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project Parts-caster, Alder, Basswood, Agathis, Paulownia or ?


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Definitely not Maple as the seller claims!  I'm aiming to build a Sustainer Strat (FSK 401 kit) using a maple neck (UK seller, Canadian maple) and this body...

It's a bit rough and needs fine sanding, definitely lighter than the pine body I used on my Pine caster, not a bad looking grain...I've had a few raw Alder bodies in the past which didn't have a grain pattern like this, never seen a raw (unfinished ) Basswood or Agathis bodies to tell what they look like; Paulownia might have a similar grin pattern...

what do the experts say? The seller claims the shipping weight was about 3 lbs, but it feels a lot lighter!

 

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just creative I guess.

Perhaps slightly enlarging the bolt holes in the neck pocket a smidge would allow me to push the headstock to the bass side and align the strings better on the fretboard...Paulownia is so soft I get l

preliminary fitting... it took 2 tries to get the bolt holes in the heel to properly align with the holes in the neck pocket (light sanding in the neck pocket did it) and the StewMac angled shims aren

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1 hour ago, mistermikev said:

not any sort of expert but looks an awful lot like paulownia to me

Thought so...gave it some extra sanding...that end grain will be trouble I think...from what I've read Paulownia takes stain quite well, I still have that Azure water based stain (which looked blotchy on a scrap piece of pine) I wanted to use on the Pinecaster then decided to stick with Nitro (Watco) I wouldn't mind a translucent blue strat body, but there is very little info on Google on finishing Paulownia guitar bodies...Paulownia furniture takes stain well, but how evenly would that body take the water based stain?

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27 minutes ago, Captainstrat said:

Thought so...gave it some extra sanding...that end grain will be trouble I think...from what I've read Paulownia takes stain quite well, I still have that Azure water based stain (which looked blotchy on a scrap piece of pine) I wanted to use on the Pinecaster then decided to stick with Nitro (Watco) I wouldn't mind a translucent blue strat body, but there is very little info on Google on finishing Paulownia guitar bodies...Paulownia furniture takes stain well, but how evenly would that body take the water based stain?

I've never finished paulownia body before,  its a great sounding wood but I'm turned off by how soft and easy to damage they are. As I understand it would take a lot like Pine does. You could consider putting a veneer over the top of it. Might take the stain better and of course look amazing!

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On 3/21/2019 at 3:55 PM, mistermikev said:

I've never finished paulownia body before,  its a great sounding wood but I'm turned off by how soft and easy to damage they are. As I understand it would take a lot like Pine does. You could consider putting a veneer over the top of it. Might take the stain better and of course look amazing!

The veneer is a good idea, but well abouve my meager skill set and available space/tools ;) while I have a lot of leftover Watco finish, I'll try to take a simpler route...I've read and seen a lot of examples of using an oil paint / linseed oil combination to acheive some sweet looking translucent finishes....so I'm thinking of applying several coats of Minwax wood conditioner to seal the pores, fine sand and apply several coats of "pigmented linseed oil" until I acheive the desired shade

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no skill required... clamps and a flat board bigger than your guitar and some wood glue!  then take a razo and cut close to the pickup holes/cavities... then use a file/sandpaper to finish em off.  just sayin: you can do it!

 

anywho: look fwd to pics.

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hmm, it's hard to say how that's going to come out on that body wood.  It's hard to see in the video but it does look to come out pretty even and I 'spose that would avoid the splotchy-ness that typically happens with softer wood.  worth a shot.

We all have our own methods and for me I'd be more comfy just using aniline dye first - but cutting it back a lot with water/alcohol.  building up the color slow so you can see where it's going to soak in the most. 

 

I guess we'll see when we see it!

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Either using the dye in alcohol and dying the wood like Mike said or think about mixing the dye into some lacquer for a translucent finish. Use a few light coats to seal the wood and then spray the color coats. By sealing first you eliminate the blotching problems. 

Ive never used paulownia, but if it is soft like poplar just be careful until you finish it. I’ve done several poplar bodies and they dent just looking at them in the raw state. You’d be amazed how much harder they get once they soak up some finish though.

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On 3/23/2019 at 12:57 AM, Captainstrat said:

This is what I'm thinking of doing

 

Check the Feb GOTM, this is how I finished that guitar. Artist oil paints are awesome, you can get such variation of colours from just a small set and quite cheaply - I think I paid about £10 for a set of 24 colours on amazon.

