Cleaning sanding dust from grain?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Frank Martin, Aug 4, 2005.

  1. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU

    So lately I've converted my cheapo ABG to fretless (it also had a bump in the fb, so now I've taken that out, too, and made it more playable), but after sanding, the dust stuck in the grain/pores of the acacia fb... I tried cleaning it with lacquer-thinner benzine (similar to naptha) and lemon oil, but it's still there. It looks a bit weird with some parts of the grain not having this whitish dust in them, but other stripes next to them have...
    Anyone have ideas or some more methods?
    Thanks in advance!
  2. Frank - you're a great guy and I'm concerned with your use of Benzine. This is probably THE single most hazardous of the liquid solvents that we civilians are still allowed to own and use. It's carcinogenic to the core and the exposure risks through skin contact and inhalation are very high. I caution you to leave this alone as there are other things available (even in Hungary) that can be used for these purposes. Please?

    Now, onto the problem at hand. The best thing I've found to get "things" out of the grain like sanding dust, polishing compound, or dried vomit :rolleyes: is a soft brass wire bristle brush. The type that are the size of a toothbrush and are soft to the fingertouch. This will get in and under the stuff and lift it out of the grain. The reason nothing else worked is that the wood soaked it up around it instead of dissolving it or floating under it to lift it out. I practically guarantee this to work.
  3. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Thanks for the advice!

    Allan, there might be a bit misunderstanding, it looks like I did not use the right words. It's a finer version of common gasoline/petrol, that is used as a lacquer thinner. Didn't know benzol is also called benzine in US English :oops:
    Anyways, a small amount on a piece of cloth out in the open wouldn't kill me hopefully :D
    I think there's a brush like that somewhere, I'll try to find it.
  4. fivehawks


    Aug 4, 2005
    Greetings Frank,
    don't use liquids as they will soak into the grain and thus take the dust with it and also expand the wood if used incorrectly. Clean the wood out with compressed air. Using a metal wire brush will create lines in your newly sanded fretboard. SO: if you've followed the advice of some other posts, resand fingerboard, and blow it out with compressed air.

    Also, once you have the fretboard clean, use very thin self-adhesive mylar and put in on the fingerboard so that the wood does not get string wear. Mylar is available in clear and matte depending on your taste.

    I'm hoping you did not use woodfiller to fill in the fret slots. That stuff will crumble out. Use 20-thousands thick polyvinyl strips (available in many colors), fill in the gaps as if you were putting frets in, cyano it in, then sand the fingerboard smooth.
  5. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Actually I'm the type who will search a lot of times before doing something, so that I don't mess up anything. I filled in the fret slots with 0,6mm (1/32") maple veneer. I tried looking for self-adhesive mylar, but it was impossible to find here :( Instead, after a day of searching and going round the city, I got to the huge warehouse of one of the biggest importers of plastic film sheets, and I bought a sheet of poly-carbonate - they said it's as good as polyesther (mylar) in terms of wear-resistance, and they only had this at the time (they ran out of polyesther and even if they had it, it was much thicker...) even this one is 0.175mm, so over three times as thick as the 2mills recommended in the mylar thread.

    Now I'm looking for removable adhesives for the mylar... without much luck... ( :rollno: ) "glue that has a solvent? What are you talking about?" ( :mad: )
    I think I'll just take a clear glue - 7 mills should last a long time :smug:
  6. Birdman, do me the favor of understanding my advice before blowing it off. Note the type of brass bristled brush I pointed out to use - one that is SOFT - SOFT to your finger. If you've been around tools for very long you come in contact with these brushes used in cleaning all sorts of soft surfaces. The bristles of these brushes feel no stiffer than your toothbrush and don't leave scrathes - even on some plastics. Also note that his fretboard is Acacia - a very hardwood. So why a soft BRASS brush. Because other brushes don't have as narrow a fiber that can remain as stiff down to it's very end. Natural hairs taper and most sythetic fibers are too big to be useful. This is a tried and tested process I use in my shop and unless you've used this exact technique, you don't have the basis to criticize mine.
  7. Doug Westlake

    Doug Westlake

    Jul 6, 2005
    What about using a cabinet scraper instead of abrasives? A sharp cabinet scraper will micro plane off the top surface of the FB and leave no sawdust in the pores at all. Abraded surfaces can not be compared to scraped ones in any way. They look, and feel much better.
  8. Some of that dust can get pretty deep. Scraping down that far can leave a flat spot on a radiused board and that can lead to all sorts of buzzing and other setup hassles.

    Though I know exactly what you mean, your last sentence might be better if it read more like "Scraped surfaces can not be compared to sanded ones in any way. They look, and feel much better."

    I agree, they do! :D
  9. ArtisFallen


    Jul 21, 2004
    Tack cloth.

    it's available at all the paint stores, and un-like steel wool, or the other options, it actually removes the dust instead of just brushing it away. it's sticky so the loose grains of dust stick to it.

    I think the other best option is Compressed Air.
  10. Phil Mastro

    Phil Mastro

    Nov 18, 2004
    I find Pumice works very well to clear pores. It also brings a nice shine to your wood. Good stuff if you can find it. I got mine from my grandpa, from the days he used to finish pianos. (like in the 50s or something)