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CirrusPilot

My Saga Stratocaster Photo Diary

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CirrusPilot    0

So I'm a hobbyist woodworker and I thought I would give this Saga kit a try as an attempt to get my feet wet into some guitar building. Let me tell you first that it isn't any kind of woodworking project. The only woodworking is cutting out the shape of the headstock and sanding the edges. It's better defined as a painting and finishing project. I bought the kit from eBay for $95. It arrived and went over the pieces to make sure things were all there. As far as I can tell I received all the pieces. I dry fitted everything to make sure it lined up and fit. No problems. All the predrilled holes were correctly done. The body was sealed and smooth. I went over it with some 0000 steel wool just to get any burrs and things off. Here are some pictures of the pieces as they looked right out of the box.

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3.jpg

As you can see, the headstock is a paddle shape that you have cut into the shape of your choice because of copywright issues. I was able to find a headstock template online for a typical Stratocaster. I cut the template out, adjusted the centerline, and trace the outline onto the headstock paddle. Here is a picture:

Headstock.jpg

Here is what it looked like after it was cut out and the edges sanded:

ClearNeck2.jpg

And now for the first goof up on the project. I taped the fretboard off with painters tape so I could spray the back of the neck with clear coat. I put probably 4 or 5 coats on then I took the tape off. Where the clear coat met the edge of the tape, the clear coat was rolling back onto itself. It one place it peeled down all the way to the wood. So I ended up having to strip the clear coat from the entire neck and start from scratch again. I ended up totally ditching the idea of clear coating the back of the neck. Instead, I rubbed about 5 coats of Tru-Oil on the back of the neck. It is a lot smoother feeling than the clear anyway.

ClearNeck.jpg

The next step was to hit the body with a couple coats of primer. This process was easy enough. Just make sure to let the primer dry fully before spraying your actual paint.

Primer.jpg

Primer2.jpg

After the primer dried, I was ready for painting. I forgot to mention that throughout the whole project, I'm using primer, paint, and clear coat that came from Lowes and came in a rattle can. I don't have a fancy painting booth with HVLP or airsprayers. I used about 3/4 of a can of spray paint on the body. I let it dry before going over it again. When using rattle can paint, you'll get a textured look. You can't avoid it. After I had a few coats on the body, when it was dry, I wet sanded with 800 grit paper and took most of the texture out of the paint job.

PB190047.jpg

PB190048.jpg

FirstPaint.jpg

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CirrusPilot    0

After I let the body dry, I wanted to dry fit the neck and the pickguard to see how the white pickguard would look with the color I chose for the body. Here are the results. It's actually exactly what I was envisioning in my head, so I'm happy.

7.jpg

8.jpg

Now it was ready for the clear coat process. I decided that I was going to spray 20, yes 20 coats of clear coat onto the body before I stopped. I sprayed 4 coats at a time and I wet sanded with 800 grit after every 4th coat. When you spray the clear coat, you'll get the same textured look.

PB190046.jpg

Now I've got all 20 coats sprayed on it and I have it hanging up in my basement. Most recommend to let the final spraying dry for 30 days, yes 30 days before doing the final sanding and polishing. So I'm in a holding pattern. I'm going to start with a wet 800 and go all the way to 2000 grit. Then I'll take a polishing compound and buff the clear. Hopefully, I'll get nice glossy, glass-like finish when I'm done. I'll let you know in 30 days.

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karcey    42

That leprechaun green makes a beautiful job with the white accessories. Funny, I don't remember seeing all that may green guitars.

This'll be a job you'll be proud of. Congratulations.

EDIT: Are you going to paint or tape the cavities?

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johnnow    0

Nice job so far. I've wanted to do one of those kits for a while now. But, my woodworking and painting skills just aren't there. :dunno: So, if you don't mind, I'm going to live vicariously through you.

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CirrusPilot    0

As I said, there is really very minimal woodworking involved. Cutting out the headstock and sanding is all there is. Once you have the pattern traced out, you can use a scroll saw, band saw, router, or even a hand coping saw. The sanding is even easier.

As for painting, that's really easy as well. Take your time and don't try to get so much paint or clear coat that you have runs. Then it's just a matter of sanding and buffing.

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johnnow    0

Interesting, maybe I'll give it a go. I do have a couple of questions. What paint did you use? Is it acrylic based? Do you expect the clear to harden up enough so that it passes the fingernail test? These are the questions that probably are holding me back from doing a project like this.:isaynothing:

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karcey    42
I hadn't really figured on doing anything with the cavities. Why would I need to paint them or tape them?

Shielding the cavities on a Strat reduces the annoying hum they so often develop. Unless you fit Humbuckers.

Copper tape can be used to line the cavities, or some people suggest using a metallic paint.

I'm going to redo mine one day (I only have foil) and I thought you may have already looked into it.

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CirrusPilot    0
Interesting, maybe I'll give it a go. I do have a couple of questions. What paint did you use? Is it acrylic based? Do you expect the clear to harden up enough so that it passes the fingernail test? These are the questions that probably are holding me back from doing a project like this.:isaynothing:

I used a regular rattle can enamel paint. The color is actually official John Deere Green. I know a lot of people use acrylic automotive paint as well. The paint isn't so much as big of a deal as the clear coat. As long as you prime the body, just about any kind of paint will suffice. The enamel paints take longer to dry than the acrylic, but I didn't have an option of acrylic for my color.

From everything I have heard from others, given enough drying time, the laquer will harden up and easily pass a fingernail test. I don't want to try it on mine just yet though. The recommendation is 30 days of drying time to make sure the laquer hardens up fully. This will prevent any kind of swirls and will deter scratches more easily.

