Wednesday, 1 May 2013

12 String 335 - Sanding Woes

So, being the ever enthusiastic, noob guitar finisher that I am, I almost ruined my 335 project before it even got started. I've been at it for a couple of weeks now inbetween work commitments. Started sanding with 260 grade wet and dry paper, and after one session progressed up to 360. All was going well, but (regular) work started to get in the way. For 10 minutes here and there I would pick up the sanding block, throw the 360 grit on there and just slough away. This went on for some days, actually kinda some weeks. I never kept track of just how many times I had 'completely' sanded the thing with 360 grit but it was a few let me tell you.

And then one day I noticed a few small flaws creeping into the front surface of the guitar. On the headstock, a dark, uneven ridge appeared. On the guitar top towards the base of the veneer panel join (running the length of the top where the matched veneer halves join) the glue seam was looking like it was thinning and opening. All evidence seemed to point to the fact that I was about to sand through the maple veneer on both the top and the headstock.

And so my sanding efforts came to a grinding halt. My finishing plan, at least the sanding and dying part of it, went straight out the window. I was planning a trace dye and sand-back to pop the grain before moving on to 400 and 600 grits. No such possibility now. Instead I looked for alternative methods to pop the grain that would not involve any more sanding. Fortunately i came across this youtube video from Bill of Canadianbreed Guitars.

This method uses only one dye pass, but pops the grain by applying a darker concentration of dye over the top of a lighter concentration while the first wash is still wet. The aim is to get the more concentrated dye into the figured grain whilst the non-figured wood, still wet from the less concentrated wash, accepts no more colour. Bill applies his method with vintage amber, and then deepens the effect using Tru-Oil. The oil essentially soaks into the figure to enhance the visual effect. His results look impressive and I was convinced to follow in his footsteps...