The Art of Nitrocellulose: Part 8 -  Sanding and Polishing

The Art of Nitrocellulose: Part 8 - Sanding and Polishing

Nitrocellulose Finish: The Sanding and Polishing Phase

After diligently applying your nitrocellulose coats and allowing ample drying time, you approach the critical phase of sanding and polishing. This phase is paramount in bringing out the inherent beauty and shine of the nitrocellulose finish. Let's break down this crucial process step by step. 

1. Beginning with 1500 Grit Wet & Dry Paper

Your initial sanding should be done using 1500 grit wet & dry paper. Before use, immerse it in warm water mixed with a tad of dishwashing detergent. This concoction prevents the paper from clogging, maximising its efficiency and extending its usable life. As you sand, ensure all shiny spots disappear, achieving a completely flat finish. This consistency ensures a smooth foundation for the subsequent polishing stages.

2. Progressing to 2000 Grit Paper

With the broader imperfections handled, it's time to fine-tune the surface. Use 2000 grit paper, employing the same wet method as before. This stage effectively diminishes finer swirls and scratches, paving the way for a flawless finish.

3. The Buffing Stage

Having achieved a smooth and consistent surface, buffing is the next step. For this, you'll require a suitable finishing compound. While there are many options on the market, local car accessory shops, such as Halfords in the UK, are good places to find them. However, it's vital to select a compound specifically labeled as a "finishing compound" or "swirl remover." It's important to exercise caution here: avoid products labeled as cutting and polishing compounds. These are excessively abrasive for a nitrocellulose finish and can potentially mar your meticulous work.

4. Reveal the Shine with a Microfibre Cloth

Once you've buffed the guitar to perfection, take a soft microfibre cloth and gently wipe over the entire surface. As you do, you'll unveil the deep, glossy shine that nitrocellulose is celebrated for. This shine isn't merely a testament to the paint but is also a reflection of your careful and precise work.

In Conclusion

The sanding and polishing phase is the culmination of your efforts, transforming the matte finish of dried nitrocellulose into a lustrous work of art. While the process demands patience and precision, the final result—a gleaming guitar with a mirror-like finish—is undeniably rewarding. By following these guidelines, you ensure your guitar not only sounds melodious but looks the part too.

If you got this far, congratulations - I think we covered everything! Hopefully you found this useful and you're ready to get painting!

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