1. Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    This is a detailed tutorial on applying decals and finishing over them correctly so as to have NO decal outline in the lacquer.
    This will be 2 of 5 necks I did this past week for customers using "Replica Decals" provided to me for this tutorial, and rattle can Acrylic Lacquer so even the most novice can get a stellar result.

    First step: I apply lines with glue stick to cardboard and adhere decals to this so Decals do not fly all over when being misted with Lacquer.


    Next is to mist "Lightly" with lacquer, 3 coats, 15 minutes between coats. This helps the decal to stay smooth on headstock while being lacquered after application.


    ***IF your headstock is UNfinished, apply 2 coats of Lacquer to headstock before as misting Decals. For best result, headstock must have a light finish before applying decal.***

    Step 3 is to allow the decal to dry overnight(at least 16 hours)

    Step 4: prepare the headstock by wetsanding flat with 600 grit wet or dry paper and a small block. Wipe clean with paper towel, and let dry for 30 minutes before applying decal.

    Step 5: pre position your decal, and mark on edge of headstock position markers for correct alignment. (You can see the scotch tape I used to mark script and logo seperation points)

    Step 6: Get a small bowl with warm water(NOT Hot, just finger warm) and soak decal for 20 to 45 seconds, and check for the decal releasing from the paper.

    Step 7: Begin to place decal. ** I cut these relic-replica decals into 3 pieces for these 2 headstocks, The 70's style decals do not always align properly on post 1992 headstocks)


    Step 8: Place and align decals to correct placement (I use pics of period correct headstocks found online as a guide to proper placement).

    Step 9: once placed, smooth out decals to get water out from under decal, use your finger, working from center of decal out to edges. Then switch to paper towel to remove water and lock into place. *** If the decal moves, you can wet your finger and replace for about 2 minutes before it locks on, so work efficiently.***

    Step 10: Blot completely dry the whole headstock, and allow decal to dry overnight. This is what they look like , fully dry overnight,before finishing.

    Step 11: Tape off edges and fretboard of finished necks, or just the fretboard of an unfinished neck.

    Step 12: Begin spraying Lacquer on headstock with mist coats to set decal and finish. 3 mist coats, 15-30 minutes between coats, then apply 2 regular light coats, 30 minutes between coats, Dull with scotch brite(LIGHTLY) after 3 hours, and let dry for 24 hours minimum.

    Step 13: After 24 hours, lightly wetsand with 600 and foam block to even finish, wipe clean and let dry for 1 hour before spraying round 2.

    Step 14: Spray 3 to 4 coats of Lacquer, light and even coats(NOT too wet), let sit for 3 hours, then dull with scotchbrite pad, and let dry for 24 hours at least.

    Step 15: Repeat steps 13 and 14 for round 3 of finishing. (8 total coats of Lacquer after mist coats) Over 3 days of drying time, Lightly wetsand with 600 each night, bringing the headstock closer to smooth(removing decal outline a little each night). This allows the Lacquer to reopen and release the gas keeping it soft.

    Step 16: After 3 full days of drying and light wetsanding at night, the headstock should be almost smooth.(barely any decal line left.) Wetsand with 800, 1000, and 1200 sequentially to completely smooth headstock, then wipe clean, and allow to dry overnight.

    Step 17: Hand buff with a soft cloth and some Carnauba wax, and watch the shine pop on a complete smooth headstock with a decal that appears to be suspended in the finish. No Fender Pool look to the decal, and a high gloss finish.


    ## If you prefer the satin finish of Newer Fender headstocks, you can use a satin Lacquer, or just wipe clean after 800 or 1000 to keep a nice clear and satiny finish.

    I hope this helps everyone who has asked about doing decals and getting them right. All the best, and have fun with it.
     
  2. SDB Guitars Commercial User

    Jul 2, 2007
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    Shawn Ball - Owner, SDB Guitars
    Nice! An excellent tutorial, and one that I know will be useful to more that just rookies. I, for one, will no doubt get good use out of this.

    Kudos to you, sir, and thank you for
    The concise and helpful advise!
     
  3. Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Nice.
     
  4. Thank you for taking the time to write that up. Sticky, anyone?
     
  5. mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Well done!
     
  6. cool tutorial, I never thought of spraying a decal first before applying it. Now waiting for people to ask "where did you get the decals?" :bag:
     
  7. Basschair .............. Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    Done.
     
  8. Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Depends on what decal paper that you're using, The expensive paper (manufactured decals, like modeling), you won't need to spray, but "waterslide" and some other "inkjet" paper, you need to hit it with some clear so when it gets submerged in water, it won't shrink up, fold over and bleed the color off.
     
  9. +1 A good point worth mentioning.
    Basically one should know what they're using and act accordingly. My wife is a fine art photographer and she prints her images on a waterslide decal paper using indelible archival inks with her printer. She then uses a medium (her own concoction) which basically melts the image onto wood.
     
  10. Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    On the waterslide and such, it says it in the directions, too...so that helps..
     
  11. StrangerDanger Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    North DFW, TX
    Can yall show me how to get my Timex to say Rolex? :bag:
     
  12. Jon_West

    Jan 8, 2009
    GTA, Ontario
    Awesome! Thanks a lot.
     
  13. I didn't even know Timex offered something like the On-Time EXSV10. :p
     
  14. One other thing to note is if you are shooting the decal with lacquer, mind the humidity. I got a bit of blush on mine because the last several coats were shot when humidity was too high. I was hoping the blush would disappear over time but it appears that I will need to eventually remove the neck and headstock hardware again and sand down below the blush and reshoot the lacquer on a dry day.
     
  15. Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    I believe that decal is at Replicawatch.com...LMAO
    Thanks for the comments.
     
  16. Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    This is one of the reasons I did this tutorial the way I did. Temps were 88,92, and 93 degrees with 80%+ humidity, and I sprayed in direct sunlight outside (instead of using my spraybooth in my shop). Mainly to demonstrate the results of shooting mist coats, and light, thin coats instead of heavy wet coats.
    Light thin coats allow the Lacquer to exhaust the humidity as it dries, giving you a leg up on not getting any blush.

    This is NOT 100% gauranteed, but betters your chances in a humid environment.

    Great point Timmus, and should be heeded by everyone in a humid area.
     
  17. Nice tutorial but where all the pics go?
     
  18. mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Damn Photobucket 90 BS strikes again. :(
     
  19. Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Fixed Below
     
  20. Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    fixed I think