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Sanding Pine


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All the experienced woodworkers here are probably going to crack up when they read about my problem, but for some reason I cannot get the surface of my Pine bodies sanded perfectly flat (prior to being grain-filled).

I know about the pitfalls of coniferous wood and I tried to avoid all the obvious mistakes and sanded with a plastic sanding block and with the grain, yet the soft part of the grain seems to be sanded down a tad more than the hard grain.

I wonder what the heck I'm doing wrong as I have sanded plenty of wood in my life and I never encountered something like that.

Has anyone experiences with Pine and can someone please help me along?!?

I also wondered if I shouldn't bother and try to sand out the uneveness during the sealing stage (which I plan on doing with either Shellac or some Nitro-based sealer) i.e. apply enough layers of sealer and sand it flat?

Any help from you fellas is greatly appreciated...

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Is the block you are using a hook and loop type of block? ie. sandpaper attached with Velcro. Even a little bit of cushioning between the block and your sandpaper can cause the paper to sink into the softer parts of the wood grain. I would suggest using a hardwood sanding block and glue on garnet type sandpaper. Clean dust from the wood and paper frequently as you sand.

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You're probably sanding too much in one area. You should be taking long even strokes so you don't work away the softer part of the wood and create valleys and hills in the wood project.

Thank you, Jon, but that sounds exactly like the way I actually sanded. Long, even strokes without too much pressure.

For the life of me I cannot think of what I'm doing wrong here...

Do you think the uneveness (just to give you an impression: it is quite faint and there aren't really deep ridges all over the wood) will disappear during the grain-filling and sealer-stage?

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Is the block you are using a hook and loop type of block? ie. sandpaper attached with Velcro. Even a little bit of cushioning between the block and your sandpaper can cause the paper to sink into the softer parts of the wood grain. I would suggest using a hardwood sanding block and glue on garnet type sandpaper. Clean dust from the wood and paper frequently as you sand.

It's one of those:

Sheets%20-%20Rubber%20Sanding%20Block.jpg

Those blocks are actually rubber, not plastic as I previously wrote.

It has tiny little rubber bumps on the bottom (probably to keep a firm grip on the paper) and I never considered them to be a problem. Could it be that they are the root of all evil?

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Grain filling Pine?

OK where are the woodworkers when you need them? First why would you have to grain fill pine it has no grain to fill???? RGman thanks for a knowledgeable response though brief.

Have you ever stained pine, well pine has soft and hard areas so it stains unevenly and is probably is the reason you are having sanding issues. You must have areas of the board which are soft, the hard soft lines generally follow the grain in my experience but it may also be a random pattern. No matter what you use the more you sand the worse it will get. Usually if I use pine (certianly not for guitar work) I havent had issues using a random orbit sander. Some pine could be really bad and it sounds like your problem. Old boards can be worse than newer wood because pine does not harden with age. if you have ever seen an old worn pine floor board, it looks wave like, because the softer areas wear faster. I have no solution other than to try a scraper blade on the hard areas (High spots) get it as flat as possible then sand lightly or scrap the piece and start again. Other options would require more expensive sanding solutions such as a thickness sander.

My personnel opinion (please read that again) is of you want a cheap wood to use on a guitar (I can see no other reason for using pine), buy Poplar instead, Its almost the same price and as a guitar wood will provide a predictable outcome.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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Grain filling Pine?

OK where are the woodworkers when you need them? First why would you have to grain fill pine it has no grain to fill???? RGman thanks for a knowledgeable response though brief.

Have you ever stained pine, well pine has soft and hard areas so it stains unevenly and is probably is the reason you are having sanding issues. You must have areas of the board which are soft, the hard soft lines generally follow the grain in my experience but it may also be a random pattern. No matter what you use the more you sand the worse it will get. Usually if I use pine (certianly not for guitar work) I havent had issues using a random orbit sander. Some pine could be really bad and it sounds like your problem. Old boards can be worse than newer wood because pine does not harden with age. if you have ever seen an old worn pine floor board, it looks wave like, because the softer areas wear faster. I have no solution other than to try a scraper blade on the hard areas (High spots) get it as flat as possible then sand lightly or scrap the piece and start again. Other options would require more expensive sanding solutions such as a thickness sander.