My method was to thin the artist paint with literally just a couple of drops of white spirit then wipe it on, you can build up multiple layers and blend colours as the paint stays wet for a long time and it's easy to cut it back wit a drop of white spirit on a rag. The only downsides to oil paints is that they don't allow the figure to show up as much as water based stains, and the oil paint takes an absolute age to dry. If you don't let it dry fully, as the video above says the oil works to cut back the tint so you need to leave it for several weeks, then that first coat of oil you put on needs to go on heavy and you need to wipe it as little as possible so you don't take the colour away.

I actually tinted my first oil coat in case this did happen, by chucking some oil paint in a tub with oil and mixing it thoroughly but I think I left the stained top about 3 weeks before applying oil. 

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Okay...after getting freaked out by reports of boiled linseed oil soaked rags spontaneously combusting, and less than satisfactory oil paint tests in the pickup cavity, I returned the linseed oil and decided to stick with the Watco clear lacquer. The grain looks pretty nice if  a bit darker in spots, but that will be covered by the pickguard, so no big deal.

Finish sanded to 320 grit - and yes, my random orbital sander was a huge time saver!  Only the contours needed to be done by hand!  I'm already up to 10 coats of lacquer.  I had stopped at 8 coats on the Pinecaster, and sanded through in some spots, so I'll add extra coats for extra thickness - Stewart Macdonald recommends 12, should I do more?

Any tips for wet sanding the contours? The "inner horns" are going to be tricky!

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looking good.  wet sanding?  never heard of it.  jk.  I've seen some guys use a drill and drum w buffing material attached for those horns... haven't tried it myself but might on my next finish.  I usually try to over sand before finish to limit the amount of work after finish is on.  also try to make sure my finish is really good in those parts if not everywhere else.

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I’ve done the small buffs in a drill for inside the horns. Works great but watch where the nut on the buff is and where the drill chuck are. I won’t say how I know that.

No need to fear with the boiled linseed oil rags. The problem comes with them piled or wadded up. Hang them out to dry and they are fine. The heat builds up are the oil cures, if they have surface area to let off the heat then they just dry. Piles of rags builds up and holds a lot of heat.

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On 3/27/2019 at 1:23 PM, mistermikev said:

looking good.  wet sanding?  never heard of it.  jk.  I've seen some guys use a drill and drum w buffing material attached for those horns... haven't tried it myself but might on my next finish.  I usually try to over sand before finish to limit the amount of work after finish is on.  also try to make sure my finish is really good in those parts if not everywhere else.

 

14 minutes ago, ScottR said:

That's actually a pretty nice looking hunk of wood.:)

SR

I lucked out! Wasn't sure what the mystery wood would be (China seller from Ebay, wood type unspecified in auction, told me it was Maple when I asked...not when it weights less than 3 lbs it's not!) and came with neck plate and this weird black "rubber mat" (to rpotect the wood I guess?)  For $50.00 canadian in cluding shipping, it was a calculated risk that paid off!

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On 3/28/2019 at 9:04 PM, Captainstrat said:

 

I lucked out! Wasn't sure what the mystery wood would be (China seller from Ebay, wood type unspecified in auction, told me it was Maple when I asked...not when it weights less than 3 lbs it's not!) and came with neck plate and this weird black "rubber mat" (to rpotect the wood I guess?)  For $50.00 canadian in cluding shipping, it was a calculated risk that paid off!

If its lightweight too then I would definitely say Paulownia. I have some that looks pretty much the same and its insanely light.

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So while the lacquer cures, I've turned my attention to the neck, a 22 fretter Strat-style maple neck I got from a UK Ebay seller (which I'd shelved a few years ago as I'd changed my mind on my then project guitar).  The Made-in-China "unbranded" locking tuners came in yesterday, so I installed them, and I must say, perfect fit!  The only thing that bothers me about it is that the truss rod access is at the heel rather than at the headstock.

Now I fully realize I should have done a test neck fitting before deciding to cover the body with 12 coats of lacquer, but by eyeballing it, it looks like the heel of the neck will be a perfect fit in the neck pocket.  I had read some reports that the neck pockets could be a bit snug on some of the bodies (and as the lacquer dries the wood might shrink a bit), but it looks like I've lucked out again!

