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Problems with Waterslide Decals on DIY Pedal Projects

Discussion in 'Burnt Fingers DIY Effects' started by debrad, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. debrad

    debrad TDPRI Member

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    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Hi everyone,

    Tried searching TDPRI (and the web) for help on this one but can't seem to find anyone experiencing the same issues.

    I have finished several DIY pedal enclosures in the past and always used the same method: sand the aluminum box, spray with self-etching primer, colour coat with Dupli-Color lacquer, spray with Dupli-Color clear lacquer, apply waterslide decals (typically Testor's ink-jet waterslide decal paper) which have been sealed with mist coats of same said Dupli-Colour clear lacquer, bury decal(s) with lacquer coats, and wet-sand to final finish.

    This method has worked on my pedal project as well as several guitar headstocks.

    I am currently working on 4 pedal projects and followed the same routine on all four but I just cannot seem to bury those decals! As I'm shooting the clear, the edges APPEAR to be buried but once that coat dries, there is a sharp edge where the decal ends. I spray another coat...the edge appears to be buried...and then it dries with a sharp edge.

    When I wet sand the pedal face, the edge disappears and I can get a pretty nice, flat, uniform looking surface but when I come back the next day, the decal appears to have "swollen" higher than the surrounding area. More wet sanding will make everything flat again but after some time, the decal appears to sit higher than the surrounding area again.

    I've read that it can take a LOT of coats to bury these decals but, as I said, I have NEVER experienced this with any of my other project and I swear I've spray 1, 1.5, maybe even 2 full aerosol cans of clear onto a couple of these pedals and I still can't bury the decals.

    Has anyone else experienced this? Any ideas on what might be happening and/or how I can overcome the issue?

    Any help would be MOST appreciated!

    - brad -
     
  2. nofrets

    nofrets Tele-Meister

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    Location:
    West Virginia
    I doubt this is it, but just in case: are you using a block when you wetsand? If not, you may not be leveling the lacquer, but rather leaving it thicker on the body of the decal, and thinner at the edges. As the lacquer shrinks, that edge will reappear.

    P
     
  3. joeford

    joeford Friend of Leo's

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    Location:
    st. louis, illinois
    my cure all for waterslides is a coat of brush on poly:
    1. apply the decal
    2. seal the decal with a coat or two of spray nitro or poly (if you brush directly to the ink, it'll pull the ink)
    3. light sand to remove gloss
    4. one thick coat of brush on poly
    5. level sand
    6. clear coat
    never had an issue with it. poly dries really hard and won't sink down. you'll get there eventually by clear coating over and over again... but one coat of brush on poly is equivalent to probably a dozen coats of spray lacquer
     
  4. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Tele-Holic

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    Johnson City, TN
    My guess would be that whatever clear coat you are using does not have as a high a solids content as whatever you have used prior.

    It still could be the same product from the same maker, but with a lower solids content the dried film thickness of a normal layer is going to be much thinner.

    I would suggest giving the top coat more time to dry before level sanding. It is not so much that the decal is 'rising up' but that the topcoat is continuing to shrink back.
     
  5. debrad

    debrad TDPRI Member

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    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2005
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks everyone!

    Nofrets' comment about the block got me thinking a little. I always use a block but for single sized stomp boxes my "block" is typically a small "pink pearl" eraser. It's a little old so it's pretty hard but I wondered if it was still flexible enough to prevent me from really "levelling".

    I piled on a few more coats of clear lacquer over the weekend and I have a feeling that Keyser Soze is probably right...either the solid content is low or I'm just being impatient and not spraying enough coats. I'll keep on spraying and keep you posted!

    In the meantime, I'm definitely considering the fact that poly finishes might be a better option for stomp box projects. I suppose the only issue is finding a compatible product to use for the base colours since I don't think I can poly over a lacquer base...correct?
     
  6. debrad

    debrad TDPRI Member

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    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2005
    Location:
    Burlington, Ontario, Canada
    Well...I have added a lot more coats to one of the pedals and it appears to be SLOWLY getting there. Sanded back to flat yesterday...completely flat...and this morning I can see the decal outline again (sigh).

    I did a couple other pedals on the weekend and followed some advice I read about cutting the decals "full-face" (i.e. the decal covers the full face of the pedal so the edges line up with the edges of the pedal). So far this looks like the best solution and, if I think back to my previous succesful pedal projects, I think they too were "full face" or at least closer to full face than what I am currently trying to do.

    As a result, I have more than a sneaking suspicion that I will be doing a lot of sanding this weekend as I try to start these 2 or 3 trouble makers all over again!
     
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