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Finished! Tom's African Build II


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My normal warning -  I will always describe what I do but for you never to assume this is how it's supposed to be done ;)

The refinishing of the body has started.  I will be doing a variation of the Tru-oil slurry and buff method, but using the thinner version of the Osmo ranges, their 1101, instead of Tru-oil.

Other than their full gloss - which personally I don't like - many of the Osmo products are a guitar/bass builder's godsend.  Low odour, wipeable, great finish.  There are apparently some issues with thicker coats (it's a hardwax so can sometimes remain dintable with your thumbnail) but applied thinly, I personally find it an excellent finish.

 

So, other than some kitchen roll to wipe-down, this is my finishing kit:

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For the initial coats, I put a generous amount of the Osmo on with a brush as the wet and use (proper woodworkers cover your eyes), yes, 120 grit emery cloth in a wet 'n dry sanding approach.  For a softer wood I would probably use 240 grit, but this particular wood is very hard.  

The slurry of finish mixed with wood dust effectively fills any pores and small voids (but remember that I am not trying here to end up with a flat, flawless finish).  I finish by sanding the slurry along the grain to remove any swirl marks.

And then I wipe it all off, again (in this case) wiping along the grain.  If I was looking for a smoother finish, I would wipe off across the grain to leave the maximum amount of slurry filling the grain lines.

After the first coat, it looks like this: 

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I will leave this a full day before the second coat.  This first one will have soaked into the surface and pores of the wood and I want it to have chance to fully dry before I add another coat.

Tomorrow, I will repeat the process, but slurrying with a finer grade (probably around 240 but maybe as far as 400 - I'll see how the wood responds) and again wiping off the excess but leaving it to soak in.

Friday, I will decide whether to slurry and buff, or just apply a couple of very thin coats with the fan-brush.

And for the enquiring minds amongst you, why is handle of the fan brush (Hobby Craft Artists section) cut short?  Because I've decanted a cm or so of Osmo into a jam jar to use and can pop the brush in there after each coat and close the lid so it doesn't need to be cleaned or dried before its next use (because trust me, that's where many of the dust buggies come from). 

While this is drying, it seems to be an ideal time to do the final sanding of the neck! 

 

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Thanks for revealing the grits for slurry! I can tell that applying Osmo 3101 (the thicker one) with 1500 grit Mirka plastic abrasive similar to ScotchBrite pads the fill rate of pores was pretty low. Also, it most likely didn't help that I wiped the excess off. Applying a layer or two daily for a week still left some pore grooves on the surface, then again the looks is very organic, almost like bare wood.

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47 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

Thanks for revealing the grits for slurry! I can tell that applying Osmo 3101 (the thicker one) with 1500 grit Mirka plastic abrasive similar to ScotchBrite pads the fill rate of pores was pretty low. Also, it most likely didn't help that I wiped the excess off. Applying a layer or two daily for a week still left some pore grooves on the surface, then again the looks is very organic, almost like bare wood.

It depends on the wood, but normally, for the slurry & buff process, I start with a couple of coats applied and left to soak in and then dry as the first step.  That seals the top surface and then makes the slurry process happening over a more solid base and not constantly trying to carry on soaking into the wood. 

With this wood being so hard and tight-grained that step wasn't necessary. 

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15 minutes ago, 10pizza said:

question: are Swifts the same as swallows? or is it a different type of bird?

They look similar but are of different species. Swallows are Hirundinidae while swifts are Apodidae. They are superficially similar to each other but are not closely related.

   
   
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1 hour ago, 10pizza said:

nice work !

question: are Swifts the same as swallows? or is it a different type of bird?

 

Thanks 🙂

As @Bizman62 says, they are superficially similar but completely different in other ways.  Fascinating species and, to my wife and I, their arrival in May (from S Africa) hails the start of summer and their early departure (August) hails the coming of autumn.  

As with many bird types, I'm afraid, they are dramatically reducing in numbers - we normally would have 3 - 4 pairs nesting in our roof eaves each summer, but that has recently dropped to 1 or 2 and last year there was just 1 pair and they didn't fledge.  Because they fly low and fast, they are particularly susceptible to the miles and miles of invisibly fine netting that some of the folks in N Africa and other countries have started putting up to catch them and where they are treated as delicacies.  As they always return to the 'home' nests, their flight paths are very predictable and it is possible to wipe out a species in a very short period indeed.  Funny old world. 

In the spirit of shared responsibility, of course, I suppose the same could be said of rosewood...

