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Frog tape didn't hold up to epoxy

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TDSLaBassiste, Oct 13, 2016.


  1. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    I attempted the pour method of applying epoxy to my fretless neck and decided to check on it about an hour after I initially poured it onto the neck. I initially poured it then used a butane torch on the bubbles and it stayed together just fine.

    When I checked, I saw that the frog tape didn't hold up much at all and now epoxy is running down the sides and is not distributed as evenly on the fretboard.

    How screwed am I and what do I do to fix this?
     
  2. Mktrat

    Mktrat Seriously, are we not doing phrasing anymore? Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2013
    The Mitten
    Pics would help A LOT!!
     
  3. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    Here's an imgur album of some of the issues, any help is much appreciated guys!

     
  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Hoo boy, that brings back memories of the last epoxy-fingerboard job that I did....

    The neck isn't ruined, but you are going to have to refinish the back of it. You have to gently file all that epoxy off of there. Start with a Bastard (fairly coarse) half-round file to cut most of it off, then switch to a finer tooth file when you get down to the finish. Don't sand the epoxy; a file will give you better control when removing the lumps and sags.

    If you are really, really careful, it's possible to file off the epoxy without harming the finish. But, realistically, you are probably going to go through the finish in some spots. Try hard not to make any divots in the wood. You are probably resigned to having to sand all the finish off of the back of the neck, and refinish it. Again, file all the lumps of epoxy off first, carefully, then sand the finish off and make it smooth.

    Two mistakes you made:

    Masking tape won't hold epoxy very well. I think the solvents in the epoxy soften the adhesive. I've had better luck with black vinyl electrical tape as the first line barrier.

    After applying the tape, wipe the whole back of the neck with Johnson's Paste Wax as an extra safety precaution. If any epoxy does leak through, it won't bond to the finish. With a little care, you can knock the blobs off without any harm.

    Don't give up. You've made some extra work for yourself, but it isn't ruined.
     
    GKon, Deak, SirMjac28 and 3 others like this.
  5. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    The back of the neck was lightly sanded and oil finished anyway, no biggie if I have to retouch that part.

    As for the low spot in the epoxy, just proceed as usual and it shouldn't be an issue in the end, right?
     
  6. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    I would go ahead and level-sand the fingerboard. It may be that the low spot will be eliminated in that step. If not, do some spot filling with epoxy and level sand again.
     
  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Take a look with a straightedge, to see if it looks like the low spot will come out. If in doubt, fill it now before you go any further. Rough sand the low spot with, like, 100 grit, mask up and lay on some more epoxy just in that spot.
     
    Dadagoboi likes this.
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    What I have learned after having the same issue, is to use a foam brush and brush a light layer of epoxy on the tape and finger board to seal the gap before the final poor
     
    Dadagoboi likes this.
  9. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    Would this leave a mark where the epoxy bonded to itself or would it be seamless?

    Would you specifically recommend level-sanding before filling the gap?
     
  10. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    At what point do I abandon ship? Because I pulled the rest of the tape off and then the epoxy on the board just started peeling off in chunks.
     
  11. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Augh, that sounds really frustrating! I concur with Bruce and everyone, I think your best bet is just to file back as much as possible using the same files he recommends. Those half rounds are the bees knees for filing on a rounded surface. They will remove the epoxy safely.

    Abandoning ship will depend on how much you have invested in the neck already and whether or not you want to start over. It does sound like all of the epoxy needs to come off at this point. If its any consolation, my first one leaked and made a huge mess too...
     
  12. TDSLaBassiste

    TDSLaBassiste Bass drops and breakdowns since 2009

    Jul 8, 2011
    Southwest Florida
    It seems some of the epoxy still didn't cure when I took the tape off so I'm going out of town for a couple days and am gonna leave it to do its thing and start sanding when I get back. The neck is from an American Standard (please don't kill me, guys) so if I do decide to just abandon this, I'll take it to a guitar tech I know after I get all the epoxy off to do the job right
     
  13. Beej

    Beej

    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I would never judge using a Fender neck as a guinea pig. I imagine you won't find too many other purists in this subforum either. Once you've built a few, its hard to see Fenders as anything other than a higher priced massively manufactured product...
     
  14. jar_fretless

    jar_fretless

    Oct 24, 2016
    Q1) When 'floating' epoxy in order to straighten a slightly concave (neck relief) fretboard, is there a thickness of epoxy that's too thin (like at the ends of the fretboard where the epoxy depth could go to zero)?

    Q2) Will the top surface of the poured epoxy automatically (gravity) be flat (not bumpy)?

    Q3) Do I need to take temperature into consideration while I'm waiting for the epoxy to cure? Should the room be cold or warm?
     
  15. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    1. Flatten the board by truss rod adjustment before pouring
    3. Epoxies cure faster with higher temperature. Too cold a room can make it take a long time. Consult the specs for the epoxy you are using.
     
  16. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Q2. Yes, somewhat, but not flat enough to use as a fretless fingerboard. You will still have to file and sand it flat and true, and then polish it. You aren't just going to pour on a perfect fingerboard surface.

    Epoxy coating a fingerboard is much, much more trouble and work than a normal fingerboard resurfacing. Even fully replacing the fingerboard is less labor than doing a good epoxy coating. I speak from direct experience. I don't do epoxy coated fingerboards any more. Not worth it, to me.
     
  17. stuntbass77

    stuntbass77

    Nov 6, 2007
    ^This is good advice^ I lucked out on my first and only epoxy job, can't stress the "luck" part enough. I taped the sides of the fretboard with clear packing tape and taped it right at the top of the fretboard, not leaving any dam. I don't remember how long I waited after using a heat gun to remove the bubbles before I removed the tape. The tape came off and only epoxy remained on the very top of the fretboard. I really believe timing was on my side. I should also state that I did this several times building layers. I can also say I will never do this again as I preferd the tone before the epoxy and it took several days to a week to totally finish the job. I really think this sort of thing should be done by a pro but wish you luck fixing your problem, hang in there and just take your time fixing it as it will be a learning experience. Even getting lucky as I did I can't stress the amount of sanding and buffing goes into this, everyday felt like ground hog day.
     
  18. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Yeah, that's my overall feeling about epoxy coating fingerboards, after having done it a few times. There's a whole lot of risk, and a whole lot of work. I mean, I'm pretty knowledgeable about this Luthier stuff, and I have a lot of experience working with epoxy. But still, the last time I took an epoxy coated fingerboard job, it took me four tries to get the pour right. A whole lot of filing off bad epoxy. When I finally did get the pour right, it still took a whole lot of filing, sanding and polishing to finish it up. The customer was happy with the job, but I ended up spending six times the labor and four times the material costs as I had estimated. That came out of my pocket. I'm not going there again.

    And the worst part is that I don't think it really has much value anyway. The epoxy isn't really much harder or wear resistant than a good piece of ebony. And I personally don't like what it does to the tone.
     
    Means2nEnd likes this.