blaster? Lasers? Phasers on stun?
  8. miramadar

    miramadar

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    You will have to sand it regardless. You'll need to sand it down to 300 grit before the Tung oil. With tape, mask off anything you don't want to sand (P/U's, bridge, pots, etc.).

    If you're dead set against sanding, I would use a chemical stripper before I would attempt heat. As an earlier poster said, you'd run the risk of burning your instrument if you're not careful. And you'd still be left with a mess to sand down. I would just sand it all...60 grit to start, and then progressively to 300 grit.
  9. Floridabwoy

    Floridabwoy Supporting Member

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    I used Citrustrip on one... nothing.

    Then I tried to use a heat gun and that discolored the wood.

    Then I used a Mouse sander. Worked great.
  10. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

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    Pics of an MIM J body I recently stripped with a heat gun, a broken screwdriver turned into a little flat gouge, and the metal bottom of a radio shack project box used for a large scraper. As you can see, no burnt/discolored wood. Took right at an hour, including sweeping up the paint chips.

    Attached Files:

  11. FArfel

    FArfel

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    Looks great! How far away did you hold the heat gun, and what other methods did you use with it? How much sanding did you have to do?
  12. icecycle66

    icecycle66

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    Yeah dude, that looks great.

    I would like the How-to walk through.
    If you do another one, a video would also be great.
  13. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

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    People get carried away with sanding and alter the contours of the body. Heat guns and stripping solutions don't do that.

    Of course you'll need to do some finish sanding, but a heat gun is much faster and less damaging - IF you use it right and don't either burn the wood or gouge the wood as you're removing the finish.
  14. paparoof

    paparoof

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  15. 96tbird

    96tbird Supporter Supporting Member

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    Cool, with these thick modern polyester "jacket o' plastic" finishes, that's how I imagined they would come off. Cool to see it.
  16. paparoof

    paparoof

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    And the only thing I don't like about my Squier CV Jazz is the white finish. Really wished it came in natural like the VM.

    Gosh, what ever shall I do?
  17. 1958Bassman

    1958Bassman

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    If you stay in one spot for too long, it will definitely burn. It can also soften the wood.

    If you think that using a heat gun will keep you from releasing toxic fumes, you're wrong. If you really want to strip it without dealing with any toxic chemicals and sanding, take it to a furniture stripper and have them do it.
  18. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

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    My Spector was not quite that easy. The outermost clear coat would bubble and flake off like raw sugar. The heavy plastic-like coat took more heat to get loose but did peel similarly to the video. The final sealer coat had a couple of characteristics, one being a heavy, deep-color stain-like coat and the final, very stubborn clear sealer next to the wood. I am still working to get it ready for the next phase. Very messy and lots of noxious plastic smelling dust. I wish it was as easy as the Tele in the video...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A little before:

    [​IMG]

    And after (with a lot of the base clear sealer yet to be removed):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  19. paparoof

    paparoof

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    Oy. That looks like a project and a half. Something tells me my Squier doesn't have quite as many layers....

    One thing I read after this thread was about heat guns loosening the glue on a neck-thru and the whole thing falling apart. :eek: I didn't bring it up since the OP was talking about a P, but there it is in color on that Spector. Was there no hint of separation from the heat?
  20. nervous

    nervous Supporting Member

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    Yup, there was a little which I intend to fill and clamp. I don't believe it's anything that would cause any structural concern but there's a pretty significant amount of heat needed to get this material moving. But, sanding would take forever with material this hard and thick.

    You see a little scorching evident here:

    [​IMG]

    This is not yet down to the base wood. What you are seeing here is the remaining thick layer of clear base sealer that is a bear to remove. Those cracks are just in the filler coat and not a separation of the joint as far as I can tell. Once completely sanded off this should refill and seal just fine.

    [​IMG]

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