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Ebonol fingerboard, how to polish?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bullshark, Mar 1, 2008.

  1. Greeting good folks,

    I had some problems with my Squier VM Jazz fretless, the fingerboard was very uneven due to buffing ie: where the fret markers are it was quite a bit lower than the rest, leading to annoying buzzing when playing.

    So I bought a radiused sanding block from S&M and went at it with 180 grain first, then finished with 320. It went well and I gotta say wow, plays like a dream now.

    The bone in the baloney is that the fingerboard is a bit dull looking with those 320 grit microscratches. I have buffing equipment here, but of course I don't want to use it since I'd probably end up with the same problem I've set out to fix in the first place; a buffing wheel isn't rigid enough and hence, will take more material out of the more tender fret markers area.

    So, any technique you guys can suggest to bring back the shine while keeping the fretboard evenness?
  2. Keep going with your sandpaper grits. 400, 600, 1000, and beyond. It'll get shiny. It's up to you how far you want to take it, try it and see. Try Some meguiar's paste wax at the very end.
  3. So, no magical fairy dust, just hard labor? Is that your last word?
    Oh, ok then.

    I stopped at 320 grit because I couldn't find self-adhesive sandpaper in finer grit to stick to the radiused block. But then again, considering I'll remove very little material with 600+ grit maybe I don't need the block...or is it better to keep using it for final polishing?

    Thanks barnaclebeau.
    Sleedo likes this.
  4. max3


    May 14, 2006
    I would just use a foam sanding block. The finer grits won't move much material, just enough to reduce the scratches made by the previous grit. The foam sanding block will be able to form to the contours of your fingerboard providing even sanding/polishing.
  5. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    3M spray adhesive works well on abrasive papers. It is a tad expensive but it lasts a long time.

    Beyond 400 grit (assuming that the irregularities have been removed) a foam pad can be used as a backer. Meguiars makes one that can be purchased at the auto parts store. Stew Mac used to sell them, too. It is stiff enough to provide solid backing and soft enough to make the abrasives last twice as long.
  6. +1 on the 3M spray. I use a light dusting on the paper (not the block) and let it dry for a minute before tacking it on. When the block starts getting loaded up with boogers, I wipe them off with acetone. And like these guys said, you won't need your block once you get up to 400 grit and beyond, a pad is fine.

    Funny we're talking about sanding, I'm trying to find somewhere in town to get 1500+ grit sandpaper. I'm tired of paying 3 bucks at rockler for a tiny little piece of micromesh. Think I'm going to hit up Autozone or Kragen.
  7. Too late now to go pad shopping, but I will tomorrow. Thanks guys.
  8. Ok, finally found a soft sponge like sandpaper backing pad, started to polish up to 600 grit but then, right in the middle of it, realized that 400 grit hand-rubbed is quite an appealing finish for that board. So I ended up going back to 400 grit instead of going for a mirror finish, gives an Ebony type of texture from far away, while up close kind of look like those custom made knives hand rubbed finish. I love it, plays like a dream now since, on top of being even, I rounded the edge of the fingerboard while i was at it.

    Just wondering if I could do the side of the fingerboard like this? Or are the side covered with the same type of finish the maple neck is?
  9. Pics, we want pics - that sounds great. If you have a 600-sponge that won't harm the sides, go gentle and I think you'll find it comes out beautiful.
  10. Thanks.

    I'll try to take pic this week, since we moved the time forward there should be some daylight left when I get home from work.

    Oh, and a bit of warning for those who might want to do this: wear a dust mask. The dust from sanding Ebonol gets everywhere, and, don't know if it is, but it smell toxic like hell.

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