I am planning my first project which will be a DIY Les Paul style kit that I will be purchasing within the next couple weeks which has a completely unfinished body and neck, I know its going to be quite the process to do the finishing work on it and I am wondering, would I be able to use my dremel multi-max tool to do the sanding or will it just strip off all the finish that I apply? What is the recommended grit of sandpaper to use at each sanding stage? What stains / paints does everyone recommend? I live in Canada so nitro is unavailable to me.
Last edited by rasterburn1 at Apr 5, 2015,
I just did this myself. Well.... Almost. My project was a little bit different.

I have a multi-max. It was very good for rough sanding. There's the easy way and the hard way.
The first thing I've got to say is I wish I didn't choose blue. A lot of finishes will yellow, so the blue guitar eventually turns green. If you want to do blue then you're probably going to want to think about using a water-based polyurethane. In my experience the water based stuff was way harder to work with.
If I were doing this over again I'd be thinking about other colors that won't show discoloration so obviously. Then I would use oil-based poly instead.
Start with a coarse sand paper and sand it smooth. Wipe off the dust and sand it again with a finer pattern. The higher you go the smoother it'll be but if you leave any rough spots with the 220 then you shouldn't expect the 400 to correct that problem. You don't have to go to 400 of course.

After you're satisfied with the smoothness of the wood you should wipe off the dust, then dampen all the wood a little bit. The grain will rise when you get water in it, so you'll have to sand it again.

Now you dye the wood. Get a scrap of wood and practice first. The process didn't seem that difficult to me but if you're picky about the color then you're going to want to get it right the first time. Here's the trick: you can't just go back and fix things. If you add more stain then it'll get darker. You will want to wipe it all on as evenly as possible.
A trick that might make the grain pop out is too do a very dark stain first and let it dry. Then you sand it all off. The tint should get deeper in the grain than it does in the spaces between. Then do a new tint with whatever color you like. It won't make unfigured wood look like flame maple btw but if there's patterns there to enhance it should help.

About this time you're going to want to start wearing latex gloves. The oils on your fingers can screw the finish up. As long as you're planning to sand again it shouldn't be a problem, but don't be rubbing your digits all over the wood just prior to applying your first coat of finish.

As for the finish itself- way too involved to handle here. The easy way is to get a dust free paint booth and a good sprayer. Spray thin, even, complete coats and let each coat have enough time to dry. If you're like me you'll think that it's okay to put on 3 coats a day, but don't be like me. I was dumb.

The hard way is to apply all the same coats, but then sand it to whatever finish you'd like. I did this. I went up to 12000 grit which feels like smooth paper. Sanding has it's own little problems as well. The sand paper dust can form little "pills" which can scratch the wood deeper than the grit of paper that you're using, and then you gotta go back down to a coarse grit again.
Last edited by paul.housley.7 at Apr 5, 2015,
ok so for any sanding before the sealer and the lacquer using the multi-max is fine so long as i use a grit of 240 or higher? I am assuming that once the sealer is on i will want to sand by hand to avoid taking too much sealer or finish off, and i am assuming these sanding stages are more to smooth the finish and prep for the next coat of finish, I may be interested in going up to 12000 grit just to get that mirror smooth polished surface, as for doing the neck, i will probably want to go by hand to avoid re-shaping.
The multi max will be too aggressive to use beyond the first or second grit of sandpaper. Use hands more. Also you should be trying to avoid using the fine grit sandpaper. You use that if your lacquer or poly isn't looking good enough. It adds a hell of a lot of work.
2000 is where I draw the line on the backs of necks if they are unfinished maple necks. Just my opinion of course.

but yeah anything above 2000 use micro mesh. It's these little pads that last a very long time. I polished about 5 years worth of guitar projects (mostly frets) with them and finally tossed my first set. I usually polish to 2000 grit on finishes when doing scratch removal and using rubbing/polishing compound with a buffer for a totally scratch free finish.

I may be wrong but stewmac claimed a certain kind of micro mesh could remove swirls and scratches. This was about 5-7 years ago so I can't be too certain.
I normally go from 240 - 320 - 400 - 600 - 800- 1200 - 2400. Basically every single grit. In almost every case the more you sand the better the end result.
I want '61 Jazz Bass!