Help! Scratches after using #2 steel wool

moosie

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As you work your way through the grits, sand each grit at an opposing angle to the previous. Makes it easier to tell if you've removed all the scratches from the coarser grit.
 

old_picker

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As moosie says above. FGorget the steel wool.
Give the back a rub with say 600 or even 800 grit and see how the scratches look. 400 may be a bit savage.
To matt a gloss finish use 1200 wet n dry paper and you should get it in one go. Not as easy as it sounds but doable.
Using water with a little dishwashing liquid helps the paper last longer. You can do it dry but you'll rip through may 4-5 sheets of paper for a body
 

moosie

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As moosie says above. FGorget the steel wool.
Give the back a rub with say 600 or even 800 grit and see how the scratches look. 400 may be a bit savage.
To matt a gloss finish use 1200 wet n dry paper and you should get it in one go. Not as easy as it sounds but doable.
Using water with a little dishwashing liquid helps the paper last longer. You can do it dry but you'll rip through may 4-5 sheets of paper for a body
Yep, wet sanding, not dry. I usually prefer naphtha as the lubricant on a guitar body. Water will swell open end grain in any holes or unfinished cavities.

Even with a fine grit, USE A PAD, not your fingers, to keep the surface dead flat.

Use brand new, high quality papers. The cheap big box stuff can have rogue grits that will undo all your fine work.
 

Silverface

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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.
It'd be interesting to know what department that was, since little hand work is done on the production line - it's not cost effective with the number of instruments produced to extremely tight tolerances. And they were not working on assembled guitars

In a small tech or home shop you primarily use abrasives on completed guitars (in fret dressing and setups) - not loose necks except in preparation and sanding of primers/sealers. But even with loose components, in a small shop a bar magnet can't get the steel dust that's scattered all over

I suggest -if you don't have buffing wheel, which is pretty much an essential tool in finish work - changing to 1000-1500 gold self-adhesive abrasive (not made of gold - just a type) - it comes in rolls - and rubber blocks with various curves; medium to fine grade 3M type synthetic pads; Micromesh pads in whatever size you like to work with; and/or (preferably) 4-5 grades of stick-type buffing compound with a fairly firm cotton wheel (shops that do much touchup or repair finishing favor the buffing wheels; and Micromesh pads for areas where hand work is necesary, as they save an incredible amount of time.

Steel wool will not remove scratches - it simply leaves smaller ones after a LOT of elbow grease; 0000 work STILL has to be buffed out. Virtually every tech shop I know uses an assortment of synthetic abrasives in setup work and buffing - not abrasives (except for prep/primers/fillers etc) in finish work.

Even if someone brought me a body or neck scratched up with #2 steel wool I'd head straight to the buffing wheel - it's much faster than any hand abrasives and the part would end up there anyway...and phased out steel wool some time ago since (besides issues noted above) even 0000 leaves micro-scratches that have to be buffed out.

And you can't keep it away from electronics on an assembled guitar - masking the neck and middle pickups is a hassle and invariably some steel still gets into the electronics when you remove the masking.
 

Beebe

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It'd be interesting to know what department that was, since little hand work is done on the production line - it's not cost effective with the number of instruments produced to extremely tight tolerances. And they were not working on assembled guitars

In a small tech or home shop you primarily use abrasives on completed guitars (in fret dressing and setups) - not loose necks except in preparation and sanding of primers/sealers. But even with loose components, in a small shop a bar magnet can't get the steel dust that's scattered all over

I suggest -if you don't have buffing wheel, which is pretty much an essential tool in finish work - changing to 1000-1500 gold self-adhesive abrasive (not made of gold - just a type) - it comes in rolls - and rubber blocks with various curves; medium to fine grade 3M type synthetic pads; Micromesh pads in whatever size you like to work with; and/or (preferably) 4-5 grades of stick-type buffing compound with a fairly firm cotton wheel (shops that do much touchup or repair finishing favor the buffing wheels; and Micromesh pads for areas where hand work is necesary, as they save an incredible amount of time.

