Luthier Tips du Jour Mailbag - Burn-in Sticks

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In this episode, Robbie O’Brien demonstrates how to use burn-in sticks to fill gaps around fret ends and other places on the guitar.

Video Transcription

[on-screen text reads: Luthier Tips du Jour Mailbag]

Mailbag question: Have you tried using lacquer burn-in sticks to fill gaps under fret wire?

Robert O'Brien: Today's Tips du Jour Mailbag question comes to us from Oregon.

"Dear Robert, I recently watched your Tips du Jour video about filling the gaps under the fret wire, on the end of the fretboard using CA glue. Have you tried using lacquer burn-in sticks? Dave in Oregon."

Actually, that's a very good way of filling the gaps under the fret wire, as well as other gaps and imperfections on the guitar, while you're doing your finish work. So let me show you how I do that. Here's the lacquer burn-in sticks I'm going to use, and I get these from LMI. What I use the most is the black, and you can also get it in clear.

How to use lacquer burn-in sticks

So here's the gaps you have under the fret wire, right at the edge of the fretboard, and that looks awful under a finish, you got to get it level. So I'm going to use a lacquer burn-in stick for that purpose. And you need a heat source. What I'm going to use, is just the tip of a soldering iron. Now you can use an alcohol lamp and a spatula, that also works well. I'm just going to do it real quick with this little lacquer burn-in stick, and the soldering iron. See that, grab a little bit out of there, place it right on the edge [Robert touches the soldering iron to the burn-in stick then touches the gap on the fret end]. And as it cools, it may want to shrink down in there a little bit. So if you need to, come in and place a little bit more on there [Robert taps more burn-in stick lacquer onto the gaps at the fret ends working his way down the fretboard].

Sand to level

So once the lacquer is dried, come in and just use the sanding block, to level everything [Robert works the sanding block up and down the edges of the fret ends]. So after sanding, this is what it looks like. You can see the gap is completely filled, and we are now ready to continue our finish work.

So, Dave in Oregon, I hope this answers your question. As you can see, using lacquer burn-in sticks, is a very efficient way of filling gaps. As always though, you want to be very careful if you have any heat source in your shop. The idea is to fill the gap, not burn your shop down. Happy building.

[on-screen text reads: More Luthier Tips and online courses available at www.obrienguitars.com. Private and small group guitar building and finishing instruction available]

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Robbie O'Brien

Luthier and Instructor, Lutherie Academy