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CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#1
Due to popular request I'm going to show you all a step by step on how to hand rub shellac bursts. A key thing to remember when using shellac on guitars is that you can not use premixed stuff off the shelf of a hardware store. You need to buy dried lack flakes and mix them with denatured alcohol or methylated spirits. There are lots of french polishing instructions online that will let you know what mix to use and I can't really help you on proportions of shellac to alcohol because I just mix it until it looks right.

To start off we need to prep the body by sanding it down or scraping it. I like to work from the idea that less is more. Many years ago guitar manufacturers didn't sand the guitar bodies with 1500 grit sandpaper and spend hrs getting every nick out of the body. They simply went over the body with a cabinet scraper to level it and smooth it and they called it good enough. Using this method will not give you a perfect finish, but it does give you a different character that I really like.

Here is the body of the guitar before I've done anything to it. You can see that it's a 4pc body and there are several small knots in it. The knots won't take colour very well so rather than go with a regular burst I decided to do something a bit different. I'm going to use purple, green, and blue for the main body of the guitar and then it'll fade to black around the edges. The blue, green, and purple will have a folded together look rather than a blended look. Doing this will make the spots that don't take colour well look less out of place.



To prep the body I run over it with a cabinet scraper.



Now I'm ready for colour. I start by soaking the whole body with alcohol and then I dump the powdered colours into the middle of the guitar. With these particular colours the blue turns green when it is really thinned down with alcohol and I have to mix red and blue for purple so I am dumping red and blue into the middle of the guitar and then I start rubbing it it.



I add colour in blotches until the whole guitar is way darker than I want it and then I go around the outside edge with black . Finally I start thinning the dye down by adding alcohol directly to the middle of the guitar top, rub the guitar down by hand, and then start wiping off the extra. I always work from the middle out because that is what gives the burst effect.



Now I've finished with the colours and I'm ready to get some clean racks and start with the shellac.



Now I'm still not done removing finish, but I want to start sealing in some of the colours so at this point I go through a lot of rags. I add a very thin layer of shellac to the whole guitar and then I start buffing the top where I want to remove colour until my rag gets too dirty and then I get a clean one, dip it in shellac, and go again.



Here I'm about half done buffing the top down and evening out the colours. When I finish with this I may or may not end up sanding it a bit before I start adding clear coats.

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Last edited by CorduroyEW at Apr 8, 2009,
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#4
^didn't need caps, I needed to add http://
Still doing business but not taking any online orders.
Baby Joel
Join date: May 2008
6,275 IQ
#5
Much better now, thanks.
I love the third picture (Looks like an ink blot). The last picture looks very nice as well!
Did you just do this thing, today? And exactly how many rags did you go through?
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#6
^I started at about 2:00pm today and I've used 3 old shirts and an old bath robe.
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deftonesordie
ENGL Fireball 100 Abuser
Join date: Oct 2007
513 IQ
#7
love the deep colour on that. Great job.
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TimBFMV
Making his comeback to UG
Join date: Jul 2008
840 IQ
#8
Sweet Stain!
Tim.

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lumberjack
The Axe Man
Join date: Feb 2006
2,905 IQ
#9
I really like the look of your staining technique, very spiffy!
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Lumberjack
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#11
Tried them but don't like 'em. With the amount I do this stuff I don't need gloves to be safe so I opt not to use them.

More pics should be up tomorrow. It's turned out very cool and the domonate colour actually changes colour so it can either look blue, green, purple, or black which was unexpected and very cool. Hopefully when I take pics in the morning I can captures a few of the colours and not just have it look black.
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forstringwonder
fast
Join date: Jun 2008
1,093 IQ
#13
does this technique work well with bright colors as well?

i am interested in trying it with a deep cherry sunburst type of finish.
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CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#14
Yes, as long as the wood you are using can take bright colours. This is a hard ash body and it doesn't take colour all that well so it needs dark colours if you are going to use them at all. If this were alder or maple it would work great with lighter colours.
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Last edited by CorduroyEW at Apr 9, 2009,
forstringwonder
fast
Join date: Jun 2008
1,093 IQ
#15
thats good news. i should be getting my one piece alder tele body soon, but don't know if i trust myself enough to try this.

thanks.
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chris024
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2008
917 IQ
#16
where do you buy these dry lack flakes? i want to do this on my next project. i like this method, from your idea, i used a plane blade to do my final "sanding" on my body, just lightly rubbing over it before staining and it came out smooth as glass. i was having trouble before with only 400 grit paper getting it this smooth.
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#18
Quote by chris024
where do you buy these dry lack flakes? i want to do this on my next project. i like this method, from your idea, i used a plane blade to do my final "sanding" on my body, just lightly rubbing over it before staining and it came out smooth as glass. i was having trouble before with only 400 grit paper getting it this smooth.



400 grit paper simply isn't enough for finishing. Chances are that on your 1st seveal guitar you finish with shellac you will still need to sand the finish down to level it out and to do this you need 600 gritt for all your agressive sanding and you will need 1200 and 1500 for your less agressive sanding.

In the USA and Canada the dried shellac can be perchased from www.lmii.com and in the EU it can be gotten at www.axminster.com there might be better places to get it but these are the places I know about.
Still doing business but not taking any online orders.
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#19
So I decided to sand the finish to level it out a bit so here are some pics after wet sanding it with 600 grit sand paper. Shellac doesn't like water so when you wet sand shellac use oil. These pics have the guitar still covered in oil and I went at lots of angles hoping that the colour change effect might be able to be seen. I don't think it picked it up that well but you can kinda tell.

















