Kurt Cobain “Jag-Stang”. Clear coating with nitrocellulose lacquer

Clearcoating the painted JagStang body starts the very next suitable day. I don’t have much spare time and I want to get all my nitro and lacquer work done, so it can dry and cure whilst I slacken off for a few weeks. My eye op is scheduled for Saturday – so it’ll be the first or second week in August before things stabilise, and I can finally start to look at what lenses I’ll need for close up work. Task one – for the time being at least – is to deposit two 400ml rattle cans of gloss nitro lacquer over the Sonic Blue paintwork.

JagStang – Painted, and ready for clear coating

The process follows the same schedule as that followed when painting. A first, thin, “key” coat of clear lacquer has already been applied over the finished paintwork, and the piece has had a few days to dry, and to “off-gas” a little. The work is carefully cleaned off and dusted – before it’s hung in the spray booth.

I’m using a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer by manchestrguitartech.co.uk . Another light mist coat is applied first – to “melt into”, and reactivate the previous lacquer coat. This is followed, 15 minutes later, by a complete coat applied in just a single pass.

JagStang – Clear coating – First, mist coat

After each “coat” – no matter how many “passes” have been accomplished – the work is inspected for any fibres or dust specks which might have drifted onto the surface. This being a light coloured body – there are bound to be a few. As long as they’re removed, (rubbed back if necessary), and the area degreased properly – it’s possible to keep “on top” of any dust contamination as more and more coats are applied. In theory – you only have to rub back one coat, and there should always be lacquer preserved below. The key is in keeping on top of the work at all times. It’s hard to spot everything with my current vision – so I’m bound to have to live with some imperfections, on this job especially – but these magnifying glasses are useful for some things, and although it slows progress up – a careful check over between coats helps keep the worst of the inevitable marks from getting buried under too much lacquer.

Once the first proper coat has had time to dry, (about 40 minutes today), and the inspection and cleaning has been carried out – the next, fuller coat is applied in two passes. This extra pass allows a much more liquid coat to be applied – but not really enough to risk sags or runs.

JagStang – Clear coating – Building-up fuller coats

After the lacquer has had time to dry again – the same inspection, rubbing-back/cleaning, drying, overcoating routine is repeated again and again. Each subsequent pass with the lacquer is sprayed to be a little bit thicker than the previous. Gradually – the job eats up both of the rattle cans I’ve set aside for the job. I don’t actually spray all the way to the end of the second can, since the dregs become “sputtery”, and too many little slubs of clear lacquer would be left on the, otherwise relatively smooth, finish. The job looks well-coated, with a smooth, “wet” look all over, and not too much “orange peel” texture. This will hopefully polish up really well.

JagStang – Clear coating complete

Finally – the work is left to hang for a couple of hours in the warmth of the workshop. Once I can safely handle the piece, I remove the painting stick, and store the body in the drying cupboard, alongside my ongoing Jazzmaster and Jaguar projects, which are now also awaiting further attention.

So that’s it for now. Let’s see what the surgeon can sort for me tomorrow. I’m looking forward to being able to see with two eyes again, and excited that it might actually allow me to revisit, and expand on, some of my current limitations. However – since I’ve already been through exactly the same thing with one eye – I know what’s coming and, to be quite honest, there are things I’d much prefer to be doing on a Saturday afternoon. But needs must…

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