French polish DVD

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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Brian McCombs
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French polish DVD

Post by Brian McCombs » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:21 pm

After 12 years of spraying lacquer and shellac, I ordered A Guitar Makers Guide to French Polish from James Lister.
My expectations were low as all previous attempts just ended up a big sticky regret......

The pics are my first attempt and it has been a real eye opener for me....
It needs to hang a week or so and I'll burnish it and hopefully glue a bridge on it.

I'm so happy, I may throw my spray equipment and buffer away.

Many thanks to James for the efforts. I highly recommend the DVD.


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Jose Marques
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by Jose Marques » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:00 pm

yes do the french polishing is not easy

i saw this dvd some days ago but i have so many already... not happy with none lol

every time i need to finnish one guitar. specially at the final steps, i never can get what i wish

i use polish cream, novus, to do the last step but not completely happy, some time when you look to the sun you see some small "blur" parts...

well maybe i will spend a bit more and see if it works for me as well
I'm a Luthier living in Bury st Edmunds UK

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James Lister
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by James Lister » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:40 am

Thanks Brian, glad the DVD has worked well for you. :)

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

Echi
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by Echi » Tue Mar 14, 2017 3:21 pm

I bought the DVD as well and found it very good and professionally made. Highly suggested.
Later on James wrote on Delcamp to have changed his method to apply shellach as he now made use of few oil if not all. I'm curious to know what is the fastest and more consistent of the 2 methods?

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Brian McCombs
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by Brian McCombs » Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:00 pm

Being my first, of which is not entirely done yet....I cannot speak as if I have a worlds worth of experience BUT.....My previous attempts were very misguided in that I applied too much shellac too quickly. In retrospect, too much and way too sloppily, I was a barbarian with the stuff it appears. How was I supposed to know?

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James Lister
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by James Lister » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:59 am

Echi wrote:I bought the DVD as well and found it very good and professionally made. Highly suggested.
Later on James wrote on Delcamp to have changed his method to apply shellach as he now made use of few oil if not all. I'm curious to know what is the fastest and more consistent of the 2 methods?
Polishing with some oil tends to be faster, as it extends each polishing session (although not by as much as you might think), but I find I get better, more consistent results if I don't use oil until the final stage.

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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tom0311
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by tom0311 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:29 am

Glad it worked out for you Brian. My first attempt was a mess, so I bought the DVD ready for my current guitar to reach finishing stage. Looking forward to watching it. Looks like you got a really good result!
“There are two means of refuge from the misery of life - music and cats.”

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Brian McCombs
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by Brian McCombs » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:48 pm

I am very happy so far and NEARLY calling it done - I have one side left to finish up........and I have a suggestion for James:

Produce a follow-up DVD called: A Guitar-makers Guide to French Polishing part II- What to do when it goes wrong.

For instance.... While polishing out my side, near the waist my pad may have softened the surface too much and it "dug in" a little bit....like it tore into the surface leaving a nickel sized smudge. Do I try to sand it flat? Do I add more polish just in that area, attempting to fill it in or build it back up and then sand? Then re-polish? Should I Just try alcohol and oil and try to flatten it or polish it away? I'm not sure how to fix it.

and.....my headstock is streaky, parts of it polished out ok, but there are bands or streaks....I don't know if I disturbed the flatness of the surface and caused it...or is it too thin, I didn't get the build I needed to begin with so it is dull, nearly burned through? Do I just build some additional layers and the sand back lightly then perform the polishing task over again?

and.....While polishing the side my pad slipped over the edge and skipped across part of the finished back....I was drinking some beers and couldn't keep it between the lines....I guess. It made a mark in the polish, the mark I think is just a little shellac deposited on the glossy surface....do I try to burnish it away with compound later, do I lightly sand the area and then re-polish or do I use alcohol-oil mixture to try and flatten it out? Whatever I choose to do I risk messing up the surrounding areas.

