Finish Him! (5) Hand-painting and clear coating enclosures summary

originally posted 3rd July, reformatted as a blog post 1st Jan 2018

IMPORTANT EDIT 4th Jan 2018!!!

TLDR? scroll to the bottom!

Preparing your enclosure

Obviously it’s better to paint your enclosure after it’s been drilled, so do that first. Next you’ll want to use 1500 grit (wet or dry) to get the enclosure ready for the primer. I always use a wee bit of water It stops aluminium dust getting kicked up into the air PLUS I’ve found that bare enclosures have a wax like reaction to water. The water starts to bead up. After a gentle sanding you’ll find that this no longer happens, that’s the sweet spot. I love the look and texture of unfinished enclosures, and I try to maintain that in my pedals. Feel free to sand your enclosure with ever finer grits (start much lower than 1500, early hundreds should suffice, and finish between 1500 and 2000) if you want a shinier finish.

Next you’ll need to give the bare enclosure a good clean with warm soapy water, rinse well, and give your workbench a clean too.

Primer

Primer is hugely important, and it’s a step I didn’t fully appreciate or understand early on. I use this,

dupli-primer

and it works a treat. The posca paint adheres to it really well, and applying a second coat or wee touch ups is much, much easier. The paint won’t flake or rub off.

You only need a few coats (I usually do 3 or 4 depending on spraying conditions and how well the enclosures react). If you spray too much or not evenly enough you’ll get dull grey patches where the spray has pooled. When the enclosure is starting to look a ‘healthy’ kind of dull, you’ve done enough. Be sure to pay attention to the sides of the enclosure too.

Hand painting the enclosures

I’ve only used the posca paint markers so far, but I find them easy to use, I love the colour selection and the results are spot on. I recently bought some Winsor and Newton acrylics and brushes. I’ll post findings when I try them.

Krylon as colour protection

I’ve applied the Duplicolor clear coat directly to the artwork, and found that whilst the clear coat was nice and strong, it sometimes hasn’t preserved the colours as well as I’d hoped, especially for blocks of colour, and even more so for black. See below.

ET8 1

It’s not a huge problem and it has a charm of its own, but I generally prefer adding this extra step to add a touch more quality.

Final clear coat

For the final clear coat, I have been using these two (early – mid 2017).

The Acrylic Enamel clearcoat comes in matte and gloss, both had worked well, though the Gloss Clear with ceramic produces a thicker more consistent finish, which felt a bit more professional and tougher looking.

Having just checked the limited run of Big Muffs I’m about to box up, I’ve noticed that there are some very fine cracks across the top. I was pretty gutted. I remember when I was spraying them that I had a bad feeling about them. The spray didn’t seem to be taking to them well. There are three reasons I can think why this might have happened.

  1. It was a bad batch of spray cans (other pedals done with the same acrylic enamel haven’t cracked).
  2. I didn’t shake the cans for long enough.
  3. There was some issue with drying times for the Krylon coat. Too short perhaps?
  4. Temperature/ humidity. These were sprayed in warmer conditions, it’s winter now and it’s pretty dry too. I wonder whether this combined with one or more of the other reasons is underlying cause.

Luckily in the last batch I did (October 2017) I only used the ceramic, and though there were a few minor issues with a couple of areas of the black posca paint they are looking absolutely fantastic! The reaction with the black paint might have been for a couple of reasons, and I won’t know until I experiment further, but I suspect I didn’t leave long enough between painting and the coat of Krylon and the final clear coat. I think the thickness of the paint might also have been an issue. In the places where I had doubled up (especially text) everything looks spot on. I should also mention that I did 32 pedals in the last batch, they all have a great glasslike finish, and they’re all looking better than any of my previous attempts, but I think there’s still room for improvement. When weather conditions improve and I can get out and spray again (each spray has a an optimum spraying temperature and humidity range), I’m going to try a few things. Firstly, I’m going to try some acrylic lacquer, and secondly, I’m going to try cutting out the Krylon coat. I’ll post my findings in March or Aprilish, depending on the weather.

Current Method!

Anyway, here’s how I currently prepare, paint and finishing Champion Leccy pedals…

  1. After drilling, use 1500 grit wet or dry paper to gently sand down the enclosure.
  2. Give the enclosure a thorough clean with warm soapy water
  3. Dry thoroughly, and wipe clean with paper towels
  4. Stick the enclosure in a spray box
  5. Apply Duplicolor adhesion promoter primer in 3 or more coats, first two coats light, third and fourth (etc.) a little more comprehensive, wait three minutes between coats. If you spray too much or not evenly enough you’ll get dull grey patches. When the enclosure is starting to look a ‘healthy’ kind of dull, you’ve done enough
  6. Leave enclosure to dry for a couple of days.
  7. Do the artwork with posca pens, leave for a couple of days to dry.
  8. Apply a couple of coats of matte Krylon to maintain the integrity of the colours. Leave it to dry in a warm, dry place, covered for a week (longer if possible).
  9. Apply Duplicolor gloss clear ceramic in 5 or 6 coats, first two coats thin, slowly applying slightly thicker coats as you go. Each coat ten minutes apart. Don’t exceed 1 hour total spray time.
  10. Place box of pedals in a warm dry place out of direct sunlight and leave to dry for at least a week. you’ll find it takes much longer than that for the smell to go away though.

Don’t forget to give all the sprays a good shake before use (at least 2 mins), and a smaller shake in between coats. Remember to read the instructions on the can carefully. Spray in a well ventilated area, away from direct sunlight.

 

I do pedals in batches of about 5 depending on size

Primer – one can is good for one batch.

Krylon – one can is good for one batch.

Duplicolor clear coat – two cans should be plenty, remember don’t overspray otherwise you’ll get gloopy sags.

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