Finishing a quilt tele body

Thanks for the suggestion. I'm on the fence as to how long to wait. I found the debate in this thread useful. I also checked the Gibson process video to confirm that they use 4-6 days for cure time. I will note that I did already sand the finish off the back to reapply the grain filler, and despite being finished for only a few days at that point, the finish didn't gum up when I sanded. Regardless, I think 1 week as suggested by Mohawk on the product data sheet might be too little to allow the finish to sink in, so I'll target at least two weeks.
Bear in mind, Gibson has a controlled environment to speed up “curing” or actually drying time, whereas we do not (even then you hear about gummy finishes). Nitro Lacquer actually does not cure, it dries. Epoxies and catalysed finishes cure by chemical reaction, lacquer just dries as the solvents evaporate. A good rule of thumb, if you can still smell it, wait.

Sanding off a finish is of course different from final sanding and buffing. Two weeks for a home applied finish would be the minimum. I would say a month because there are too many variables due to the environment, thickness of finish etc. The finish I am working on now I will probably wait two months before final wet sanding, buff and polish.
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If I’m honest, I don’t smell any of the nitro on the body already. I imagine the thin coats from rattle cans dry much quicker than the thicker coats from spray guns.
If I’m honest, I don’t smell any of the nitro on the body already. I imagine the thin coats from rattle cans dry much quicker than the thicker coats from spray guns.

Are you using a respirator when spraying, I ask because I wonder if your sense of smell is desensitised? I have been spraying aerosol cans the last few days and the smell is very obvious.

And of course, you can spray thin or thick coats with a can or a gun. So no way of knowing how thin you have been applying a finish.
I've been wearing a respirator, protective goggles and a full body tyvek suit. The nitro spray is extremely pungent, and none of the smell gets through the respirator. I spray outdoors and the body has been drying in a well-ventilated shed. The combination of air flow and general summer heat is probably the reason for the rapid evaporation of the solvent.

In the sources I've watched and read it appears that spray guns are used to lay thicker and fewer coats. If that's the general case, it makes sense why some folks would want 1 month dry times.
Good to read you have good PPE. (By the way, in my previous post, the smell does not get through my respirator. But the smell is obvious after drying, at least to me the next day, but it will not smell the same as just after spraying, it reduces over time).

Of course, you can wait as long or as little as you like. But of course, I am going to recommend cautious wait times as there are too many times when people rush a finish and end up having to repair a mistake due to impatience or worse sand back and start again.
One week of nitro drying complete! A couple observations:
- The topcoat surface has definitely flattened out over the course of the week. It also appears a bit more glossy now.
- The re-application of the grain filler appears to have helped. Despite the top coat not being level yet, I do not see impressions that match the wood grain at the surface. We'll see how this looks when the final sanding and buffing is complete. Next time I'll do 2 applications.



Here's my back plate after 6 coats of nitro. I'm not worried about dripping here, so I get really close with the spray can (maybe 6 inches) and really layer on the lacquer, so it's becoming glossy pretty quickly. Will also sand and buff before final assembly.

It is done! 🥳

I ended up drying the nitro finish for two weeks and then wet sanded it at 600, 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit followed by hand buffing with Meguiar's Mirror Glaze #9.

The sanding is where I struggled: I was afraid to level sand too much because my finish seems to be very thin, and I didn't want to burn through. Much of the guitar is perfectly smooth, but there are plenty of low spots. I don't think this is an issue of grain filling because it was present on the maple top as well as the mahogany back. Buffing by hand was a bit challenging, and I can definitely achieve a glossier finish with an electric buffer, but I'll save that for the next build.

Added the hardware and installed a Grover Jackson Poblano PAF wired directly to the output jack.





Farewell green flame, hello pink quilt:

Strung it up, intonated, and played for an hour. Sounds terrific! Pickup has bite and the guitar truly sounds phenomenal. Both plugged in and acoustically (I'm sure the new set of strings doesn't hurt!). At times I find myself missing the volume knob and neck pickup, but it's also liberating to not have to play around with the settings to adjust the tone - it has only one (and I can add the knobs later if I need them).


Overall, finishing a guitar on your own is a very rewarding experience! Despite the build not being perfect, it's completely bespoke, from design to color to finish materials, which makes it even more special than factory-finished bodies. I learned a ton, and I will certainly be avoiding some of the pitfalls on my next build. Plus, I've always wanted an insane quilt top. Thanks for tagging along for the ride in this thread!

Now to take a few good pics and submit for consideration as a primo build :p
Back for a quick 1 month update!
This guitar sounds amazing. I'm no pickup connoisseur, but the Grover Jackson Poblano sounds just killer. Been playing it through my Marshall style setup (D Kowalski dark gene green with gain up or through a pedalpalfx pal800v3), and it really scratches that itch. I think uncovered pickups really have that bite that cuts through. I dont miss the volume or tone controls at all - just reach over to the amp or pedal knobs. Occasionally I could use a neck pickup, but generally it's only for a few riffs.

I kept the rosewood neck raw, and it's much easier to play in the hot summer months when a glossy neck can get sticky with a sweaty hand. I know I went for a wild color scheme, but it gets a lot of compliments from friends/family who know nothing about guitars, so I think it was a hit.

On to the next build!
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