The bass now has 15 coats of lacquer on it. The depth of color in the wood is fantastic. As is usual for lacquer the finish has areas of what is called “Orange Peel”. Lacquer is fantastic stuff but spraying it absolutely smooth is next to impossible. Orange peel is a bumpy texture that looks exactly like the pattern on the skin of an orange.
Here is a picture of the back control compartment panel to show you what the orange peel looks like.
Here is a wide shot of the front with the shop light reflection positioned to highlight the orange peel.
Here is a detail shot of the same area.
Now comes the back-breaking part of the build. The final sanding and rubbing out of the finish. When you spray lacquer you need to build up enough coats of finish to allow enough thickness to sand it down a bit and then buff it out.
Once the lacquer has dried for a week the wet sanding starts. The challenging part is that until you hit the last step, it looks like you just ruined all that hard work you did spraying the lacquer.
You start out wet sanding with 600 grit and go all the way up to 12,000 grit. It is important to step up in grit VERY slowly as each grit is basically sanding out the scratches from the previous bigger grit and replacing it with smaller scratches. If you jump too quickly to finer grits they can’t do their job right and you’ll end up with big scratches that won’t go away. When you’re done with the final tiny grit sanding the finish should look like glass. I found a product from Micro-Surface Finishing products called Micro-Mesh. Micro-Mesh is a sanding fabric that uses precision grits and a mesh backing that doesn’t load up with sanding residue when you wet sand. This stuff is GREAT! The military uses Micro-Mesh to repair chips and dings in acrylic aircraft windows. That will tell you how clear the fine grits will polish material.
After an initial sanding with 600 grit wet paper, the progression of Micro-Mesh that I used on this piece was:
Here’s a picture of the bass after the 1,800 grit.
Don’t panic! It’s dull, but it’s supposed to be at this point.
When I finished with the 12,000 grit, the bass was shiny but it still wasn’t the mirror that I was looking for. Out comes the 3M Scratch and Swirl remover from the auto supply store!
This white cream is intended to be used as the final step in finishing a car paint job. It makes it smooth!!
After the final polishing I installed the electronics into the body. Details of the electronics install will be in an upcoming post. Here is a picture of the body with the electronics installed so you can see the mirror finish that the swirl remover left behind.