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painting and epoxy-ing fretless neck

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by pandaman37, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. pandaman37

    pandaman37 Banned

    Sep 17, 2009
    Clovis, CA
    ok, so ive had this acoustic bass for a while, and i took the frets off and sanded it about a month ago or so, and ive been procrastinating since.

    anyway, i want to epoxy it, but before i do, i wanted to ask a few questions. (just so you know ive read the fretless sticky)

    i want the fretboard to be completely bare, none of the lines or dots showing, so would the epoxy do this? if not, could i use paint to do that without the paint mucking up the coats of epoxy?

    its a rosewood fretboard, so i should do around 5 even coats, correct?
  2. Reticle


    Jul 24, 2009
    Charleston SC
  3. Willicious

    Willicious Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    Bend, Oregon
    I just did this same kind of conversion last spring.
    Don't know if dying the epoxy achieves much opacity, so hopefully someone else chimes in there.

    However, here's what I did:
    Sand > wood putty > sand more > grain filler > 7-8 coats hardware store spray lacquer > sand w/radius block > 3-4 coats clear System III epoxy > level/crown after final epoxy coat with StewMac sanding beam > final wet sanding up to 1500 grit > buff w/compound

    Before epoxy (just paint):

    Leveling/Crowning Epoxy:
    I would use more coats next time. Like, probably 6-7 total.


    System III is a great product.
    Means2nEnd likes this.
  4. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    To revive this thread, has anybody ever epoxy'd over a sticker inlay?
  5. funkomatic


    Sep 28, 2006
    Bookmarking this thread so I can find it later!
  6. Hi Will, do you have any tips on painting the fingerboard? I'd like to do the same thing myself and have some questions. If you could please answer some of these it would be greatly appreciated. Also, I realize you did this like 5 years ago, so I understand if you can't recall the details well.

    - What kind of wood was the fretboard initially (rosewood, maple, etc)?

    - Did you do anything to clean, treat, or prepare it after the defret but before painting to remove any oils or anything of the sort?

    - Did you apply a primer before the paint/lacquer?

    - Is this sort of the lacquer you used?

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2015
  7. Willicious

    Willicious Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    Bend, Oregon
    The neck has a standard Fender rosewood fretboard, which I defretted and filled the fret slots with wood veneer which I sourced from a local hobby shop.
    As you see in the pics, I used a long aluminum sanding beam from StewMac. I consider this tool mandatory for this project.
    I believe I cleaned the rosewood with a solvent, then I filled the pores with a few passes of grain filler, then top coated with many coats of Ace Hardware acrylic lacquer spray paint. Nothing fancy, just a lot of elbow grease and attention to detail.
    As I recall, I had to do quite a few passes of pore filler, and sanding, and the same with the lacquer stage, too, until I had a smooth fingerboard. It took a fair amount of effort to remove all of the witness lines where the frets had once been.
    Once I got the fingerboard looking good, I coated it with System 3 Epoxy. More sanding with the radius beam. Repeat, until I felt I had about 1/16" depth. Once I was happy with the epoxy, I buffed it out and installed the neck.
    Fun project.
  8. Great info - I appreciate it!

    Any idea what solvent you may have used on the rosewood?
  9. Willicious

    Willicious Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    Bend, Oregon
    Can't say for sure. Probably lacquer thinner. Also, forgot to mention, I pulled the original dot markers and replaced with wood plugs at the time I glued in the wood veneers.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  10. Great. I'm going to do this in a few weeks. Thanks again!
  11. gpx1200


    Apr 24, 2013
    spencer mass
    you will be better off just tinting the epoxy and using it as your paint and grain filler as well, any kind of paint or filler between the wood and epoxy will hinder the bond of the epoxy and the epoxy is so thick the grain filler is simply un needed.
    just fill your fret slots and tint the first few coats of epoxy until you like the color then finish with more coats of clear epoxy for a deep shine

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