My personnel opinion (please read that again) is of you want a cheap wood to use on a guitar (I can see no other reason for using pine), buy Poplar instead, Its almost the same price and as a guitar wood will provide a predictable outcome.

+1 on Woodenspokes thoughts. Pine is a funny type of wood depending on the type. Yellow, hard, northern, lodgepole/western, they have many similarities and differences. But the short of it is very soft with hard grain lines. Not good for sanding. Sapwood is the mostly likely obtained now days no matter what subspecies, unless specified for flooring. So , I suggest you live with it, fill it, then coat it and level the clear coat or best, choose something else.

Yep not the answer you wanted to hear but that's the nuts of it.

MK

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Grain filling Pine?

Grain filling Pine?

OK where are the woodworkers when you need them? First why would you have to grain fill pine it has no grain to fill???? RGman thanks for a knowledgeable response though brief.

Have you ever stained pine, well pine has soft and hard areas so it stains unevenly and is probably is the reason you are having sanding issues. You must have areas of the board which are soft, the hard soft lines generally follow the grain in my experience but it may also be a random pattern. No matter what you use the more you sand the worse it will get. Usually if I use pine (certianly not for guitar work) I havent had issues using a random orbit sander. Some pine could be really bad and it sounds like your problem. Old boards can be worse than newer wood because pine does not harden with age. if you have ever seen an old worn pine floor board, it looks wave like, because the softer areas wear faster. I have no solution other than to try a scraper blade on the hard areas (High spots) get it as flat as possible then sand lightly or scrap the piece and start again. Other options would require more expensive sanding solutions such as a thickness sander.

My personnel opinion (please read that again) is of you want a cheap wood to use on a guitar (I can see no other reason for using pine), buy Poplar instead, Its almost the same price and as a guitar wood will provide a predictable outcome.

+1 on Woodenspokes thoughts. Pine is a funny type of wood depending on the type. Yellow, hard, northern, lodgepole/western, they have many similarities and differences. But the short of it is very soft with hard grain lines. Not good for sanding. Sapwood is the mostly likely obtained now days no matter what subspecies, unless specified for flooring. So , I suggest you live with it, fill it, then coat it and level the clear coat or best, choose something else.

Yep not the answer you wanted to hear but that's the nuts of it.

MK

Pine is popular over at TDPRI. I think it looks much better than poplar, making it better for clear, transparent, and burst finishes. Some people use wood hardener to counteract the softness and prevent easy denting.

You may be better off just going to the sanding sealer stage and letting it do the leveling for you.

CMA

First off, thanks everyone for jumping in and helping me out! Really appreciate everyone checking out this thread and taking the time to comment...

Crazy Man Andy hit the nail on the head...I'm a regular over at the TDPRI and since Pine Tele bodies are extremely popular over there I wanted to see what the fuzz is all about. But based on my experiences with this wood it is most likely my first and last attempt since all the other woods I've worked with were much easier and more rewarding.

@ RGMan: I myself have wondered about if Pine needs to be grain filled but I was at a site that offered Pine bodies and charged you a few bucks if you wanted them to be grain filled. I never questioned that, but thinking of it...I guess you're right. But that's great for me...less work!

@ Woodenspoke: Thank you for stating your opinion on the lowdowns of Pine...I agree 100%. Cost was never an issue, but rather curiosity. Nevertheless I got some big and decent pieces of Pine that I must put to good use.

@ MiKro: Actually your reply sounds very good to me...I guess I'll sap some shellac on the body and try to get it as flat as possible before I shoot some Nitro...

@ CrazyManAndy: Wood Hardener? Do you by any chance know if it works under Shellac/Nitro?

Cheers for all the help so far!

Sascha

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@ CrazyManAndy: Wood Hardener? Do you by any chance know if it works under Shellac/Nitro?

