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Headstock waterslide technique: which to choose?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by stale facet, May 21, 2017.

  1. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Dec 29, 2010
    Illinois
    Yes, that's very noble and all, but how should the OP accomplish what he wants? It's not impossible, it's not even hard. He very clearly outlined his goals. All it takes is some clear instructions. What are they?
     

  2. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    I disagree. I am not going to explain it again. We're going to have to disagree.
     

  3. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Dec 29, 2010
    Illinois
    Okay, we'll disagree.

    The point remains, though, all you've done is outline a bunch of reasons that the OP can't do it. Several of us have attempted to be helpful to his cause, only to be told that we're being unhelpful and that for vague and laughable reasons generations to come will judge us as inferior.

    What he wants to do is not difficult. He may well fail, but there's also a very real probability that with some guidance from us and attention to detail on his part that the project will turn out to his satisfaction. Unless he at least makes an attempt, he'll never master it to the degree that you claim to have.

    They guy came here for help, and this thing degenerated into a silly squabble. Why not just try to help the guy rather than obstruct?
     

  4. eallen

    eallen Tele-Meister

    Without intending on throwing water on a fire I make all my own decals by simply buying watershed blank sheets on Amzn and printing them on a laser printer. Probably pay $10 for a pack of 4-6 sheets and make enough for numerous guitars from a sheet, including mistakes. I do set the printer on transparency to get the ink to stay on better.
     

  5. stale facet

    stale facet TDPRI Member

    10
    Aug 7, 2014
    Massachusetts
    Hey everyone, sorry for the silence but life gets in the way sometimes.

    I appreciate all the answers, and there's definitely a lot to consider here. One thing, about the above quote, is at least I'm not paying for the decal! I'm printing my own.

    I've also realized that in talking about "lines" (which is a concern), I'm also really looking to eliminate "silvering" of the clear part of the decal.

    What I'm most curious about is this:
    If Fender uses decals (and not silkscreening) to put their logos on—how do they do it so there's no silvering or lines? Can't we just do the same thing?
     
    eallen likes this.

  6. stale facet

    stale facet TDPRI Member

    10
    Aug 7, 2014
    Massachusetts
    Exactly!
     

  7. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

    Dec 29, 2010
    Illinois
    Even Fender doesn't always get it right. If you look at a selection of their guitars you can often see the decal from some angles. Some of them are darned good. They've got a big advantage over the rest of us, they've done zillions of them.

    I think the secret is using a good quality transfer paper, one that's crystal clear and very glossy. If the surface of the label is somewhat matte that's when you see that silver reflection in certain lights.
     

  8. eallen

    eallen Tele-Meister

    There are several past threads that included decals that would answer your question in detail. Yes you can get a decal with no "silvering." What I do, it is up to someone else to decide if they can.
    -Sand my headstock with 320.
    -Put a coat of lacquer or sanding sealer depending on the wood to seal the wood. Let it dry overnight.
    -Block sand area smooth to remove grain variation. It may take more than 1 coat on some cases. If the grain is visible the decal may bridge over the recesses causing color variation/"silvering".
    - Apply watershed decal ensuring all bubbles are out and pat dry with cloth. Rubbing can rub off color. Let dry overnight. If it is not totally dry you will get a color variation under the decal from the finish blushing, which maybe what you are calling silvering.
    - Apply a mist layer of finish, let dry. Apply another light coat and watch for finish reaction. Let dry a few and apply a normal coat.
    - After about 6 coats of lacquer over 2 days I will let it cure for 2 days.
    -Block sand with 600 grit and mineral spirits lightly over decal without going far enough to get into the ink. I am just knocking down some of the edge visibility. I never risk going totally flush at this point
    - Apply another 3-4 coats of lacquer and let cure for 3-4 weeks.
    -Block sand decal until it is flush and all lines disappear with 600 grit.

    Done. You don't have to use lacquer but you will have to lightly sand between coats on other coatings.

    Hope that helps.
     
    stale facet and NilsZippo like this.

  9. Speedy454

    Speedy454 Tele-Meister

    421
    Oct 1, 2013
    Highland, IL
    I have successfully used virtually the same technique as eallen many times with lacquer, minwax poly and tru oil. Lacquer, since it melts into itself with every coat, is about the easiest.

    The trick with tru oil and minwax poly, is after the decal is buried and block sanded dead flat, apply one more ultra thin coat to hide the witness lines.
    Since you are new to this, remember that if you want truly dead flat surfaces, do not sand with your hand. Always use a flat sanding block, sized to what you are sanding. For a headstock sized area, your block should be roughly the size of a 9 volt battery. Auto body supply stores sell these nifty little rubber 3M squeegees, about the size of a business card. Pick up a couple. They are cheap. Cut one in half for sanding smaller areas. Being flat blocks of rubber, you can wet sand with them forever.

    And yes, I too found out the hard way to use the thinnest glossy decal stock I could find on The Bay.
    After printing a sheet of decals, I shoot a thin coat of some sort of finish on them to lock the ink in place. The first one I tried, the ink dissolved when I whetted the decal.
     

  10. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Mar 2, 2003
    Lawndale CA
    Yes - and if you can't find out the thickness and compare it to others, avoid - it's probably thick! When Fender uses decals...a very rare occurrence on modern guitars except vintage-style custom shop models - they use extremely thin commercial decal material that is dye-printed and heat-sealed in bulk. It's thinner than even the thinnest "retail" decal paper you can use for inkjet or laser printing.

