Removing Poly from guitar body

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by Webfoot, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Webfoot

    Webfoot Tele-Holic

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    Just hypothetically speaking...

    If I had a Baja tele body and wanted to strip the paint down to the wood...

    1) How would I do this (chemicals?, chisel? sanders?)

    2) How long would it take?

    3) What would the body wood like?
     
  2. Mightyaxeman

    Mightyaxeman Tele-Afflicted

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    Heat gun and paint scrapper. I've heard a damp rag and an iron will do the trick but I've never tried it.
     
  3. wemedge

    wemedge TDPRI Member

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    Not a Baja, but a 'MIM '50s:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    May be atypical- the finish started to lift in some spots so I just used a pick and carefully lifted pieces of the finish off the body. After that I sanded down the pore filler that was left with 220 grit. I plan to refinish with wipe on poly.

    Mine turned out to be a 3-piece body, nice grain.

    wemedge
     
  4. Webfoot

    Webfoot Tele-Holic

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    wemedge... did you use a heat gun to strip the paint?

    what kind of heat gun?

    nice looking wood.
     
  5. cband7

    cband7 Friend of Leo's

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  6. Webfoot

    Webfoot Tele-Holic

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    cband7... thanks... great link

    So when done, you don't end up with mega burn marks that can't be sanded out?
     
  7. wemedge

    wemedge TDPRI Member

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    I did not use a heat gun. The finish just flaked off, for some reason.
     
  8. Webfoot

    Webfoot Tele-Holic

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    wemedge... you mean you didn't do anything to the guitar and the paint just started peeling off?
     
  9. wemedge

    wemedge TDPRI Member

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    Right. I first noticed that the paint had lifted where the neck plate sat. I tried to glue it down but it lifted again, so I started picking at it. I wanted to remove it anyway because the finish was so thick! After that it started coming out pretty much in flakes and big pieces, like an M&M shell. Maybe the surface of my tele wasn't properly prepared before painting?

    wemedge
     
  10. brians356

    brians356 Tele-Meister

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  11. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

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    I think cband7's link is a little misleading where the "job" of the particulate mask is concerned. We need to be clear that such a mask is useful when there is dust in the air, and of course there can be when scraping off paint chips. The issue of fumes coming off of softening paint is entirely different, and they'll go right through a mask like that. Unless you've got plenty of fresh air circulating, I'd be using a cartridge respirator, not a dust mask.

    Having said that, a heat gun is definitely the way to go. Such a shame no one has ever recommended it on any other threads here...
     
  12. Webfoot

    Webfoot Tele-Holic

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    Any maximum temp for heat gun suggested?

    When I googled it they range from 500F to >1000F

    Single settings, multiple settings

    Kind of like a soldering iron... high wattage for big metal but l5 watts for small components. So I know I don't want to over 'cook' things.

    Gun model suggestion for those that have done this before with success?
     
  13. KokoTele

    KokoTele Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Go for a higher wattage gun with a low heat setting. Start someplace that's not so noticeable, like on the back near the rear strap or something. You'll want to learn to get the paint hot enough so that it bubbles and lifts, but not so hot that you scorch anything. Little wisps of smoke are the beginning of scorching.

    Polyurethanes soften and melt a little as they warm, which is why it's best to get the paint to bubble away from the surface. Then you just get the corner of your scraper under the edge of the bubble and lift it away. If you're scraping the paint from the surface you'll be pushing gooey paint around, which will leave an uneven paint residue on the surface that you'll have to sand.

    If you're careful while you do it, you won't have any problems.
     
  14. brians356

    brians356 Tele-Meister

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    Look at that Stew-Mac Trade Secret article. He's learning as he goes. Don't apply too much heat to start, and never in one spot for long. Heat, probe, heat some more, probe etc until you see the film softening and starting to lift. Get a scraper under it, start loosening it and heating as you go. You will soon get the hang of it and start making fast progress. There's not way to figure it out except by diving in and being cautious to start.

    I don't think that film is going to gas unless you get it way too hot, enough to melt or scorch it. I personally wouldn't bother with a respirator.

    Brian
     
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