best way to remove polyurethane finish?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by tone slave, Aug 24, 2007.

  1. tone slave

    tone slave Member

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    i have a 1994 prs ce maple top and i'm considering removing the polyurethane clear coat. i know, :eek:, but a) it's beat to hell, and b) guitars just sound better without a finish.

    i would like to remove the poly without harming the stain, but i doubt that's possible. obviously sanding it all off is one solution, but would take forever and would have to be done very carefully, especially on the top to preserve the contour. i'd obviously have to pay an experienced luthier or repair guy to do this, and i imagine it would be expensive.

    the other solution is to use some sort of chemical to remove the finish, which would be much quicker, but i'm worried that whatever chemical was used may somehow harm the wood.

    either way, it seems like the stain would also be removed, but maybe i'm wrong.

    so what is the more desireable solution?
     
  2. sleis

    sleis Member

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    Not sure what PRS uses, but I have been able to peel off sheets of finish with a heat gun on Fenders. I love to get the poly off and nitro it up. Sometimes I wish I had more money just to buy guitars that could be stripped and refinished with nitro. Whatever Fender uses is pretty impervious to any chemical stripper it seems.
     
  3. gigant0r

    gigant0r Member

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    Heat gun is the best solution for removing that thick poly.
     
  4. Mrgearguy

    Mrgearguy Member

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    Dynamite.

    Actually, the heat gun is a good way to go. If you can get a plastic scraper under an edge it peels off in sheets as described above. Other than that and sanding, you don't have much choice. Hate that stuff.
     
  5. sampleinajar

    sampleinajar Member

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    Oh man. Don't sand - it is a mess and the dust is not good for you. I have been there, done that. Awful, awful.

    Steve
     
  6. gkoelling

    gkoelling Supporting Member

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    I've never done it but have also heard that a heat gun is the best way. Just don't get too close for any length of time or you'll burn the wood.
     
  7. Attila

    Attila Supporting Member

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    That's interesting; I didn't know that.
     
  8. tone slave

    tone slave Member

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    :NUTS ...am i crazy for doing this?

    :eek: ...holy **** i'm doing it no turning back now

    :dude ...holy sh*t it works! look at that beautiful mahogany!

    :worried ...oh man do i want to try this on the top or should i just do the
    back and sides and not push my luck?

    :confused:
     
  9. bigalthethird

    bigalthethird Member

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    Pics!

    Oh and do the top too.
     
  10. 59 Deluxe

    59 Deluxe Member

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    i want to strip a poly finish myself. what exactly is a heat gun and where could i find one? any hardware store?
     
  11. HarryJ

    HarryJ Member

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    In addition, the only chem that worked for me is ZAR stripper

    HJ
     
  12. Tuco

    Tuco Member

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    Yes, I would like to hear a few more details about how to strip poly.
     
  13. Denyle_Guitars

    Denyle_Guitars Fuzz Sustaining Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Just give her a cracker and she does the rest.:rotflmao

    It used to be that you could use aircraft stripper but now there are too many so called aircraft strippers (like Klean-Strip) at every mom & pop hardware store that aren't too great on guitars. If you google aircraft stripper, you can find lists and rankings of which are strongest.
     
  14. takakat

    takakat Member

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    Maybe the easiest way is set the fire and when the poly is burnt hose it down and sand the char off. Jimi set the fire on his poly finised 68 Strat didn't he?
     
  15. K-Line

    K-Line Gold Supporting Member

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    Careful with the heat gun, just enough to loosen the paint. If you get it too hot it can loosen the glue in the seams. My advice, get a body from USACG or the likes and sell the other. Time is money......I got neither!
     
  16. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

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    Been to a couple of Fender Relic Clinics at the Guitar Shows, Fender uses Naptha to soften up the finish, I have not tried it on one of mine. I would prefer that to a heat gun.
     
  17. HarryJ

    HarryJ Member

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    Naphtha will clean the finish very well, won't soften a poly finish IMHO
    The only chem that worked for me is ZAR

    HJ
     
  18. tone slave

    tone slave Member

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    :D

    i did it!!! i can't believe how easy it was!!! looks like a modern eagle (with way less flame of course). the emerald green, maple binding, and natural mahogany look so sexy. i don't have a digital camera at home but i do at work, so i'll try to post a few pics tomorrow.

    one more question for the luthiers on the board... i plan on just putting a very light tung oil finish over the whole thing, that's not going to do anything to the stain, will it? also, i found some green stain at a local woodworking supply store that i'd like to use to touch up one bad ding that's into the wood on the top (damn crazy rockstar singer dove into the drums at the end of a show and knocked a cymbal stand into my guitar :FM ) does prs use water- or oil- based stain? any advice on doing this properly?
     
  19. otterpop

    otterpop Member

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    to a borrow a phrase from another site I frequent... "kill it with fire!"
     
  20. Dylan61

    Dylan61 Member

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    Why not giving it a Nitro coat?
     

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