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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

SAnding paint off with sand paper?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by The Teleist, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. The Teleist

    The Teleist Tele-Meister

    Sep 9, 2009
    Hi all,
    I was a little depressed yesterday, so i thought what better way to cheer myself up than take the paint off my Tele Custom II? :D I don't have access to a sanding machine or chemicals to do the job so I thought I'd get some sandpaper and do it by hand.

    Will this work? I'm not planning to re paint it, but i would like to stain it a walnut colour - but this is beside the point.

    Anybody used just sandpaper to take paint off? Reccomendations?

    The Teleist

  2. Shepherd

    Shepherd Friend of Leo's

    Jan 17, 2008
    Maple Ridge, Canada
    If you are going to stain it your going to have to strip it to bare wood. If it's a solid colour now you have no idea of what the bare wood looks like, could be made of several pieces that dont look good or match. Sanding by hand will take hours and hours and it wont be long before you start regretting it. Better off to get a cheap unfinished body, you'll probably spend that much on sandpaper anyway.

  3. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire


    And that my friends deserves the truth of the year award. I always buy less sand paper than I need. Buy a lot..or better yet, don't do it! Please!


  4. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Sanding paint off is a tremendously horrible idea.

    Here is why I say that.

    1. Paint will clog the sand paper meaning you will have to change sand paper more than you will be sanding.
    2. Guitar paint is thick and engineered not to come off, so you will have more than hours of sanding, we are talking days.
    3. Thicker grit papers that will remove paint quickly will gouge the wood, and round over the edges. You will then have to sand the wood A LOT as well.
    4. You could try wet sanding all that paint off to save sand paper, and here is what will happen. You will make a horrible mess, you will hate it, and you will probably get some water in key ares and make the wood swell inappropriately.
    5. NO,NO, NO!!!

    Also, as said above, you have no idea what the wood looks like under that paint. It may have been painted for a reason. Stripping the paint off might reveal horrible grain, ugly grain, mismatched colored grain, filler, multiple pieces, verneer (which you might sand through).

    You'd be much better off to save for a new body and finish it the way you like. Refinishing a guitar is harder than building a new one.

  5. tweeet

    tweeet Tele-Holic

    Oct 2, 2008
    My younger brother started sanding the paint off his Fender November 1992...and he's only now finished the back !!!!!


  6. Cavi

    Cavi Tele-Meister

    Dec 29, 2009
    Red Bluff
    If you do decide to refinish it, go to walmart or home depot and buy a cheap palm sander, or you might even try Harbor freight and tools, they are not expensive at all and do a great job, well worth the 20 or 30 dollars they cost.

  7. flyingbanana

    flyingbanana Poster Extraordinaire


    After reading that, I don't even want to work on my guitar now. :lol:

  8. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    I don't think that I can emphasize just how laborious, tedius and awful stripping paint with sanding paper is to do by hand.

    Palm sanders, 1/4 sheet sanders, and random orbital sanders will all clog just as quickly as sanding blocks. They will leave swirl marks that need to be hand sanded out. Its hard not to round over or go too deep on the edges with a corded hand sander.

  9. Colt W. Knight

    Colt W. Knight Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jan 21, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    Hahahaha.... sad, but true. People can get away sanding the paint off outdoor furniture, but a guitar, to do it right, my head hurts thinking about it.

  10. PaisleyRocks

    PaisleyRocks Tele-Holic

    Oct 12, 2007
    Sanding to remove the paint is a bad idea. Purchase a heat gun (a blow dryer should work as well) and a scraper. Round off the edges of the scraper.

    Start heating an area of the body with the heat gun, while digging in to it with the scraper - you don't want to leave the heat gun over the body very long, or it will scorch the wood (I would say about 30 seconds, or just as the paint starts to bubble). You should be able to work your scraper under the paint pretty quickly. Use the heat gun to loosen the finish, and your scraper should pop it right off.

    Easy as pie, should be done in under half an hour.

  11. Del Pickup

    Del Pickup Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 24, 2008
    New Zealand
    +1 on what Goluphi says.

    I used my wife's hairdrier to remove the poly finish from my old MIM strat and the fotoflame finish on my old tele. It wasn't easy but it didn't take too long and gave a good end result. Maybe took about a day on each body.

