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Homemade tips for stripping lacquer?

Yanno

Member
Messages
119
Hi everyone-
I can't remember if i've already posted about this question...
But, ive been reading up about un-lacquering a sax and was wondering if anyone has any tips for doing it at home and on a budget- remember im a poor student :(

It's an alto- with the lacquer already coming off in places, and i just prefer the vintage look given from an un-lacquered sax.
Ive been reading on some other webpage's and chatting with a trumpeter friend of mine who's trying to strip his trumpet with over cleaner. Sounds risky but i dont know if it may work?
I also read that metal stripper may do it.

Im only thinking about doing the body- ill remove all the key's. (Have experience doing this from servicing and minor repairs so no trouble there)

Got any suggestions?
Many Thanks again
Yanni
 

teebones

Member
Subscriber
Messages
203
Hi everyone-
I can't remember if i've already posted about this question...
But, ive been reading up about un-lacquering a sax and was wondering if anyone has any tips for doing it at home and on a budget- remember im a poor student :(

It's an alto- with the lacquer already coming off in places, and i just prefer the vintage look given from an un-lacquered sax.
Ive been reading on some other webpage's and chatting with a trumpeter friend of mine who's trying to strip his trumpet with over cleaner. Sounds risky but i dont know if it may work?
I also read that metal stripper may do it.

Im only thinking about doing the body- ill remove all the key's. (Have experience doing this from servicing and minor repairs so no trouble there)

Got any suggestions?
Many Thanks again
Yanni

Hi Yanni,
I won a Beacon Tenor Sax on ebay last November complete with a well worn mouthpiece for £62. :w00t:

The sax has lacquer wear and pitting.

I intend to strip the sax down and the body will be bead blasted, ( By Me )
As the key work and rods are chrome plate they are in very good condition.

I will be blasting the neck crook in the near future to see what the results are
if you are interested will keep you or anyone else posted.

!B70DpVgCGk~$(KGrHqV,!icEzN7Zi)eTBM1W1HRRb!~~_12.jpg

Pic of the Beacon Tenor Sax

Tony (teebones) :mrcool
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,666
Bead Blasting!!! Oven cleaner!!! What drugs are you guys currently talking? Sorry!!

Try using good old fashioned Nitromors. I used it on my Dearman and it did the job beautifully! Although I've not completed the rebuild, the body looks beautiful. I keep handling it so that it "ages" slowly and evenly.
Yanno, when you take it apart, take loads of close up pictures and put all the parts in zip style plastic sandwich bags. That way you can keep clusters of bits together. When your applying the stripper watch out for the springs. You will be prone to catching and breaking them, or more painfully, sticking them through your fingers .....ouch!!!!
Once you've stripped the lacquer you'll need a rough pad of some sort. Some people use fine wire wool, I used a fine scotch pad (used in the automotive paint spraying business) to remove the remaining gold colour and reveal the bare brass. When it's stripped, some people give it a coating of bees wax just to seal it (you can end up with green blotches caused by your saliva otherwise)
 

Yanno

Member
Messages
119
thanks guys for the help
i think im going to go with the nirtomor's- oven cleaner never sounded like a safe bet!
it should be interesting and i can't wait to start it.
Ill carefully photograph it like you said Taz- i may also post the before and after on the forum.
I'm also thinking of doing it to an arta guban tenor (bought on the forum)
Thanks for the input again.
p.s- i like the look of dearman's- if i ever found one- id snap it up!
Yanni.
 

teebones

Member
Subscriber
Messages
203
Bead Blasting!!! Oven cleaner!!! What drugs are you guys currently talking? Sorry!!

