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How do you epoxy a fretless neck?


Joe Bloe

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Can anyone point me to instructions on how to epoxy a fretless neck? I was not able to find anything when I searched the forum.

 

When you apply the epoxy, how thick is the epoxy? Is it thick enough to smooth out minor imperfections in the neck? I am currently refinishing an old mexi-p bass that had the standard cream colored paint job. I would like to put the same finish on the fretless neck that I will be applying to the body and then smooth and protect the finish with an epoxy coating.

 

I'm thinking about doing a two tone effect with a medium blue base coat, a dark blue top coat, and then dabbing it with a plastic bag/plastic wrap while the dark blue top coat is still wet to allow the medium blue base coat to show through "randomly". Afer that it gets a clear top coat to seal it and protect the finish. I have done some tests on a chunk of wood and I like the result. I think that the mottled dark/medium blue look is kind'a cool. And also would look good on the neck.

 

I expect the finish to have 1/32" to 1/64" variations/texture. I'm curious if the epoxy coating will smooth out the finish and also provide a protective coating on top of the finish so it won't wear off when played.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Your best bet would be to build a 'dam' around the fretboard.

you can use tape. duct tape.... maybe try some tests pieces to see what tape will leave the least amount of residue. You can also check how much you will ne to level over your texture, as well as dealing with bubbles if there are any.

Get your trusty level out, get the neck set up level as possible... mix, pour, and enjoy.

I would use an epoxy that has a fairly slow dry time to help leveling and if you need to add any in a particular spot.

 

Let it harden, break out the wet/dry sandpaper (don't drench in water, just enough to help cut) maybe start with 600 and work your way up to 2000 make sure you use a sanding block to keep the board even. Check continuously with a straight edge.

 

Good luck with that project. I think personally I would let a luthier tackle this one but then again I am a whimp when it comes to this kind of thing.

 

Post PICS!!!

 

Brocko

Don't have a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. ~ Johnny Carson
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Thanks Brocko!

 

With the slight crown on the neck, does the epoxy settle/flow so that you end up with a flat neck where the epoxy is thicker at the sides of the neck and thinner in the middle?

 

I guess I don't know how much it flows before it settles.

 

Also, what type/brand should I use? In case you hadn't guessed half the fun of this project is doing it myself. Thanks for the help!

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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I agree with Brocko but would add: To compenstate for the crown of the neck, it might be better to go with several thinner coats. Also, adjust the straightness of the neck to be as flat as possible. If the finished coating is rough, you may need to start off with course paper, like 320 or 400 and progress to the finer grades.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Your best bet would be to build a 'dam' around the fretboard...

 

I was going to just tape the sides of the neck to protect it from the epoxy dripping down the sides. I thought it would just thin out as I get to the edges. If I'm building a dam I would guess that it needs to be very straight so that I don't get a wavey (wavie, wavy?) edge.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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I'd love to learn more about epoxy also. What are the pro's and con's of it as compared to the super glue treatment? In any event, I expect a radius sanding block would be required also. Brocko: you'd use a luthier for this? But you know paint and surface prep better than any of us! Spray a cool design on the board; cover it with clear epoxy. And how does epoxy differ from polyurethane? I guess I'll have to do a wiki thing search....

 

I would expect that instead of building a dam with tape, I'd go with a whole slew of thinner coats. But that's just my seat-of-the-pants engineerings; I've never even opened up a can of epoxy. I've only used the thicker glue/J.B.Weld type of stuff. Perhaps chatting with a boat builder guy might shed some light on the subject; don't boat builders use epoxy all the time?... And I do think that Joe's idea of a two tone fretboard will look cooler than cool. And you can always strip it down and try again as part of the learning curve.

 

Keep us posted on updates!

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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I would be inclined to treat it with several thinner coats of epoxy, sanding in between each coat. On the final coat, I'd work up to around 1600 grit then buff out to a full gloss finish.

 

Ensure that you're working in a dust free environment. You can make a box to invert over the neck too when the coats of epoxy are drying to prevent dust from settling on the neck.

