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Let's do a Sharp dressed Strat.....

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Ronkirn, Jul 1, 2008.

  1. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    As you’re wet sanding, keep checking, to see the progress.

    [​IMG]

    In the shot above, you can see some areas are still glossy, the sand paper hasn’t broken the glaze yet. You will want to continue, sanding the entire surface, even what does look adequately sanded. You want to bring the entire surface down to the part that has not been touched..

    Here you see a correctly sanded surface..

    [​IMG]

    While I’m thinking about it….. it is not necessary to begin with 300, then advance to 400, then 500, 600, 800, 1000, 2000, 2,000,000… grit… once you have sanded to around 800 that’s fine…. I usually start with 600, follow up with 800 and begin polishing.

    All the higher grits do is make polishing go a bit faster, at the expense of additional sanding, so you get to decide, more sanding, or more polishing. A finer grit paper will NOT guarantee a shinier gloss. That is accomplished with the polishing.

    Compound curves and rounded surfaces can be done by hand holding the paper..

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    On the back of the neck, since it’s not a compound curve, I use the block again to “level” any surface ”Orange peal”. Then I’ll go over it all by hand, with 600 grit using very small circular motions, this gives the back the patina of years of playing. Once the areas of the neck that get polished are done, I give it a coat of good quality wax.. that way the neck feels as smooth as any well played instrument.

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    I hold it up in the light to see that there are no spots that have been missed..

    Tomorrow…. I’ll polish it.

    Ron Kirn
     
  2. B Valley

    B Valley Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't see any earlier reference to the neck in this thread. Do you build them or buy them from a supplier and finish them?
    Also, where do you have the decals made?
     
  3. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    This one is a USACG


    rk
     
  4. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Now that the neck is all sanded, and ready to polish, I mask off the body of the neck, because I do not want that part polished. The matte surface that the sanding leaves feels much more like a well played neck than the sprayed satin finish used by most manufacturers. Sure I could do it that way, but the satin finish is achieved by introducing additives to the lacquer. Since I have made every effort to use the same lacquers used in the 50’s and 60’s I won’t be pouring additives into it. The sanding produces a vastly superior surface.

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    once the masking is complete, I charge the buffing wheel with polishing compound, and get to it..

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    If using any power buffing machine, you must be aware of heat buildup. The lacquer will soften and the buffing wheel will remove it in a heart beat so a balance between speed, pressure applied and how long you work a specific area is important. This is one of those “feel” things you just gotta get in there and do to learn.

    Ron Kirn
     
  5. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    I just stay with it, constantly checking as I go until its as glossy as can be…

    [​IMG]

    I do the same on the heel, then re mask and do the edge of the heel. Once that’s done I begin polishing the frets, I use several methods, depending on the neck, here I’m going over each with a cleaner car wax. It’s perfect because is will polish the fret and clean any residue from the base of the fret.

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    After the frets are polished, I’ll examine each closely and, using my scraper, remove any lacquer, that I may have missed. Then re-polish those frets.

    [​IMG]

    that completes the polishing…

    Ron Kirn
     
  6. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    At this point I’ll go over the neck closely, checking the frets, the fret ends, and the fingerboard edge; everything should be baby butt smooth.

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    Then I give it a good coat of a quality carnauba based wax..

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    The neck, will now have an organic feel, almost like it’s alive. Remember the skin on Betty Lou, the cheerleader when you played High School Football…. That’s the sensation ya get..

    Ron Kirn
     
  7. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Next phase… assembly

    [​IMG]

    The Keys, nut and retainer is all that’s left. But the Sperzel keys have a 5/32 inch pin, I’ll be drilling a 7/32 hole, that doesn’t leave a lot of “wiggle” room, so accuracy is important.

    First I ream the holes to clear out the lacquer buildup, I use a rotary file so there’s no chance of it grabbing and splitting the head,

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    once the holes are clear, I insert a key and give it s light tap to make an impression where the pin goes..

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    I do this in each of the 6 holes, then using an awl, mark the 1st and 6th.

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    Now I want to be certain all the holes are in line, remember I only have 1/64th of wiggle room.

    Ron Kirn
     
  8. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Now I take a straightedge.. and align it between the two all points..

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    I mark each location to insure they are straight relative to each other. I then take a caliper, dividers, or any precision instrument, and mark the distance from the hole edge to the location of the pin hole.