Sascha

I've seen it used with nitro finishes before, but I honestly don't know the actual process. Vegasrock, who is a regular over at ReRanch and TDPRI too I think, has used it before and he is who I got the idea from. You could send him a PM or start a thread over at one of those forums and I'm sure he would be more than happy to detail his experience with the stuff for you.

CMA

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Lostheart,

I am a proponent of the pine, at least the stuff I've latched onto. I run my bodies and blanks through a Delta Drum sander after they get planed down. I then use a hardwood block with 120 grit double side carpet tape to refine the blank's surfaces. My sanding block is considerably larger than the rubber one you are using. The grain orientation on my pine may be different as well, but I've not had any problems with the Eastern White pine, which may be easier to deal with then some of the other species.

I finish the bodies off with 220 grit. I use new, good quality abrasive as well and replace it often when it loads up. I'd recommend that you get a nice thick, larger block with a good sharp abrasive and try that out before you give up. Maybe you want to lighten up the pressure that you are putting on the block too. I'm pretty sure that the same uneven sanding effect will occur on other woods as well where there is a different density to the rings. I don't think that it not just a pine thing.

You may want to use some shellac as a sealer coat as the pine may/will release some sap after you sand. A filler is not necessary and I question the use of a wood hardener on wood that is known to be easy to dent. Why use it ( pine)then if the dents are going to bother you? As always YMMV.

Marty

Edited by MartyM
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You can use Feast Watson Pine Sealer to stop uneven staining and sanding. For sanding, mix the pine sealer half and half with polyurethane and brush it in. The wood will keep drinking in the mix for quite a while, keep working it in it will not leave a skin. When it is saturated leave it for 24 hours and your sanding worries are over. It will get a beaut colour after a few months as well, good luck with it.

Edited by Muzz
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@ CrazyManAndy: Wood Hardener? Do you by any chance know if it works under Shellac/Nitro?

Sascha

I've seen it used with nitro finishes before, but I honestly don't know the actual process. Vegasrock, who is a regular over at ReRanch and TDPRI too I think, has used it before and he is who I got the idea from. You could send him a PM or start a thread over at one of those forums and I'm sure he would be more than happy to detail his experience with the stuff for you.

CMA

Thanks Andy!

Yeah, Vegasrock...I "see" him all the time on the TDPRI...I'll drop him a PM and/or search the ReRanch board to see if they got any suggestions on finishing Pine.

Lostheart,

I am a proponent of the pine, at least the stuff I've latched onto. I run my bodies and blanks through a Delta Drum sander after they get planed down. I then use a hardwood block with 120 grit double side carpet tape to refine the blank's surfaces. My sanding block is considerably larger than the rubber one you are using. The grain orientation on my pine may be different as well, but I've not had any problems with the Eastern White pine, which may be easier to deal with then some of the other species.

I finish the bodies off with 220 grit. I use new, good quality abrasive as well and replace it often when it loads up. I'd recommend that you get a nice thick, larger block with a good sharp abrasive and try that out before you give up. Maybe you want to lighten up the pressure that you are putting on the block too. I'm pretty sure that the same uneven sanding effect will occur on other woods as well where there is a different density to the rings. I don't think that it not just a pine thing.

You may want to use some shellac as a sealer coat as the pine may/will release some sap after you sand. A filler is not necessary and I question the use of a wood hardener on wood that is known to be easy to dent. Why use it ( pine)then if the dents are going to bother you? As always YMMV.

Marty

Hey Marty,

thanks for chiming in...really appreciate your help. Dents won't bother me much...I plan on replicating one of the very first Tele prototypes which was made out of 1.5'' thick pine with a black coat of paint back in 1950.

The wood hardener actually sounded good to get a perfectly flat surface. I guess same can be achieved by a few good and appropriately thick layers of sealer. I planed on using shellac anyways because I have so much of those dewaxed flakes sitting around and I figuered I put them to good use. Mind if I ask you how you apply your shellac? Do you spray, brush or wipe the stuff on? Great resultas can be achieved with all three methods, I'm just curious how people are actually doing it...

