Board Stripping Advice
  • I need some advice on stripping the graphics and paint off a board. What I want to do is strip the graphics/ paint and sand it down to its wood grain. Then I want a clear protective coat and either custom art or stickers.

    Any advice on the best products to use to do both the stripping and the clear coat would be appreciated.
  • The easiest and safest way to do this is with sanding. If you have a random orbital sander, you are ready to go. Use 80 grit sandpaper to remove the paint / graphics and take it down to the wood. Then use 220 grit paper to remove the 80 grit " swirl marks " on the flat surface and to remove the paint on the side of the board. If you decide to paint, do not use enamel paint. It can take over 30 days to actually dry. Also, be very careful on what you use for a clear coat or a sealer. I have used the same method to paint my decks as I do when I build an electric guitar. Try this for quick results and a great looking paint job:
    1) After sanding, use a sanding sealer on the wood. You can get this at any ACE hardware store in a spray can. It is very important even if you think it is not. Wait 24 hours for this coat to dry completely.
    2) Use a white primer coat. Primer will help cover up some of the grain " dip " in the deck and make your color coat go a lot further and go on smoother. I suggest any cheap acrylic lacquer, which can be bought at Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace... Wait 24 hours for this to dry completely.
    3) Color coat should be acrylic or nitrocellulose lacquer ( nitro is harder to find ). I suggest going to any chain auto parts store and looking for the Duplicolor Lacquer in a spray can. 1 can will cover both sides of a board easily. Wait 24 hours for this to dry completely.
    4) Use a lacquer clear coat to seal the color coat and give the deck an either matte or high gloss finish. Lacquer clear coat can be purchased at any home center of auto parts store in a spray can. If you don't clear coat the color coat ( especially a color that has any metal flecks in it, it will start looking funky pretty fast ). Wait 24 hours for this to dry.
    5) Once the clear coat has been applied, you can let it sit for a couple of weeks to reach maximum hardness or setup the deck and start skating.

    Why not use enamel paint? Enamel takes 30+ days to really get hard ( and that depends on ambient temp, air flow over the surface of the part and how thick you put it on ). Lacquer uses acetone as it's main solvent. Acetone evaporates very quickly and allows the lacquer to dry to the touch in 20 minutes versus days with enamel. The same can be said with clear coats. You could use polyurethane, but the crap they sell in the stores take forever to dry and lets all the dust and what not fall into it and ruin a finish. Lacquer is the way to go folks.

    Safety tips: You must use a respirator that is rated for paint fumes when using any paint, but especially lacquer. It will get you high as a kite very fast and then give you a terrible headache. I would also suggest doing the painting in an enclosed area that has some sort of exhaust. A simple suggesting is a garage with the doors open or the pass door open and a fan blowing outwards. Also, make sure you have some acetone or paint thinner handy to clean yourself up. Lacquer does not come off with water.

    Hope this helps. Ask any other questions you would like. I am happy to pass along any real - world info I can.
  • Thanks man. What would you recommend doing if I just wanted to get it back to its natural grain, sanding followed by the clear lacquer?
  • Take it down to 80 grit, then sand with 220. I would then use the sanding sealer and then clear lacquer.
  • I forgot another way to do a " natural finish." Try Tung Oil. Once you get the board stripped and sanded back to 220 grit, just wipe it on, wait five minutes, rub off the excess and let it sit for a couple of days. You can put multiple coats on for a cooler, deeper look ( wait 24 hours between coats ). No need to clear coat tung oil. It seals and give the wood a very nice natural look.I have used it on a couple mahogany guitar bodies and it really pops. I used five coats just because I had the time.

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