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Need help/advice on removing lacquer from frets.

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by OSFlank, May 31, 2010.

  1. OSFlank

    OSFlank TDPRI Member

    92
    Apr 7, 2008
    Europe
    The frets on my 2007 Baja Telecaster are covered in the lacquer that was used on the neck. It does not affect my playing at all but aesthetically it is not very pleasing. Just looking advice on how to remove it? It is difficult to remove using a razor blade as i've tried doing this, but obviously any slip ups using this method would be harmful to my fingers or (more importantly!) the finish on the neck itself. Below are some photos of the job.

    Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    YOu need to mask the wood between and around the frets with painters tape. Then you can remove the built up lacquer with steel wool or micro cloths. start out with 00 and work your way to 0000 to polish them up nice. If you use steel wool. Remove the neck, you do not want the steel wool to build up around your pickups.
     
  3. OSFlank

    OSFlank TDPRI Member

    92
    Apr 7, 2008
    Europe
    Thanks very much for that. I shall buy some steel wool in the coming days and post pictures of the process.
     
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  5. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    To clean the lacquer from the fret edges, I use the head of a nail that's been filed with a small round file. A single nail from a strip for a clipped-head pneumatic framing nailer has an off-center head and is well suited to make one of these little tools. The lacquer sort of pops off and you don't really need to try to score a line between the fret and the wood. If you do need something sharp for scoring or scraping, i'd stick with a firmer utility knife blade rather than a single edged razor blade.

    And for what it's worth, although they don't sell the mini scrapers (yet), Stew Mac sells fret guards (which look a lot like typewriter eraser guards if that means anything to you) that protect the neck while buffing or filing the frets.
     
  6. garymaddox

    garymaddox Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 25, 2009
    Foat Wuth, Texus
    I'd avoid the steel wool unless you pull the neck off. The magnets in the pickups will get steel wool all over them. Have you just tried your thumbnail?
     
  7. ponticat

    ponticat Tele-Meister

    211
    Jan 11, 2008
    Alexandria, Virginia
    Wonderful!
    Somebody who remembers the previous century.
    In traditional drafting (pencil, paper, t-square & triangle) these devices were called eraser shields.
     
  8. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    36
    Dec 3, 2005
    SW CR IA US NA PE
    You could always use a razor blade as the guard.
     
  9. mudbean

    mudbean Friend of Leo's

    I like the Stew Mac guards - thin SS, easily bends to the radius of the fretboard. Makes polishing a snap ... I think it takes longer to tape up the neck than it does to polish the frets.

    [​IMG]

    Be VERY CAREFUL with tape, especially on mid-90s Strat necks :twisted: if you look closely at my photo of the polishing guard on a '95, you can see where the poly chipped off around the ends of the frets (because it loosened due to fret sprout) when the masking tape that was used by another guy (honest!) was removed. I have been enlisted, in all my amateur noobiness, to effect repairs on the neck finish. The dropfilling is fairly straightforward; matching the tint another story. :mad:

    mud
     
  10. OSFlank

    OSFlank TDPRI Member

    92
    Apr 7, 2008
    Europe
    Wow thanks guys, so what kind of steel wool should i buy then? from like 100 to 1000 yes? (Can you tell i am a COMPLETE novice?)
     
  11. Lost_N_Austin

    Lost_N_Austin Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    74
    Feb 18, 2004
    Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
    Here is a home made scraper.
    [​IMG]
    Match the radius of the circle to the fret size.

    Lost_N_Austin
     
  12. twangplank

    twangplank Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    42
    May 29, 2010
    Valliant Okla
    I would be careful with the steel wool. I used it on one of my tele's and it got my frets a little out of level cause some fret buzz. I would also be very careful with the lacquer thinner and tape. It can bleed through the tape and you will have something WAY more unsightly that the frets and Im a proffesional painter. It may work but I would be careful. The metal gaurd would be the way to go IMO. Stew Mac sells a dremell tool attachment that polishes frets. I would look into that
     
  13. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I wouldn't put lacquer thinner anywhere near a finished instrument.

    You removed fret material with Steel toWool? What kind of steel wool were you using?

    No need to buy the Stew Mac dremel tool, those flannel or wool discs that come with most dremels will burn that lacquer right off. Just have to ae extra careful not to melt the lacquer or change the color. You can even slow the speed down, and buff the frets using various rouges.
     
  14. mudbean

    mudbean Friend of Leo's

    A little less elbow grease, maybe? (Sorry to "pile on." ;))

    Did someone mention lacquer thinner? No, I don't think that would be a good idea at all.

    mud
     
  15. twangplank

    twangplank Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    42
    May 29, 2010
    Valliant Okla
    It was 0000 . Maybe the fret wire was softer than most but after that I shyed away from it. I dont remember who made the neck but I didnt polish very hard or long and it really made a mess of my fret level.

    :oops: I have no idea where I read that about the lacquer thinner LOL. I must have misread or got confused with another post.:lol: Must be sprayin too much lacquer these days
     
  16. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I would think if 0000 steel wool unleveled your frets that guitar strings would cut right through them.
     
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