Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hofner Colorama II restoration project (part 7) - applying the decal and lacquering the neck

In the previous post, we set about making a replacement decal for the neck on this vintage Hofner Colorama II. Before we lacquer the neck, we need to apply the decal.

The decal is printed on special laser waterslide decal paper. This paper just prints on a standard laser printer. It’s also possible to get inkjet waterslide decal paper, but just note that an inkjet printout requires that you spray a layer of lacquer over the printed decal before you let it anywhere near water.

So first we put some not-too-hot/not-too-cold water in a little dish and place the decal in there, making sure to submerge it.

After a minute or so you will notice that it starts to separate from the paper. You can test this by seeing if it will slide around on the paper, but don’t force it too much.

While we are waiting for the decal to reach this separation stage, it’s a good idea to spread just a little bit of water on the area where we will apply the decal. This helps to prep the surface for what is to come.

Once we know it is ready, we slide the decal off the paper directly onto the peghead (i.e. don’t slide it off in the water and then try to pick up just the decal without the backing paper, as it will tend to fold over on itself).

As long as the decal is wet, we have time to move it around to put it in just the right place. You can even add a bit of water if it is starting to dry up but is still not in the right place. That said, try not to end up with too much water on the peg head, as you will need to wait for this to dry before proceeding.

After the decal is located in the correct area, take a dry tissue or similar and gently press down on the decal to make sure it is flat, bubbles are removed and the edges aren’t curled up. This also helps to remove some of the water, shortening our waiting time for the next step (lacquering).

Since this particular neck is maple with a rosewood fretboard, and since we do not want to lacquer the fretboard, we need to mask it off. Here I’m using thin masking tape to do this.

I give the whole neck a quick wipe down with water and let it dry before the next step. This helps to remove any last-minute dust and also preps the surface somewhat to accept the lacquer.

It is common to hang up a neck before lacquering it, but I prefer to lay it flat on its back, lacquer the front of the peghead, and then turn it over and lacquer the back.

Here is the front of the peghead after a few layers of lacquer:

And here is the back:

I put about five layers of lacquer on each side and then hang it up to dry.

After maybe an hour, when the lacquer has had enough time to dry out just a little, but still has some softness to it, I carefully remove the masking tape, being very careful not to touch the rest of the neck.

The neck will hang here for several weeks before getting a final sanding and polishing.

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