Acoustic Guitar Build

Finishing the Body

After another 2 or 3 bodying sessions I let the body harden for a week. When I came back to it, I gave the guitar a good looking over with fresh eyes, and was still happy with the coverage of the shellac, so it was time to move on.

‘Spiriting off’

The olive oil that I used during polishing now needed to be removed from the surface by ‘spiriting off’.

Spiriting off needs a new ‘rubber’ that is kept free from oil. The rubber is cotton wool wrapped in a well used cotton sheet (as for the polishing rubber).


This rubber is used almost dry, with a small amount of very diluted shellac (in the bottle on the left in the photo above). The surface is worked in the direction of the grain, removing the oil and smoothing out any residual marks – it takes a surprising amount of pressure that tails away as the pad dries out, leaving a beautiful surface.

It only needed a few sessions before I thought that I’d got it as good as I was likely to, and I put the body to one side for the finish to harden off again.


I gave the body a week to harden, and then polished and waxed it. I followed Sr. Requena’s lead and used Mer car polish, but then used Collinite wax (because I happened to have both)


I’m really pleased with the way the finish came up. There are plenty of flaws in it, but I have to go looking for them. Being shellac, all the flaws should be curable, but one needs to draw the line somewhere – you could spend forever getting it perfect but it’s an instrument made to be played, not looked at, so it will inevitably pick up more marks. At the moment, I’d rate it as ‘good’ to ‘very good’. Most of the people I’ve shown it to have asked if they can touch it…


(Small dog for scale)

The rosewood looks *really* nice under the shellac, even if I say so myself.