Category Archives: Guitars

Guitar Retrospective #11: “HB Adventure Strat”


It’s been awhile since I posted a guitar retrospective. There are still quite a few to go to get caught up to present times, so here we go!

This guitar started life back in early 2008 as a guitar kit. I had been looking into other means of obtaining guitars to refinish and after doing several Squier strats (“Wild Horses”, “Koi Flower”, “Miartisme”) I wanted to try these kits I had been reading about. I had done an LP style guitar from a Saga kit before, but I had tracked down some strat and tele style electric guitar kits made by Grizzly, which was a big woodworking and metalworking machinery company that had a local store, so I was able to go and pick a few up to try out. It wasn’t a typical place you would think to find guitar kits. Turns out the owner of Grizzly was a luthier himself, who made some pretty amazing guitars, so he offered these kits and other guitar parts through his company. You can still get guitar parts there, but it appears the kits are no longer available. It was your standard electric guitar kit, decent body and neck, with a blank headstock (the stratocaster and telecaster style headstocks are copyrighted by Fender so couldn’t be reproduced and sold), and probably lower end hardware and electronics.


I remember the reason I wanted to try guitar kits was because you started with a complete guitar, and the body was a blank canvas, you didn’t have to do any work to strip it down before you could refinish it. But it was wise to do a rough assembly of the guitar to make sure everything fit together ok, so there wouldn’t be any fun surprises at the end.

For the finish, I had this cool looking green fabric, I don’t even know how to describe it. If I were to free associate I would use words like; Celtic, hippie, natural, earthy, lavender, forest, green, free, peace, love, unity. I felt it was a great opportunity to use on one of these strats, and it really worked out for getting a good placement on the guitar to maximize the graphic element and still remain a cool subtle look. I started with the front and decided to finish the back with fabric also, with a more subdued section of the print, but it works to keep continuity. Here are some shots of the process. Pretty simple with this one, used the standard material finish process I’ve come to know: glued fabric on, sanding sealer, cut it out, more sanding sealer (a lot), sanding, paint, clear coats, final wet sanding and polish.

The Front:



The Back:



The Pickguard:

The kit came with a plain white pick guard, I didn’t feel this particular look required a matching pick guard, so I didn’t apply fabric to it, but I didn’t want to leave it stark white either. I  decided to paint it the same color as the edges and burst of the guitar, which was a seafoam green. I thought that color worked really well to compliment the graphic on the print as well as brighten it up overall, as the main color of the guitar was a dark green. Man I can’t believe I used to have time to think about stuff like that.



The Headstock:

As I said earlier, the kit came with a headstock blank, which looks like this.



It’s just a paddle, which doesn’t look very good. I didn’t feel like dealing with this again myself, like I had with the Les Paul style guitar. So I talked to some people on the guitar forums I visited at the time, and found somebody that would cut them out for me in the traditional “strat” style. I sent them off, and they came back all nice and pretty, ready to go.

Also, during the process of refinishing this guitar, it became apparent who I was making it for. Some very close friends of mine were getting married, and try as I might, they just wouldn’t push their wedding date back so I could get this thing properly done in time to give it to them. (I know right!? So selfish.) I thought about my options, and realized I would just do as they do, and go with the flow, and use the opportunity to make it really personal, so I hand wrote the name on the headstock and added a personal note on the back. I don’t think I’ve had to admit this yet, but I did this on the day of their wedding  before leaving my house. I was working on this thing to the very last minute. It is by no means fancy, but I think it’s fitting, and it works, and that’s what I tell myself.


HB Adventure:

You’ve been wondering this whole time, “What the hell is HB Adventure”? I purposely waited until the end to tell you, because I worry about your attention span and wanted you to earn it. Let me be the first to say, Congratulations! Here it comes. HB stands for Hannah and Barry, two very dear friends who I knew separately and then came together to create a beautiful life, incredible love story for sure. <humor>You see Barry was my ex-boyfriend and Hannah was a chick I knew in High School, at least that’s how I remember it. </humor> They really lived life proper traveling and had a blog to tell us all about it while I stayed home making guitars and checking in on their adventures. Life is still happening over at, to the fullest to be sure. I really admire my friends who have always seemed to do life right, exploring and capturing the very best life has to offer, and leaving the rest. They teach that now to their two beautiful daughters.