The beauty of working with wood is that if you totally screw, and you won't, but if you do then you can buy some stripper and it will take clear coat, paint, and primer off and get you back to base wood. Then you can learn from any mistakes and start over fresh without anyone ever knowing. It happened to me and I venture to guess that once I finish it, nobody will know that I had to sand down to bare wood and spot repair a few places.

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CirrusPilot    0
Shielding the cavities on a Strat reduces the annoying hum they so often develop. Unless you fit Humbuckers.

Copper tape can be used to line the cavities, or some people suggest using a metallic paint.

I'm going to redo mine one day (I only have foil) and I thought you may have already looked into it.

Never heard of such a thing. But I'm glad you brought it to my attention. It sure wouldn't hurt I'm sure. Where I can get some of this copper tape stuff?

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johnnow    0

Check out stewmac for the copper shielding. Then check out guitarnuts.com for all the sheilding info you need.

About your other post, what clear coat did you use?

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hb    0

My hat's off to anyone who attempts something like this! Although, I used to build hand-made gun stocks to fit ones body, there's just something about building a guitar that scares me......don't know why....I suppose a gun is more lethal than a guitar, but I just can't fathom doing this. Maybe it's because I still feel like I'm going to hurt the guitar just by re-stringing it!!.....dunno?

Good luck on your project.

hb

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skinnybloke    4

Great project there Cirrus. I wasn't sure about the green, but the white really brings it up well.

It's all about patience and sanding eh.

Have you reached the stage where you hate sandpaper yet? :)

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CirrusPilot    0
Check out stewmac for the copper shielding. Then check out guitarnuts.com for all the sheilding info you need.

About your other post, what clear coat did you use?

I'll check out the shielding. I'll get it together and playing first and then determine the need for shielding.

As for the clear coat, I used Valspar Hi-Gloss Laquer in clear. A lot of people recommend Duplicolor Acrylic Laquer in clear which is most used for automotive painting. I bought some of that and tried it and I found that it wanted to orange peel a lot more than the Valspar did. So I decided not to use the Duplicolor.

Someone asked about the fingernail test on the clear. I tried it last night. Hard as a rock! :yeahhh: I pushed hard enough to bend my fingernail over and there's not a single mark in the finish. I'm pleased.

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CirrusPilot    0
My hat's off to anyone who attempts something like this! Although, I used to build hand-made gun stocks to fit ones body, there's just something about building a guitar that scares me......don't know why....I suppose a gun is more lethal than a guitar, but I just can't fathom doing this. Maybe it's because I still feel like I'm going to hurt the guitar just by re-stringing it!!.....dunno?

Good luck on your project.

hb

If you can make rifle stocks then this project will be a cake walk. I make exotic wood grips for 1911 frame pistols and thought I would tackle this kit as a "feet wetting" project. Brown's Custom Grips - Home. To me, it's very basic. I had no experience with painting and finishing, so that was a bit of a learning curve. But nothing that you can't overcome. The kits are $95 on eBay, so I figured that's cheap enough that I wouldn't be too upset if I bungled the job. It's not like you're starting out with something expensive.

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hb    0
If you can make rifle stocks then this project will be a cake walk. I make exotic wood grips for 1911 frame pistols and thought I would tackle this kit as a "feet wetting" project. Brown's Custom Grips - Home. To me, it's very basic. I had no experience with painting and finishing, so that was a bit of a learning curve. But nothing that you can't overcome. The kits are $95 on eBay, so I figured that's cheap enough that I wouldn't be too upset if I bungled the job. It's not like you're starting out with something expensive.

I looked at your site and it looks like you guys do very good work. I'm sure that just your knowledge of wood and working with it has helped with tackling the guitar.

Thanks for the encouragement.....perhaps someday.........but for now, I'll leave the guitar building to you and others!

Good luck,

hb

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CirrusPilot    0

Thanks for the compliment. It's actually just me making the grips. I have a regular day job and I make the grips on the side. I've always been a woodworker and I've always been a gun fanatic....I just recently found that I could combine the two hobbies and actually generate a little revenue (I call it the "gun fund"). It's been a great little venture. I make grips in the evenings and on weekends. I do just enough to keep me busy, but I think word of mouth is starting to get around. I seem to be getting busier every couple months. But I can't really complain. I still enjoy it.

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hb    0
Thanks for the compliment. It's actually just me making the grips. I have a regular day job and I make the grips on the side. I've always been a woodworker and I've always been a gun fanatic....I just recently found that I could combine the two hobbies and actually generate a little revenue (I call it the "gun fund"). It's been a great little venture. I make grips in the evenings and on weekends. I do just enough to keep me busy, but I think word of mouth is starting to get around. I seem to be getting busier every couple months. But I can't really complain. I still enjoy it.

Yea, you were a dead give-a-way for another gun nut!. Only someone like me could overlook your guitar and see that box of .22 shells laying on your bench!

Your "accessories" on your "guitar bench" look a lot like mine!

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CirrusPilot    0

Guess I didn't even realize that. :dunno: Most of the boxes are old wadcutter .38s and some ball .45. I need to get those moved inside I guess. Seems like I have gun stuff strewn across the whole house and garage. That's about the cleanest you'll see the workbench too. It's covered in about an inch of walnut sawdust now.

For the guitar, I'm thinking about putting it together tonight...completely. I can still play it while the clear coat dries on the body. It's just killing me that I have to wait to play it, so I don't think I'm gonna wait anymore.

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johnnow    0

The last pictures looked really nice. If you think the finish will hold up, then play away. But, why risk it. You won't be happy with yourself if you mar the finish at this point.

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