Buffing the Finish
With the top coats applied and left 7 days to dry it was time to finish off the finishing. The first step is to wet sand the body, wet sanding leave scratches that have a shallower curve and are therefore less severe looking. I started out at 800 grit, sanding until there were as little shiny spots left as possible, the finish should look completely dull before moving on to the next step.
After wet sanding with the 800 grit I moved on to the 1200 grit, this step isn’t strictly neccessary, but it does lessen the scratches from the 800 grit paper and therefore will make the final buffing step easier. Again I wet sand all over with sanding paper and allow the guitar to dry. Something I should mention is that at this stage it’s important to clean the sanding paper as often as possible to prevent the lacqeur from building up in the paper and making new scratches that will require a lot of sanding to remove.
Once the finish is dry it’s time to buff the guitar. There are several ways you can do this, the most professional finish is achieved with a buffing wheel. This was a piece of equipment I wasn’t willing to buy because I had already bought an orbital sander. Another common way to buff is to use devices such as orbital sanders but instead of attatching sanding paper, you attach buff pads. This is what I did and it certainly made the job a lot easier than if I had done it the old fashioned way by hand.
Meguiars mirror glaze range was reccomended on many forums as a great buffing compound, so after a trip to Super Cheap Auto I picked up two different buffing compounds. The grit ranged from 0 to 10 with 10 being the roughest grit, having sanded all the way to 1200 I started at fine-cut which sits around 5 on the scale. If you finish sanding at 800, then starting out at medium cut which is arround 8 was reccomended. I had a separated buffing pad for each compund to avoid introducing larger scratches when I moved to a finer compound. I applied and wiped some of the first compound onto the guitar, and I did the same to the buffing pad to get things started. Using the slowest setting and a steady motion I buffed the entire surface of the guitar till there were no dull spots, making sure that all the compound had been rubbed into the guitar finish.
I then changed buffing pads and went down to the finer grit, the swirl remover was a 3 on the scale. This last compound would add just a little extra shine to the finish. I used the same procedure as the first time until the guitar came up in a great shine, I’m not a massive fan of those overly glossy mirror like finishes but a nice shine is still required. With all the buffing done that was the end of the finishing process and the guitar looks great!
I also wet sanded the headstock with 400 and then 800 to level out the finish, because it was a satin finish I only buffed it using the fine cut. You wouldn’t buff the neck at all in order to create a nice smooth playing surface, but the headstock has the logo so I buffed it a little to bring out the text.