Saturday, August 4, 2012

Archtop Guitar Build - Buffing

I had to do some touch up fills of lacquer on sink lines and small defects in the surfaces.  Once all of this had a chance to cure I once again sanded everything flat with 600 wet -> 1000 wet -> 1500 wet.  I then used my new secret weapon, the arbor buffer...

I bought this Shop Fox arbor buffer from Luthier's Mercantile (LM) and got the motor from Stew Mac (closeout priced).  The stand allows the motor to tension the arbor via a hinge mount and the buffer wheels are loaded with medium fine on the left and fine on the right.

The tech services guy from LM has done a lot of finishing so I picked his brain for about 20 minutes to find out about the do's and don'ts of buffing.  He said that you have to go down to 1500 grit before the medium fine which I thought was a little odd because the medium fine is 800-1000 grit.  I experimented by buffing with this compound after 6oo grit and he was right.  You get a very shiny surface with lots of fine swirl scratches in the background.  When I followed his directions it turned out perfect and took a fraction of the time it usually takes me when I buff with rubbing compound, polishing compound and swirl remover.

The way I prepped the wheels was by combing them with a wheel rake and then trimmed all of the loose ends.  These wheels kick up large amounts of lint when they are being combed and loaded.  If you look carefuuly at the photo, it looks like I've been shearing sheep because the floor is loaded with tufts of lint.  After the wheels were trimmed I buffed a piece of hardwood for about two minutes to get the wheels hot and then loaded them with compound.  After the compound was on the wheels I then buffed the hard wood to fine tune the wheels before tackling the guitar.

When you buff you must be sure to use only the front lower half of the wheel and be careful to not allow the top sharp edge of the guitar hit the upper portion of this sector.  If it does, It can catch the guitar and throw it out of your hands according the the LM tech services guy.  I noticed that when I was buffing around the "f-holes" that the guitar wanted to move a little so I can only imagine the rude surprise you would be in for if you caught the wrong surface with the buffer wheel...

Here is what the guitar looked like after buffing.  I took photos with both natural light and artificial light to give a good perspective.  The guitar now shines like a mirror...

1 comment:

  1. Sweet finish!!! Could you post some more photos of the stand you built for the buffer? I've recently purchased a similar buffer from Grizzly with a 1/2 hp motor..made a stand for it over the weekend and the darn thing is hoping around like a rabbit when I fire up the motor.