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Sanding Poplar


jasonn
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I am finishing my first build and can not get the poplar body smooth. The finish on my maple neck is very good but no matter what I try the poplar body remains very "fluffy". I have tried slowly going through sandpaper grades using 3m gold fre-cut sandpaper from stewmac and sanding with the grain but if anything I get better results using a basic detail sander. The sides are especially bad.

Any ideas?

I would prefer to use something like Danish Oil as a finish - but will try anything if it fixes the rough poplar.

Thanks.

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I am finishing my first build and can not get the poplar body smooth. The finish on my maple neck is very good but no matter what I try the poplar body remains very "fluffy". I have tried slowly going through sandpaper grades using 3m gold fre-cut sandpaper from stewmac and sanding with the grain but if anything I get better results using a basic detail sander. The sides are especially bad.

Any ideas?

I would prefer to use something like Danish Oil as a finish - but will try anything if it fixes the rough poplar.

Thanks.

How dry is the wood you are using? Got any pictures? I have made 3 guitar bodies out of poplar with no sanding problems. Are you sure you want a clear finish on poplar? I have seen some really nice looking poplar, but very few and far between, most of the stuff is green looking and ugly.

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I am finishing my first build and can not get the poplar body smooth. The finish on my maple neck is very good but no matter what I try the poplar body remains very "fluffy". I have tried slowly going through sandpaper grades using 3m gold fre-cut sandpaper from stewmac and sanding with the grain but if anything I get better results using a basic detail sander. The sides are especially bad.

Any ideas?

I would prefer to use something like Danish Oil as a finish - but will try anything if it fixes the rough poplar.

Thanks.

How dry is the wood you are using? Got any pictures? I have made 3 guitar bodies out of poplar with no sanding problems. Are you sure you want a clear finish on poplar? I have seen some really nice looking poplar, but very few and far between, most of the stuff is green looking and ugly.

Not sure what you mean by dry - it is several years old and I got it from Luthier Supplies in the UK. Here is what it looks like so far:

IMG_2966_2.jpg

This is my first build and I have made lots of mistakes so I don't expect it to be perfect in terms of looks - just fairly smooth to touch! If I paint it instead of going for a clear finish will this help the roughness at all? Thanks for your help.

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I would apply a coat of your finish, let it dry for a few days, and gently sand it, that should smooth things out for you.

Is that some sort of modified Viper/Breadwinner?

I always wanted to build something along those lines!

Thanks for the advice - I will give it a go.

The design is loosely based on the Klein electric although mine is not headless.

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HERE is a site dedicated to the old (and short lived) Ovation Breadwinners.

Maybe Klein used them as an influence, I think I see a connection between them, I think in 2008 I'm going to build something along those lines, I will have to check out Klein, I like your body style.

Your Poplar seems to be very 'well grained', I can't really see why you would have any problems getting it smooth, I've built with Poplar before and it was a very easy wood to work with. My first GOTM win was a Poplar cored shark V.

Is it possible that you are simply comparing the Poplar's sanding characteristics to the Maple? Compared to Maple and other very hard and dense woods, I guess I could imagine someone perceiving a softer wood being harder to sand, but overall, Poplar sands and smooths out very easily...

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If you are going to use danish oil as a finish here is how to approach it.

Fully finish sand the body up to around 800 grit

Hang the guitar somehwere and give it a liberal coating of oil and leave overnight or longer.

Wet sand the body with the oil, starting with 800 grit and working up as high as you want - you will find it becomes very smooth in this stage.

i wax it afterwards with 0000 steel wool for the final shine.

I reckon this will work fine on the poplar and take care of the fluffiness you have, but it will dent easily!!

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  • 5 weeks later...

I wet sanding with danish oil and it is now perfectly smooth.

Thanks very much for your help.

If you are going to use danish oil as a finish here is how to approach it.

Fully finish sand the body up to around 800 grit

Hang the guitar somehwere and give it a liberal coating of oil and leave overnight or longer.

Wet sand the body with the oil, starting with 800 grit and working up as high as you want - you will find it becomes very smooth in this stage.

i wax it afterwards with 0000 steel wool for the final shine.

I reckon this will work fine on the poplar and take care of the fluffiness you have, but it will dent easily!!

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  • 13 years later...

Hi. I'm having the same problem but I don't want a natural finish it's gonna be painted. I sanded to 400 grit and still have that fluffiness the OP had. I've hand sanded the body. No electric tools. I've never had this happen with poplar before. This is a semi-hollow body and it's brand new, I'm wondering if I should use Zinsser shellac on it then lightly sand that?

Any ideas?

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If you're going to paint it, there's all kinds of things you can use as a primer coat before paint.

So, usually when someone uses the word 'primer coat', its usually in reference to the paint coming on top of it/behind it.

But in this case, I'm using the term primer as simply referring to any product that stops up the pores and stabilizes the wood pre-paint.

Yes, shellac would work, CA glue would work, pore-filler would work, A/B epoxy would work (tho it wouldn't be my first choice).

Hell, you could use the paint you're going to use, just lay a first coat down, let it dry, and give it a light level sand.

You're just looking to stop up/lock up the open pores, and lots of products will do that.

 

Now, if you're trying to get a Dead-Level Smooth surface pre-paint, that's different, tho its not exactly what you asked for.

But if you said you're sanding to 400 grit, I'm guessing/assuming you're trying to get a Dead-Level surface before painting.

In that case, I would use Timbermate pore-filler. That's its job, that's exactly its role in life.

Since you're painting it, color doesn't matter (it comes in 17 different colors I think)

Your shellac will work, but it will take multiple coats to bring the surface up to Dead-Level Smooth.

Using shellac will take time and multiple coats to achieve dead-level flatness.

Pore-filler, if you let it dry and sand it level, one coat and you should be done.

Look up Timbermate on YT to see some examples of it in use.

You will see several different people using it several different ways, so don't feel like you have to follow anyone specifically in a biblical manner, its a very user-friendly product and can be used several different ways and they're all right, they're all correct, they're all legit. Even tho everyone will be espousing their own recipe.

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Poplar can be a pita to sand level as such. I had my current build in a pretty nice shape after sanding and wiping with a wet rag to raise the fibres and resanding and rewiping and resanding. But applying the alcohol based dye apparently raised some grain so the bottom side now is wavy as the Atlantic Ocean!

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