But back in August of 2008, they were just getting married, and I had made a gift for them. I had taken the neck plate in to be engraved, as I was known to do for special occasions. (Mostly this is so they don’t forget who it came from, I hope they don’t know any other “Joe’s”.) 😉







Guitar Retrospective #10: “7-String Koi”


DSC00921Beginning 2008 I picked up a guitar body on eBay for cheap thinking I would refinish it and resell it. It was a bit of an experiment to see how quickly I could turn around a guitar body and how much I could resell it for. I found an Ibanez RG 7 string body and stripped it down from its metallic burgundy finish to bare wood. I had another Koi fish fabric print on hand I wanted to use and this was a perfect opportunity. The fabric was dark so obviously suggested a black paint accompaniment. Also, since I was trying to do this quickly, I ended up just doing fabric on the front, and painting the back. It was pretty straight forward and took just a few months of working on it nights and weekends. I wish I could remember what I sold it for, but I don’t remember making a bunch of money on it, otherwise I would have done it a lot more. I went back to doing full guitars after this, so that’s a pretty good sign I hope I broke even on it. 🙂

Here’s a gallery of progress shots on this project.








Guitar Retrospective #9: Miartisme Strat


This was a very special project and probably my favorite guitar I’ve worked on. It was a collaboration with a friend and very talented artist Miartisme. Be warned, this post is picture heavy. B-)



I met Miartisme back in the hay days of MySpace (ages ago!). I came across an image of some artwork of hers that I really liked. I reached out to her and we began emailing back and forth. After awhile she expressed interest in me making her a guitar, using her own artwork. We began talking about the logistics of collaborating on a project like this long distance, as we lived in opposite corners of the country.

I made a paper template of the guitar I would use and mailed that to her. She wanted to see where the bridge and pickup cavities would be, and the shape of the space that would be visible so she could arrange her illustration around them. She then worked her magic creating a beautiful illustration, made a few high quality copies, and sent those back to me to use. She also threw in some copies of a couple of other illustrations to use as I saw fit, which were more “random” artwork compared to what would appear on the front of the guitar.

This was an assortment of the copies of the artwork I thought I might try to use on the back, I was attempting to “see” what I could make of it, cutting out various parts and piecing them together. (More on this later.)

Potential artwork for the back


I’m going to break this up into sections and discuss each part of the guitar by itself, taking you through it start to finish with each section, as opposed to how I built it, which was working on several pieces at once. Should make more sense this way.


Guitar Body: Front

This was the main artwork for the front of the guitar after I had cut it out of the sheet that was sent to me. A combination of different mediums were used on paper.

Front artwork


I used one of the Squier strats I had purchased, torn apart and stripped down for this one. I primed the body and sanded down the front, seen here, ready to go.

Primed and ready to go


This was my first time using a material other than fabric, so I was just hoping the glue I normally used worked well with the paper, and applied it generously to ensure I had complete adhesion so I wouldn’t get air bubbles later on. With only a couple copies of the art I wanted to get it right the first time! I didn’t have any issues and the process was the same as previous guitars using fabric.

Here are a couple shots with the artwork glued, and with more sanding sealer applied.

Glued down


After sanding sealer coats


After a few coats of sanding sealer I sanded flat, cut out the cavities, and trimmed the excess material around the edges. The front didn’t require nearly as many coats of sanding sealer as I use on fabric. It was already flat and didn’t soak up into the material.

Trimmed up


The thickness of the paper created a significant lip on the edges of the body. So the next step was using the thick super glue technique (I prefer the CA-30 from Stewmac) to make a smooth edge again. Then it was ready for paint. I decided black would look the best and make all the different colors pop.



