Maple fretboard lacquer thickness?

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by ladave, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    I've got a few coats that were lightly built up and 2 more wet coats. Trying to decide if I should go one more on the fretboard. I can still see some grain on the back of the neck and headstock.

    Is it better to stay on the thinner side for the fretboard?

    Thoughts appreciated.
     
  2. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    That's possibly 1-2 mils total of coating. Very doubtful that it's more than that. Did you apply sanding sealer (and sand it) first? If not you may end up applying quite a few coats before the grain texture disappears - if ever. As is you could possibly buff through it very easily with light pressure.

    It's very had to guess at exactly what you have on there, as unless wet film thickness if measured during application the dry film estimate is really guess. It could be 1/3 that - 70-80% of the lacquer you apply to the surface evaporates away, and an unsealed surface also sucks the stuff up like a sponge.

    Can you post some pictures? And you may also want to check with some contractor-type paint stores and see if you can get a wet film thickness gage (they cost $5-10). Then, if you measure IMMEDIATELY after spraying a coat you can - based on the "solids by volume" listed on the product data or MSDS sheet - calculate the DRY thickness you'll end up with out of a coat. It's very easy to do - if the solids are 20% and you apply 1 mil wet, your dry film is around .20 thousandths of an inch - which is VERY thin, but fine if you are going to carefully build up coats.3 mils dry is good fretboard thickness; many like the back much thinner.

    Most lacquers dry in 30-60 minutes per coat; exceptions (in aerosol) are Deft and Colortone, which dry VERY slowly due to naphtha content. So others, properly applied, can be buffed the day after completion - but those two may take a couple weeks or more to dry (lacquers do not "cure" - they dry only by solvent evaporation, which is why you have to avoid thick application! That results in trapped solvents, soft films, and possibly blisters and peeling).

    This is a wet film gage - really an essential tool to avoid guessing at thickness:

    wet film thickness gage.jpg
     
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  3. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    I spray mine pretty thin for no other reason I want that worn look sooner. I have a tele neck MIM it looks like it was dipped. I think it's more a personal preference. Also on my lacquered finger boards i'll stay the board before I fret. And will tape it off when spray the rest of the neck .
     
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  4. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    Thank you for the replies Silverface & SacDAve.

    I did not apply sanding sealer because I had read another thread that it was not typically done on maple necks. One thing I realize now is that I should have grain filled the skunk stripe.

    I think the rest of the neck is thick enough but I am now having to build up more on the back to fill in those pores. That grain that I thought I could see on the headstock seems to be gone after sanding. I will have to inspect further.

    I know it took a surprising amount of coats to fill in grain on my other necks when I was using Colortone clear. Not sure if it's my imagination but is seems like the Reranch clear has more solids?

    Will post some photos soon.
     
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  5. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    It may be slightly higher but lacquer is still a very poor "filler". Not really anything else you can do, though, at this point. Sanding sealer would have helped as it has some grain-filling properties; it might have also smoothed out your skunk stripe issue. If the stripe is a problem along the entire length then more coats is the safest way to go - if it's just a few spots you can drop-fill with thin superglue.

    As you add coats DO NOT be tempted to lay on thicker coats to speed up the process - that can easily cause solvent entrapment, resulting in a soft film and a dry time of weeks - or months. You can also end up with blush.
     
  6. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    Well, I think it was plenty thick. One more coat on the back, along with sanding took care of the grain in the skunk stripe.

    Unfortunately I have stayed consistent with my habit of screwing things up the first time when it came to removing the lacquer from the frets.

    I attempted a knife method based on Crimson guitars youtube video. Mine did not come off easily like in the video. After a few mistake I seem to have sorted things out with a combination of a notched penny and a knife?

    Thought on touching up the 5 or 6 blunders?

    I was thinking I could spray some of the tinted aerosol lacquer in a small jar, mix with lacquer thinner and touch up with a tiny model brush.

    neck_01.jpg neck_02.jpg neck_03.jpg
     
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  7. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    that looks really good, now you have to start wearing it off.
     
  8. ladave

    ladave Tele-Holic

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    Thanks! That would be cool if I end up playing it enough to show some wear.

    I'm fairly happy with the result for a first maple board but I'm sure they come out much nicer when sprayed before the frets as you do.
     
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  9. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    Next one try spraying the board first see if you like doing it that way, It's all bout finding what works for you and having fun. Myself i've never found a good way to remove lacquer from frets.
     
  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    There is a thread on another lutherie forum right now about building guitars with repairability in mind. Several people who work on guitars have listed things that particularly bug them or they charge more or in some cases, just simply won't do. Thick finishes on Fender (and Rickenbacker) fretboards was one of them.

    I don't do maple fretboards or one piece necks so it doesn't matter to me, but each time I build a guitar I try to think of the poor service person who will have to do a refret or reset or any one of many repairs in the future.
     
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