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    Mark each with an awl…

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    and drill away… Oh. Don’t go through..

    [​IMG]

    this may seem a bit tedious but it gets the job done correctly. Sure Sperzel gives a cardboard template but it’s not exactly accurate.

    rk
     
  9. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    It’s just a matter of pressing them in the respective holes and tightening the Ferrules.

    [​IMG]

    not too shabby…

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    The nut slot needs to be cleared of any accumulated lacquer. I made a tool just to do this by grinding a sharp edge on the end of a file, it scrapes the lacquer from the floor and the sides quite precisely.

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    Once that’s done, I take the nut, bone in this case, and lap it on a flat surface to get the thickness down to the correct size..

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    Care must be taken, because it’s easy to apply more pressure on one end, with the resulting nut being thicker at one end than the other.

    Continue until it’s a snug fit.

    Ron Kirn
     
  10. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Once it’s seated firmly in the slot, I take a pencil and mark a rough line indicating the top of the nut..

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    then over to the disk sander and a preliminary shaping, including the ends.

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    Now, it looks about like a nut should..

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    Now I take a nut slotting file and rough in the 1st and 6th string slots.

    [​IMG]

    Ron Kirn
     
  11. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    This is one tool I find indispensable. The location of the strings should not be exactly symmetrical, this because they are different sizes, I’m betting you noticed…

    I use an Xacto knife with the tip of the blade ground to etch each string location.

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    Then I highlight the marks with a pencil’s graphite..

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    and using the appropriate slot file make a preliminary slot for each string..

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    The nut will not be finished until I do the setup, at that time I will cut the slots to the correct depth, then remove any unnecessary height, and polish it.

    Ron Kirn
     
  12. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    I now take a piece of string.. this is the Stewart McDonald guitar string retainer placement string, only 32.50 a foot… and wrap it around the 1st and 2nd key posts and across the nut to indicate the location of those 2 respective strings. Place the retainer on the strings, and mark the location of the pilot hole for the screw.

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    Drill the pilot hole, and coat the screw in bee’s wax… a good idea for any screw you will be running into hardwood.

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    Tighten the bugger down, not too tight…. The lacquer’s only 2 weeks old… and she’s ready for the body, which is still about a week away from the polishing…

    Next up… the pickups and electronics…..

    Ron Kirn
     
  13. e-merlin

    e-merlin Doctor of Teleocity

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    So, that's why I get a beauxnre when I pick up a guitar...:D
     
    RobRiggs likes this.
  14. Vizcaster

    Vizcaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    OK my wife was actually a cheerleader, but truth is none of us played football and we didn't meet cheerleaders unless we played in a band. Even at that you had the drummer to contend with...

    Now my real reason for posting - Ron what rule of thumb do you use for the location of the low and high E strings? I tried using a small 6" Starret combination square with the beam set maybe 3/32 from the end, using that with the beam against the neck/nut and the file against the edge of the ruler to locate the outer string slots.
     
  15. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    I set the strings in usually about 7/64ths, not quite an eighth.. I've done it so often, I don't even have to look.

    Often a guitarist will have a unique request, high E 9/64ths low E 1/16th.. I actually have pretty good eyes relative to dimension... calibrated by Starrett. and I make the marks with a razor knife, so I don't have to deal with a mark 1/64th wide.

    This often has more to do with how a guitarists fingers hit the strings than anything else. Some will push up and into the neck, they can get away with the string right at the edge, others pull down and off the neck, they need more "landing space" a control tower and a ground crew is helpful too. :lol:
    but for most about an eighth shy is fine.

    Ron Kirn
     
  16. Doug Ferguson

    Doug Ferguson Friend of Leo's

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    She's really shaping up, Ron. Beautiful! BTW, I like your method of cleaning, dressing, and leveling the frets. Going to start using it myself.
     
  17. Beatbx

    Beatbx Tele-Meister

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    Ron do you do anything else to the fret ends, or is that addressed during 'rough polishing?'
     
  18. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Nah, all the attention the frets get polishes 'em naturally.... If someone wants 'em sharp, or way sloped, I'll do that when I'm prepping the neck for finishing.


    rk
     
  19. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Holy Smokes!

    I think I learned more on thread # 95 than I have everywhere else all week.

    And then there's # 104. Heck this is all worth its weight in gold!

    Much obliged!
     
  20. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity

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    Humm so how much does a digital image weigh???

    rk
     
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