Then it was time to clear coat, wet sand, and polish. Here it is hanging for clear coats.

Being clear coated


And after being wet sanded and polished. The front is now complete.

Wet sanded


Guitar Body: Back

For the back of the guitar, I had several options. As I mentioned earlier, I had some extra materials to use to possibly come up with something, or I could use the same thing as the front for the back, or I could just paint it a solid color and have no design at all. It took me awhile to come up with what I did, but the back of this guitar is a big reason why it’s one of the most favorite things I’ve done.

I spent quite a few days playing around with the artwork Miartisme provided, cutting things out, moving things around on a paper template of the guitar, trying to “see” something interesting. Here are some pictures of that process.


I was about to give up on this idea as nothing was presenting itself to me, but all of a sudden I saw it. In the bottom of the illustration, in the orange section, a dragon popped out! I was so excited, I cut it out and placed it on the bottom part of the guitar. I was so pleased myself!

But it still felt incomplete, I had all this space left to fill up. And then I saw something else. A bird! The upper section where I had been taping little bits together now appeared to me as a peacock-like bird flying.

Again, I was so pleased to make such a discovery, I now had something unique for the back, a brand new creation, yet still used Miartisme’s artwork, perfect!

They appeared to me as two mythical creatures, very different from each other, one looking up, one looking down, nearly kissing, in harmonious flight together. But something was still missing. What would I use for the background?

I couldn’t decide what single color would look cool as the background, if any. I began thinking it would be really neat to combine a fabric and paper finish. I started looking through my fabric collection and came across one that was perfect. My Mom is a quilter and  one of her quilting friends was aware that I made guitars with fabric so she had given me some at one point.

It made for a great night sky, a dreamscape for the fantastical flying creatures.

You can see where I pieced together different bits of the artwork by the blue tape on the layout above. After gluing down the fabric I then glued down the paper creatures.

Next came the long process of applying sanding sealer to “bury” the material in the finish. With a layer of fabric, and then thick paper on top of that, it took a very large amount of sanding sealer. Applying 3-4 coats a day, it took probably 2-3 weeks, with some sanding in between occasionally to check progress. Here are some pictures of the sanding sealer process.

Beginning sanding sealer


Still early on, you can see the significant difference in levels


Sanding sealer applied, still wet



Sanded down, you can some spots around the edges of the creatures that are shiny, still needs a little more sanding sealer


After several more coats of sanding sealer have dried


No shiny spots, all level, sanding sealer finished


With the sanding sealer complete, I just had to trim the edges of the fabric and super glue the edge and sand it smooth like I did with the front.

Trimming edge of fabric with X-Acto knife


Now the back and sides could be painted.  Once painted, it’ll stay hanging for clear coats.

After paint, hanging for clear coats


And here it is after being wet sanded. You can see some light sanding scratches that will come out after polish. Once polished this guitar body is now complete!

After wet sand, still needs polished


The Pick Guard

Miartisme had sent me a few copies of the front artwork. One to apply to the front, one incase something went wrong and I screwed it up (which thankfully didn’t happen), and one for the pick guard. With such beautiful imagery covering the front of the guitar, how could I possibly have a plain white pick guard? It HAD to have a matching pick guard. Though this wasn’t the first time doing a matching pick guard (see “Red Fog”), it was the first time using paper and painting it to match perfectly.

So here’s how it went. I started with positioning the pick guard on the body to where it would go.

Positioning on guitar


Then I took close up photos for reference (not shown here) and placed the pick guard over the copy of the artwork and positioned it according to my reference photos so it would line up correctly.

Positioning on paper


I traced the outline and cut it out with an X-Acto knife.

Next I just had to glue the paper onto the pick guard, but to ensure proper adhesion, I sanded the glossy surface down first.

Squeegee helps to remove air bubbles

Checking the fit to see how I did, moment of truth.

Lines up nicely

So then the process for the pick guard was the same as the body, sanding sealer coats, sanding flat, and then painting the edge black to match the body.

