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How I apply a lacquer finish on an aftermarket neck.

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Colt W. Knight, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    This is a brief thread on how I approach a lacquer finish on an aftermarket maple neck.

    1. I build all the necks for my guitars, so this will be a pleasant experience for me. I don't have to do any of the hard work, but I get to see the final results.

    2. I would like to thank Leon Grizzard for taking the risk and sending me his brand new Musikraft neck for finishing. If yall don't know Leon, he is a prominent forum member here on TDPRI, and a great musician. He has posted a lot of great tutorials on youtube, check this one out.





    About 7 o'clock this evening, this arrived on my doorstep.

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    Would you look at that, a brand new Musikraft neck!

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  2. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    These Musikraft necks are extremely well made, and come finish sanded and sealed. I was actually pretty impressed with shaping, sanding, contours and fret work.

    In my opinion, necks play better with rolled edges. Rolling the edges of a fretboard can be accomplished several different ways. This particular neck was almost there, so it just needed a quick wipe with 400 grit paper to roll over those sharp angles and round the fret ends.

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  3. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Now its time to get to some finish work!

    I like to hang my necks using a very sophisticated rigging, which in this case is a rope strung from a feed wagon to a feed grinder with a wire attached to a pencil.

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    WHEN USING LACQUER - WHERE A DAMNED RESPIRATOR. These 3M double filtered units are nice, and available at just about any automotive store for ~30$.

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  4. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    First, I mix my Vinyl Sealer 50% Sherwin Williams 24% Solids Vinyl Sealer and 50% Sherwin Williams K-27 Retarder Thinner.

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    1 Pass on the neck

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    When spraying a neck, its incredibly important to set up your spray gun so that it sprays a nice even light fan. You don't want splatter or real wet coats. Essentially, When I spray a neck, I grab the side, and elevate the heel so I can spray around the heel. Then I let it hang, and do one long pass up each side, then starting from the bottom, I spray left to right to cover the front and back of the neck evenly and lightly.

    After the vinyl is dry to the touch I spray on my toner coat.

    When I make toner coats, I mix 75% K-27 Retarder Thinner and 25% Sherwin Williams HiBild Nitrocellulose Lacquer. Then I add about 4-5 drops of Vintage Amber Dye and couple drops of brown dye.

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    I like mixing my toners on the thinner side for two reasons. 1 it dries quicker to the touch. 2 it dries smoother. 3 when its mixed thin, you have to spray numerous coats to build up intense color. Its also more forgiving if you don't spray a perfect pass. For example, if you mix the dye full strength, its super easy to spray splotchy finishes and get stripeing. If you mix it lightly, you can go back over light areas and fix the problem without overlapping spray getting too dark.

    1 pass toner.

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    * This is a nice classy light amber, and I am going to stick with this. If you wanted a deeper amber, simply apply more passes until the desired color is achieved.

    After the toner is dry to the touch, I spray lacquer
     

  5. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Here is a few shots of the dry-to the-touch toner coats.

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    Now for the lacquer. 50% K-27 50% HiBild Nitro

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    1 pass lacquer

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    Then I hang it up to dry

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  6. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

    Mar 8, 2006
    Austin, Texas
    That's what I'm talking about: having your Tele neck hung from a feed grinder in San Angelo, Texas to get nitro sprayed by a guy named Colt. Could the MoJo get any better? No.
     

  7. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    So, I have accomplished a very nice/smooth lacquer finish in 1 coat ( 1 pass sealer, 1 pass toner, 1 pass lacquer)

    spraying like this will yield a super thin lacquer finish, and with a touch of polishing compound will be smooth, shiny, and easy to play. This will not yield a Super high gloss deep finish. To accomplish that, you would need to put about 3 coats of lacquer. However, most of us would have to wet sand, buff, and wax a finish like that to get that super high gloss look. Let me tell you, wet sanding between frets is a PITA.

    Here is an example of the technique I just described in the thread

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    Here is an example of a super high gloss finish where I applied several coats of lacquer, wet sanded, applied buffing compounds, and waxed.

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  8. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Which result do you prefer? I have to be honest, when the guitar is brand new and shiny, the Super High Gloss looks killer, but after you put some play time on the necks, there is not much difference. And you can really only tell when your up close.

    I will post more pictures and my ideas on applying the decal and polishing after the lacquer dries.

    Regards,
    Colt
     

  9. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    For those of us who can't rely on good looks, MoJo is exceptionally important. :D
     

  10. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

    Mar 8, 2006
    Austin, Texas
    I hear you! It can even make up some in the talent department.
     

  11. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

    Aug 20, 2011
    Canada
    Hi Colt, could you explain how to go about "Rolling the edges of a fretboard" please?
     

  12. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    NOPE, trade secret. :D



    But seriously, everyone approaches this a bit different. The goal is to round over the sharp edge where the top of the fretboard and side of the neck meet.

    When you fret the neck, most of us bevel the fret ends, and this can actually sharpen the fretboard edge.

    At that point, you can take a sanding block and run it up and down the edges at several different angles, essentially rolling over the board. So now the wood edge is rolled, but you have sharpened the fret ends, yikes! In order to dull those edges, I take a single sheet of 400 grit in my hand, with my four fingers spread. Then rub that single sheet along the edges of the fretboard. This further smoothes the wood and rolls over the sharp fret edges. The Letting the fretboard edge and fret ends slide between your fingers really gets that sand paper in there to do its job. Then I repeat with 1000 grit to polish the fret ends.

    Thats how I do it, but I have seen a lot of different ways to do it. Just be careful not to add more angle on the frets beveled ends. If you do that, the strings wont want to stay on the neck while playing.
     

  13. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

    Aug 20, 2011
    Canada
    OK, I thought it was more like "burnishing" the edge of the fretboard like rubbing the sharp angle with a screwdriver shaft or something similar to create a slight round-over.
     

  14. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Rubbed finishing were actually popular in early american Luthiery. Before people could buy finishes at the store, they either made their own or spent countless hours rubbing the wood to make the outer layer smooth and hard. It was a super cool technique, some of the old time banjo makers still use it.
     

  15. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I let that hang under a fand for about an hour/hour and a half

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    Then I use the coarse side of a new kitchen scrubby to buff the neck.


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    Now you have two options. Turn the sponge around and hand polish.

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    Or, if your lazy, grab a 6$ foam buffing wheel from O'Reillys. You guys know which ones of you are lazy.....

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    After about 2-3 minutes on the buffing wheel.


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  16. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    * Just a note*

    When buffing the sides and flat spots, I just press the pad straight down and keep it moving. Between the frets, I put polishing compound on the sides and buff between the frets.

    When buffing between the frets, you have to posistion the buffing wheel so its not dragging on the edge of the board. This will buff through the lacquer. So buff one side and the middle, then flip the neck and buff the other side.
     

  17. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

    Aug 20, 2011
    Canada
    Colt, I guess we aren't understanding each other. I thought we were talking about creating a slight round-over of the fret board between the frets so there isn't a sharp edge.
     

  18. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    That is what I am talking about as well, but the process also rounds over the fret ends.
     

  19. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

    Aug 20, 2011
    Canada
    OK, now it is clear. Thanks a lot Colt, you are very helpful.
     

  20. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Forum member JBennett made a very nice Decal for Leon.

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    So I drop the decal in the warm water, and wet the headstock lightly. After 20-30 seconds I slide the decal from the paper to the headstock.

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    Pat dry with a paper towel from inside to the outside.

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    Then I use vinegar as a decal setting solution.

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    Then let that baby dry all the way.

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    Tomorrow I will mask off the headstock and bury the decal in lacquer.
     

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