Next I'll work on the electronics, I've received all of the missing parts to my Fernandes FSK-401 Sustainer kit (long story, bought it new, did a bunch of mods I shouldn't have...now I'm back to all original parts! ;) ) as well as a generic rails pickup I intend on using in middle position, between the driver and humbucker.

Now I might need to slightly enlarge the swimming pool cavity to make sure the Sustainer preamp circuit fits properly...and on a purely esthetic point of view, I may or may not replace the current loaded while pearloid pickguard with a plain black one...I dunno, I may be wrong, but white pearloid seems to have a nicer contrast on darker colors, on a "natural blonde" finish...pictures to come later! ;)

 

 

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As usual, with lots of cussing, I got the electronics loaded onto the pickguard, hooked up a battery  and tested it by tapping the pickups with a piece of metal...we have signal!  The rails pickup is too wide for the pickguard, so I installed an old ceramic pickup that was gathering dust in my used pickup box instead.  The wiring is bulky as hell, so I might need to enlarge the pickup cavity. And I'll have to de-solder the jack when the body is ready, so the wires can get the wires to the output jack cavity....1701958067_20190330_0208181.thumb.jpg.1247857595f10e4c7d0a0405f78f444c.jpg

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Okay, day 6 of curing, more parts coming in through the mail.  My "subcontractor" got cold feet when I told him the body was Paulownia - I figured I'd ask a local tech to handle drilling the pilot holes for the bridge/spring claw in the trem cavity, strap pins etc. and to enlarge the swimming pool route a tad to allow the Sustainer's preamp to fit in...and to add a 9V battery compartment cavity.

While I have a power drill and a router, I don't have a drill press, a drilling template to make sure the drill bit doesn't meander, and I'm worried I'll rip out too much wood with the router...

could order a plexi strat bridge set of templates from ebay, but the cost is a bit ridiculous considering I'd only use it once.  And I could use my manual drill and go at it nice and slow to make sure I'm drilling straight, then strengthen the wood fibers with thin cyanoacrylate glue (I ordered a bottle from Amazon).  And If I dig through my messy tool chest, I have a Dremmel tool in there with a small router attachment that would "rip off" less wood than my full sized router would...

The holes for the spring claw puzzle me though, how to drill those holes without the drill chuck chewing through the edge of the tremolo cavity, let alone making sure the holse are properly spaced and centered?

Any tips?

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22 minutes ago, Captainstrat said:

Okay, day 6 of curing, more parts coming in through the mail.  My "subcontractor" got cold feet when I told him the body was Paulownia - I figured I'd ask a local tech to handle drilling the pilot holes for the bridge/spring claw in the trem cavity, strap pins etc. and to enlarge the swimming pool route a tad to allow the Sustainer's preamp to fit in...and to add a 9V battery compartment cavity.

While I have a power drill and a router, I don't have a drill press, a drilling template to make sure the drill bit doesn't meander, and I'm worried I'll rip out too much wood with the router...

could order a plexi strat bridge set of templates from ebay, but the cost is a bit ridiculous considering I'd only use it once.  And I could use my manual drill and go at it nice and slow to make sure I'm drilling straight, then strengthen the wood fibers with thin cyanoacrylate glue (I ordered a bottle from Amazon).  And If I dig through my messy tool chest, I have a Dremmel tool in there with a small router attachment that would "rip off" less wood than my full sized router would...

The holes for the spring claw puzzle me though, how to drill those holes without the drill chuck chewing through the edge of the tremolo cavity, let alone making sure the holse are properly spaced and centered?

Any tips?

is this a strat 6 hole trem?  if not and it's a trem with studs I wouldn't hazard doing it w/o a drill press but consider: A) harbor freight has a drill guide or B ) you can use a known straight piece of 3/4" cut two pieces make a 90 and use the inside corner as a guide.

afa spring claw... I have a really long bit that I got ages ago from stew mac... these days you can hit harbor freight and for cheap get a long bit... or if you have a dremel (that's what I use) that will get in there just fine.

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9 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

is this a strat 6 hole trem?  if not and it's a trem with studs I wouldn't hazard doing it w/o a drill press but consider: A) harbor freight has a drill guide or B ) you can use a known straight piece of 3/4" cut two pieces make a 90 and use the inside corner as a guide.

afa spring claw... I have a really long bit that I got ages ago from stew mac... these days you can hit harbor freight and for cheap get a long bit... or if you have a dremel (that's what I use) that will get in there just fine.

Yep, 6 hole trem :) I'll check out Harbor Freight

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