Edge painted after sanding sealer

After clear coats and wet sanding and polish, the pick guard is done.


The Headstock

Lastly, the headstock. The only customization I did was to add Miartisme’s signature. This was an added touch of detail I hadn’t originally planned on, but when the artwork arrived and I saw her signature and how cool it looked, I knew I had to include it somehow. Usually I order water slide decals which are very thin and easy to apply and finish over. But in this case, the signature was right there, so with some very precise handy work with the X-Acto knife, I was able to extract her signature from the paper.

After preparing the headstock by sanding it clean I glued down the signature and glued over it with Mod Podge. Being so delicate and thin I wanted to make sure it was all completely glued down.

Glued down and covered with Mod Podge

The Mod Podge is also a sealer so after it was dry I was able to carry on with the other sanding sealer I was using and bury the signature to create a level surface. Being a thicker paper it took quite a few coats to build up to a level surface.

Building up the sanding sealer

After enough sanding sealer had been applied and sanded smooth, I sprayed the headstock with clear in order to wet sand and get the final polished look.

Clear coats applied


Wet sanded and polished


The Final Product

And that is it! Again, even though I discussed each component on its own multiple pieces were all worked on simultaneously. Here you can see at one point I was applying sanding sealer to the back of the body, the headstock, and the pick guard at the same time.

Body, headstock, pick guard, receiving sanding sealer

After reassembling the guitar with the white knobs and pickup covers and discovering I had a couple black tone knobs in my parts drawer, I thought it would look better with a mix of black and white knobs instead of all white.

And finally, some final shots of the guitar completed.



This was an extremely satisfying project and I’m very proud of my part in it, and just want to thank Miartisme for allowing me the opportunity to create this with her. A wonderful collaboration, a beautiful creation.



Guitar Retrospective #8 (Pt. 2 The Headstock): “Landscape Les Paul”

Welcome to the 2nd installment of the “Landscape LP” project, where I will discuss the creation of the headstock. If you noticed in the first picture from Pt. 1, the guitar kit came with what they call a “paddle” headstock. Meaning, it’s just a blank, intended for the user to create their own style. They do this in these generic kits because the headstock shapes are patented by the company. So to cover their ass since it’s probably too expensive to get the license, they exclaim “you get to make it any way you want!” Great. Thanks for all that extra work. Well I turned some lemons into some some seriously delicious lemonade with this project, turning that square paddle board headstock blank into a perfectly fitted custom shape to complement the detail in the fabric print on the body, as well as match the print by finishing the headstock in fabric as well.

Here’s what I started with.

LP HS back

LP HS front










I set out designing the shape, figuring out what would get cut out. I didn’t want to stray too far from a tradition Les Paul style headstock design, so I used my little Jai face logo as a starting point to figure out the shape.

Traced a template to sketch ideas on paper, then transferred over to headstock when I was satisfied.

Traced a template to sketch ideas on paper, then transferred over to headstock when I was satisfied.


Cut it out using a coping saw, band saw, and a pneumatic sanding drum, if I remember correctly.

LP HS cut

Sanded smooth.

Sanded smooth.

Burnt it up a little, rough cut here. Maple is hard!

Burnt it up a little, rough cut here. Maple is hard!


Touched it up with sand paper and files to get the shape just right.

Touched it up with sand paper and files to get the shape just right.


Then I set about giving this headstock face a fabric finish. Same process as the body.  I chose the portion of the fabric from the back of the guitar, the night sky with a few birds. It was at this point I realized how well suited that shaped was, as it looks just like a bird flying if you’re looking at it head on.

After fabric has been glued down, and several coats of sanding sealer.

After fabric has been glued down, and several coats of sanding sealer.

After sanding the sanding sealer. Got into the fabric a little on the edges but that's ok, it's getting a paint burst.

After sanding the sanding sealer. Got into the fabric a little on the edges but that’s ok, it won’t really show.


