Help! Scratches after using #2 steel wool

danpc

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Hi folks. I decided to attempt turning the gloss polyurethane finish to a satin finish on my guitar. I started with 0000 steel wool, perhaps got a little impatient and hit it with #2 steel wool. It's definitely duller lol, but what should I do about the scratches!? Will carnauba wax fill the scratches? I'm in over my head so any help appreciated
 

ghostwolf

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There's no magic fix. You need some elbow grease, some #000 steel wool, followed by some #0000 steel wool.
Be patient. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right.
Where in MA?
i'm in Dorchester.
 

danpc

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So hit the areas of already gone over with #000? I'm in Hull , south shore btw
 

G.Rotten

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Hi folks. I decided to attempt turning the gloss polyurethane finish to a satin finish on my guitar. I started with 0000 steel wool, perhaps got a little impatient and hit it with #2 steel wool. It's definitely duller lol, but what should I do about the scratches!? Will carnauba wax fill the scratches? I'm in over my head so any help appreciated
Just out of curiosity. Did you disassemble the guitar or are you working on it with the pickups still in it?

Steel wool and pickups can be a bad mix. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you get new pickups.

 
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danpc

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Just worked on the back of the guitar to see how it went so nothing removed as of yet
 

G.Rotten

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Just worked on the back of the guitar to see how it went so nothing removed as of yet
For basically any guitar work, steel wool should be a last resort. There isn't anything steel wool can do on a guitar that something else couldn't do better. If you check out that link Lollar won't even allow steel wool into the shop let alone use it on a guitar.
 

mfguitar

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sandpaper, most modern paper is very good and the grits are consistent. With steel wool the grades are not very accurate. Unless you are buying your wool from a high-end woodworking supply it is awful stuff to work with. Your #2 scratches might be too deep to repair. I would start with a 400 paper and work your way to finer grades.
 

ghostwolf

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Going from #2 to #4 won't do, as you discovered.
Get things as smooth with the #2 as you can, switch to the #3, when that is as smooth as can be (no visible scratches from the #2 anymore), go to the 0000.
Fwiw, 3M Scotchbrite pads are better for use on guitars, steel wool shreds can ruin your pickup, as has been pointed out.
 

danpc

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Thanks all. So I did one section on the back with a medium corse #2 pad. I'll switch to fine grade sandpaper and try to work down the scratches. I'll see how the back ends up, if it's OK I'll strip thr hardware off the guitar and do the whole thing, honestly, I'd prefer a rough and ready finish to the super glossy poly finish. I wish they wouldn't use that stuff, it looks cheap and never ages nicely at all
 

G.Rotten

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What does Lollar use for fine "sanding?" I've used OOOO steel wool on my Fender necks with no issues. I take the necks off or cover the pickups with masking tape.
My guess is they'd use fine sandpaper for fine sanding. Or any of the many other non metal products available.

 
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Boreas

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Thanks all. So I did one section on the back with a medium corse #2 pad. I'll switch to fine grade sandpaper and try to work down the scratches. I'll see how the back ends up, if it's OK I'll strip thr hardware off the guitar and do the whole thing, honestly, I'd prefer a rough and ready finish to the super glossy poly finish. I wish they wouldn't use that stuff, it looks cheap and never ages nicely at all
You may want to remove the bulk of the deepest scratches, then do an overspray with satin or whatever gloss you want. It may be quicker and less "accident"-prone. If you have a DA sander and know how to use it, it may make removing the scratches go faster.
 

G.Rotten

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Thanks all. So I did one section on the back with a medium corse #2 pad. I'll switch to fine grade sandpaper and try to work down the scratches. I'll see how the back ends up, if it's OK I'll strip thr hardware off the guitar and do the whole thing, honestly, I'd prefer a rough and ready finish to the super glossy poly finish. I wish they wouldn't use that stuff, it looks cheap and never ages nicely at all
There have been times I felt the same. I have/had a 93 MIJ 62 reissue Strat that started to show some natural age/wear everywhere except the Poly finished body. It had scratches and dents but otherwise still looked nice and shiney. It really started to look odd. Too many scratches and dents to look new and too shiney to look it's age.

I thought about working on the body finish but instead just bought a used Hwy 1 body someone else already "Age Assisted".

IMG_20211219_103141276_HDR~2.jpg


In my case I accomplished a few goals in that I prefer Alder over the MIJ basswood and the feel of the satin Nitro finish vs the Poly.

If the MIJ would've already had Alder I probably would have done what you're doing.
 
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Freeman Keller

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As others have said #2 steel wool is just way way way to coarse for any finish work on a guitar. It is designed for aggressive removal of material. Here is what wiki says

Steel Wool Grade 2 is a flexible, abrasive medium to coarse steel wool used for heavy stripping and cleaning work. It can be used to remove rust, and is recommended for use with Fine Wood Stripper to remove softened polishes, varnishes, lacquers and paints from wood and metal surfaces.

Most people use 0000 steel wool if they want to knock a gloss finish back to semi gloss, anything coarser is going to leave big scratches in the finish. Depending on the thickness of the finish you may be able to remove the scratches by working your way up thru successive grits but frankly I think you will need to spray more finish.

Hold off on the wax or anything with silicon in it, those products will just make applying more finish almost impossible.,
 

Beebe

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Fender uses steel wool.

And it's a great option for polishing and softening the edges of frets.

There is a big difference between regular 0000 steel wool and a high quality 0000 steel wool like Liberon. You're much less likely to get large scratches with the high quality stuff.

If you use it, I suggest lubricating it with an oil or soap that's friendly to your finish.

I don't touch anything courser than 0000. That should have been more than enough to satin a finish.
 

Silverface

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I started with 0000 steel wool, perhaps got a little impatient and hit it with #2 steel wool.

Fender uses steel wool.

And it's a great option for polishing and softening the edges of frets.
Where? There absolutely didn't on the production line several years ago - only in the ustom shop for specialty work.. It sheds ferrous metal articles and dust that can get into machinery, finishes, pickups etc. They used synthetic abrasives nd various grads of polishing/buffing compounds.

I don't know any other techs that use steel wool except when creating relic finishes, and not with any electrical parts or open-gear tuning machines in the area-only synthetic pads (like 3m - which are also great for final smoothing when rolling neck edges and "softening" sharp fret ends), abrasives noted above and Micromesh-type pads.

to the OP - I suggest wet sanding, starting with 600 and working your way through Micromesh pads It'll be a ton of work, though - #2 leaves deep scratches. You'd probably be better off sending it to a finishing shop where they can use large buffing wheels and work their way through them.
 

Beebe

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Where? There absolutely didn't on the production line several years ago - only in the ustom shop for specialty work.. It sheds ferrous metal articles and dust that can get into machinery, finishes, pickups etc. They used synthetic abrasives nd various grads of polishing/buffing compounds.

I don't know any other techs that use steel wool except when creating relic finishes, and not with any electrical parts or open-gear tuning machines in the area-only synthetic pads (like 3m - which are also great for final smoothing when rolling neck edges and "softening" sharp fret ends), abrasives noted above and Micromesh-type pads.

to the OP - I suggest wet sanding, starting with 600 and working your way through Micromesh pads It'll be a ton of work, though - #2 leaves deep scratches. You'd probably be better off sending it to a finishing shop where they can use large buffing wheels and work their way through them.

I meant to reply. See above.
 

Beebe

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I use a small strong bar magnet wrapped in a paper towel to clean up the mess. And I don't use it anywhere near electronics.
 




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