R9 Top Refinish

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Freddy G, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Hi All,
    I'm refinishing a Les Paul top. Thought some of you might be interested in the process. I'll be posting lots of pix and info along the way.
    This top will be changed to a "Lemon Drop" colour scheme.
    Here is the guitar stripped of hardware.
    [​IMG]

    Next shot is in the middle of scraping the lacquer off. Now if any of you had seen my ES-335 video of the rubbery lacquer refinish, let me just say that this lacquer was not like that at all....it wasn't exactly crystaline, but it wasn't too rubbery either. I used a rectangular scraper to remove the lacquer. But first I resharpened it with a mill file and a diamond sharpening stone to get a nice clean, sharp square edge. I did not burnish the edge or bend a hook on it. This simple yet formidable tool took the lacquer off in very short order, maybe 15 minutes of work.

    [​IMG]

    I flex the scraper with my thumbs and hook my fingers around the corners. You don't want the corners of the scraper digging into the top.

    [​IMG]

    Also, you have to be careful around holes and cavities, you can easliy end up with an adjacent "ditch" if you scrape over a hole or cavity. It takes a bit of practice. Here I'm demonstrating on a scrap peice of wood.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    But I'm comfortable with this tool, and I'll only use a chemical stripper as a last resort.

    Now I move to my random orbit palm sander loaded with 220 grit paper, and sand the top. Notice that I have my shopvac hose attached to the sander. I stayed clear of the fretboard edge binding because the edge of the sandpaper would cut a groove into it. Also, I'm very careful not to change the shape of the top. You have to be careful not to round the edge of the body over (where the binding is), or create any flat spots etc.

    [​IMG]

    I taped the fingerboard binding off with electrical tape so that I can hand sand right up to the corner without touching the binding. The whole top was hand sanded with 280 grit garnet paper using a flexible foam rubber backing pad. That's all for today. :)

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Penny Dreadful

    Penny Dreadful Banned

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    Beautiful job Fred!

    Yep, thats my guitar!
     
  3. nicolasrivera

    nicolasrivera Senior Member

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    Thanks for sharing, looking forward for all the process as it look like a very nice learning process.
     
  4. Zonkers

    Zonkers Member

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    Wow, bold undertaking, and it looks great so far! Why did you keep the bushings in, btw?
     
  5. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    Bold? Nah...

    Why pull the bushings?
     
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  6. gtr-tek

    gtr-tek Fumble Fingers Premium Member

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    I've seen plenty of Gibson's that came from the factory where they were painted with the bushings in.
     
  7. cooljuk

    cooljuk Transducer Producer Premium Member MLP Vendor

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    Subscribed!

    Thank you for sharing.
     
  8. Tim Plains

    Tim Plains Senior Member

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    Very cool! Can't wait to see the end result.
     
  9. jworle01

    jworle01 Senior Member

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    Good chance to add a steeper contour to the top :naughty:
    That is a nice looking piece of wood though for sure!
     
  10. Mike60

    Mike60 V.I.P. Member

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    great work,Fred...are you doing the guitar work full-time out of NOTL now or are you still sometimes in Welland?
     
  11. The baron of norsworthy

    The baron of norsworthy Senior Member

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    I like it natural, how does it sound when unfinished compared to finished??:cool:

    Did you clear the laquer out the pickup cavities as well?
     
  12. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    I did not string it up after I stripped the lacquer. I've done that experiment many times before and I know from experience that it always sounds better "in the white". The real issue will be "will it sound better after I've refinished it?"

    No I'm not going to strip the lacquer out of the pup cavities. Since the colour in the cavities is already yellow / amber I'll just mask them off before applying colour, which as I said will be lemon drop....it should match perfectly.


    Hi Mike, yes, I'm working full time in NOTL except for when I need to mill rough lumber, then I'll spend a day in Welland.
     
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  13. JJ Blair

    JJ Blair Senior Member

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    Nice! What year is it?
     
  14. Penny Dreadful

    Penny Dreadful Banned

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    JJ, its a 2007 R9.
     
  15. Mildperv

    Mildperv Senior Member

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    Did you heat the laquer up before scraping?
     
  16. Freddy G

    Freddy G V.I.P. Member

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    No
     
  17. mono

    mono Senior Member

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    Very cool - thank you for taking the time to document the process and answer questions.
    Can't wait to see the finished article. Details such as sandpaper grit are appreciated too :)
     
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  18. renthepen

    renthepen Senior Member

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    Cool thread. I can't wait to see your pro tricks to get the Lemon Drop sheme. I actually tried to do that on my last LP kit but it turned out like a Honey Burst! :lol:
     
  19. Gsump

    Gsump Member

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    Screw the R9 refinish, I'm impressed with Freddy's immaculate workshop! My workbench looks like the aftermath of a natural disaster.
     
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  20. dickjonesify

    dickjonesify Senior Member

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    +1 on that :lol:
     

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