Trim those fabric edges sharp and clean to the wood.

Trim those fabric edges sharp and clean to the wood

After clear coats.

After clear coats.









Polished to a lovely shine.












And all set up and ready to go.

Tuners installed and complete.

Tuners installed and complete.


I hope you enjoyed following the process of this guitar, it posed some new challenges which was why I was happy to choose this style and try out this kit. I expanded my knowledge and experience trying out some new things with this one, and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. And I know where it lives and get to visit it every now and then.






Guitar Retrospective #8 (Pt. 1 The Body): “Landscape Les Paul”

I began this project in June of 2007. Since I was also in the middle of a couple strat projects, namely, the “Koi Flower” and “Wild Horses” guitars, I was ready for something different. I decided to try a Les Paul style guitar, with a curved top.  I picked up a Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit.

Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit

Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit

After studying the kit, which was decent enough with the components (kit guitars like this usually benefit from upgrading some of the parts), I remember being impressed with the body. Nice figure in the top, nice binding, nice mahogany back. I thought, “Wow this is pretty good for a kit guitar…Ok, now which fabric will I use to cover this up with.”

Saga body frontSaga LP body back











I had picked out a beautiful Japanese scenic landscape print for this guitar. I used this print because there were a lot of great options and a lot of surface area on this guitar with which to display it, with the rear routed control cavity, and the larger body size, you could see a lot of this fabric. This was the full panel I had to work with. Actually a little more than what is shown in this picture, since I got a full yard, there is more tree and hillside to the left. fabric full panel

I laid it out with my paper templates to determine which section of the fabric would be used for the front and which for the back. This is one of the funnest parts of the process, because you are deciding the look of the whole guitar, it is the decision moment of the design process, because once you cut it out, that’s it, you’re committed. Unless you have a bunch more fabric, which I never do. Fabric can get expensive, especially these fancy prints I always pick out, so I usually only get a yard.


Laying out fabric, template positioning of the back of the guitar.

So I’ve documented the material finish process on previous posts, so I won’t bore anyone (or myself) with every detail by describing it in words. But I will do it with a series of pictures, because pictures are fun and require MUCH less reading.

LP fabric front rough

Fabric glued down, rough cut – front.

LP fabric back rough

Fabric glued down, rough cut – back.


Post-Sanding Sealer coats and cut out cavities. Front of guitar.

After sanding sealer coats and cut out cavities – front.

Post-Sanding Sealer coats and cut out cavities. Back of guitar.

After sanding sealer coats and cut out cavities – back.


After sanding, before paint - front.

After sanding, before paint – front.

After sanding, before paint - back.

After sanding, before paint – back.


After paint - front.

After paint – front.

After paint - back.

After paint – back.


I interrupt this series of beautifully laid out sequential pictures to say, holy cow was it difficult to find this shade of navy blue that matches PERFECTLY with this print. I tried at least half a dozen different shades of the usual brands I use, only to find none of them blended well with this fabric. I eventually went to a store I never go to, I believe it was a Sebo’s hardware store in town, and found a construction spray paint that looked promising. When I shot it and saw this result, I was ecstatic, I could finally stop buying blue spray paint.


After shooting clear coats - front.

After shooting clear coats – front.

After shooting clear coats - back.

After shooting clear coats – back.


For the detail oriented like myself, the paint I used had a hint of sparkle, which again matched PERFECTLY on a deeper level with this print, as it also has a little sparkle in the print, which I’ll show soon in a close up pic.

After clear coats, side of guitar, notice sparkle in paint.

After clear coats, side of guitar, notice sparkle in paint.


After wet sanding and polish - front.

After wet sanding and polish – front.

After wet sanding and polish - back.

After wet sanding and polish – back.


Yes I did get a few sand-throughs along the edges on this one, I was really bummed. It’s a learning process, and I’m always learning new tricks to avoid this terrible eye sore that is very easy to allow pop up.

And hey, I’m a man of my word, here’s that close up where you can see the sparkle detail in the print.

