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Guitar Finishing Safety Tips To Follow

There are a few things to be aware of right from the start when it comes to finishing a guitar, some are obvious and some not so.

If in doubt always remember to read the manufacturers' instructions for application and if unsure look into the product you are using further. Don't make assumptions or take advice from someone without doing your homework.

Recommended: Guitar Finishing 101

Here are some safety precautions you should be taking right now.

A well ventilated work area 

Ensure your work space is well ventilated, especially when finishing to prevent a build up of potentially toxic fumes.

We are all aware that breathing in toxic fumes is not a good idea, and there are plenty of fumes that can have a detrimental effect on your health when it comes to finishing guitars. In fact, a lot of the materials involved with finishing have some pretty nasty fumes... don’t think it won’t affect you.

First, make sure you have a well-ventilated area to work in with plenty of open space available. Never work in a completely closed environment such as your garage without at the very least having a door open and a fan circulating the air for you. If you do begin to feel light-headed or sick, stop immediately and take a breather.

Wear a Respirator or Mask

You should also wear a decent quality respirator mask if you are going to be around fumes of this nature.

While a basic respirator will be sufficient for sanding your guitar (blocking particles down to 3 microns, or 99% of all airborne particles) these respirators are not intended for painting.

Use an N95 rated dust mask for sanding and an R95 rated particle mask for finishing. If using water based finishing products an N95 dust mask may suffice for both sanding and finishing, but be sure to check the finishing suppliers recommendations first. Paint fumes are dangerous.

A decent entry-level respirator for painting/staining is the 3M 07193 Paint Spray Respirator, available from Amazon for under $20.00.

Wear Protective Eyewear 

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Use protective safety glasses or a genuine face shield, not regular prescription, reading, or sunglasses.

Disposable gloves

Use disposable gloves if applying stains or oil finishes directly to the guitar.

Safe Storage

You should also be aware that many of the materials involved in guitar finishing are highly flammable. Because of this, you need to store them in an area that provides you with an even temperature e.g. never in direct sunlight or anywhere the temperature is likely to fluctuate.

Obviously, it's not going to be a really good idea to smoke anywhere nearby either.

Fire Extinguisher

You should also keep a fire extinguisher nearby and test it fairly regularly to ensure it will be reliable if and when needed.

Lock them up!

You are also going to need to keep your finishing products locked down. This is especially important if you have small children in your home. This might seem fairly obvious but it's worth mentioning due to the potential dangers.

Remember common sense isn’t really all that common, never take shortcuts with safety. Make sure your materials are padlocked and unable to be accessed by anyone but yourself or an adult that knows what they are doing.

Remember to take a common-sense approach when finishing a guitar and be aware of the health implications! 

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