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Finish Adhesion Q's/frustration


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Never thought the finish process would kick my a$$ quite like this. All of my finish experience is with polyurathane. Never had a problem. On my guitar I decided to try my hand at spraying and for some reason I went with Stew-Macs water based sealer/lacquer. The stuff went on well but seems to have a problem sticking properly to the fretboard edge, which is ebony. I believe it has to do with the oils in ebony. I've had to repair the finish in a couple of places and I can easily see where I did this. Of all the things I read, I never came across anything that would have led me to believe I had to prepare the ebony in any special way. Am I wrong on this?

At this point I'm considering sanding the whole thing down and using poly. My concerns with that is the compatibility with the waterbased grain fill that I used, also the possibility of not getting all of the wb finish off somewhere which may cause an issue when I put the poly on. Oh, and sanding down the top which was stained and F'n that up.

This is my first build(still :D ). My old lady keeps reminding me of that, and not to beat myself up. Thing is, it has turned out way better than I thought it would. If it were ragged looking I'd be more inclined to let it be and start playing the thing. But since it has come out so close to perfect, I feel I need to get it right. Wish I could tell how well it will actually play before killin' myself. Any comments are appreciated.

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Never thought the finish process would kick my a$$ quite like this. All of my finish experience is with polyurathane. Never had a problem. On my guitar I decided to try my hand at spraying and for some reason I went with Stew-Macs water based sealer/lacquer. The stuff went on well but seems to have a problem sticking properly to the fretboard edge, which is ebony. I believe it has to do with the oils in ebony. I've had to repair the finish in a couple of places and I can easily see where I did this. Of all the things I read, I never came across anything that would have led me to believe I had to prepare the ebony in any special way. Am I wrong on this?

At this point I'm considering sanding the whole thing down and using poly. My concerns with that is the compatibility with the waterbased grain fill that I used, also the possibility of not getting all of the wb finish off somewhere which may cause an issue when I put the poly on. Oh, and sanding down the top which was stained and F'n that up.

This is my first build(still :D ). My old lady keeps reminding me of that, and not to beat myself up. Thing is, it has turned out way better than I thought it would. If it were ragged looking I'd be more inclined to let it be and start playing the thing. But since it has come out so close to perfect, I feel I need to get it right. Wish I could tell how well it will actually play before killin' myself. Any comments are appreciated.

A thin coat of shellac on the timber would probably be the go. It is vastly under-rated because as an end finish it is fragile ( but easy to repair) but it is compatible with just about everything.

You might want to do a bit more reading but I know shellac will bond well to ebony, & just about everything bonds to shellac.

Also listen to your 'Old Lady' :D

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I have a 1997 fender Strat Ultra with ebony fingerboard and the poly finish has flaked off the ebony early on.

With ebony, I think you might have to live with the fact that adhesion is not the best

Maybe you can add a bit of lacquer thinner to feather it out and have it re-bond to the ebony. Did you apply a sealer first?

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My Carvin has a poly finish and an ebony board, no flaking at all. Never heard any other Carvin owner complain about it either. Maybe just a bad prep job on the Fender? I may go the shellac and then poly route. Oh and yes I used a sealer first. I'm able to get a smooth transition from old to new finish, its just visually obvious. Still a little apprehensive about sanding down the top that has stain on it.

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My Carvin has a poly finish and an ebony board, no flaking at all. Never heard any other Carvin owner complain about it either. Maybe just a bad prep job on the Fender? I may go the shellac and then poly route. Oh and yes I used a sealer first. I'm able to get a smooth transition from old to new finish, its just visually obvious. Still a little apprehensive about sanding down the top that has stain on it.

LOL! Well.... maybe Fender doesn't have much exp. with ebony. Its not like they use it often.

I've never finished Ebony with anything except Danish Oil / Polymerized Tung Oil.

If I were to finish it with lacquer, I'd prep it with alcohol based shellac sealer.

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