Close up of front, notice the sparkle in the print.

Close up of front, notice the sparkle in the print.


As you can see if you look closely in the neck pocket where I sign and date the guitar upon completion, this guitar was finished in August of 2007, it was intended as a wedding gift for a close friend. I remember now I was kind of rushing to complete this towards the end so it could be ready to give away after the long drive to its new home, which might explain the lack of completed pictures with it all strung up and full body/neck shots. By the way, the headstock was a completely custom design, and will be featured in its own post. Here are the shots I have of the completed body all put together. I show these with slight embarrassment, as guitar players will know, one of the pickups is backwards. (Ooops! so embarrassing!!!) Hey, it was my first experience with a Les Paul style guitar in person, I hadn’t come across pickups like these yet, and like I said I was rushing to get this out the door. But yea, I feel stupid seeing these pics now, so try to ignore everything I just said. :-/

LP finished front 1LP finished back 1


You might have noticed the custom neck plate I had engraved to commemorate the event, very special detail. I gave a big heartfelt speech during the rehearsal dinner where I presented the happy couple with the unique gift, explaining how the creation of the guitar represented what a good marriage might require: patience, love, attention to detail, hard work, more patience, etc. I said I hoped it would hang on a wall inside their home to remind them of this. Well, they are now divorced. It must have been sitting in the closet or something.

Seriously though, I hope my buddy forgives me for my commentary if he reads this. The guitar is with him now and that’s where I intended it to be all along, so mission accomplished. I should probably go visit him and replace that neck plate though. 😉 Love you buddy!

LP finished front 2

LP finished sides

LP finished front 3

LP finished back 2


Thanks for checking this out and remember there’s a part 2 coming where I go through the process of designing and creating the custom headstock on the neck of this guitar.


Creatively yours,




Guitar Retrospective #7 (Pt. 2): “Koi Flower”

As I mentioned in the first installment of this project, this guitar fell victim to the stand it was displayed on. Just when you thought it was safe right!? And frankly, I didn’t do a very good job on the first attempt, so having the sides of the guitar completely melted down to the wood where the guitar rested proved to be an excellent excuse to give this guitar a facelift and correct some things that went wrong the first time.

Where the stand melted the finish.

Where the stand melted the finish.

Close up of damaged area.

Close up of damaged area.

Damaged area and horrendous sand thrus.

Damaged area and horrendous sand thrus.

The pictures above show the damaged areas and the sand thrus along the edges. All of this needed addressed, so I busted out the random orbital sander with some 60 grit and went to work taking it back down to the paint/fabric level. Once I got close I switched to a higher grit so I wouldn’t rip through the fabric completely. If I wore into lightly it was no big deal, that could be built back up with no issues. You can see below the faint areas behind the pickups, that’s a good example of sanding into the fabric. That happened to be where the bridge was gonna sit anyway. But I still wouldn’t consider it an issue, creates kind of a cool accent to the look.

Sanded back down to fabric.

Sanded back down to fabric.

Sanded down to fabric on back.

Sanded down on back and sides.

Masking template and paint.

Masking template and paint.

At this point I was ready to move forward again being extra careful with each step of the process, especially with making sure I built the sanding sealer coats up enough to fully cover everything. There was one spot on the front where an air bubble had developed (from not using enough glue in the beginning), which I addressed specifically by cutting the fabric, applying some super glue in the bubble, and flattening. With sanding sealer coats and sanding that area down repeatedly, I was able to completely flatten that spot out and remove the bubble. Can’t even find that spot now. Once a solid foundation was established again, I could repaint the sides and burst. I was able to get the same paint as before, so I could get the same look as before which I was very happy with, as I had matching pick guard, pick up covers, and knobs.

Using the cardboard template to paint sides and a burst.

Using the cardboard template to paint sides and a burst.

