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Buffing Fretboards

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Buffing Fretboards

Postby Andrew McSpadden » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:05 am

This might not be the section for this discussion but here goes.

What buffing compound are you using to buff out fretted fingerboards for that smooth polished surface?

Thanks!
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Jun 08, 2016 9:30 am

What wood and finish is on the fretboard?

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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Andrew McSpadden » Wed Jun 08, 2016 11:12 am

Sorry, I am talking about ebony and RW fretboards without finish.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:40 pm

I use household lemon oil after the thing is fretted. Before it's fretted I sand to around 800 or so, but without finish you can't really buff, I don't think. I might use wax, but wax is a finish, and if you want an unfinished fretboard for playability or other reasons, I wouldn't use wax on it. Maybe lemon oil is technically a finish as well, but I think of it as more of a preservative.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Jun 08, 2016 6:28 pm

Lemon oil is scented mineral oil. It is not really a drying oil but it will shine up.

I buff the wood and metal in separate steps. The wood fretboard after sanding to 600 grit gets a coat of clear, hardwood wax (carnauba), or old-fashioned floor wax polished by hand with a soft cotton cloth.

After the frets are installed I mask off the wood and buff the metal frets with grey compound on an 8" diameter cotton buffing wheel.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Randolph Rhett » Thu Jun 09, 2016 1:29 am

I take the fretboards, before installing frets, to 2,000 grit. I know people argue that above about 800 you are not doing anything to wood. However, in my experience with a variety of woods from Cocobolo, EIR, Ebony, Paduk, and recently even Lychee, doing the additional grits gives you a shine and feel that 800 does not.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Dave Stewart » Sun Jun 12, 2016 7:47 am

I agree with Randolph. I used to take mine to 2000 and then buff with Mez. (Have a separate buffing wheel for ebony.... even a 6 or 8" .... it'll get black)
Tough to beat that beautiful, silky patina ebony takes on after buffing.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Barry Daniels » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:44 pm

I certainly agree that the sanding up to 2000 grit makes a nice gloss. That's apparent in the photos. But I seem to be able to get the same gloss with my technique of honing the ebony using a plain paper surface. It seems that ebony is soft enough to be "honed" in place of using ultra-fine grit sandpaper. After sanding up through 600 grit 3M wet-or-dry paper, I then turn the paper over and do one more hand powered set using the back of the sandpaper wrapped around a cork pad. It buffs the ebony up to a nice shine. This is a lot quicker and easier than going through a whole additional number of grits. I wish some people would try this is see if you works for you. It was a good time saving step for me when I was doing a semi-production run of necks.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Chuck Tweedy » Sun Jun 12, 2016 10:32 pm

I concur - Using the back of the paper immediately after P600 certainly does burnish ebony to a wonderful sheen. It works.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Larry Davis » Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:48 am

A brown paper grocery bag surface is equal to 2000 grit sand paper.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Bryan Bear » Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:37 am

That's a good tip. I'll be trying it for sure. I suspect that if it works on ebony, it will work on other woods as well. I read here 100 years ago about using brown paper like grocery bags or the packing paper stew mac ships with. I totally forgot about it until I read this here.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Peter Wilcox » Mon Jun 13, 2016 12:02 pm

Larry Davis wrote:A brown paper grocery bag surface is equal to 2000 grit sand paper.


That certainly is some useful stuff.

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To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper;
And went to bed and bound his head
With vinegar and brown paper.

And after it healed, I hear the scar was very, very smooth.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Jun 13, 2016 3:09 pm

It not only works on various woods, but it will work on shell inlay too.

If you want to sand finer, then do so. But you still might want to have this paper bag hone trick in your quiver. It can also be useful to show any coarse sanding scratches that weren't completely removed by the next finer grit.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Andrew McSpadden » Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:20 pm

Dave Stewart - you have the info I am looking for! What Menzerna compound do you use on the buffing wheel?
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Andrew McSpadden » Mon Jun 27, 2016 4:23 pm

At some of the places I have worked we buffed the FB with frets and all for a great feel to the board and shiny frets. We used stick compound (which compound I don't remember hence the thread) on a seperate buff.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Dan Smith » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:28 pm

I used swirl remover to buff an Ebony board. That stuff got into the grain and I spent a lot of time trying to get it out with Naptha and a toothbrush.
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Re: Buffing Fretboards

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:54 pm

Yeah, buffing compound should not be brought anywhere near wood. Use abrasives for wood and compound for metal and finished surfaces.
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