I realize that there is a learning curve, one must figure these things out through trial and error. But in all of these cases, you COULD make it worse if you choose to do the wrong thing. It is no doubt a matter of assessing the issue and then using your experience, making the correct decision moving forward that will fix the problem. But.....I don't know what I'm doing. Ha ha ...

Paul Micheletti
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by Paul Micheletti » Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:43 pm

Hi Brian,

I have yet to do FP on any part of a guitar without messing up an adjoining part of the guitar. I've learned that when you mess something up, you need to expand to a much bigger area for the repair. If you focus on a small area during french polish, you will inevitably burn through that area and have to start over in the build stage. Been there done that.

So if the pad slips off the side and marks up the back, I find I need to address about 1/4 or even 1/2 of the back to fix the error to get the back ready for the final polish, and then polish the full back for the final step.

For streaky areas like your headstock, you can always use micromesh to cut back the ridges of the streaks. I use 2400 or 3200 micromesh (depending upon the size of the error) backed with a rubber eraser to cut the finish back to an even scratch pattern and then a couple of polish sessions to restore the gloss. Just keep wiping the micromesh on your jeans or on a towel as frequently as possible so it does not load with shellac and cause a bigger problem.

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Chris.Conery
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by Chris.Conery » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:22 am

Thanks for the tip. It seems that French polishing is always a learning experience.
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James Lister
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by James Lister » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:06 am

Brian McCombs wrote:......and I have a suggestion for James:

Produce a follow-up DVD called: A Guitar-makers Guide to French Polishing part II- What to do when it goes wrong.
Not a bad idea, but I'm not sure I could face making another DVD. If I'd known how much work it would be before I started, it would probably never have happened.
Brian McCombs wrote: For instance.... While polishing out my side, near the waist my pad may have softened the surface too much and it "dug in" a little bit....like it tore into the surface leaving a nickel sized smudge. Do I try to sand it flat? Do I add more polish just in that area, attempting to fill it in or build it back up and then sand? Then re-polish? Should I Just try alcohol and oil and try to flatten it or polish it away? I'm not sure how to fix it.
Just adding more polish in that one area isn't a good idea - you could easily make it worse. Any of the other suggestions are possibilities, but probably the best is to sand back very lightly, then just carry on building up the polish on the whole rib as normal, but just spending very slightly longer on the damaged patch. The waist area is usually the highest risk in terms of dragging/digging in. A smaller pad helps, but really you just need to take a lot of care there.
Brian McCombs wrote: and.....my headstock is streaky, parts of it polished out ok, but there are bands or streaks....I don't know if I disturbed the flatness of the surface and caused it...or is it too thin, I didn't get the build I needed to begin with so it is dull, nearly burned through? Do I just build some additional layers and the sand back lightly then perform the polishing task over again?
Again the head is tricky because it's such a small area. It's not a bad idea to add a bit of polish to the head at regular intervals while you're polishing the rest of the guitar, rather than do it all in one go.
Brian McCombs wrote: and.....While polishing the side my pad slipped over the edge and skipped across part of the finished back....I was drinking some beers and couldn't keep it between the lines....I guess. It made a mark in the polish, the mark I think is just a little shellac deposited on the glossy surface....do I try to burnish it away with compound later, do I lightly sand the area and then re-polish or do I use alcohol-oil mixture to try and flatten it out? Whatever I choose to do I risk messing up the surrounding areas.
Unless your pad was too wet, you won't have left much shellac on the good surface, and it should be easy to blend it in with subsequent sessions on the back - if not, a little light sanding will remove it.

Hope that helps some....

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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James Lister
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Re: French polish DVD

Post by James Lister » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:08 am

Paul Micheletti wrote:I've learned that when you mess something up, you need to expand to a much bigger area for the repair. If you focus on a small area during french polish, you will inevitably burn through that area and have to start over in the build stage.
Good advice...

...and this:
Paul Micheletti wrote:Just keep wiping the micromesh on your jeans or on a towel as frequently as possible so it does not load with shellac and cause a bigger problem.
(I use the piece of carpet the guitar rests on during polishing.)

James
James Lister, luthier, Sheffield UK

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