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Last edited by CorduroyEW at Apr 10, 2009,
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#20
Because I want this guitar to actually look new I've now started polishing it. The method I'm using is a french polish. To do this I leave the oil on that is already there and I get a very diluted mixture of shellac. I keep my rag almost dry and quickly buff the surface of the guitar. If I slow down or stop it'll ruin the finish and I'll have to do more sanding so it's important to move quickly in circular and figure eight motions. Doing this applies hundreds of very thin layers of shellac over the guitar in a 10 minute session. After a session I let it sit for an hr and then do it again and I'll continue this over the course of a day. The best french polishes are done every few hrs for months. After I finish polishing the back I'll let it dry for a day or two and then polish the front the same way.

Here is a pic after the 1st polishing session

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oneblackened
Better Than You At Mixing
Join date: Oct 2007
3,300 IQ
#21
Very nice!
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bv310
GB&C's Very Own Brock!!!
Join date: Oct 2007
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#22
Looks like abalone. Really nice
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CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#23
^a cookie for you. I wanted it to look like abalone and rather than ask you guys if I achieved the look I was after I decided to see if anybody would bring it up.
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jrojas
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2008
131 IQ
#24
looks like the finished product is going to be amazing!

looks like and eye

Mitchell?
[something clever]
Join date: Aug 2008
385 IQ
#26
Whoa.

At first I didn't really understand what you were going for, but damn, this looks so badass.
Jonnuss
Valhalla I Am Coming...
Join date: Mar 2009
280 IQ
#27
thats so good . cant wait to see it finished. so want one of these :P
Baby Joel
Join date: May 2008
6,275 IQ
#28
Looking VERY nice. What kind of stuff are you going to put in it once it's finished (Even though this is mainly a finishing tut, I'd still like to see it assembled with hardware. :p?
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#29
^I'm going to keep you guys updated on the whole build but with the tele kit you basically just do the finish and then slap it all together. At the moment I'm letting it all sit and dry so that I can get it assembled but I do have a couple pic that I haven't posted yet.

Here is the headstock before cutting.



Here is the neck with some dye



I'm going to use most of the parts that came with the kit rather than upgrade and replace. I will be using my 54 style pickups with alnico 3 magnets and it's going to get CTS pots and grover tuners but everything else is kit parts. Of all the kits I've seen from www.diyguitarshop.co.uk/ I think the ash tele kits are the best. Nice clean routing, reasble quality components, and a nice neck and body.
Still doing business but not taking any online orders.
Last edited by CorduroyEW at Apr 12, 2009,
CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#31
^yeah, there will be soundclips
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SoundManMike
The Necro Bumper
Join date: Apr 2009
130 IQ
#33
Quote by jrojas
looks like the finished product is going to be amazing!

looks like and eye


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forstringwonder
fast
Join date: Jun 2008
1,093 IQ
#34
Quote by CorduroyEW



wish i could have sex with it. no homo.
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CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#35
So I'm almost finished with the guitar now. The hole in the bridge and the routing for the bridge pickup were both too small to accommodate a standard tele pickup so I had to mill the bridge and chisel a little out of the body in order to get my pickup to fit. Also, this bridge isn't designed for a string through so I had to drill the holes for the strings to run through into the body. For anybody looking to get this kit and replace pickups I'd suggest getting a different bridge. The guy who sells the kits has a great deal on his website for a wilkinson bridge that would work great on one of these guitars and would accommodate aftermarket pickups.

Here is a quick shot of me drilling holes for the string through and then a pic of me enlarging the metric size holes on the control plate so that Imperial size pots can fit.





Here is a pic of it all put together



And here it is from the back


All that is left is to install the ferrules so that I can make this a string through but I'm still waiting for those to come in so untill then I went ahead and set the guitar up so as soon as the ferrules do come in it's just a matter of pressing them in and restringing the guitar. I'll try and get some soundclips in the meantime.
Still doing business but not taking any online orders.
Baby Joel
Join date: May 2008
6,275 IQ
#36
Ooh, very nice! I love how the natural wood shows through a bit.
And by the way, when I showed this to my sister, she said, "I didn't know they made guitars made all out of abalone!" Not even joking.
Great work!
eyebanez333
UG's storm chaser
Join date: Nov 2008
1,966 IQ
#38
Sweet build man!!! I building a parts-telecaster right now and I was curious about the staining process. I want a natural finish though, not a colored one. What kind of stain do you recommend? Do you put a finish over the stain afterwards? Like a clearcoat you would on a painted guitar?
the humanity
A Political Man
Join date: Jun 2007
3,177 IQ
#39
wow...

hmmm... dark brown and dark yellow could possibly produce a sexy burst here... my build is hard ash I may just have to join the shellac club if you make any more of these...

got any company suggestions? or is all shellac made the same?
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CorduroyEW
UG's pickup winder
Join date: Nov 2004
3,349 IQ
#40
^When I lived in the USA I got my shellac from www.lmii.com Not all shellac is created equal and it is important to get high quality dry flakes and not the premixed stuff. The Denatured alcohol can be gotten from wallmart, lewis drug, or just about any hardware store. In the UK get your shellac from www.axminster.com

Quote by eyebanez333
Sweet build man!!! I building a parts-telecaster right now and I was curious about the staining process. I want a natural finish though, not a colored one. What kind of stain do you recommend? Do you put a finish over the stain afterwards? Like a clearcoat you would on a painted guitar?


If you want a natural finish then don't bother with stain, just clearcoat. Do decide to use a stain then you will have to clearcoat over it. The correct stain depends on what you are using for your finish and the correct application method also changes for different types of finishes. Lacquer finishes usually require you to mix the colour into the finish while hand rubbed finishes are easier if you rub colour into the wood and then finish over the top.
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