Is a heat gun ever a good idea for stripping finish?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by cayman_jazz_uk, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. cayman_jazz_uk

    cayman_jazz_uk TDPRI Member

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    I've got one, and used it a little whilst stripping poly from my MIJ maple neck, but a little worried about using it at all. Using paint stripper is working VERY slowly but surely. Will a heat gun damage the maple? Surely it'll heat the moisture right out? I'm only asking because I read many people on here using a heat gun for this same purpose. I'd like to try stripping paint from bodies too but I can't imagine stripper will be enough. Again, is a heat gun the right thing or is it gonna do some damage? Any experience or advice on stripping bodies much appreciated :)
     
  2. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    In my opinion it's the only practical way to strip the thick poly finish a lot of guitars have on them, especially the imported ones. The only danger from a heat gun is charring the wood, but if you keep it moving and pay even minimal attention that won't happen. And, no, a heat gun won't dry out maple, it's already pretty dry when it was made into a guitar.
     
  3. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's

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    I agree with dsutton
     
  4. Jerry Lee

    Jerry Lee Tele-Afflicted

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    The other danger is if the body has celluloid binding and the heat gun gets too close. Poof!

    Other than that they work great. I found out the hard way most strippers just annoy poly finishes. Way too much mess and not great results.
     
  5. cayman_jazz_uk

    cayman_jazz_uk TDPRI Member

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    Ok that all makes sense - thanks for sharing. How about bodies, is the same ok with a scraper, and is it easy to char wood or do any damage if it's any other type of wood?
     
  6. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

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    Do you have any wood scraps you can heat with the gun so you see how long it takes to char the wood?
     
  7. cayman_jazz_uk

    cayman_jazz_uk TDPRI Member

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    Yeah I've got a Squier strat as scrap wood! I guess using scrap wood is the obvious answer, thanks :)
     
  8. tommyd73069

    tommyd73069 Tele-Meister

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    Only practical way I've found. Testing your heat gun on some scrap is really a good idea. Keeping it moving makes it hard to mark the wood. Focusing in one place, trying to get a stubborn spot is where it's easy to get "target fixation". Next thing you know, you've left a burn mark, with a clean spot in the middle. Plastic scrapers and plastic razor blade scraper inserts work well and don't dig in or gouge as easily. Take your time. I do it outside, too. The stuff stinks to high heaven. Can't be good for you.
     
  9. cayman_jazz_uk

    cayman_jazz_uk TDPRI Member

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    Yeah I use a razor blade but I dull it with fine sand paper and that works well as a scraper. Thanks.
    I will take my time, because it'll still be quicker than using stripper!
     
  10. maryjane

    maryjane Tele-Afflicted

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    stripping poly with chemicals is a real p.i.t.a., and it's super toxic to you and wherever it gets disposed...

    if ever i undertake that daunting task again, it will be with a heat gun.
     
  11. ezas

    ezas TDPRI Member

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    What I learned using chemical stripper on a guitar.

    I used chemical stripper on poly (not sure exactly what it was, but I got out at an auto paint store, and it was one part, and fully dry within minutes)

    It WAS a super huge mess. And the guitar body gets slippery than non-stick cooking spray on ice. And you need serious gloves. Just because they say stripping is not enough. If they are disposable they probably not enough.

    So imagine trying to hold a body, with all those rounded corners, while covered in motor oil, with oven mitts. Well maybe not that bad, but you do need thick gloves and the body will be very slippery. I dropped mine on concrete twice. If I ever do it again I will rig up some kind of safety line.

    Its also expensive. A can of stripper, a can of neutralizer, thick gloves, a vinyl ground cloth thick enough to stand on. And whatever things you need like a mask, safety glasses (a fIip down face mask would be better)

    Not trying to talk anybody out of using stripper. But the above is the reality of stripping a modern paint from a guitar body. But I did like the results when I was done.
     
  12. tommyd73069

    tommyd73069 Tele-Meister

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    I striped the poly off of my Squier SE with chemicals. Nasty as all get out. It was small enough to fit in a plastic storage bin ($15), with a lid. Doused it with Kwik-Strip Aircraft Stripper ($30 Autozone, NAPA), put the lid on and left it for a day. Came back and it was all ready to wipe off.

    Fished it out with chemical gloves, apron and goggles. Slippery as an eel. Scraped and rinsed it off with clean water. Spent about 30 minutes picking little stuff that dried out of the details. Bad to let it dry, by the way. Swore never to do it again. Materials and safety gear, I spent about $60 and 3 hours stripping a $50 guitar body.

    Heat gun was 2 hours, plus the electricity.
     
  13. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    No no you'll hurt yourself with a flimsy sharp blade like that. A heat gun softens the finish and as it heats, cools, heats, cools, it releases it's hold on the wood and comes off in sheets. You need something stout - and something with a handle to keep your fingers away from the heat! A stiff-bladed putty knife 1-1/2 or 2" wide will work well with a heat gun - you're not scraping like you would with dry cold paint.
     
  14. CJM3309

    CJM3309 Tele-Meister

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    Be careful using a heat gun to remove poly from some of the MIM bodies. I was working on a jazz bass and trying to strip the poly on the body. The veneer that they used to sandwich the 7 piece body (yes, 7 pieces) started to bubble up in spots from the heat gun. That was my first time doing it, so I know better now. You won't have that problem with a neck, but Just take your time and you should be fine. I tried the air craft remover with no luck. The poly just laughed at it.
     
  15. Jack FFR1846

    Jack FFR1846 Tele-Afflicted

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    I took a heat gun to a Squier body, having used it on many MIMs.

    Jeremy Clarkson voice: What could possibly go wrong.

    It turned out to be a respray and clearly done at the factory. Ok...more work? The primer coat below the oldest coat was black and really tough. The amount of heat did not char the wood. It did expose a LOT of bondo. To clear all of the paint, so much heat made its way into the body, the wood pieces (many) unglued themselves. By the time I got the body clear of paint, I threw it into the wood stove.
     
  16. Olgabowl

    Olgabowl Tele-Meister

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    Anyone ever use a heat gun aggressively, then hit it with canned air?
    Expensive, but I was able take big chunks off a poly refinish in pretty short order...
     
  17. cayman_jazz_uk

    cayman_jazz_uk TDPRI Member

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    That's interesting...I have an air compressor. Think that would work? It would be regular compressed air. Sounds a bit hazardous though - those canned air spray's are flammable aren't they?
     
  18. Manolete

    Manolete Friend of Leo's

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    I've used a heat gun on some import guitars. It removes the clear and colour layers fairly quickly and easily. However the fullerplast/filler/goof hider stuff they use is far trickier to move.

    Often I've found that this final layer will come off if you heat it so long that the wood starts to release steam. This layer then pops up like popcorn, but can then reset just as hard as before, just with a more interesting surface. In this instance I've used 60 grit on a palm sander to remove this final, smelly, layer. This runs the risk of making the surface of the wood uneven, and you still have to do the cutaways by hand. I've seen pictures online of guitars in a supposedly 'stripped' state that still have the sealer coat applied. Bad news if you try and stain this layer, and even worse if you do hit the actual wood in a few places and the dye/stain goes into the wood.
     
  19. bob1234

    bob1234 Tele-Afflicted

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    I've had long winded rants on this very subject lol. Whatever sealer Ibanez used in the 80s and early 90s is just... the most foul substance ever. Its unbelievably difficult to remove.
     
  20. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wish I'd thought of a heat gun when i stripped a poly finish a couple of years back. I used the sanding attachment on my drill. The results weren't great and it took an age - not recommended.
     
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