 

Also - when sanding, ensure that you don't use a regular flat sanding block, but use a radius block that has the same radius of the neck on your bass.

 

You can get radius gauges to determine the neck radius and radius blocks for sanding from www.stewmac.com

 

;)

 

 

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I recommend you use varathane instead, clear high gloss flooring varathane will protect the neck with a durable finish that will not wear out, and that can be easily fixed if need be.

 

I have finished my first bass with varathane, three years ago, and it is still shiny like the first day. Mind you I don't play it every day. Still I would highly recommend varathane instead of epoxy.

 

My two cents...

 

But having read the rest of the comments. I wonder how you thin out epoxy?

;^)
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The varathane sound reasonable to me, but I'm no pro at wood working. I would think that it would serve the basic goal of puting a hard transparent coating on the neck to protect what's underneath. I'm guessing that it would also be easier to work with than epoxy.

 

What is the drying/curing time? How long between coats?

 

Thanks for the suggestion

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Hopefully answer some questions here.

Here is a luthier that does em, not sharing any info but it is some interesting reading. (one page)

http://www.woodwiz.com/epoxy/pricing.html

 

Here is another for bartops

http://www.epoxyproducts.com/bartop.html

 

The boat stuff is called gelcoat which is does get hard as a ROCK. But I regress after doing a quick search I wouldn't recommend using it.

 

The varathane doesn't seem to me a good choice. For a finish on the bass itself maybe but not the fretboard.

When I do guitar/bass bodies I use a urethane clear as the final step for protection and shine. It does harden but not hard enough to withstand the pressure of roundwounds digging in.

 

At this point I would like to state I have NEVER attempted anything like this (epoxy)before.

 

Epoxy is a 2 part chemical reaction that I feel has a better make-up to reach a harder surface finish than anything that is in a single stage can like a varathane or polyurethane material. Like a Mini-wax etc. Go to a bar (Hey, this can be considered research) order a drink and if the top is epoxied take your keys and start tapping. It is brutally tough stuff.

 

I found this on TalkBass

http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=222860

Post #7 is very good IMO...

 

I agree with Luke about the radius block... forgot to mention that one... stewMac is the place to find all those goodies...

 

As far as the tape 'dam' you are not going to need much product to cover the fretboard and I recommend SLOW and STEADY for this one. It will be A LOT easier to add more epoxy than sanding for the next month because you added to much. Stages seem best. A little at a time, let dry, sand, rinse, repeat.

I also recall that epoxy comes in different consistencies. Get something with a little bit of drying time so you don't get stuck in the middle of the project. I think that paint thinner like a lacquer thinner will work to thin the product if necessary.

 

*Again, TEST this stuff out on scrap before trying it on your baby. I would attempt it this way but never doing it I don't want to be the a-hole that told you to "Do It Like This" and you've got a mess of epoxy n wood on your bench that you will have to try to put up on e-bay and call it art.

 

This has piqued my interest though. I have an old guy hanging around. This might be my winter project for this year.

Keep us posted on what you find and I will keep looking.

 

Brocko

Don't have a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. ~ Johnny Carson
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If you get good results, make sure you let us know how it goes :thu:

 

I would guess, also, that it would need a few coats sanded inbetween with a radius block.

 

We have a fretless in bits at the moment... So if this turns out to be not toooooo much work. It could work nicely.

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Stoooooooooooop.

 

Talk to Harris on woodwiz.com before you ruin your neck.

 

Harris coats necks for a living and I'm sure he'll help. He coated my Jazz neck and it's a thing of beauty. Played every day and no signs of wear.

 

He said to me that he would get the neck spot on first and then epoxy coat on top of a perfect surface. Thus each layer just add onto the previous one and just replicates the wood surface.

 

Good luck

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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Brocko, Dosen't the amount of harder you put in the mix affect the finished hardness or does it just affect the drying time??

Rocky

 

It affects the drying time... It is almost like baking a cake... You need the right amount of ingredients for it to 'bake'.

