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Stainless Steel Pickguard


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Howdy,

I recently bought a Slammer Explorer from a friend of mine for cheap in order to screw around with it (I'm sure none of you have ever done such a thing :D ). The original plan was to cover the whole top with diamond plate aluminum a la James Hetfield, but that proved expensive and a pain to get a hold of. Anywho, I ended up getting a 8x12 bit of stainless steel from Canadian Tire and started givin 'er with my Dremel and about a dozen cut-off wheels. It looks decent enough (shiny!) but I was wondering if anybody else had ideas of what to do. I've thought of sanding the top to make it extra shiny but I'm assuming that you would have to put some sort of finish on to keep it that way. Maybe even rusty would look cool as long as I can control the rust.

Thanks B):D

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I've made a couple guitars with stainless pickguards and cover plates. It depends on what you have to start with and its real hard to keep things flawless. I have a sheet of 16 ga. commercial grade stainless that I've been cutting pieces from. Its got striations running in one direction that have to be sanded out. I usually start with 320 then 400, 600, 800 and finally 1200. From there I use 6 micron diamond compound, then 1 micron and finally 1/4 micron, all by hand! Thats a lotta sanding and polishing. Leave out any one step and you've got problems. The surface has to be taken down by each increment or the finer grits won't remove the coarser scratchmarks. Its hard to get a perfect mirror finish but I can still see myself clearly. You can expect to see fine scratch marks accumulate from regular playing. But that will happen with any material.

Pickguard.jpg

http://img10.exs.cx/img10/9842/Cover.jpg

Edited by Southpa
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Generally speaking, you can polish up metal by wetsanding with 220, 320, 400, 600, 1200 (optional), and polishing compounds, altering the sanding direction by 90 degrees each grit.

However, you -could take a sanding disc and do cool swirly patterns on the pickguard with 400 or something; that is one of my fave looks for stainless steel. Just do a random swirl pattern that looks good on the guit!

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IMO I think that swirl patterns are not are not easy to achieve if you don't have a drill press, and you need to ba able to secure the pick guard good too so that it doen't dance all over the place (stainless and all sheet metal cut skin very easy). I will say to prep it really good, make sure that all the lines are straight and smooth and take it to get chrome plated. it will look outstanding with almost any finish.

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I've looked into it and was told that stainless steel cannot be chrome plated. Next time I'll just make stuff out of regular mild steel so it CAN be plated. And yes, you are right about cutting patterns etc. into stainless. Need some sort of incremental jig setup on a drill press to make sure everything is done evenly. I was thinking about using a dremel size (1/4" dia) flat faced sanding stone to get an overlapping "fish scale" pattern.

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I had a custom made intake manifold for a 1966 VW turbo and they were SS and they got Chrome Plated, I guess we puertoricans don't care what some bady say that can't be done! We took it to a bumper chrome plating place and they didn't even said that it might not work, he just did it and it turn out great!

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On hard metals I like to use a technique called "jewelling"... which requires some automotive grinding compound, a drill press, and a very small wire "brush". It's commonly used on custom rifles and hot-rods.

I'm having breakfast with another writer in a few minutes, but when I get back I will put together an explanation for everybody.

D~s

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if you have access to an acetylene torch, or a very hot blowtorch, what looks really cool is if you firstly polish the stainless to a high finish then get the torch close up to the metal until it starts to blacken slightly, then flick the torch in whichever direction you want, you end up with a kinda "paisley" pattern of burn marks, but because the stainless is highly polished, you get a kind of oily look, all fancy colours an ****. I'll try an get a pic up to show you, but i cant seem to get any of my pics to upload. try it on a bit of scrap, it really does look sweet. If you need to find diamond plate at any time, phone round factories and ask if they have any scrap, most factories seem to cos it gets used for flooring, kickplates etc, usually you will get it free! B):D

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I've thought of sanding the top to make it extra shiny but I'm assuming that you would have to put some sort of finish on to keep it that way. Maybe even rusty would look cool as long as I can control the rust.

I've worked as a metal polisher, restoring motorbike parts and until recently I sold polishing kits, if you want to get it to a mirror finish I would buy a stainless steel polishing kit, the small 'hobby' kits for electric drills are easy to use and give good results after some practice. Because it's stainless rusting shouldn't be a problem if it's kept clean and dry. I would strongly advise not to lacquer it after polishing, the lacquer won't grip to the polished surface and will soon come off not to mention lacquer will dull the polished finish.

If you do want to protect the metal there is one solution, you could get it clear anodised. I've polished motorbike frames for a race team, they anodised them when I'd finished with them and they looked really good although it still dulls the polishing slightly.

:D

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I'm in the UK so I can't recommend anywhere in the US/Canada, you should find them in car and motorbike shops. http://www.caswellplating.com seem pretty good, they've got some tutorials on the site too. Here's there stainless kit.... http://www.caswellplating.com/buffs/sspolkit.html If you've got any questions about metal polishing just ask :D

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