Painting Questions

Discussion in 'DIY Strat Forum' started by Shep1990, May 20, 2020.

Which of the three courses should I take

  1. Sand back down to wood and start again

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. Sand colour and re-coat

    4 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. Cover with clear and hope it looks good after

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  1. Shep1990

    Shep1990 New Member!

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    Hey from sunny Australia,
    This post will likely involve lots of novice questions - my apologies in advance.

    I recently came across a 1986 MIJ Strat in candy apple red with the fender System One trem (ugghhh) - despite the trem system a beautiful guitar. I wasn’t keen on the finish and it was in pretty poor condition. Chips through to wood all over the place.

    Given the time we all have on our hands at the moment I decided to give refinishing it a go. I’ve taken it apart, finished the neck with a sanding to a satin finish (feels amazing) and wired in some Lace Copperheads to a nice new cream three ply pickguard.

    The issue I’m having is with finishing the body. I’m now on my third attempt and still not winning - both other times I’ve taken it back to the bare wood by both sanding and heat gun stripping. That part of it went well, and I sanded throughout with 180, 240 and 320 grit in turn, until the whole thing felt smooth.

    I then sealed with a sanding sealer and went over all the various tiny marks in the wood with a wood putty, and was super happy with the results (I didn’t do this first couple of times which explains my later issues). I then sprayed two coats of Rustoleum 2X white primer, sanding with 400 grit after the second until it felt completely smooth again. Some parts were more ‘white’ than others but the whole surface felt completely smooth.

    Cleaned with Shellite/Naphtha, tack clothed and hung up to paint again. I went over with a tack coat, then two decent coats, leaving it to dry overnight. Looked good but definitely evidence of primer scratches showing through.

    This morning I sanded it with 800 grit (dry) to a completely smooth surface again, and with the small sections where you could see sanding scratches from the primer showing through, made sure they felt as smooth as possible.

    Sprayed a further two coats today, with the intent of that being it on the colour front.

    I’ve attached a photo of the overall colour but when you look fairly closely you can still see marks from previous sanding where you couldn’t see them before.

    questions at this point;

    1.) Should I just go back to wood again and do everything again? And if so what should I change?

    2.) Should I sand more aggressively with let’s say 400 grit until the colour is completely smooth (probably won’t be a uniform colour) then re-spray with colour?

    Or 3.) Should I clear coat it in the hope this ‘melts’ in with the underlying colour coat?

    help! Thanks all!

    josh
     

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  2. mshivy

    mshivy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I think it looks great
    From my phone I can’t see any flaws, I zoomed in as much as possible

    I’d say live with the slight imperfections, but you really have to decide.

    great color, I think you did a fantastic job
    What is the color/brand?
     
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  3. Shep1990

    Shep1990 New Member!

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    That’s very kind of you. The photo was more relative to the overall colour I’ve gone for - it’s Duplicolor ‘Chlorophyll’ which is just amazing.
    The issues are a bit more obvious close up. I’ll see if I can get some better photos.
     
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  4. The Panhandler

    The Panhandler Strat-Talk Member

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    I cannot help you with your technical questions, but that is a really nice color. looking forward to the finished product.
     
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  5. Shep1990

    Shep1990 New Member!

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    Right - some pictures of exactly what I mean - these are pretty damning, and I thought I’d done such a good job with the sanding. Some of these I couldn’t feel at all and then the second I put paint on them this happens!
     

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  6. nadzab

    nadzab Peace & Love, my Brothers & Sisters... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I think you just need to spend more time sanding before you spray your color coats; take the body out into bright sunlight and examine it very closely, turning it over and looking at every surface from different angles. You will see those grooves that way. When you find them, spot-spray them with primer - you want to use a high-build automotive primer. Then you need to sand - always use a block, cylinder or sanding sponge, resist the temptation to just hold the sandpaper with your fingers - and repeat this process until you have a perfectly smooth base for the color coats. Heck, I would use a magnifying glass to be sure, because metallics are particularly prone to revealing the slightest imperfection in the base. Even if you clear over those grooves, they'll still be visible on close inspection.

    Also, I wouldn't go above 400 before the color coats, it's not necessary, and may actually be too smooth to give the color coat a good purchase - but you do need to eliminate those grooves. I'd change your sandpaper often, you might be getting clumps of primer sticking to it and digging into the coats. Again, use a good-quality automotive primer; personally, I avoid Rustoleum for guitar projects, I don't like the drying characteristics.

    Good luck - you're on your way to a great-looking guitar!
     
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  7. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Most Honored Senior Member

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    Is that something like acrylic lacquer? That stuff can act like that if you put it on too heavily. It can take the most minute scratch and make it into a big rut. When I did a motorcycle tank I had to put the color on in light coats, even though it wouldn't flow and form a shiny surface that way. I wasn't sure what would happen, but I then put on Spraymax 2K clear gloss and it then made an amazing smooth shine and brought out the flakes in the metallic red under it.