You can use Feast Watson Pine Sealer to stop uneven staining and sanding. For sanding, mix the pine sealer half and half with polyurethane and brush it in. The wood will keep drinking in the mix for quite a while, keep working it in it will not leave a skin. When it is saturated leave it for 24 hours and your sanding worries are over. It will get a beaut colour after a few months as well, good luck with it.

Thanks Muzz!

For now I guess I'll stick to a shellac sealer and Nitro topcoat, but the Pine Sealer is an interesting concept I've not heard of before. Should make the wood really hard since it's polyurethane-based and I've had the "pleasure" of trying to get the stuff off of a Fender 52 AV RI body where they use a polyurethane sealer under a thin nitro topcoat.

Really appreciate everyone taking the time to help me with my project(s)!

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I guess I was never into the making of older guitar repros or any type of reproduction work. Pine, a new one for me, what were they thinking back then? I know many woods have been used in the making of instruments just never knew there was a pine tele prototype, weird but cool info.

There are also several varieties of pine, it is possible they were using southern yellow pine which is a much harder Pine and is preferred in flooring. Also a more expensive wood with a yellow tint and a somewhat nicer grain. Sorry I have no pine references to offer other than flooring examples. This pine would be more available in the southern US. North its white pine. I know you have started your project so this is for anyone else interedsted in trying pine as a guitar wood.

Somehow I believe if you don't follow the original plan you are not recreating the original guitar to begin with and I assume the reason for your hard work. They most likely did not use a hardener, if it was even available back then, and using one may alter your intended outcome. Bodies made from soft woods, like pine, poplar, and basswood ding easily so you just have to live with it as you stated.

Luckly you will be painting the body. Several coats of shellac would do the job under black lacquer so your finish has an even sealed surface to start with. You dont want areas where the finish soaks into the softer wood and shellac was a popular sealer even back then. Again since it is a project to reproduce a guitar, stick to the original plans you have. A sanding sealer could help level out the dips without resorting to a hardener and probably will not alter the intended outcome drastically. Just a pain building up sanding sealer filler coats.

Good luck I hope the guitar comes out OK and you are happy with the sound. Post some picts

Edited by Woodenspoke
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>BIG SNIP<

@ MiKro: Actually your reply sounds very good to me...I guess I'll sap some shellac on the body and try to get it as flat as possible before I shoot some Nitro...

>little snip<

Cheers for all the help so far!

Sascha

Sas,

Obviously you know I love using shellac. I believe your next step has merit and I wish you well with the results.

Mike

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What grit paper are you using? It may be that you are sanding too much. Softwoods sand out quicker than hardwoods, and you want to step the grits up a bit quicker. This is what I have found with softwoods I use. As for the Shellac as a filler, be sure not to lay it on thick as it does not cure well when used thick(you will find it will shrink back like a son of a gun). If you want to use it as a sealer(wash coat) cool, if you want to fill use pumice and grain fill French Polish style, and actually if you have much fill to do at all go for Z-poxy as it fills better at any kind of thickness (be sure you Z-poxy before you apply Shellac, as it does not adhear well to Shellac, the Shellac sticks fine to the Z-poxy though as a top coat).

Peace,Rich

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Rich - I've seen the Z-poxy stuff as of late - have you used the System Three epoxies (the SB-112 and Clear Coat types that LMI sells), and if so, how would you compare the two? The System Three stuff is a pain as far as getting ratios exactly right, but I have a great scale so it's not a problem, but I'm interested in trying out the Z-poxy stuff. Thing is, I have a both types of system-three epoxies, and given my current rate of usage, It'll probably last me, well, forever.

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Rich - I've seen the Z-poxy stuff as of late - have you used the System Three epoxies (the SB-112 and Clear Coat types that LMI sells), and if so, how would you compare the two? The System Three stuff is a pain as far as getting ratios exactly right, but I have a great scale so it's not a problem, but I'm interested in trying out the Z-poxy stuff. Thing is, I have a both types of system-three epoxies, and given my current rate of usage, It'll probably last me, well, forever.

Actually, I use System Three also. I say Z-Poxy because most people recognize it. I couldn't tell you how the two compair, but I have been happy with System Three.

Peace,Rich

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