More work on the Jaguar neck

From the previous post on the Jaguar headstock – I’ve masked off the fingerboard on the Jaguar neck, and we’re going to be burying the waterslide decals under layers of nitrocellulose clear coat, to hide the edges.

After a check there’s no contamination or lifting of the decals or anything untoward – double check there’s none of the PVA haze I mentioned in a previous post, and then give the face of the headstock a quick wipe down with naptha. It’s a good idea to block up the tuner holes with paper towel, or such similar, so that you don’t get too much lacquer down there – reducing their diameter. Although I’ll probably be reaming out the holes a little, later on, it’ll save a lot of effort, in the long run.

The first couple of clear coats over the top of the decals should be very light. The plastic which makes up the actual body of the decal appears to literally melt under the clear coat – so you really don’t want to put too much on at first. Gradually build up the clear coat in a schedule similar to the body painting – just don’t go too heavy at first. Eventually, you can build up heavier, liquid looking coats – just so long as you leave enough drying time in between.

Then it’s just a question of building up coats of nitro over the headstock and decals. I probably sprayed way too many coats – but I need to rub down the lacquer over the decals, and I don’t want too little there. I don’t want to end up rubbing through into the decals themselves.

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Once there’s enough clear coat on the headstock face – let it dry properly. I left things hanging for at least a week, while I got on with other stuff.

Once the lacquer is dry over the decals – it’s a question of flatting down the surface with wet and dry grit over a backing block. I used 360 or 400 grit, with a little naptha as a lubricant. It tends not to make the wood swell like water would, and it cleans up as it goes. It also seems to help the grit “bite”. It tends to evaporate quickly – so you need to keep reapplying – but it does the job well, without making the wood of the neck damp.

As you work across the whole face of the headstock, you’ll notice the edges of the decals begin to smooth in to the overall surface. If you work into a light source, you’ll see that the edges of the decals will start to look lighter, and a bit more diffuse. What’s happening is that you’re taking lacquer off the top of the decals – bringing the overall level down to that of the surrounding face. It’s likely that you won’t be able to do this all in one push – so plan to respray with clear coat again, and re-level a few times until all signs of the edges of the decals are gone. Keep the block level at all times, and try not to overwork any particular area. Once things are looking flat at 400 grit, I sprayed over a final few coats of clear, and left everything to dry properly for a couple of weeks.

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While the clear coat is properly hardening, I took the masking off the fingerboard and applied a few coats of Crimson Fingerboard Oil to the rosewood. This is a really nice, light, (lemon?) oil – and the fingerboard just drinks it up. Rub a little bit over the rosewood, leave it to penetrate for a few minutes, and then rub all the surplus off with a paper towel. I usually oil the fingerboard a couple of times before final assembly, and it’s also a good way of restoring a tired looking fingerboard once it’s been played a while. Essential maintenance, once in a while.

Fingers crossed – that’s the neck pretty well done for now. With the first assembly a way off yet, I store the neck where it’s warm and dry, and I can get on with something else.

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