Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lacquer? I LOVE her!

I asked Ethan about lacquering the headstock of the Warmoth neck I'm getting. Specifically, I was concerned about the lacquer getting all over the rest of the neck. Here's what he said:

"I use artist tape (fancy masking tape) around the edges of the headstock and on the end of the fingerboard, then I wrap the rest of the neck in a big rag. When spraying, the stuff gets everywhere so it even pays to mask off the back of the neck and headstock.

Try three thin coats of black, about twenty or thirty minutes apart, then a whole lot of coats of clear. I wouldn't do more than three or four coats per day. Too much build-up all at once will cause the finish to "orange peel" (get all bumpy). When you get past five clear coats or so, you can start waiting a day between single coats and VERY lightly steel-wooling the coats with 0000 steel wool.

After a few more coats, a professional shop would wait a week or so and then buff it out on a buffing wheel. Since I'm not a pro, and don't have a buffing wheel, I wait a week and then smooth the finish out with abrasive cloth called 'Micro-Mesh', which is made for polishing. If you're really a masochist, you could use fingernail buffers - the kind they have at nail salons. They're cheap, and they'll work, but it would be a lot of surface area to cover with such a small polishing stick. Sounds like fun, huh?"
Boy does it ever!

But wait, there's more:

Lacquer dries very fast. It cures slowly, like any other paint, but it dries extremely fast. Some of the paint particles dry in the air and those build up as little "pimples" or spatter in the finish. The wool smooths those out in preparation for final polishing. The idea is to steel-wool it lightly enough to smooth those spots into the surrounding finish, but not actually go through to the previous coat.

I turned steel-wool into a verb. Cool.
Ethan thinks the old Zenith label would make a great decal on a guitar headstock. I'm thinking I'm going to have a "Bear" guitar with a "Rosenblatt" version of a Warmoth neck. Apparently one of his instruments is called a "Blattocaster" but mine will be a... Pandora Machine?

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