This is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar – Part Thirty Five – Preparing for Finishing. This is where I’ll show you the final steps to prepare the acoustic guitar body for a fantastic finish either by hand or a spray. Enjoy.
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Preparing the Guitar for Finishing
Now that the acoustic guitar is fully constructed, it’s time to start preparing the instrument to receive a finish. This is an important step in the process, because a finish will only look as good as the surface that you apply it to.
If your guitar has a lot of scratches on it, is poorly built, and has other defects, it won’t matter how well you apply the finish. The look will be no better, and the guitar actually might look a little worse than before you started.
In contrast, if you spend a little time on preparing your instrument prior to finishing, you can expect much better results. This will mean a much better looking instrument for all of your effort, and a lifetime of compliments.
This is really what you’re trading this last little bit of your time for. If you spend a couple hours making the guitar look awesome before finishing, it can mean a lifetime of positive remarks. In contrast, if you blow through this, it could be a lifetime of people pointing out flaws.
When you take a look at the exercise through that lens, it makes the couple hours you may need to invest seem like an instant in comparison. In reality, compared to a lifetime, a couple hours is an instant.
If you missed last week, here is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar Part 34.
Inspect the Guitar Thoroughly and Mark Problems
Inspect every single part, every single section, and every single area you can lay your eyes on. Mark everything you find with a piece of blue painters tape, that way you don’t have to worry about finding the same mistakes to repair later on.
Take the time to examine the entire instrument at this point. Looking for mistakes while you’re not tired and possibly a little frustrated from fixing defects will encourage you to actually mark all of them.
If you do this process while you’re half upset about having to fix them all, you may tend to skip some of the ones that feel minor to you. In reality, if you can find it, so can someone else, and you should mark it for repair.
Remove all Defects One at a Time
Once you have the instrument fully marked, it’s time to start addressing the defects one at a time. More specifically, one area at a time. There are several reasons for this, but the one reason I’ll give you is the absolute most important.
If you work all over the guitar at once, and mostly repair every section but not fully repair every section, you can spend several hours and not have anything checked off in the done column. This is really depressing.
Instead, as you start completing section after section, and putting them behind you, you start to build momentum. It is this momentum that carries you with a more positive attitude to the other sections of the guitar that also need your help.
As you get to those sections being more positive, you perform the work better, and more thoroughly. This process builds on itself over and over again, and eventually you finish the guitar with a smile on your face.
See Also: 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing
Inspect the Guitar Again and Address Defects
After your initial round of repairs, go back and inspect the instrument again. Essentially, these repairs will have been anything from removing scratches and dings, too filling defects or cracks that may need attention.
Even after you do all of that, wipe down the guitar really well with a clean cloth, and examine it a second time. You would be surprised how many extra things you can find, and possibly how many you might’ve added during the repair process.
As you find them, repeat the same process of taping them to identify them, and then begin the repairs. Keep on going until you are satisfied that you can’t find anything wrong with the guitar, and then proceed to the next step.
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Find a Place to Finish
Before you can apply a world-class finish to your instrument, you have to find a place where you can apply it. This area will need to meet several requirements, but thankfully it’s pretty easy for you to set it up.
You need a room that is clean, and doesn’t have dust floating around in the air. It also needs to have good ventilation, and a way to circulate the air without creating a storm of debris that can stick to the wet finish of the instrument.
The room also has to be at least at average room temperature, and a little warmer doesn’t hurt. It should be indoors, and there should be a place to hang your instrument while you are finishing.
If you can’t meet all of these requirements, definitely don’t skip the safety concerns, but think of alternative methods to handle the other stuff. For example, you might have to hold the guitar up for a while, and then go hang it someplace else to dry.
Alternatively, you may not be able to circulate air very well in the room where you apply the finish, but as long as there’s good ventilation you can still use the area. Again, make safety you’re number one concern, because it’s very important.
See Also: Why I Wear Safety Glasses
Prepare a Hanging Method for the Guitar
One of the best things that you can do is prepare a method of hanging the guitar, which frees up both of your hands for the finishing work. This is a great feeling, because finishing for the first couple of times can be a little bit nerve-wracking, and you’ll have more control.
Your hanging system can be as simple as a wire hanger that’s bent into the shape of a hook. You can flop it over a closet rod, or an overhead garage door track. Either way, as long as you can hang the guitar you’re doing fine.
You may have to get a little creative with this method, just make sure that the guitar can’t swing into walls, and is placed somewhere very secure. The last thing you want to happen is your instrument fall from your hanger, and end up broken on the floor.
Coming Up Next Week
Next week, the how to make an acoustic guitar series continues with applying the finish. I’ll provide examples of different types of finishes, but the primary method will be finishing by hand.
There are a lot of fantastic examples in the world of hand applied and finishes, and even if you don’t have spray equipment you can finish it by hand really well. You can also do it without spending a lot of money, which is great.
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