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Old 10-21-2012, 10:33 PM   #1
W4RP1G
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Is polyurethane the best finish for a maple fretboard?

I just want something that will resist damage cause by my fingernails and look good. Will the minwax spay on poly work for this, or it there a better option?

I was told that I should use instrument grade finishes, but stewmac only sells nitro and shellac, so Home Depot seems like the only option for poly. I definitely want to avoid using nitro, shellac, or oil on my maple fretboard.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:15 AM   #2
LeviMan_2001
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If you want tough, you want poly. "Instrument grade" finishes are generally more the 'vintage style' aka the nitro, shellac, etc.
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:19 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeviMan_2001
If you want tough, you want poly. "Instrument grade" finishes are generally more the 'vintage style' aka the nitro, shellac, etc.

Thanks, I'll probably pick up a can of satin poly tomorrow then. I was just worried that there was some special poly used for fretboards.
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:17 PM   #4
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I just want something that will resist damage cause by my fingernails....


Nail clippers?
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woad_yurt
Nail clippers?


what I was thinking!
If your nails are touching the fretboard, cut them!! It'll be much easier to play!
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Old 10-23-2012, 01:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gurg06
what I was thinking!
If your nails are touching the fretboard, cut them!! It'll be much easier to play!

I do, but it happens sometimes.

Anyway, I sprayed it with satin polyurethane today. So far so good.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:55 PM   #7
BirdRiverCustom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W4RP1G
I do, but it happens sometimes.

Anyway, I sprayed it with satin polyurethane today. So far so good.


How many coats are you gonna do? i assume you'll sand lightly in between?
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:00 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BirdRiverCustom
How many coats are you gonna do? i assume you'll sand lightly in between?

Well, I did quite a few coats, probably 6. I wanted it be heavy. I did no sanding in between, since I did each coat within about an hour of each other. It looks pretty great, but it's kinda rough feeling. I'm debating whether or not I should attempt to sand it smooth and shoot another coat or 2. On any other part of the guitar, this would be a no brainer, but the fretboard is already fretted, so sanding might be a bad idea.

I could also hit it with some steel wool, but I don't want to lose the beautiful satin finish. It seems like I should be focusing more on looks than feel, since I won't really be touching the fretboard.
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Old 10-24-2012, 01:04 AM   #9
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An hour between poly coats is WAY too long. Surprised it didnt wrinkle and that it stuck.
Poly needs to be sprayed at the most, 20 minutes between coats.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explorerbuilder
An hour between poly coats is WAY too long. Surprised it didnt wrinkle and that it stuck.
Poly needs to be sprayed at the most, 20 minutes between coats.


Rattle cans have a lot of additives though, you can't shoot coats as quickly as with a spray gun.
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Old 10-24-2012, 03:22 AM   #11
W4RP1G
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The instructions on the can said within 2 hours.
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Old 10-25-2012, 11:08 AM   #12
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OOooh!! Poly-frets? Or didja manage to mask them off....somehow?
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Old 10-26-2012, 01:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltaten
OOooh!! Poly-frets? Or didja manage to mask them off....somehow?


you don't need to mask them off because it comes off the frets really really easily..I usually just play up and down the neck for about half an hour and bam poly (or lacquer for that matter) is all gone
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:17 PM   #14
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I used poly on a maple fretboard Warmoth neck a couple years ago. Two coats 20min apart, sand, repeated till 6 coats. After the final coat I sanded up to 600, then used steel wool, then stewmacs medium then fine buffing polish. It looked flawless! BUT, poly is sooo slow compared to nitro, schellac or oil. It provides better protection, but the difference in speed is dramatic! It hasn't kept me from playing that guitar on a regular basis, I just have to use fingerease or something similar to make it tolerable. I've finished two necks that way, 1 with schellac, and 2 with nitro. I still finish bodies with poly occasionally, but never on a neck again. Btw I didn't tape the frets either. It wears off in no time. I'm working on a Bass VI for my bassist with a flame maple fretboard. I'm thinking about epoxy, but need to do some test runs 1st.
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Old 12-04-2012, 04:01 AM   #15
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Update:

I leveled and crowned the frets with the poly on them. No issues with that. However, I sand my frets up to 2000 grit to make them shine, and that's where I had an issue. On the side of the frets, just above the fretboard, the poly would not sand off. I found that the easiest way to remove with was to tediously scrape it away with a razor blade. That probably took about an hour.

Overall not too bad, and the fretboard looks wonderful, but I will be investigating a different way to do this next time. I'm considering spraying the fretboard before fretting, and then fretting immediately afterwards. But....I'm not too keen on the frets sitting on top of the poly, so I might attempt to mask the frets instead.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:26 AM   #16
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Rockler and Woodcraft and maybe Stew Mac sell a shellac that has some additives to make it extremely hard. I have been thinking about trying this but have not gotten a chance. Given the issue Hadelet had with the playability of nitro and shellac v. poly, this might be a good compromise.
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:37 AM   #17
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Any pictures of your handy work?
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:20 PM   #18
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Could you not do a wipe on poly on a finished, but un-slotted, fretboard? As long as you have a good quality fret saw with a nice thin kerf, it wouldn't be a problem... would it?
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:22 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty_Chisel
Rockler and Woodcraft and maybe Stew Mac sell a shellac that has some additives to make it extremely hard. I have been thinking about trying this but have not gotten a chance. Given the issue Hadelet had with the playability of nitro and shellac v. poly, this might be a good compromise.

The only benefit to using shellac would be that it's super easy to repair. Do that particular shellac dry as hard as polyurethane, and is repairable like regular shellac?
Quote:
Originally Posted by R45VT
Any pictures of your handy work?

I'm working on it. My camera has stopped working and my cell phone cam isn't good enough to take a clear pic of anything. I will post one, it's just a matter of time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesbanez
Could you not do a wipe on poly on a finished, but un-slotted, fretboard? As long as you have a good quality fret saw with a nice thin kerf, it wouldn't be a problem... would it?

Actually, for that last fretboard I used a table saw and a jig for the fret slots, which literally allows me to cut 24 perfect fret slots in 2 minutes.

But I'm not sure why using a wipe on poly over a spray can would be beneficial
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:56 PM   #20
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W4RP1G - it is supposed to be as hard as poly put with the application qualities of shellac. LMI sells it.Wonder if it has burn in characteristic of shellac if it cross-links?

http://www.lmii.com/CartTwo/thirdpr...ut+Hard+Shellac
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