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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Advice Needed - Issues after final sand/buff

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by andrewbass, Jun 19, 2017.

  1. andrewbass

    andrewbass NEW MEMBER!

    Jun 19, 2017

    First time poster here. I am working on my first guitar refinish. I know its not a tele but I have read a lot of good info on here and was hoping you guys would help me out. I used Stewmac Nitro rattle cans. Did 4 coats black, then went through four cans of clear gloss over two weekends. Let sit 1 week. I did my final sanding (800-2000 wet) and buffing (coarse, medium, fine, swirl remover) using sandpaper and polish that came with the Stew Mac starter kit (which is a pretty good deal for abrasives, 4 cans of clear and polish)

    After the final polish it came out shiny but in the light you can see the entire body is still covered in light swirls, and scratches. I am guessing I need to go back to wet sanding. My question is, what grit do I start with, 800 , 1000? Should I shoot more lacquer so I have some more build to handle another round of sanding and polishing? Can I polish out these scratches without going back to wet sanding?

    I guess I can sand down to 600 and "start over" -- reshoot black and clear coats, but I am afraid that I will just get the same result again. I think my problem is that without experience I am not sure which scratches will sand out/buff out in subsequent steps and which will not. I was careful to clean my sand paper often but I did not change the water, which I will definitely do next time. I also and not sure when I am done with each grit. Any other tips to fix/eliminate this issue?

    I have a couple abralon pads too that I did not use for the final finishing. Does anyone have good experience with them? I was thinking the soft backing would help take out some of the scratches without being as aggressive on the finish and less likely to burn through. Thank you all in advance!


  2. lammie200

    lammie200 Tele-Holic

    Jan 11, 2013
    San Francisco

    I would make sure that your nitro is cured, but I don't know how long that will take. You can probably use various auto finish finish cutting compounds, but I have had luck with the stuff in the link above.

  3. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 24, 2015
    South Lyon, MI
    Nowadays, whenever I see a brilliant, glossy, finish, I look up close for swirls and the like. Your finish is about the best I've ever been able to achieve on painted wood. Not a lot of history doing this, though, so am anxious to see the feedback you get.

    That said, I think nitro should cure longer than a week, especially if you have 4 cans of material on there. The SM schedule suggests 10 - 14 days, so I would take that as a minimum.

    If the finish is stable, though, I don't know that I would go back to sand paper. I'd be afraid of sanding thru. Maybe the best you can do with those fine swirls is going through the rubbing compound and swirl remover progression again? Maybe don't lean into the buffing if that is what you did...let the product do the work.

  4. freddarl82

    freddarl82 TDPRI Member

    Nov 10, 2012
    I'm no finishing pro, but here is what I've found doing a neck:

    PATIENCE! I know, I know, the urge is to get this done and get the guitar assembled. But, more curing time is a good thing. I used Stew Mac and Reranch rattle cans (the two work together nicely). I let it cure for two weeks, then started the finishing process. When done, it felt great, but when I actually started playing it, it still seemed to "grab" more than I would have liked. I let it sit a few more weeks. Then I went back and used 600 grit, 1000 grit, and 3000 grit wet-sanding. These are still, technically, sandpapers, and can be found at an auto supply store in the paint section. Then, I went on to even higher grits with what are often called "finishing papers," 6000 and 8000. I'm not even sure if polishing compounds get you much finer than this. The finish on the back of this neck is amazing -- although I used satin nitro, the back of the neck looks more like high gloss.

    I would suggest building up a few more coats of clear, then let it SIT for at least a month. Then get back to work on it.
    h2odog likes this.

  5. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Dec 29, 2010
    If the finish hasn't cured you'll never get rid of the swirl marks. I'd let it hang for a month or so, then start over with rubbing compound and polishing compound. Follow that with swirl mark remover and you should have a good finish.
    h2odog and Stefanovich like this.

  6. JORear

    JORear Tele-Meister

    Jun 11, 2017
    Wet sand starting at something greater than 500 and work up to 2000 grit. Then you can polish it with car wax. I used 0000 wire pad before buffing and it worked well for me.
    BTW, black shows all flaws. Good luck.

  7. dkmw

    dkmw Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2016
    Florida USA
    As JORear says, black is absolutely the hardest color to get polished out cleanly - it shows every flaw. It looks like you did a great job getting the paint laid out well.

    One week really should be enough cure time for quality lacquer, but lots of guys advise waiting longer.

    It's hard to tell how deep those scratches are from pics. Can you feel any of them if you pull a fingernail across them? If so, you probably need to sand again. (although if you started with 800 grit paper I can't see how you could produce a deep scratch, unless something got hung in your paper).

    If the scratches aren't that deep, you should be able to re-polish and get some improvement. Polishing is an art unto itself. The compounds are like a variable/decreasing abrasive; you need to work each grade through its cycle of breaking down. To get the final mirror finish on black is the hardest, though - lots of swirl remover and wax:)

  8. dkmw

    dkmw Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2016
    Florida USA
    Hey welcome to the forum too!!

  9. poolshark

    poolshark Tele-Holic

    Mar 20, 2011
    My two cents:
    1. Sand in one direction per grit. No circles. Switch directions when you switch grits. This way, it's easy to see when the scratches from your previous grit have disappeared.
    2. In your current situation, start with your finest abrasive and work backward. You could probably start at 1200-1500 here, because those scratches look pretty coarse. Once you've eliminated your swirly scratches, move back up in grits per #1.

  10. sonofiam

    sonofiam Tele-Meister

    Jan 19, 2017
    Inland Northwest
    PLEASE PLEASE: Be careful with some of the advice given here. It's going to create more if a problem if you do. It seems like some of them googled it but don't have any actual experience. I'd like to see the guitars some of these guys have actually finished, I'd be willing to bet they look a lot worse than yours.

    Without actually being able to examine in person, it looks like you haven't let the finish cure, mentioned by a few here. It can take as long as 30-45 days depending upon weather/humidity for a finish to completely cure and be ready for final buffing/polishing. Can you feel the scratches with your fingers/fingernail? The scratches appear to be from the buffing process and the finish still being 'soft' but don't look that deep. If you can't feel them, you should be good to start with a fine rubbing compound and progress to a swirl mark remover. The key to any good polishing job, once the finish is cured, is to keep your buffing pad very clean and moist. I err on the side of being too wet as too dry will create tiny balls of finish as it heats the surface, making it soft, creating your swirl marks.

    If you can feel the swirl marks, you'll need to wet sand again. Mix a little soap with your water to help lubricate the paper and keep it from drying out too fast. Begin on the back where the neck plate goes and start sanding with 2000 grit. If it cuts too quickly, move up to a 2400, if it takes too much effort, move down to a 1600. You've done a nice job applying the finish, I'd hate to see you have to start over. Good luck and keep us posted.

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