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Building an Auto-Tune Guitar Part 3 (Finished Product)

Refinishing a guitar body with wood stain involves several steps, including routing out the existing finish, preparing the wood surface, applying the wood stain, and finishing with a protective coating. Here's a step-by-step guide along with the necessary tools and supplies:

Refinishing a guitar body. Back panel routing
Refinishing a guitar body. Back panel routing

Tools Needed:

  • A handheld router or a router table with appropriate bits for removing the existing finish.

  1. Sanding Tools:

  • Random orbital sander or sanding blocks with various grits (ranging from coarse to fine).

  • Sandpaper (80 to 400 grit).

  • I particularly love this sanding drum for the hard to reach places.

  1. Safety Gear:

  • Wood stain of your choice.

  • Wood sealer or sanding sealer.

  1. Staining Supplies:

  1. Protective Finish:

  1. Cleaners:

  • Mineral spirits or a similar solvent for cleaning the guitar body between sanding and staining.

  1. Tape and Paper:

  • Painter's tape for masking off areas you don't want to stain.

  • Plastic or paper sheets to protect the surrounding workspace.

  1. Workbench and Clamps:

  • A stable work surface and clamps to secure the guitar body during routing and staining.

  1. Respirator:

  • A respirator for more comprehensive respiratory protection, especially when using certain finishes.


1. Prepare Your Workspace:

  • Set up a well-ventilated and well-lit workspace.

  • Cover the area with plastic or paper sheets to protect surfaces from stain and finish.

2. Remove Existing Finish:

  • Secure the guitar body on a workbench using clamps.

  • Use a router to carefully remove the existing finish. Take your time and avoid gouging the wood.

3. Sand the Wood Surface:

  • Start with a coarse grit sandpaper to remove any remaining finish or imperfections.

  • Progressively move to finer grits until you achieve a smooth surface.

4. Clean the Surface:

  • Use a clean cloth and mineral spirits to wipe down the guitar body and remove dust.

5. Apply Wood Stain:

  • Apply wood stain using a cloth or brush. Ensure even coverage.

  • Wipe off excess stain with a clean cloth, following the manufacturer's instructions.

6. Apply Wood Sealer:

  • Apply a wood sealer or sanding sealer to prepare the wood for the protective finish.

  • Allow it to dry according to the product instructions.

7. Apply Protective Finish:

  • Apply clear polyurethane or nitrocellulose lacquer using a brush or spray.

  • Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next one.

  • Sand between coats with fine-grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.

8. Final Touches:

  • Remove any masking tape.

  • Reassemble the guitar components.

9. Cure and Polish:

  • Allow the finish to cure completely before polishing the surface if desired.

Always follow the specific instructions provided by the products you're using, as different stains and finishes may have unique application requirements. Additionally, practice safety precautions, especially when working with solvents, stains, and finishes in a well-ventilated area.


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