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Now what do I do to finish?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by bassplayajew, May 31, 2002.

  1. bassplayajew


    Mar 14, 2002
    Bethesda, MD
    Hi, everybody. Today I got a package from stew-mac and in it were finishing...things? In it were spray cans of lacquer and a book on how to finish a guitar. The book says I need a spray gun and gives instructions on how to finish a guitar with a spray gun but I have cans. Will someone please tell me if this is ok?
    Also I really have no idea what I'm doing with this stuff but the book doesn't really tell me either. All I know is that i've got a can of Clear Nitrocellulose Sanding Sealer and one of Clear Satin Nitrocellulose Lacquer. Can anyone tell me what to do with these? Pretty please with sugar on top? Thanks anyways.
  2. Ok, just listen carefully and we can get you down... There's a dial in the middle of the gauge panel with numbers around it - that's the airspeed indicator. What does it read?

    umm, wait a sec....Sorry, that's the instructions for landing a plane.

    Gotta turn the page here...

    There, got it - "How to Finish a Guitar" :D

    It looks like you're going to go for a natural finish and a glossy clear coat, Right? To begin, you've got to determine if the body is ready for a finish in the first place. It should be quite smooth to the touch and, if you sight down the plane of one of the faces, it should appear shiny. If you need to do a little bit more sanding, I would start with a 600 grit. You don't know (unless Warmoth tells you) how far they've gone with their work. At least with 600 you won't back up in courseness much. After it's to the point that you feel it's perfect for finish, you can get out the spray cans. Yes, you CAN do this with the cans. It doesn't take a whole lotta skill but it does pay off if you use some patience. Go slow and methodically and it should work out fine.

    First, using a clean cotton cloth, wipe your body down with Naptha, to remove any oils or contamination from the sanding. Do it twice and be careful to not to leave any snagged fibers. While you're doing this take the can of sanding sealer and put it in a sink with hot water in it for about 10 minutes. Shake it occasionally. You are trying to warm up the mixture (NOT TO THE POINT OF EXPLOSION!!) just enough to feel warm in your hand. The spray works better and it penetrates better when it sprayed warm. Attach a wire hangar in the neck pocket of the body and hang at just below eye level. Then you can begin to spray your sanding sealer on the body. Begin by lightly coating the narrow sides of the body. These are the hardest areas to cover so doing them first makes sure they are right. After the side are lightle coated, spray up and down the lenght of the body with long overlapping strokes. Do a light coat at first paying particular attention to slightly overlap the mist patterns. Try to do the coat in one pass and you'll get it smooth. After both sides are done let it dry the recommended time. It should be really hard to the touch before the next step. When it's dry and cured, you should buff the sanding sealer with 0000 steel wool to smooth any high spots. Use only this grade of wool - anything lower like 000 will scratch the surface requiring resanding. You might find some spots that aren't coated very well. That's OK, just hang the body and repeat the first steps. These sealer coats are to prepare for the lacquer later and need to be complete to make the best finish. A couple of coats usually does most woods.

    The lacquer goes on in much the same way. Start with the edges and then do the faces. One coat at a time with plenty of cure time in between. After each coat is cured, you'll want to wet sand the surface with 1200 grit wet/dry paper. You are simply leveling each coat and removing any dust particles that will inevitably drop in on you. The smoother each coat is, the better the next one will be. Be sure to wipe the body down with Naptha after each coat just like before - a fingerprint is disasterous at these stages. If you should get a run or sag in the lacquer, don't panic. Keep a hairdryer handy. If you see a run or sag developing, just lightly blow it with the hairdryer until it gets thick and stops gaining momentum. Don't try to remove a sag with more lacquer!! It sounds like common sense but you'd be surprised at how many people try to do this. When the coat witht the sag dries, you can sand out the imperfection and go on with the next layer. Be prepared to apply 6 - 10 coats of lacquer. This stuff dries to a thin but hard layer and to get the kind of build-up you want will take awhile. Even if your body is a tight-grained hardwood it'll take this much. If it's an ash or mahogany you'll have to use a grain pore filler before finishing and even then it'll take a bunch of coats. I suggest you order a couple more cans of lacquer because one is only gonna give you about 4 coats.

    As you continue coating - usually after 4 or 5 - you might not need or want to sand between coats. If you've got the hang of good overlap pattern spraying and are getting good smooth finishes then sanding get less and less important. Just keep at it and eventually you'll get to where you won't be able to see the benefit of more coats. That's when you can stop.

    I bet the Pkr2 will have some additional details about the process - filling in the holes I've left.
  3. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Great post, Hambone.

    I don't think I can add anything to what you've said.

    In fact, the tip about warming the spray can is a new one for me. I'll file that one away for future use.

  4. after youve done all that... attached the neck.. etc... then you must do the Extreme final step.....

    play the damn thing!!! that is the propper finish....

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