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Probably got as far as I can go at this stage.  Other than applying the finish to the neck maple (which will darken and amber it a touch) and fitting the trussrod cover, this is now pretty much just waiting for the hardware.

The neck has been tidied up: 

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And the Osmo has come up nicely.  Just one more slurry and wipe with 400 grit and then two more very thin applications wiped on with kitchen roll has given just the level of sheen I was after: 

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The pickup rings will be properly lined up when the final install is ready to be done but this sort of gives the vibe:

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It's not over until, etc, etc, but I'm really pleased with how this has turned out so far 🙂

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  • 6 months later...

It looks so friendly, and yet it could turn around and melt your face. How does it feel now thats its strung up? Wish we knew what wood it is!

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10 hours ago, komodo said:

It looks so friendly, and yet it could turn around and melt your face. How does it feel now thats its strung up? Wish we knew what wood it is!

It feels good.  Balances well over the knee and I reckon it is going to be good on the strap too.  The body, although very thin, has a satisfying weight and the lightweight tuners result in it having not a hint of neck heaviness.  

I'll be able to tell better when I've cut the nut and been able to bring it to full tension, but it actually feels more like a short scale rather than a medium scale.  Doesn't feel much different to a guitar, in spite of the bass strings approaching 33".  Some of that is the old trick of bringing the bridge right back - learnt when I first picked up a Cort Curbow and pondered how a long-scale bass could look and feel like a shortscale one!

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And to the nut.  I have to say that, now I've got over the slightly nauseating smell when you are filing a bone blank (and a mask is essential due to the very fine and dubious-looking dust), cutting a bone nut or saddle is a very satisfying thing to do.

First stage was to cut it to length and file the slight curve at the two sides:

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Next, I used feeler gauges to mark a line a gnat's whisker higher than the maximum fret height:

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Then - with the spare strings fitted - filed the slots at the correct angle and spacing with my trusty Hosco nut files:

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Finally, filed the dropaway behind the string contact point for each slot and then took off all of the sharp corners:

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This allowed me to tension up the strings and try to play it a bit.  Felt fine!

Next job is the side dots using the last strip of green luminlay I have in my bits draw

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  • 3 weeks later...

And...it's finished! :)

Silky satin tru-oil slurry and buff, luminlay side dots (including double dots either side of a dotless 12th!), new set of strings, pickups direct to the jack (another one of Tom's preferences) and Dunlop inset straplocks. 

I also earthed the bridge blocks.  With individual blocks, one way is to use a brass nut, but I wanted to stick with bone and so I earthed the end ferrule in the normal way, and then set up a daisy chain of copper foil pads linked with small wire bridges looped through holes drilled under the gaps between each block:

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And so the G string, which has the earthed ferrule, then earths the G saddle block and that earths all the rest through the daisy chain.

Alright in theory...best check ;)

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Phew!  We have full continuity :)

 

And so here it is:

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  • Andyjr1515 changed the title to Finished! Tom's African Build II

It took me a second to realize there were no knobs or switches. The matte finish is superb and the knobless look is very clean.

I don't know if it the finish, the wood, the shape, the cleanness or just the power of suggestion, but it definitely has an African art aesthetic to it.

I do believe you've captured it's soul. ( That sounds a bit cruel, perhaps it's more like you've reached an accord for it to hang about a bit).

Bravo!

SR

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1 minute ago, ScottR said:

It took me a second to realize there were no knobs or switches. The matte finish is superb and the knobless look is very clean.

I don't know if it the finish, the wood, the shape, the cleanness or just the power of suggestion, but it definitely has an African art aesthetic to it.

I do believe you've captured it's soul. ( That sounds a bit cruel, perhaps it's more like you've reached an accord for it to hang about a bit).

Bravo!

SR

You get the prize - and across two forums!  :rock   

Tom and I have been watching the reaction to the thread and both have been amazed that no one has asked "but where's the control panel??"  Well done - gold star and smiley face :) 

It's interesting.  Tom is a professional bassist (he was on US TV recently just before Covid raised its ugly head and spoiled things), but prefers everything straight through and tweak things at the amp - even in a full stage performance.  It's not something that a lead guitar front-man could do, but the bassist is usually somewhere further back so he is able to do that.  I have a clip somewhere at London Trafalgar Square playing with a full band and you can see him doing just that. 

In fact, in the clip, he's playing African Bass I (which was also wired straight through) :D  Thinking about it, that must make me 'almost famous'.  It's probably in the same ilk as my writing, where I never really got anywhere much to speak of - but did start getting a much better class of rejection letter! :lol:

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