Set neck project - Different final steps for different finishes ?

donnyb

Member
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566
Hello again , Happy Christmas !

Id seek advice on best order for the final stages of a Les Paul Junior style build. I have never done a set neck project before, but plenty of bolt- ons. And undecided about which finishes for the neck and body.

Once I do decide on the finishes, I don't want to do a step that might seem logical, but find out later that it would have been better to do that step in a different order, for reasons I cant think of right now ! :confused:

This is basically where I'm at :

NECK : Raw wood. Honduran Mahogany, Tasmanian Blackwood fretboard and headstock veneer. Close to completion - ready for frets installation.

BODY : Raw wood. Tasmanian Blackwood routed to shape, no cavity routs or neck pocket rout.

I'm thinking this order :

1. Finish the fretboard only with hard burnishing oil (my preference) and install the frets, taking precautions to keep oil out of the slots. Set neck aside.

2. Do all the body routs, including the neck pocket

QUESTIONS here :

  • If I use oil on the neck and headstock veneer, but choose to use clear coats on the body , should I do the oil process now (before gluing the neck in), taking care not to get any oil on the gluing surfaces of the heel, but running the oil finish just a tad inside the pocket rout line ?

  • If I choose to use a clear coat finish (eg. lacquer or shellac) on everything i.e. the neck and headstock veneer and the body .....do that after the neck is glued to the body, with the oil finished fretboard masked off ?

  • If I do an oil finish to the body, but have clear coated the back of the neck, feather the clear coats where these meet the body if necessary, and oil the body ?

  • If I do all surfaces with either oil or a clear coat finish (i.e to the body, neck and headstock) just apply it to all those surfaces after gluing in the neck and masking off the previously oiled fretboard (if I use clear elsewhere) ?
Man, that all reads like a brain twister.

Thanks for reading and I hope it didn't give you a headache !
 
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timfred

Member
Messages
11
Assemble before finishing. You don't want finish of any kind messing up your joints.

If you are doing oil and film finishes next to each other, do the oil last so you don't contaminate/discolor the surface. The exception is where you purposely want a drying oil to pop the figure under a film finish. Boiled linseed under shellac is one way to do this.

There's about a million finishing schedules, many of them correct, so here's what I'd do, YMMV:

1. If you want to darken the blackwood and mahogany and highlight any figure, start with a drying oil like BLO or an oil-based wiping varnish (Danish oil, etc) everywhere including the neck and fretboard. If you like the satin look of a wiping varnish, add coats until you get the look you like, then stop. You're done.

2. If you want the body glossy, seal with dewaxed shellac, grain fill, then follow with the top coat of your choice. Mask off the fretboard.

I hate glossy necks...If any place on my guitar is going to be matte or satin it's going to be the back of the neck. Wet sanding an oil finish into a mahogany neck gives great results, IMO. But anyway, yes 800-1500 grit wet or dry sandpaper can feather a transition from a glossy to matte finish.
 

donnyb

Member
Messages
566
Thanks timfred, I concur re glossy necks, polyurethane especially ! Like driving with the handbrake on.

I'm definite on the fretboard being oil finish, low satin or matte and have been experimenting with hard burnishing oil (HB) which is an Organoil product in Australia, on the blackwood fretboard off cuts, using cloth buffs at high speed. Is that product like BLO ?

The wet sanding of the mahogany neck you refer to is a similar process to the burnishing oil process, which involves heat via rubbing friction often with an orbital sander for high gloss. But it can be applied with no wet rubbing at all for a matte finish. Just take a month to harden, I'm told.

I'm leaning towards a matte finish on the Blackwood freeboard (no heat application or very little), and a satin to gloss finish on the back of the neck using the same HB oil, but heat buffed to the right level of gloss.
The body ? Undecided. Here's a photo of the body and the neck (fretboard has had a damp rag rubbed over it). Feel free to suggest what might look good with the neck finish I cited above.

20160826_114057_2.jpg
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20161223_173910.jpg
 

timfred

Member
Messages
11
If it was me I'd put something glossy on the body, if just to set it apart from the neck. Shellac or lacquer or whatever that can be leveled and polished to a high sheen.
 
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donnyb

Member
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566
If it was me I'd put something glossy on the body, if just to set it apart from the neck. Shellac or lacquer or whatever that can be leveled and polished to a high sheen.

Thanks for your thoughts there timfred. I had begun to think that too about the body finish.

Ive sprayed a lacquer product here made by Watyl called Stylwood on several Teles and Strats etc. It comes in different gloss levels and I prefer about 70% gloss, which is still very glossy. Its a very good product, but a different application technique to auto type acrylic lacquer is required.

If I did the fretboard matte, the back of the neck a satin oil finish as I'm thinking, the gloss level transition to the body from the neck would look right, I think.

Should I do the headstock veneer the same, i.e. gloss 70% as per the body ? Or satin buffed oil as per the back of the neck ?
 
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