Monday, May 21, 2007

Been a while

It's been a while, but I'm again working on the guitar. The delay in its completion was numerous other projects and school work. It took an hour to paint on the web by hand. I scrapped masking it with tape first then painting, it looked too artificial. I like having my hand print on the guitar.

To touch up some wayward lines, i used 600 grit sandpaper and very lightly sanded off the paint. The stain could be removed or lighted if sanded, so i was careful. Once the paint dries I will then be on the final step before assembly.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The smell of getting close

This is the result of three days of work. I did some fine sanding on the pickguard and then began to reverse paint the image on the plexiglas. This means painting on the side that is mounted to the guitar. The spider was painted first: Several coats of crimson red with two coats of white behind it. Then the black background was added using a small roller. I probly went a little overkill on this part- but i coated the back at least 5 times with the black paint.

All of these steps were first tested on scrap plexiglas to make sure I wasn't going to screw up. I sped the process of drying with a small travel hair dryer. It was important to make sure the layers were very dry before recoating... Pulling up a chuck of the spider with the roller would probly have made me cry. The entire painting process took around 3 hours.

The next morning I cut some tinfoil to fit across the VOL, TUNE, 'and switch thingy' as i saw on the orignal pickguard. This is to ground the switches. I grabed some spay adhesive and applyed the tinfoil. Then with a penknife (somthing I have fallen in love with over this project) i cut out the screw holes and knob holes of extra tinfoil. Store bought.

Also I stained neck around this time. I used some ebony stain i picked up at home depot. This was a premixed can (not tinted) so it showed the beautiful grain better. That also ment i got several hundred times more than i needed.

I marked off the fretboard and frets from the neck with blue painters tape. It took two coats for the neck to get to the proper color. I lightly sanded the stained wood with a brown paper bag to remove any grain rise. Then after 36 hours I lacquered the neck twice in 2 hours, far sooner than the directions indicated. It was very dry and warm so the lacquer dried in half the perscribed time. Again a brown paper bag removed grain rise after the 2 coats.

I will not be recoated the neck again... Seems that it is traditional to keep it a thin coat (one that with enough use can be rubbed off). Should that happen, just another thin coat of Minwax will fix it. Minwax can be reaplyed over old coats with out stripping.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pickguard Fabricated!

Just over 2.5 hours of work and i have finished the pickguards creation. All that is left to do is paint it and that segment of this project is done. It really pumps me up to have compleated somthing that i can point to, and say 'See, this will be finished'.

It has also become dry enough for me to start testing the lacqor that i bought. I applied a thin coat across the same board that i had sanded, stained, and painted with a small version of the acrylic paint webs. In 2 hours time, another coat. Tommarow, i will see if i can get started painting my guitar's body.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Creating a pickguard

I spent the better part of today fabricating a pick guard from plexiglas. Yup, made it myself. I was wondering how i could get a pickguard with out paying 28$ (im cheep). And to refinish it I had to recoat it with somthing that wouldn't chip or scratch. My first two ideas were the same coating I was planning to do for the guitar, or perhaps an automotive finish. I was figuring I probly could make a pickguard out of some thin wood, then it hit me.

I had some 1/8" plexiglas sitting in the garage. Perfect thickness! This is where art beats sound. Ah well. I'm going to reverse paint the spider and then the black bg on the back of pickguard. When viewed from the front, the paint is safely hidden behind 1/8" plexiglas and can not be chipped! Now i might still have to coat the plexiglas to make it harder to scratch... but that getting ahead of myself.

It took me about 3 hours to build the first prototype and test different methods of cutting/drilling plexiglas. The last hour was spent building the final version. All thats left is to cut the holes out for the pickups and toggle. I would like to point out that all the screw holes are slighly countersunk. If you don't do that, when you screw in the screws it'll crack the pickguard (somthing that had happend to the old one). Depends on the screws if you have to do that or not.

Somethings i've learned is to cut at a moderate pace with a skill saw. 1Too slow and the plastic reforms behind the blade, too fast and it chips the plastic. 2: A very fine toothed blade must be used. 3: Operate the drill at medium fast speeds and ever so slighly have it touch the plastic. it took me anywhere from 5 seconds to nearly a minute to drill thru 1/8". Also piliot drill with a very small drill bit, 2mm or so should do it.

Sanding the neck

Well, this post is a few days late in uploading. I sanded the neck and head of the guitar (without touching the fretboard) in a mere hour by hand. I started with 40 grit, breifly touched it with some 60 grit, then spent the rest of the time polishing at 220. I noted that the stains directions that I will be using on the neck says to sand at 120 for a dark stain or 160 for a lighter stain. Over the top for best results i say.

This ment taking the tuning stuff off. Piece of cake: 2 screws and a screwdriver to push out the little... cap... thingys.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How the web

A very important part of my design was the web accents across the body of the guitar. Inlay sees a bit over the top for this kind of project, so I started looking into other alternitives. The paint I ended up choosing has made all the difference.

I've used blue masking tape to outline the webs strands for clean and crisp lines. I take a strip of take and sketch in the line i plan to paint using a pencil. Then a single cut with an exacto knife and i peel up the two halfs and place them onto the body. I take care only to press firmly on the very edge of the blue tape that the paint will come in contact with. Three to five coats later and when i hold it up to catch light it looks seamless and as professional as inlay would be.

I tested this on a scrap piece of wood i found in the garage. Not a cheap or shody plank. I stained it and plan to lacquer it in the same way as the guitar. Kind of a test strip. As I am driving to Conn. tommarow I will be unable to lacquer it untill sunday, plenty of drying time.


Yesterday I bought a can of Minwax stain. Pretty sweet. Today I spent an hour preping the guitar. Last finishing touches and such. After i was sure i was ready, I laid out some paper, got a foam brush and started staining. I can see where i missed sanding some areas, but as my mother says 'it adds depth'. The only real trouble spot is covered by the pick guard anyways.

Refering back to my design, i've been thinking about how to realize the spiderweb. I was planning on doing some hardcore inlay work... but i just dont want to spend that much time on this project. A paperthin piece of polished metal came to mind, but it was sugested to me to use acryic silver paint. Its far more reflective than any normal acrylic.

Letting the stain dry now.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Finishing up the sanding

This morning i went over the entire guitar body with 220 grit and removed what looks like some varnish or somthing that pentrated deeper into the wood. Every time i go out i find another spot so this may go on for a while.

I need to decide on the stain I am going to use on the body.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Been a while

Its been quite some time without working on the guitar, but I was buisy with other projects. Today I spent 2 hours sanding and using varnish remover to try and rid myself from the last of the guitar body coating. Perhaps another hour and I will be ready to do the fine sanding.

Found this article and I am very glad. Now i have the excuse of 'improving audio quality' to add reason (and sanity) to this bloody sanding. Also I now have a starting point for how to finish my guitar.

I've drafted an email to send to the author of the site figuring he'll know if its a good idea to use acrylic and inlay silver (or aluminum or whatever i can afford) on the guitars surface. Also wether i must sand out the internal cavities of the guitar and wether staining the wood is a good idea. But keep in mind this was born as an art project, not an audiophile's wet dream.

Part 2: We'll i went out some more this afternoon and sanded for another 2 hours. The sanding (even fine grit!) is allmost done. I ended up using a dremel very carfully for the edging and concave curves that could not be reached by my palm sander.

I'm going to look into the neck now... i really don't want to sand it.