Staying Safe when Finishing a Guitar
You should be aware of some of the health implications associated with guitar finishing before you set out. Paint fumes can be a real killer and result in brain damage in extreme cases.
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.
Safety Precautions You Should Be Taking Right Now
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 effect you there are several short term and long term health problems breathing in fumes of this nature can cause including brain damage!! and to a lesser degree respiratory issues.
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 always stop and take a breather.
You should also wear a decent quality respirator mask if you are going to be around fumes of this nature. They don’t need to be expensive by any means. There are a couple of good options including the basic 3m respirator mask (10 pack) for under $15.00 or a cartridge respirator for anywhere from $25.00 and up. You should also consider wearing a respirator when sanding.
You should also be aware that many of the materials involved in guitar finishing are highly flammable so 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 real good idea to smoke anywhere nearby either.
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!
It’s also highly advisable to keep your finishing products locked down tightly especially if you have small children…..this might seem fairly obvious but it’s worth mentioning due to the potential dangers. Remember common sense isn’t really all that common sometimes so never take short cuts 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 take a common sense approach when finishing a guitar and be aware of the health implications!