I still had the body template I had made the first time for painting. This is a great simple tool to make as you begin the process. I make one for every guitar I do. Since I just do one-offs I use spray cans and a cardboard cut out of the guitar body I’m working on, which I just trace at the beginning when I have the guitar in pieces. It can be manipulated for curves in the body, like the bottom left corner of the pic on the left, where it’s just bent over to follow the curve of the body to keep the spray uniform. I start by placing the template flat on the body to get the sides painted, shooting at a downward angle so most of the paint hits the sides and doesn’t sneak underneath. Then to do a burst, where the paint fades into the body from the edges, you can place items between the template and the body in the middle to give it a little lift (like shown), and spray at various downward angles while moving the template around as necessary. It masks the body while leaving the edge open enough to get a nice natural fade. It takes some practice and going a little at a time and checking often to see where it needs more paint. But you can get a very nice looking burst with this method with some practice just using spray cans!

Paint complete. Burst on front.

Paint complete. Burst on front.

Paint complete. Burst on back.

Paint complete. Burst on back.











I finish the paint process by very lightly sanding the faces of the guitar to remove any paint dust that may have settled in the burst process. Usually just a rough rag will suffice. And always wipe down with naphtha after each step to remove dust and finger oils! There was also the headstock component to this which I apparently didn’t get pictures of along the way the second time through. The finish had sunken a little revealing the outline of the decal, and it was just a little rough overall. I gave that the full treatment as well, minus the paint, while I did the same steps as the body. So after a long and slow process of applying clear coats, sanding down (the clear was going on quite rough and orange-peely), more clear coats, letting it cure, and then the final wet sand and polish, and not encountering a SINGLE sand thru, which was cause for much celebration!, I could call this guitar fully restored and complete. I waited for a sunny day and got some final pictures. So here you have it, in all its glory. 🙂



Koi 2 - Front 1 Koi 2 - Front 2 Koi 2 - Back 1Koi 2 - Front 3 Koi 2 - Back 2Koi 2 - Horns Koi 2 - HeadstockKoi 2 - Front Full Koi 2 - Back Full

Me and the Koi-caster.

Me and the Koi-caster.

Sanding Blocks


Acrylic sanding blocks.

Acrylic sanding blocks.

That’s right folks, a post that only those that work on guitars could appreciate. You’re welcome.

For years I’ve been using a combination of a basic 3M sanding block and a small art gum eraser.

3M block and Artgum eraser.

3M block and Artgum eraser.

To be honest I barely used the larger 3M block, usually for dry sanding during prep with lower grits. When it came to all the rigorous wet sanding, I would primarily use the art gum eraser, for years! Recently, after noticing my small eraser starting to fall apart, I finally wised up and realized maybe there was something better I could be using that might speed up the process. It takes a long time to cover a guitar front and back with a thing the size of a 9V battery. It’s still handy when I need to just focus on a small area, and it has a bit of flex which comes in handy going around the curves and sides.

My brother built a CNC machine from scratch this past year and always has handy materials around, so I thought to ask him for some acrylic. He had a small piece of scrap that would be perfect, 1/2″ thick, 2″ x 5″. So he cut it into a couple pieces for me. I thought it would be nice to have a couple options, so he cut a 2″ x 2″ square and a slightly larger 2″ x 3″. The picture on the left shows the pieces as he gave them to me. I just took the palm sander to the edges, rounding them out and flattening the sides, giving them a more “finished” look, as seen on the right.

Rough cut of new acrylic sanding blocks.

Rough cut of new acrylic sanding blocks.

Acrylic sanding blocks with polished edges.

Acrylic sanding blocks with polished edges.










Acrylic sanding block in action.

Acrylic sanding block in action.

These work marvelously. With a perfectly flat, hard surface, not too big, not too small, I feel like I’m getting a much better use of my energy, time, and sand paper. Super easy to clean and dry. And it covers the surface area of the guitar really well. I find I lean towards the 2″ x 2″ one more often, just more versatile I think.










I still use the old blocks, but it’s great to have a combination of sizes and materials to choose from now.

Sanding block collection.

Sanding block collection.

Happy sanding!