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Alternatives To Buffing/polishing


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After 20 coats of water based lacquer the grain in the padauk of my guitar project is still not completely filled. I'm worried that if I buff it the compound will get stuck in the grain, which happened to a small extent on my first guitar. Are there any alternatives out there to buff without a compound, or some sort of solvent that will dissolve the compound if it gets trapped in the grain? Or does anyone else have any other suggestions for me? Of course I will be waiting a few weeks for the lacquer to cure.

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That's what grain filler is for (and padauk has pores as big as canyons). To achieve a perfectly flat surface for a glossy finish, you need to fill all those pores and level sand before you start shooting clear coat. StewMac's waterbased grain filler, LMI's microbead filler, or System 3 or Z-poxy epoxy fillers are all good clear grain fillers for this.

You don't want to do this over the lacquer; you need to either strip it all off, or keep going and eventually the pores will fill in.

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I went thru that with my first Paduak body, bet I used a whole gallon of lacquer on that biyatch trying to fill in those pores. :D

I found that black-tinted 2-part epoxy is the shizzle for Paduak now (at least for me).

The problem is this: if you're using THAT much lacquer to fill in those pores, you will have a TRUCKLOAD of shrinkback in the upcoming year, those pores will become more and more apparent unless you give that thing a year to dry before you level sand it back.

If you want to do it right, sand it back, fill the pores, and proceed foreward, ...chalk it up to part of the learning experience. :D

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I agree that you are going to have a lot of problems with shrink back and that you would be better to sand back and grain fill and then recoat it. But if you really don't want to do that, I would look at Micro Mesh. It goes up to something like 20,000 grit or higher. It will work just like polishing compound, but without the compound. But you still will get the cut off bits of lacquer building up in the pores, but I imagine it will be less of a problem than polishing compound. Also look at this stuff

http://info.stewmac.com/?jrl=178932&ut...&clk=178994

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I finished an ash body without filling the pores once. Similarly, I thought about 20 coats would fill them, but it didn't. What i did was just take a block of plastic with a perfectly flat base, wrap some wet n dry paper round it (quite fine grade) and level sand the lacquer surface. When you do this, you can see the low spots, ie the pores, as they remain shiney and are obvious against the dull higher spots. I then washed the dust/water paste from the surface and dried with a lint free cloth. Spray another couple of layers and repeat until all the pores are full, or at least most of them. My guitar ended up looking like a sheet of glass when it was finished. That might give you the result you want without having to completely start from scratch, although with time, if the wood moves, the pores might become noticable again.

So I'd do that if you don't want to start from scratch, but if you want a proper finish which will last, start from scratch and use grain filler.

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I've decided to do this the right way and sand everything off. Too bad I wasted almost 1/2 of a gallon of lacquer :D

I decided to buy sanding sealer and clear grain filler. I suppose I can deal with the monetary setbacks, but I was soooo ready to put the parts on and play this thing next week. It'll pay off in the long run though.

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If you haven't leveled this finish at all in 20 coats your problem may not be as bad as it looks. Lacquer tends to follow the contours of the surface with each successive coat. Try leveling the finish first. You may have a decent build of finish already.

Heed Drak's advice though. There will be shrinkage in the future.

~David

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