EQUIPMENT: Using a clean, quality spray gun is the only way to even hope to get a quality finish. Control is everything and cheap spray guns can be extremely frustrating when they clog, spit, spray erratically or just plain don't work at all.
I recently visited a professional refinisher to get some tips on buying a spray gun. His comment was that "None of them are worth a sh_t!"
I've since learned that he is right... IF YOU DON'T CLEAN THE GUN RELIGIOUSLY. If you don't know how to clean a spray gun, there are many videos on line that explain how. Once you know how, the trick is to clean the gun immediately after use... every time. It takes about 3 minutes.
The saddle needs to carved to compensate for the varying string diameters. The whole story as to why compensation is needed is a bit tedious to get into here. Suffice it to say that tension on the string is one of the determinants of pitch. Thicker strings required more pressure to fret and, thus, the pitch is raised further than on the thinner strings. That's part of it.
The other part is that the vibrating string length of thicker strings is shorter (conversely, the dead length is longer). Thus, the amount of compensation of the 'E' string is greater than the compensation of the 'e' string.
For a more complete explanation Google: "Guitar String Compensation"
HVLP (High Volume, Low Pressure)
The gun pictured above costs less than $200 and when I bought it I also committed to cleaning it immediately after every use. I've done that and it works great!
I have described the finishing process previously on this website (September, 2016). There are also quite a few videos on line that explain all that you need to know about the equipment and techniques.
The one thing that first-time, home-shop luthiers might find surprising (and difficult) is the amout of hand sanding and polishing required to get a high gloss finish like one sees on manufactured instruments. What production facilities have in equipment, experience and capital investment, the home-shop luthier must make up for in hand and shoulder work with multiple grades of sandpaper and sweat! The finish is the first thing that people will see and judge... before they hear the guitar played. That's just the way it is.
Shaping the Neck
Shaping the Bridge
Shaping the Nut and Saddle
Dimensions are "Advisory"
Don't let being great get in the way of being good.
See you next month.
All of the work pictured above happens before the neck is dovetail jointed to the body. Once the neck is roughed down to approximate shape, and the heel is veryclose to its final shape, the neck and the body are joined. The remainder of the neck carving takes place after the neck and the body are joined and the truss rod and finished fretboard are in place.
The final shaping of the neck and fretboard together must be carefully controlled. The truss rod is already embedded in the neck and, unless care is taken, one might remove too much wood from the back of the neck and the truss rod begins to appear. This is NOT good.
Woody uses three simple templates of the desired neck cross section at the 2nd, 5th and 10th fret. These are easy to make from styrofoam and they profile sections the design guitar neck. Each template represents the sectional width, depth and curvature of the finished neck and fretboard at different points down the neck. Check your work against the templates often.
VENTILATION: If your 'spray booth' ventilation system is the same as your home HVAC system... forget it.
To spray 6-8 coats of lacquer and sealer on your guitar you need to take it outside of the air that you and your family are breathing (i.e. take it outdoors). Be mindful of humidity and bugs and you will be OK. Inhaling finishing fumes while you're sleeping is not OK.
Carve to Compensate Saddle