    Of course, you've no idea what the timber will be like under the existing finish but, if it's not particularly nice to look at, you can always refinish it in a solid colour.

    A change in colour is sometimes as good as having a new guitar to play!

    It worked for me with both instruments that I refinished. I love them more than I did previously - possibly because of all the work I put in to doing them.

    I say, go for it.............

  12. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2007
    Glen Head, NY
    Sorry to be blunt, but what led you to believe that sanding was going to be a good way to remove paint? Sanding is for smoothing wood, not stripping paint. Besides the fact that it will turn out the finish on there is bulletproof, sanding simply isn't the way to strip paint. Use a heat gun and you'll be surprised how fast the work is once you get the hang of softening the paint and lifting it gently with a putty knife or paint scraper. Chemical strippers also work well except that many guitars have bulletproof polyurethane finishes that just laugh at most strippers. Just for laughs, do a search on stripping a guitar body. The consensus of those who loved and lost is that you are much, much, better off buying a body in the color you want and selling yours. If you want to get into the hobby of woodfinishing, fine, just buy an unfinished body to work with.

  13. Bones

    Bones Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Dec 31, 2005
    Luddite Island, NY
    I'm surpised at all the trouble you guys have with sanding, maybe by hand, but with a sander and the right kind of paper, it should take less than an hour to be completely down to the wood.


  14. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    A hot-air paint stripper gun and scraper will easily get most of the paint off. It will need a light sanding afterwards to remove the last vestiges and prepare the surface for the new finish. But it is less work and quicker than sanding the lot off, beside sanding the paint needs a coarse grit which may damage the wood.

  15. barkley

    barkley Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 6, 2009
    You can buy special sand paper for paint that wont clog (or at least wont clog as easily).

    Its called... wait for it... "Sand paper for paint"

    I sanded back half a body some unknown person had started before me. Used a small chisel to scrape most of it off, then the orbital sander with the white paint sandpaper disks. Took a while, but not hours.

  16. 414driver

    414driver TDPRI Member

    Jan 15, 2008
    salem or
    Instead of a heat gun use a butane torch.....much quicker and cleaner!!

  17. Sanding

    Bones I kinda agree with you, but I have a big compressor that can run 2 people and a couple DA sanders. Starting with something like 80 grit to bust it open first then 100 grit, 150 and so on.
    Thats the easy part but I'd never use a machine on the rounded edges of wood. They wouldn't stay very round for long.

    I would have to say Heat Gun First choice.
    Obviously its to late and you have already started sanding, might as well get the heat gun and see what the wood looks like underneath.
    Then you can decide what finish.

    Hmm... Next time I'm depressed I'll have to decide which guitar I'm gonna start sanding on.;) Guess I better order another bare wood body then.


  18. Meowy

    Meowy Tele-Meister

    Feb 22, 2008
    Assuming that you are going to repaint in an opaque color (yes, I realize not the premise of the original post) couldn't you simply sand away the gloss finish coat, apply primer and refinish?

  19. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 20, 2007
    Newbury, England
    The advantage of the electric heat gun is that it is just as hot but does not char the wood as much as a blow torch, plus it has a low setting for those tricky curved bits. It is used with a chisel knife or paint scraper, the idea is to soften the paint enough to peel it off, not burn it away.

  20. jswindle

    jswindle Tele-Meister

    Mar 7, 2009
    Rowlett, TX
    I've used both methods (heat gun and sanding) to strip a few squiers. The issue isn't so much getting the paint off it will be getting through the sub layer of whatever it is underneath the paint. With a heat gun you are going to have diffculty depending on the guitar and wood type of getting that sub layer off without scorching the wood. With sandpaper you can get it off, but as mentioned before you are going to have issues with over sanding some areas and screwing up the contours of the guitar. I've had guitars that stripped very easily with a heat gun and others that were much, much, much more difficult.

    It is quite a lot of work to strip one sandpaper. It's tedious and very time consuming, even with a finish sander or orbital sander.

    Chances are even if you did get it done without damaging the guitar the chances of you having a nice grain on the squier are pretty slim.

    My recomendation would be the heat gun method and try to do it without scorching the wood. If you do scorch it you can do a solid color.

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