RSL

Body Tutorial v3.3

Matt Wickham

Now that the body is full complete it is then ready for the finishing stages. The Red Special is called the red special cause well it looks red... makes sense? But, in real life the RS isn't red at all - it's more of a lightish orangey brown colour.

This can be achieved by mixing stains and dyes. I would recommend to test it on a piece of spare veneer. Also keep in mind the colour of this stain gets lighter when lacquer is applied.

Left: Red Mahogany wood dye
Middle: Dye applied to the body
Right: Body with Mahogany Stain Applied

I then leave it to dry for a few days. I then use a Stanley knife, to scrape the finish off the binding, it is also a good idea to chamfer the edge of the binding as lacquer will not build up on sharp edges, so its always good to radius them a bit.

Left: Binding being scraped clean of stain
Right: All finished ready for lacquering

Before adding lacquer add called Sanding sealer, this is available from Screwfix. What it does is fill the grain up on the wood, so when it comes to applying lacquer it takes less coats to finish it with. I put on 4 coats, put on 2 coats one day and another 2 the next. (With 4 Hours drying between each coat).

Sanding sealer, two coats

After drying, its time for the lacquer stage. The lacquer most people use, is a 2 part lacquer, consisting of a hardener and the lacquer it self. The Brand I used and also Brian used on his red special is Rustin's plastic coating.

Left: The 2 part Rustin's Plastic Coating
Right: First Few Coats, Making The Colour Lighter

Rustin's can be sprayed or brushed on, it self levels so it doesn't leave any brush marks in the lacquer. The trick is not to put on too much or else it runs! The thing with Rustin's is you must let it build up and not sand between layers. I do 5 coats then Flat it back.

TIP - Flat it back is basically when you use a level block, or wood or otherwise and wet and dry sand the lacquer, this will eventually sand off any high spots in the lacquer. As it builds up and you keep flatting back it should build up to be level.

TIP - When applying the lacquer don't hang the body up from rafters, If you do this the lacquer will tend to run down the body leaving streaks.

I usually do 2 coats a day and let it harden over night, to put on the extra coats. The next day. As you go on putting more coats of lacquer on you will need to changed grades of wet and dry paper. When sanding between 4 - 5 coats use 320-grit sandpaper as you get close to the end ready for the final coat use 800-grit wet and dry.

After the dry 800-grit sanding I switched to wet-sanding with 1200-grit wet and dry with a rag or towel ready to mop up any excess water. From expert people I have spoken with they recommend soaking the sand paper in water for half a day, as it supposedly works better. When this is done, you will be ready to buff or polish the finish, for Rustin's you can get burnishing cream you apply with a soft rag and rub it in to the lacquer, when you have rubbed the cream in give it a rub with a clean cloth / duster.

If you are using a buffer, don't touch a buffed surface for ten minutes! Give the lacquer time to cool off before wiping away any reside reside lightly with a soft clean rag. When it's finished it should have a mirror like surface.

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