    My guess is that you need to sand it until it's smooth and then put on one last thin coat of lacquer, just enough to cover. Then you won't get those big ridges and you can clear over it without any sanding.

    That was the last time I'll use lacquer on something that I want to look nice. Better painters than I am can use it all they want though. :)
     
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  8. Hanson

    Hanson Strat-Talker

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    Paint reveals ALL imperfections in the prep processes. You start with rougher sand papers and work down to fine sand papers. Often applying a very light coat of paint or primer on the object being painted helps to see where more sanding is needed.

    Applying clear to a paint job that has imperfections will only make them show up more.

    If you keep track of all of the time you put into this process of painting, it helps to explain why guitars cost what they do.
     
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  9. mapleglo

    mapleglo Senior Stratmaster

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    Some of those scratches are deeper than 400 grit will address. If you want a perfectly smooth finish, you are probably going to have to knock it back down to the wood, or close to it. Finishing is all about prep work.

    When I want a perfectly smooth finish, I typically will seal the wood with epoxy. My brand of choice is West System. Not sure if it's available in your area. A few coats of that will fill most all the imperfections, like those sanding scratches you are seeing. Sanding that smooth to 320 or even 220 will typically provide a smooth enough base to get a perfectly smooth finish. My guess it that you missed those scratches, or didn't sand them smooth enough, before laying down your color coats. A primer coat will usually reveal those kind of imperfections.
     
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  10. Hanson

    Hanson Strat-Talker

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    You are correct Mapleglo, depending on the depth of those sand marks, those areas may go down to wood to remove them. The prep surface has to be perfectly smooth prior to painting or they will show up in the paint. It’s like painting a golf ball, you will still see the dimples unless they are filled or removed.

    I learned much about painting the hard way while restoring a couple of Mustangs in my younger years.
     
  11. Shep1990

    Shep1990 New Member!

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    Thank you all so much for this information. I suppose I was secretly hoping you’d all just say ‘yeah dude clear coat it and it’ll just be perfect and instantly fixed’ but totally knew I’d have to sand right back down.

    second question - is there a limit to how many times I should be sanding back down to wood? Concerned about the integrity of the wood now!
     
  12. Shep1990

    Shep1990 New Member!

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    I
    It is indeed an acrylic lacquer. Had the same issue with the first few goes.
     
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  13. mapleglo

    mapleglo Senior Stratmaster

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    Unless you are seriously reducing the depth of the body, I wouldn't worry about it. Even if you took it down 1/8", I doubt it would do any harm, and a typical level sanding would do much less than that.
     
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  14. Groovey

    Groovey Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

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    and use a sanding block, if your not.
     
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  15. nadzab

    nadzab Peace & Love, my Brothers & Sisters... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I'd agree - it's possible you could slightly alter the contours, but just be careful and it'll be fine. And as @Groovey said, use a block - always. That'll lessen the likelihood of weird dips & divots dramatically.
     
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  16. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    Sand with the grain. Harder than hell to remove cross-cut sand paper ridges.

    You've thought it out well and followed steps in a good order. But I'd also sand it down with finer grits before applying product, if you decide to strip it and start over.

    Multiple very light coats of product.

    Sadly, sanding "smooth as possible" can often be not smooth enough. "Possible" should be almost glass smooth once you have a few coats of any product on it.

    This is a learning process and I've had to strip and refinish bodies multiple times more than once. Every time I do one, it usually goes a little better than the last. Except when I decide to experiment with something else. There is a water-based Minwax whitewash stain that I've found excellent as a grain filler, by accident. High solids, raises the grain and fills.
     
  17. Shep1990

    Shep1990 New Member!

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    Thanks all of you.
    Aye - I went into it knowing it was a learning process and that realistically my first one was going to take a fair while to get right.
    I’ve taken all this stuff on board and will give it another crack starting tomorrow. Thanks again everyone, extremely helpful.
     
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  18. Crazybayman

    Crazybayman Strat-Talker

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    I have no idea about sanding / painting - however that colour is amazing.

    I'm in the market for a strat body as well. Was thinking black or white, however if I came across that colour I'd probably go for it
     
  19. Kestrel

    Kestrel Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I always take them down to the wood, then decide whats best, good grain I might clear lacquer, sometimes with a light wood stain, sometime I do a light colour wood dye, just do a wash to hilite the grain and lacquer on top, the last two I have done have been lightly sandblasted so to feel the grain under the laquer, these were very successful, I love them.
     
  20. Shep1990

    Shep1990 New Member!

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    Took it down to the smoothest I could get it - 320 first then 400. Much, much smoother than I’ve ever got it before, all dull with no shiny spots or imperfections.

    combination of paint and primer at this point - I’ll likely fill out the bits that are down to wood with primer and re-sand level, then re-paint. How does this sound?

    Funny. It looks kinda cool as it is!
     

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