I didn’t want to stain or color my guitar. I just wanted a simple clear coat. I hemmed and hawed about which method to use, but I eventually broke down and bought a spray gun and used some nitrocellulose spraying lacquer that I got from Stew-Mac. I’m glad I did, spraying was a lot easier than I thought and there’s no way I would have been able to get the lacquer spread as uniformly as I did with a brush.
Before I began spraying lacquer I carefully went over the whole guitar with some fine sandpaper and made sure everything was as smooth and finished as I could make it. Then I used a vacuum to get the dust out of the pores in the wood and finished off by wiping the guitar down with a damp cloth. Next I taped off the location of the bridge and the fretboard. I didn’t have a really long ruler to position the bridge off of the face of the nut so I just used a tape measure as shown in the picture below, it worked just fine.
I used some pieces of old foam to fill up the soundhole to keep lacquer from getting in, if I did it again I’d make sure to put a plastic coffee can lid between the foam and the soundboard as J. Sevy did, I had trouble with the foam sticking to the rim of the soundhole. But it worked okay despite.
The picture below shows the guitar ready for finishing.
I applied a water based wood filler over the mahogany to try and fill in the pores. I wasn’t very happy with how the filler worked for me, I should have tried harder to match the color of the mahogany. If I ever do this again I don’t think I’ll use this type of wood filler. If I was painting the guitar then I think it would be perfect, but I just didn’t like it for my application (then again I’m the novice of novice finishers so what do I know).
After the filler had dried I sanded and wiped down the guitar and started spraying on the lacquer. I sprayed a couple of coats on before flattening down the bumps with wet sanding. I repeated this process a couple more times.
Once I finished applying the lacquer I moved on to buffing. I just used some automotive buffing compound. The picture below shows the finish on the back of the body after the first bout of buffing.
And after a couple more rounds…
Once the finish was done I only had to install the frets, glue on the bridge, fit the nut and saddle and then put the strings on!! I have to admit it was around this point that the quality of my work declined, all I wanted to do was hear what this thing was going to sound like, and so quality was sacrificed for speed…
Installing the frets wasn’t too bad. I put a strip of glue on the barbs and then carefully hammered them in leaving a little bit extra sticking out as shown in the picture.
When the glue dried I cut them off with some end snips and filed down the ends as shown below. I also used the file on the tops of the frets to knock down any high spots.
Gluing the bridge on wasn’t too bad either. I setup my clamping system before I used any glue and that made it go real easy. I had already made a clamping caul that fit in between the soundboard bracing back when I was making the soundboard bracing as suggested by Natelson and Cumpiano. That worked great.
Once the glue dried I finished drilling out the bridge holes into the soundboard and bridge brace below. I applied a simple oil finish to the bridge (the same for the fretboard).
I made a small slot for the nut with the depth stop fretsaw that I bought. I setup a guide as shown below and just kept making cuts until I’d made the whole slot.
And lastly I shaped both the nut and saddle. I made them out of bone (its smelly stuff and I don’ t think the dust is very good for a person to breathe). I cut them down to the rough dimensions with a hand saw and then sanded them down until I was satisfied with their shape, I found the fretboard radiusing board to be particularly helpful.
After I finished the nut and saddle I installed the tuning machines and put the strings on for the first time. That took some time; I had to fit each bridge pin for the first time so that the strings would sit properly in their holes. I also had to cut groves in the nut for the strings to sit in which was kind of a pain since I don’t really have the right tools for doing that, but I managed with my fretsaw. And then I was done.
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Planning and Design | Fret Spacing Calculation | Template and Workboard | Building the Neck | Making the Body Plates | Soundhole Rosette | Soundboard Bracing | Bending the Sides | Gluing Sides to the Soundboard | Creating and Installing the Back Plate | Binding the Body | Making the Dovetail Neck Joint | Carving the Neck | Making the Fretboard | Making the Bridge | Creating the Headstock Inlay | Finishing | The End Product