Try using good old fashioned Nitromors. I used it on my Dearman and it did the job beautifully! Although I've not completed the rebuild, the body looks beautiful. I keep handling it so that it "ages" slowly and evenly.
Yanno, when you take it apart, take loads of close up pictures and put all the parts in zip style plastic sandwich bags. That way you can keep clusters of bits together. When your applying the stripper watch out for the springs. You will be prone to catching and breaking them, or more painfully, sticking them through your fingers .....ouch!!!!
Once you've stripped the lacquer you'll need a rough pad of some sort. Some people use fine wire wool, I used a fine scotch pad (used in the automotive paint spraying business) to remove the remaining gold colour and reveal the bare brass. When it's stripped, some people give it a coating of bees wax just to seal it (you can end up with green blotches caused by your saliva otherwise)



Do not know about Oven cleaner, but I do know about Bead Blasting >:) as for the drugs must have got them from my last 50 years in a engineering machine shop.

And do know that wire wool will impregnate the brass, which will then go rusty, and even the finest scotch pad removes metal all be it microns :w00t:,where as plastic beads don't ;} .also the added plus it gets in all the nooks and grannies.

Sorry Taz if you think it sacrilege. but that is the reason I bought the sax.

If Bead Blasting is good enough for stainless steel medical equipment it's going to be ok for the old Beacon Tenor Sax which cost £62 :))) even if I am left with a load of sax shaped brass.:crying:

The plus side is several local brass band members are taking a lot of interest in the project.

Tony (teebones):mrcool
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Bead blasting should be OK, just clean it properly afterwards. But.... brass is a lot softer than stainless.
The frosted finish on the old Conn's etc. was from sandblasting the body, and that must have removed quite a lot of metal. But I've never heard anyone complain about their sound - just guys complaining about thin bodies/sound after a badly done relacquer.

On the disassembly/reassembly, watch for rods that are almost the same length, these will really catch you out when you put it back together. However much better to put every rod back where it came from - and each point screw back in it's original hole. I don't know tha make, but if it's a cheapo, they may have been filed to get the sax to fit together, and if you mix them up it'll really be a nightmare.

I'd also make sure you've got proper instructions on regulation. You're bound to be losing corks and felts on a project like this. Stephen Howard's Haynes manual is very good. And there's also good stuff on cybersax.com and musicmedic.com.
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,666
Yanni, good luck with it, I'll be interested to see and hear the finished results.
Tony, I know nothing about bead blasting and had no idea you could use plastic beads, but you have to agree that it does sound a bit drastic! I wonder, as Kev points out, if it would be too harsh as brass is a soft material. A more gentle approach like Nitromors may be a better solution. AS you say, you bought the sax for this purpose so again I wish you luck and I'll be interested in seeing how your sax fairs.... Maybe we can share a box of hankies at it's demise :crying: :verysad :)))
 

Yanno

Member
Messages
119
Bead Blasting and sand blasting though is a longer and generally more expensive process?- is it really worth it for a £62 saxophone?

this was going to be an ongoing project- with the rebuild taking up most of my time- but after i've re-built it im taking it straight to my repairer to give it a once over and a service.
The tenor that i may do it to aswell is fairly solidly built- some people have compared them to a Mark IV and Keliwerth's, all rod's and screw's are original and it doesnt look as though it's been a cut and shut job.
If anything were to go wrong and the sax were ruined then i would learn from my mistakes- this is not my main sax afterall- i wouldnt risk it on my alto.

If i knew someone who could do it locally for £50 or so then i would ship it off to them- it's a shame there isnt anyone though who could do it.

The more i think about it- and the comment's im getting- it sounds like a risky job, but surely it's worth the experience?
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,912
Whatever you do, dont bead blast a brass instrument! at best you will alter the tone...at worst you will distort the brass, either way you will ruin the sax, take it from somebody who knows what he's doing and has been in the business for the last 27 years!

If you must strip the finish use Nitromors (the paint version not the varnish stuff) diluted 50% by voluum with cold water, heavy duty gloves and some kitchen scouring pads, (not the wire wool kind) and plenty of hot water for washing off.

Good look!
 

Yanno

Member
Messages
119
In fairness- sand blasting has ruined some alloy's of our's- so think what it would do to my sax.
I think nitromors is the safest option- and finger's crossed i can build it back together.

