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I've been working on stripping the paint from one of my guitar bodies. It had a fairly thick polyurethane finish so I stripped it with my heat gun and sanded off the majority of the rest with my mouse sander.

So my question are how can I remove the scorch marks and how can i remove the remaining poly in the hard-to-reach places? Is there something I can strip this with or will I just need elbow grease and sandpaper?

I've sanded the hell out of most of the scorch marks and they just won't shift completely.

Just as an extra, I'm planning on round routing the edges over so it has a nice less sharp edge, and then finishing with finishing oil. Not going to varnish or poly this again. I like the natural finish. enter image description here enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

I am partially tempted to just go with the scorched look, I'm even wondering about doing the whole body on purpose. But I rather like the clean lump of wood look. I do want to remove the last bits of poly though.

Any advice and suggestions please.

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how can I remove the scorch marks

Sanding (or scraping) further are nearly your only options.

Unless you want to try oxalic acid (which sometimes works for this) the only way to remove scorching is to physically remove the affected wood.

how can I remove the remaining poly in the hard-to-reach places?

Meticulous scraping, sanding or use of chemical strippers.

Note: most strippers will pose a risk to any painted components you can't remove from the body, as well as any plastic parts.

I am partially tempted to just go with the scorched look, I'm even wondering about doing the whole body on purpose.

That is certainly an option and one that a few people pick when they're faced with a similar situation! Be aware that it's hard (very) to get a uniform scorched finish on a fine-grained wood like maple which this appears to be. Also scorching can tend to make the dividing line between one board and another in a glue-up stand out more.


Just as an extra, I'm planning on round routing the edges over so it has a nice less sharp edge, and then finishing with finishing oil. Not going to varnish or poly this again. I like the natural finish.

If you're planning on oiling you're going to have to be extremely particular about how well you remove the existing finish, otherwise any traces of poly left on the surface will prevent or partially block oil getting to the wood and those areas will stand out because they'll be much paler.

Because of how significant this effect is I highly recommend previewing your stripping efforts before you even touch the body with oil. But don't worry this is easy. You just wipe mineral spirits/white spirit over the wood which simulates the wetting of the surface that occurs when oil goes on. Any traces of remaining varnish will be instantly visible as light spots.

  • Awesome answer. Thank you very much. Just to fill in on the wood type, as with most solid colour guitars is bass wood not ash. I think the grain would be much more pronounced if it was. I've just put some of the hardware back on to test the look really so everything will come back off for more stripping. I've just bought a flap wheel and I'm going to fix some sandpaper to a dowel to get into the top cutaways. Thanks for the advice and I'll try and avoid any chemicals if I can. – Theramist Nov 12 '17 at 17:48

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