More hardener won't make it 'harder'. It will only have a higher chance for failure down the line. You will want to be sure that you follow directions and mesurements as closely as possible including the mixing time when adding parts A+B. Like anything with time (looking at my waist at the moment)things tend to settle. Stirring or mixing each seperately before they are introduced will evenly distribute the chemical process to let it do what it does. (harden)

I am sure you can find some epoxies that are harder once cured but I think there is a fine line with durability too.

Also remember to mix ALL the contents in the container. Sides/bottom/in the creases, remember the cake. Even if you have all the ingredients but some stick to the sides it won't taste like cake.. or good cake.

Most high grade epoxy companies don't have 'set' rules due to so many variables... temperature, humidity, altitude can all have an effect on the process.

Hope this helps a little more. As always I think testing it out on scrap first is the best way to know what you are getting yourself into.

 

Brocko

Don't have a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. ~ Johnny Carson
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Stoooooooooooop.

 

Talk to Harris on woodwiz.com before you ruin your neck.

 

Harris coats necks for a living and I'm sure he'll help. He coated my Jazz neck and it's a thing of beauty. Played every day and no signs of wear.

 

He said to me that he would get the neck spot on first and then epoxy coat on top of a perfect surface. Thus each layer just add onto the previous one and just replicates the wood surface.

 

Good luck

 

Davo

 

I have played Davo's epoxied fretless and it is awesome!

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I don't think that sending the neck across the pond is going to be an economical solution for me...

 

Does anyone have recommendations for a luthier here in the colonies that I could use for the final finishing of the neck (if I chicken out and decide not to destroy the neck on my own)?

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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Joe, I think this would be a good project for you but get your procedure down pat on an old (read, cheap) neck first. You can probablly get some scrap rosewood at some lumber company. I think the epoxy is your best choice for hardness. There is also the possibility of the epoxy peeling off at the edges over time if not prepped for best adhesion. I reread your original post and see that you want to do the body in epoxy also. I would suggest your do it in spray polyurethane for better results.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Hi

 

Phil has done me proud here. Yes Harris is in NY. I'm the weird one sending my gear across the pond!

 

Joe, you have PM'd me but Phil W has answered the question above.

 

Take care

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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Hmmmm.....If memory serves, Vestal has a total kick ass marching band, or at least they did back in the day. I will have to bookmark his shop and stop in on my southern tier travels!

 

Considering the learning curve involved on a project like this, +1 on Rocky's sacrificial lamb concept.

Things are just the way they are, and they're only going to get worse.

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The problem I have with epoxy is that it is plastic, and it will scratch, like verathane, and will (or will not) need fixing, epoxy is terminal. Varathane is quickly removed, or touched up if need be.

 

A new brush, and a new can of varathane, put a coat on, let it dry for a couple of hours, sand with 120, then another coat, and that's it. Make sure you wipe the drippings from the underside when you do it, it's easier before they harden, then after.

 

If you play a lot, with round strings on a fretless, you can fill the gouges in the finish every six month or so with a touch up on the worn areas, before it reaches the wood.

;^)
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OK, now I'm getting confused! And it happens very easily to me!

 

Because the axe in question is a mexi-p bass with a replacement mexi-j neck, in other words, an inexpensive bass...I'm very tempted to try the varathane method as an experiment. It appears to be a simpler process than working with epoxy and a more readily available product. If it ends up being too soft I can either strip it off the neck and try again, or just pick up another j neck.

Bass, the final frontier...

 

http://www.myspace.com/johnnyandtheboomers

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The main thing you have to watch for is the paint drooping down and drying in waves. Set the neck or the whole bass flat horizontal, put a good coat of varathane, and let it dry without touching it. It will settle without waves if you leave it alone. One coat may be enough, but I would put two coats. If you don't like your result, you won't need to get another neck because 120 grit sandpaper will easily remove the varathane without damaging the neck. Wipe the sides and under the neck for all the drippings. Or put masking tape on the side and under the neck before applying the paint.

 

 

;^)
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