    I always spray them with lacquer - I also finish with lacquer, and it melts into itself creating a seamless coat of clear. None of it can be applied too heavily, though, without damaging the decal. Finish coats are applied in very light passes, 3 per "coat".
     

  11. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    You can use a spray can of nitro or a can of poly. I've done both. Most necks now days are poly sprayed. I prefer poly spray. It covers decals better, blends the decal edges well and wet-sands and buffs nicely. It also doesn't require the curing time that nitro does. It doesn't crack over time or shrink like nitro does. It's tough to find in tinted varieties and I'm not sure why. Nitro can be bought in various amber tinted shades. Clear poly does darken wood and will give you a nice vintage-look, but it's not the orange-y looking finish that nitro sometimes gives. I use 3-4 costs, wet-sand with 800 grit, then 1000 and buff on a pedestal buffer. That simplifies the job. Here's the steps I use:
    1) Mask the edges and back of the headstock, keeping the face exposed.
    2) Tape a towel around the length of the neck to avoid overspray.
    3) Put the decal on and let it dry overnight - you want to avoid any moisture under the finish.
    4) Spray a light coat first, to set the ink and let dry about an hour.
    5) Do another coat, go a little heavier to get a good even coat on the whole surface.
    6) Repeat in about an hour, until you have 4 good coats on the peghead.
    7) Let dry a day or so and start sanding. Use a small block to back the sand-paper.
    8) Soak your paper about a half-hour - it loosens the grit in the paper and removes the high-edges
    of the decal, leaving the surface smooth.
    9) The decal film will disappear under the clear-coat and only the ink will be visible after buffing.
    10) If you don't have a bench buffer, use Stew-Mac's polishing compound with a lot of elbow-grease
    and you'll get it buffed-up nicely.
    11) When you buff, you'll also be blending the surface to the edges of the wood. Poly blends very
    nicely.
    12) That's about it.
    I used to do these with nitro, but now I use poly. If you're going over a decal, clear poly won't add color to your logo, amber nitro will add yellow color to your decal art.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017

  12. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 21, 2014
    Florida
    This is great! Wish everyone was this thorough in their step-by-steps. I need to design my logo.
     

  13. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    Here's the spray poly I've used with good results. It covers evenly and flows nicely. You can use wood dyes or stain before clear-coating with this stuff, if you need to add color to the wood.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
    stale facet likes this.

  14. Lacking Talent

    Lacking Talent Tele-Meister

    433
    Oct 22, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Perhaps too simple-minded a question, PJ55, but better safe than sorry, I suppose: that stuff will work as a clear coat over a solid paint color, right?

    Thanks!
     

  15. eallen

    eallen Tele-Meister

    It depends on your solid color finish type. If your solid is lacquer then no because lacquer has to be able to gas off over time. If your solid color is enamel or poly then it should. Always do a small test piece of in doubt.
     

  16. stale facet

    stale facet TDPRI Member

    10
    Aug 7, 2014
    Massachusetts
    Thanks eallen, this is helpful.

    The term "silvering" was something I saw in these forums—or so I thought. If I were to explain it, it's where the clear part of the decal can be seen. Perhaps it is caused by the issue you mentioned.

    I know there are a lot of threads on here about this topic, but the advice in the different threads ends up saying fairly different things, which is why I started this one. The answers have been helpful. In other threads, I've had advice such as:

    ...which is different than your advice.

    I was also amused to see this:

    from Silverface. I was surprised Fender wasn't just silkscreening their headstocks—which is what I had first considered as an approach instead of the decal, since silkscreening is something I've done. It also seems easier than these methods.

    However, the block sanding and wet sanding advice is great. I'll try these. I'm concerned because the design I'm using has a large area in it that needs to be transparent.

    Thanks again. I hope to share some positive results in the near future.
     

  17. Peltogyne

    Peltogyne Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 29, 2012
    Northern California
    By silvering I think you mean when the adhesion under the decal releases a bit and the air gap reflects, like an air bubble underwater will. I've accidentally caused this by pressing too hard on the freshly placed decal with a paper towel trying to get all the water out. I think I also squeezed some of the glue out letting it fail in certain areas that then look silvery. I get better results when I lightly press with the paper towel and then impatiently wait until it dries on its own.

    The closer to a glass like finish I get before I lay the decal down also seems to help. Try laying one of your decals down on a piece of glass and it should be perfect.
     

  18. Peltogyne

    Peltogyne Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 29, 2012
    Northern California
    Can you cut it out? I'd worry that a larger decal area is a higher risk for separation down the road.
     

  19. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    I always let the decal dry overnight. All should be dry by then. I've never gotten bubbles under the surface, unless there's water under the decal. I use a scissors to cut around the art and get rid of all the extra clear, decal possible. You know, you can also go for the vintage look, where you don't buff the surface flat, giving you the 60s look of just the decal on the wood. But, I'm a '70s guy and like to end-up with a flat smooth decal, under a few coats of poly.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017

  20. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 27, 2003
    Philadelphia, PA
    Min-Wax does have a few colors of tinted-poly-spray called "Polyshades." Never used it but I would like to give it a try. But again, you probably want your tint under the decal, not over, since it will color the decal. I always go with tint under, clear over the decal.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017

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