Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

After sanding, before another coat of lacquer
I was right about one thing: There aren't many things left to do to my guitar. What I failed to fully appreciate is the length of time those things would take. So I trudge, trudge, trudge along. And when you see my guitar, I hope you'll pay special attention to its lovely lacquer finish, because I can tell you it doesn't come easily.

I've done little but lacquer and sand, lacquer and sand, lacquer and sand for the past month, and it will continue for several more. It's to the point now that we don't have enough to do to fill the full three hour class, and we're even planning to skip a class or two to give the lacquer a chance to fully cure before applying the next coat. So in an effort to end my habit of making wild miscalculations about when I'll be finished, I initiated a debate on the issue at our last class. The consensus (with the blessing of my teacher, Ted) is for the last week of October or the first week of November. Or at least that's when the building of the instrument will be finished. The set-up of the instrument is anybody's guess. I've seen it myself over the last year as students with finished guitars come back to work on their set-up. For some, it's ready to go right away and for others it's weeks or months of adjustments to get it right. So we'll see.

Taping the fretboard before lacquering
But let me be clear about my work lately: There is nothing fun, interesting, or rewarding about this very, very long part of the process. It's the same every week. End the class by spraying a new heavy coat of lacquer on the box. Come back the next week and spend more than 2 hours wet sanding (spraying it with mineral spirits and sanding with very find sandpaper). The purpose of this mind numbing labor is to fill all of the wood's pores, leaving a glass-like finish. And I wasn't kidding when I said it before: it comes at no small price. It's not an exaggeration to say that when all is said and done, nearly 10% of the time building the guitar will have been spent on lacquering and sanding the lacquer. It's an incredibly tedious job, and one that has few immediate rewards, but it looks more beautiful with each passing week. If the tedium ever ends, it will be a beautiful thing to behold.

So it's down to finishing lacquering and buffing, attaching the neck, mounting the bridge, attaching the tuners, and setting it up. With luck, six weeks will do it.

But don't quote me on that.

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