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I'm attaching a new unfinished neck to the body of a finished guitar.

What's the best way to finish the neck without damaging the existing finish at the joint to the body?

Should I just try finishing the neck before attaching to the body?

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What's the best way to finish the neck without damaging the existing finish at the joint to the body?

As with all "best way to....?" questions this is completely subjective and can't be answered definitively. If you try searches on guitar-making and lutherie forums there's no doubt you'll discover a range of opinions on the ideal approach to doing what you're doing..... same as if you look up how to do any task in woodworking!

People can't even agree on something as fundamental as which glue to use, we shouldn't expect there to be agreement on anything more involved or complex.

Should I just try finishing the neck before attaching to the body?

Just as in furniture work there are good arguments to be made for both approaches.

It's rare to completely finish any component that has to be glued into position, but certainly you can start the finishing process on some or all surfaces.

One of pre-finishing's oft-cited advantages is that surfaces with some finish on them shrug off excess glue, making cleanup both during the glue-up and after much easier. At best, hardened adhesive (even epoxy and superglue) won't have bonded at all to a finished wood surface and can simply be flicked off with the fingernails.

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