Session #19: Randall, French Polisher!!!


Monday, August 3rd, 2015:

YAY!!! Yesterday, Randall informed me that he had decided he wanted to French-polish this first guitar!!! He had been impressed, I guess, with the results I've been having with my French-polished finish on my guitar, and decided to give it a try himself.

I was secretly really hoping that he would change his mind --- originally, he had wanted to do a spray finish, so we were planning on doing a waterbase Target Coatings' EM6000 finish. However, I really didn't want to go through the process of pulling out the spray equipment and doing the more tedious process of spraying a finish (having to wait an hour between coats, having to constantly clean up the spray gun and move the equipment in and out of my workshed, having to deal with the hot weather we've been having lately, etc.).

And, I've been so much enjoying the French polish process I've been doing on my guitar, that I really did want Randall to be able to experience that, and to hear what a difference in sound a French-polished finish can make.

So, today we began the process. Today I showed him how to make the cheesecloth pad to apply the initial 2 coats of 2-pound cut shellac (light blonde). I also gave him tips that I have recently found helpful in applying the finish.

He did very well, and so far has applied two sessions of shellac/alcohol finish onto the soundbox and neck.






Before he arrived today, I had made up a tentative French-polishing schedule for him, so it would be less confusing for him. (This is based on the method I've been learning from Tom Bills, in his "The Art of French Polishing" online video course.)


Here are the materials Randall will be using:




Here are a few photos of his first couple of sessions (coats) of shellac/alcohol (no oil yet, as we want to create a barrier against any oil getting into the wood itself):










While Randall was working today, I was able to do the final rub-out of the French-polish finish on my own guitar. I had finished the third round of bodying coats on this past Tuesday (July 28th), and allowed it to cure for five days.

I used Novus #2 plastic polishing compound, applied with a small foam block wrapped with paper towel, to do the final polishing and hand-buffing of the finish. What you do is just put a dot of the Novus #2 on the front surface of the paper towel and gently rub the block over the surface of the guitar, a small section at a time. You use circular motions (in the same manner in which you applied the shellac finish) and move forward as you work; the front surface of the paper towel is applying the polishing compound, and the back surface of the paper towel is doing the buffing. It barely takes any effort at all to achieve a lovely final gloss.

NEXT UP . . . bolting on the neck (and gluing on the fingerboard extension), locating and gluing on the bridge, and doing all the other final stages of building this guitar!!!























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