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Question about removing finish

ShawnShawn Valley Center, Kansas✭✭✭✭
Well, a couple of questions really...

1. I have sanded down the poly finish on my DG-255's soundboard to wood, but I'm having some difficulty sanding the finish around where the fingerboard meets the top. Those of you that have done this before, how did you sand down those small areas of the top around the fingerboard?

2. After I finish sanding, is it ok to use Naptha (lighter fluid) or whatever to clean the top? I don't want to use a cleaner that is going to damage the top in any way.

After I figure out how to do these two things I'm planning to put on sanding sealer and then a Shellac finish. Also keep in mind I have a few power tools, but have only used sanding paper and elbow grease so far. Any help is appreciated.

Comments

  • KlezmorimKlezmorim South Carolina, USANew
    Posts: 160
    Welcome to our happy "family," Shawn!

    1. Try a Dremel tool with a small sanding disk. Use a couple layers of masking tape to protect the edge of the fingerboard.

    2. Naptha is ok. Allow to dry thoroughly. Don't use any alcohol-based solvent, as alcohol absorbs water from the air (if it's not already in the mix). Any water will tend to raise the wood grain.

    Now a question for you: Why shellac? Shellac is sensitive to moisture *and* alcohol. I've seen the damage that a glass of brandy can do to a shellac finish. I've also seen what happens to a shellac finish from the long-term friction from the sweaty forearms of players and it ain't pretty. Besides, to get a truly beautiful finish from shellac, you have to employ the French Polish technique. It's not too bad a project on a mandolin, but a guitar can be a Royal Pain.

    You can buy high-quality nitrocellulose lacquer in aerosol cans from places such as Stewart-MacDonald or ReRanch.com. With a little practice and lots of buffing, you can get a factory-like finish without buying spray equipment, assuming this is a one-off project.
  • ShawnShawn Valley Center, Kansas✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 325
    Hi Klezmorim, thanks for the help. I chose Shellac because I have heard it lets instruments resonate a little better than other types of lacquer. I'm honestly not too concerned about looks, and a little wear and tear is not a big deal...on that note...do you have any examples (pics) of Shellac wear on guitars? I guess I figured if I don't like the Shellac I can always take it off, and replace it with Nitro if need be.

    I don't want too thick a coat of finish on the guitar, and this being the first time I have ever refinished an acoustic, I thought I might try a few different things to see what works best.
  • KlezmorimKlezmorim South Carolina, USANew
    Posts: 160
    Shawn wrote:
    ...do you have any examples (pics) of Shellac wear on guitars? I guess I figured if I don't like the Shellac I can always take it off, and replace it with Nitro if need be.

    I don't want too thick a coat of finish on the guitar, and this being the first time I have ever refinished an acoustic, I thought I might try a few different things to see what works best.

    No, I don't have any pictures, but go to any Bluegrass festival of decent size and look for the parking-lot pickers. In no time you'll see someone flailing away at an old Gibson guitar or mandolin where the finish under their right arm has turned into a black gummy mess. I've even seen this on Martins with their nitrocellulose lacquer. Some players body chemistry oozes G-d knows what, but their perspiration does a number on the instrument's finish. For that reason, I wear a cut-off athletic sock on my right arm if I'm playing in short-sleeves. It reduces friction and keeps my guitar tops from being stripped.

    Keep in mind also that shellac is a "gummier" finish than nitro. Because of its better hardness, nitro can be applied as a thinner finish than shellac to offer equal protection. I also have my suspicions that nitro's higher hardness versus shellac's makes an improvement in the overall tone of the instrument, but I have no proof. It may just be the relative thinness of the nitro finish.

    Whichever finish you choose, be aware that it takes some time for the solvent to completely evaporate from the finish. It will take awhile for either finish to achieve its final hardness, so if you suspect that shellac may be "deadening" your instrument's tone or volume, give it a couple months before your decide to strip it.
  • badjazzbadjazz Maui, Hawaii USA✭✭✭ Rodrigo Shopis, YL Cholet
    Posts: 127
    Klezmorim wrote:
    Some players body chemistry oozes G-d knows what, but their perspiration does a number on the instrument's finish. For that reason, I wear a cut-off athletic sock on my right arm if I'm playing in short-sleeves. It reduces friction and keeps my guitar tops from being stripped.

    I know this is off the main point of this subject, but I have bought one of these:
    premium-sleeve-new.jpg

    They are available at http://www.oasishumidifiers.com/sleeves2.html
    They are nice padded forearm sleeves that I use at home to keep the finish on my guitars nice. These are a good way to go, however, I must admit I also have the old cut off sock that I sometimes use, too.
  • ShawnShawn Valley Center, Kansas✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 325
    Thought some people on here might like to see the finished result. I also decided to sand down the headstock and repaint it (although the picture is of terrible quality), then finish it with Shellac. I think it turned out quite nice, but the camera did pick up some glare. The soundboard is a Nitrocellulose sanding sealer with Shellac as the top finish.

    Sound wise, it increased the volume incredibly, but also gave it a much more treble leaning, which is what I was going for. I had already updated the bridge with a Dell Arte Ebony one which increase the volume substantially, installed a gold plated DR tailpiece and installed new tuners, so this is the last modification I plan to make on this guitar. I would recommend this to anyone thinking about doing a similar project.
  • KlezmorimKlezmorim South Carolina, USANew
    Posts: 160
    Shawn,

    Two questions for *you*:

    1. Did you use commercially-prepared shellac or did you dissolve flake?
    2. How did you apply the shellac (spray, French polish...)?

    I'm happy to read that you're pleased with the results. Dontcha wish ya had before- and -after sound clips? ;)
  • loumt123loumt123 New
    Posts: 32
    Wow! It looks like a completely different guitar. I much prefer that to the orange tint. Please, do make some sound clips.
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