Thanks for the help Fraser.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Fraser is absolutely right, the impact of the beads will harden the brass and alter the tone. Use Nitromors!
On a cheap sax you may not worry about it, but don't do it to anything half decent.

I can't see the reason for doing it. Saxes are for playing, not for gazing at!
Also there is the decrease in value, if not original finish.

John
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,924
A lot of work!! I don't care about the outside of my saxes. Always nice to have a "looker" but I prefer a "player". After you have stripped the sax you should have a protecting coat as well. Clearlaquer, or something. I think that's the correct way to take care of your sax.

Thomas
 

teebones

Member
Subscriber
Messages
203
In my post I did say Bead Blast not Sand Blast.:w00t:

The medium used in Bead Blasting depends on the metal which is going to be Blasted,
there is no point going into the if's and maybe's on the process of bead blasting on the forum,as I do not intend to do any bead blasting for other people,this is a project I am trying for my own personal use, (may send the the finished sax to Pete Thomas when finished in several years time to see if the tone has be altered).:)))

There are other projects in the pipeline with regards to mouthpieces for saxophones and other brass instruments aided via the use of CNC mills and lathes.


Having now retired I do not think time will allow me to get to a professional or buskers level of playing the saxophone.:)))

Saxophonists play Saxophones.:rolleyes: Engineers machine and mould metal.>:)

In the future I hope to morph from one to t'other.!!>:)
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,435
I had a little try at glass bead blasting an old sax (no value)in an attempt to short cut polishing it but it didn't work but left a matt finish which was not what I was trying for but none the less an attractive finish which I considered could have been matt lacquered on top of and would have given a nice antique look,as far as tone change I've always thought that whatever you do to a sax will probably alter the tone in one way or another and as long as you like the finished tone what the heck.As for the value issue how do you decrease the value of something that's no worth two bob to start with,and if you enjoy messing with something then why not and experimentation can be very enlightening and fun. best of luck....john

ps Taz it's about time you got stuck into the Dearman
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,435
Do not know about Oven cleaner, but I do know about Bead Blasting >:) as for the drugs must have got them from my last 50 years in a engineering machine shop.

And do know that wire wool will impregnate the brass, which will then go rusty, and even the finest scotch pad removes metal all be it microns :w00t:,where as plastic beads don't ;} .also the added plus it gets in all the nooks and grannies.

Sorry Taz if you think it sacrilege. but that is the reason I bought the sax.

If Bead Blasting is good enough for stainless steel medical equipment it's going to be ok for the old Beacon Tenor Sax which cost £62 :))) even if I am left with a load of sax shaped brass.:crying:

The plus side is several local brass band members are taking a lot of interest in the project.

Tony (teebones):mrcool

You seem to know a fair bit about this stripping lark, is plastic beads the key rather than glass and your point about wire wool impregnating the brass is something I hadn't considered and is probably right because one sax that I stripped and polished using wire wool is showing signs of a red corrosion here and there which I hadn't expected, although there is talk of saxes getting RED ROT which I thought was due to impurities in the brass of the sax any way all very interesting...john

one more thought I know you can polish brass by putting it in a large vibrating drum filled with a polishing medium has any body come across this process
 
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MMM

Senior Member
Messages
947
All very interesting. I have stripped saxes using nitromors and it is not a pretty job, even with a double layer of safety gloves I sort of ruined my skin (it all grew back, but looked a bit cracked for weeks!).

Another chemical to experiment with is Cillit bang: left on lacquer long enough, it'll remove it, I, ahem, found out by mistake.

One thing I will experiment with one of these days, is vinegar: much more user and environment friendly, but because it is milder, it takes around 48 hours to achieve any results. I have read that to reach all places in the same way and without needing a deep tank with several gallons of the stuff, it would be enough to wrap the sax in some cloth and then pour vinegar over it (obviously still in a decent size tank / old baby bath).

I think it's worth a try, and can always use any leftovers for chips!

Cheers,
M.
 
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