Steel wool will not remove scratches - it simply leaves smaller ones after a LOT of elbow grease; 0000 work STILL has to be buffed out. Virtually every tech shop I know uses an assortment of synthetic abrasives in setup work and buffing - not abrasives (except for prep/primers/fillers etc) in finish work.

Even if someone brought me a body or neck scratched up with #2 steel wool I'd head straight to the buffing wheel - it's much faster than any hand abrasives and the part would end up there anyway...and phased out steel wool some time ago since (besides issues noted above) even 0000 leaves micro-scratches that have to be buffed out.

And you can't keep it away from electronics on an assembled guitar - masking the neck and middle pickups is a hassle and invariably some steel still gets into the electronics when you remove the masking.

Sounds like some solid advice.

My theory is that Fender's use of steel wool in the video has something to do with it being a Maple fretboard with frets installed and finish on it. They showed it along side sanding the finish on the body, where sanding between each fret with blocks would be cumbersome. And I believe they did show it going to the wheel after that.

Because steel wool doesn't level the finish from the top down like paper and a block would, but instead turns jagged terrain into rolling hills, it can smooth out the finish where it rides up and down in hills over the frets. And with use of a light touch you can take a little more finish off the frets than the board with each pass... And, if you're lucky, remove the finish from the tops of the frets before rubbing through all the finish on the board. We know Fender doesn't press their luck here though, as they send them out with finish still on the frets (which would also avoid nickel dust on their buffing wheels).
 

Telecaster582

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I should have read this thread BEFORE I did the same thing to my strat... Anyone got an extra set of strat pickups laying around?
 

Silverface

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Because steel wool doesn't level the finish from the top down like paper and a block would, but instead turns jagged terrain into rolling hills, it can smooth out the finish where it rides up and down in hills over the frets. And with use of a light touch you can take a little more finish off the frets than the board with each pass... And, if you're lucky, remove the finish from the tops of the frets before rubbing through all the finish on the board. We know Fender doesn't press their luck here though, as they send them out with finish still on the frets (which would also avoid nickel dust on their buffing wheels).
Steel wool removes material from the top down like any other abrasive; not quite sure what the point was of that statement. also, synthetic abrasive and fine-grade Micromesh pads perform same function without metallic residue from the abrasive itself.

Like every other finish tech I know, I remove lacquer from frets after finishing using an assortment of gauged scrapers and modified sanding sticks; the crowning and "bullnosing" of the frets is done after that and just before buffing the neck out - which removes the balance of the finish. Buffing provides the final jewelry-like, scratch-free shine rarely seen on production line fretwork - especially on the fret ends.

Rarely have I seen a production guitar that an experienced player doesn't take to his tech for a setup to his specs, which includes all the above work as part of the fret dressing process (production line guitars are usually shipped with slightly shallow-cut nut slots and fairly "severe" fret end, as its easier to lower the open-chord action than rise it; and the fretting surface can be slightly narrowed and smoothed - but not widened - without fret replacement.

Several players who endorse major brands buy new guitars through the Artist Relations dept (not much is just "given away" these days) and have the shipped directly to their tech's shop, where they are refretted or other replacement/mod work done to their personal specifications.

As far as "nickel dust" being some kind of problem on buffing wheels - it's not a factor s far as I've heard. "Nickel silver" frets contain less than 18% nickel, bound in an alloy with chromium and the largest percentage component - copper. The nickel percentage is very small and not "free nickel", and none of the components are absorbed easily by skin by themselves - less so when part of an alloy.

I've yet to meet a player in 60 years that was sensitive to nickel in guitar frets or strings - and any who are should switch to stainless steel or titanium frets (and stainless steel strings) anyway if nickel is an issue - although they all can result in an overly harsh tone.

But we've gotten far off the topic here -

The point I was making is that there are abrasives that work better than steel wool without leaving scratches when used properly. And removing scratches left by #2 steel wool is not a job for finer gages of steel wool IMO, as all steel wool leaves scratches in the finish. It's not noticeable on fretboard edges, but is very apparent on large finished areas.

