Saturday, June 19, 2010

Refinishing Part the second

I've been meaning to update this for a while now, but I've been busy painting, working, and playing Red Dead Redemption. I've done a lot to the guitar in the week or two that has elapsed since the last post, and I'm probably not far from finishing the job (the painting part of it anyway -- the new electrics are another job entirely) After sanding away the paint to look at the wood, I decided to do a more sensible job on the rest of the guitar.I worked with a succession of lower and lower grades of sandpaper and wet n' dry. By the end the guitar was as smooth as a teflon dolphin. In the process of sanding it down I was able to confirm something I'd noticed when I first got it.

That little black dot is the filled-in remains of a hole drilled for a left-handed strap button. This means that at some point in the last 30 years, my guitar was owned by a left handed, but not hugely picky guitarist. This is one of the things I love about getting an old guitar -- there's more mystery, I feel like a musical archaeologist.

The first coat of primer didn't go on very well. The patches of bare wood just seemed to drink it up. I ended up using the entire can without getting it anywhere near smooth enough to put the color coat on. I think the paint (made by Keen) was not very well suited to the task. I went out at the weekend and bought some more white primer -- this time by a company called "painter's choice" -- from homebase. I've never bought spray paint from a shop before. I had to ask someone to go and unlock the case they keep them in, and got eyeballed by the cashier when I went to pay.

For all that work though, it was much better paint. I had to learn a different technique for applying it, as it was much thicker and more runny than the other stuff. The first time I tried to use it I got runs and drips all over the guitar which essentially meant I had to sand away everything I did that day. I found the best way was to apply it in short sprays, adding more layers every 20 minutes or so. Over several evenings during the week I used this technique to get a good, even coat over the whole guitar. After a week of spraying the finish was nice and smooth and covered the texture of the wood effectively.
One thing that it didn't occur to me to do, which I will certainly do next time I'm working on a guitar, is to get some kind of woodfiller or glue and fill in all the dings and dents before I start finishing. Although the thick layer of paint has covered up the smaller dents and scratches, the big ones (which has guitar has more than its share of) are still noticeable.

Today I had a go with the green spray paint. This was the same brand as the fairly useless white primer -- so I was worried that it wouldn't be enough to cover the guitar properly. It seems these fears were unfounded though, as it covered the guitar brilliantly and fast. In fact, if rain had not forced me to bring the guitar in before it was properly dry (putting some smeary fingerprints on it in the process) I think one coat would probably have been enough.

I don't know if the weather is going to cooperate tomorrow, but if it does, I plan to get the color coat finished. I wont bother putting the clearcoat on yet though. That can wait until later in the week. I need to get some rubbing compound too, or it will not look sufficiently shiny.
The color looks a little strange in this picture, almost metallic. It's a trick of the light -- in reality the color is exactly like this, which is the look I was going for.