Having bought all of the bits and pieces, I had to actually work on the guitar. Essentially, this consisted of three stages: preparation (sanding, basically!), finishing (applying the lacquers) and assembly. This part looks at the preparation stage.
The body and neck were supplied in a condition where they were already sanded and treated with a sealer. Indeed, they were already close to being OK, and perhaps if I’d been applying a thick paint finish they would already have been broadly acceptable, but I wanted to spray it with nitrocellulose lacquer which is a thin covering (actually, several very thin layers), and any imperfections in the wood would be quite noticeable. In addition, the cavities and holes that had been routed out or drilled had not been cleaned up, and I didn’t want to leave rough surfaces on the interior of the guitar. Certainly I wasn’t going to get them to the same level of smoothness as the outer parts, but I didn’t want really rough surfaces or splinters, so sorting that out was my first job.
To do this, I took the drill attachments that I bought and used two of them to sand inside the cavities and holes in the body.
That was the attachment I used the most, which was cylindrical, with a flat bottom so that I could sand the bottom of the cavities as well as the sides. The big advantage is that this device can get into all of the corners which I wouldn’t be able to reach by hand. I also used the smaller of the two bullet-shaped attachments to go inside the holes for the controls and smooth the inside of those.
It took a bit of time to go around all of the cavities and holes, but it worked brilliantly – they ended up much smoother than before, and all of the edges were nice and clean. I highly recommend this method for use in the cavities where you don’t have room to get in with a sanding block. Here’s a repeat photo of the rear cavity after sanding. You can’t really see a huge difference in the photo, but you can at least see that I’ve got rid of the splinters by the hole on the right, compared with the picture on the previous page.
I also sanded the whole body and neck several times with different grades of sandpaper until I was happy that they were ready for the lacquer, and then I rigged up handles for each of them so that I could hold them a bit away from me while I was spraying on the lacquer, including large hooks so that I could hang them up to dry between coats.
I also masked off the fretboard completely, making sure that I was very accurate about masking on the line between the neck and the fretboard.
Since I sanded the bodies again, I thought it was wise to reapply sanding sealer. I bought four kinds of lacquer, to be applied in order of sanding sealer, clear blue gloss, purple gloss and clear gloss. After each coat, the body and neck were hung up to dry for several hours before the next could be applied, and this was done over a period of several days.
The next step is finishing with the coloured lacquers, in part 3…