Welcome to the third and final episode in the trees into telecaster guitar build. To give a quick recap of the last episode: After having all the raw materials prepared, I glued together the bottom and top sections of the guitar, cut out the body, and made a few modifications due to a HUGE mistake I made. I did all the routing work, shaped and sanded down the body, and got it ready for finishing and final assembly, which is where we’ll pick things up.
The first thing I did in the finishing process for the guitar was to apply some colored grain filler to the body to add some nice contrast and to highlight the grain on some of the more open-pore wood such as the white oak. After applying and sanding down the grain filler, I then began the dying process.
I used water-based Trans Tint amber dye for this step and started by mixing up and applying a rather dark batch of dye to give more contrast to the wood grain. After it was good and dry, I sanded down the body just far enough to leave the stain visible in the areas with deeper grain. I then mixed up and applied a much lighter batch of amber dye and again applied it over the entire body to highlight the tighter, closer grain.
Now while all this was going on, I was also attempting to make a custom pickguard from some thin pieces of maple. I didn’t want to use a standard telecaster pickguard, as it would cover up too much of all that beautiful wood, so I designed one that would show off more of the body. The pickguards I tried to make from wood kept cracking on me, so as you’ll see later, I eventually made one from a wood-pattern plastic pickguard that I modified to fit my design.
Next, it was time to apply the clear coat. After researching my options thoroughly, I finally decided on using a product called Solarez, which is a polyester resin that cures very quickly when exposed to the UV rays of the sun. It’s super hard when cured, extremely scratch-resistant, and it doesn’t negatively affect the tone. I began by applying a coat of the Solarez grain sealer which also acts as a primer, and then applied two heavy coats of the Solarez resin. Now as a side note, this stuff gives off some very heavy fumes, so if you ever use it, be sure to wear a chemical respirator and work in an area away from your home or living area.
After the Solarez was cured I began the final sanding and polishing. I used a small sanding block to level sand the body and worked in quadrants. Solarez is a little challenging to sand, so this was a long process that required lots of elbow grease as I worked my way all the way down to 2500 girt sandpaper. After the sanding was finished, I then gave the body a good polishing with some car polish and a Surbuf buffing pad that I attached to my rotary sander, which worked great.
As a final step before assembly, I painted the body cavities with some conductive electric paint to help with noise canceling. And after that, I put it all together, set up the action on the neck and bridge, did a little fine-tuning here and there, and called it good. It was a long project that spanned the course of many months, it was very frustrating at times, I had to learn and practice many new skills, but it tuned out much better than I expected in the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and video series and I hope it inspires you to try something similar yourself. Check out the video below to see more.