And to avoid problems like this in the future, *always* test systems you think might work on scrap that you have finished the same way. Your guitar is not the place to try something "you think" might work. Only use products and procedures that you've already tried and "fine tuned" as far as procedures go.

It's exactly the same with finishing - never apply a product to your guitar - even one that's part of a multi-coat system - until you have perfected the ENTIRE system on scrap material, from preparation through final buffing. After 50 years of guitar finishing and 37+ in tech support in the coatings business I still run *full* test applications even if trying something like a new brand of dye, or a different paste wood filler. It's amazing how many compatibility or appearance issues can pop up when you *don't*!
 

Beebe

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Steel wool removes material from the top down like any other abrasive; not quite sure what the point was of that statement. also, synthetic abrasive and fine-grade Micromesh pads perform same function without metallic residue from the abrasive itself.

Like every other finish tech I know, I remove lacquer from frets after finishing using an assortment of gauged scrapers and modified sanding sticks; the crowning and "bullnosing" of the frets is done after that and just before buffing the neck out - which removes the balance of the finish. Buffing provides the final jewelry-like, scratch-free shine rarely seen on production line fretwork - especially on the fret ends.

Rarely have I seen a production guitar that an experienced player doesn't take to his tech for a setup to his specs, which includes all the above work as part of the fret dressing process (production line guitars are usually shipped with slightly shallow-cut nut slots and fairly "severe" fret end, as its easier to lower the open-chord action than rise it; and the fretting surface can be slightly narrowed and smoothed - but not widened - without fret replacement.

Several players who endorse major brands buy new guitars through the Artist Relations dept (not much is just "given away" these days) and have the shipped directly to their tech's shop, where they are refretted or other replacement/mod work done to their personal specifications.

As far as "nickel dust" being some kind of problem on buffing wheels - it's not a factor s far as I've heard. "Nickel silver" frets contain less than 18% nickel, bound in an alloy with chromium and the largest percentage component - copper. The nickel percentage is very small and not "free nickel", and none of the components are absorbed easily by skin by themselves - less so when part of an alloy.

I've yet to meet a player in 60 years that was sensitive to nickel in guitar frets or strings - and any who are should switch to stainless steel or titanium frets (and stainless steel strings) anyway if nickel is an issue - although they all can result in an overly harsh tone.

But we've gotten far off the topic here -

The point I was making is that there are abrasives that work better than steel wool without leaving scratches when used properly. And removing scratches left by #2 steel wool is not a job for finer gages of steel wool IMO, as all steel wool leaves scratches in the finish. It's not noticeable on fretboard edges, but is very apparent on large finished areas.

And to avoid problems like this in the future, *always* test systems you think might work on scrap that you have finished the same way. Your guitar is not the place to try something "you think" might work. Only use products and procedures that you've already tried and "fine tuned" as far as procedures go.

It's exactly the same with finishing - never apply a product to your guitar - even one that's part of a multi-coat system - until you have perfected the ENTIRE system on scrap material, from preparation through final buffing. After 50 years of guitar finishing and 37+ in tech support in the coatings business I still run *full* test applications even if trying something like a new brand of dye, or a different paste wood filler. It's amazing how many compatibility or appearance issues can pop up when you *don't*!


I meant that an ideal sanding will turn a triangle into a trapezoid, while steel wool will turn the peak into a semi-elipse removing material from the sides of the triangle as well.

I could be wrong, but I believe nickel dust is more dangerous in the state of California ;-) I appreciate your info on nickel.

I've got a couple projects I've just started spraying, and my finishing has gotten better recently after reading your posts. The comments you made in a different thread about putting down dry coats until the last few... great stuff!
And I'm pretty sure my frets will improve after this one.

My recommendation to the OP was that, IF you use steel wool, lubricate it and use the good stuff. You can back it up with a block and use almost no downward pressure for even better results... But I'm pretty sure Silverface has a bit more experience in the industry than myself.
 




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