Monthly Archives: November 2015

If you go cheap, you might as well stay home

Can’t I just buy one bulb and put it a few feet away?

I get this question a lot, surprisingly. People don’t want to buy a $5000 to $10,000 curing rig, but also don’t want to spend $100. You have to be realistic when you are designing a curing rig, and be willing to spent at least a little money or you won’t get the results you want. Most curing rigs needs 4 to 16 lights, meaning a cost of $280 to $1000, but this includes the lamps, ballasts and lamp holders. it can be done a little cheaper if you use off the shelf fixtures, which will be slower, but still work. Where you don’t want to skimp is the number of lamps you use, because that affects more than time, it affects quality of cure.

You can buy twelve Solacure Curall curing lamps for $360, power it with $180 worth of F32 fixtures from Home Depot, and have one hell of a rig. It won’t be super fast, but it will be fast enough, and for under $600 have a rig that will cover guitar bodies, or necks, or violins. Or for $200 you have a rig for curing pool cues or fishing lures. For another $100-$200, you can have one that does it industrial speed and has twice the life of the regular lamps. You don’t have spend thousands, but you have to be willing to spend a few hundred if you want a serious curing rig fit for at least part time use.

When you cure an item, you need enough lamps that it effectively covers the entire item. Let me give you an example using the easiest thing in the world to cure, a 2ft x 2ft flat piece of material. If you use one bulb, you would have to be about 2 feet from the item in order to have any semblance of even coverage, meaning the ends are about as far away as the middle. Using the Pythagorean Theorem, that puts us at about 2.25 feet away from the edges and 2 foot from the center, a difference of about 12%, which is acceptable. Any lower, and the reflector will prevent the edges from getting much of any light, so the middle cures, but it fades out to the ends, which won’t cure at all.

Let’s compare this with an optimum distance of 3 inches away. Using the Inverse Square Law, this means that the amount of light hitting any cubic inch of board at 2 feet vs 3 inches, gets 1/64th as much power. Yes, it takes 64x longer to cure. A 3 to 5 minute cure is now 192 to 320 minutes. Three to five hours. Going cheap and using 4 lamps would let us do this cure in about 10-15 minutes (see notes below), using 8 lamps and we are back to our 3 to 5 minute range. It is fine to go cheap, but if you go too cheap, you shoot yourself in the foot.

Generally speaking, you can keep your project as close to the lamps as the lamps are apart. Lamps that are 6 inches apart can support having the project 6 inches from the lamps. Going over 6 inches means you quickly and radically decrease the effective power, and enter the realm of wasting your time.

It is better to use more lamps in cheap fixtures than it is to have just a couple of lamps in high output fixtures. The total number of lamps is more important than the wattage you put to each lamp. It might not be intuitive or obvious at first sight, but trust me, this has been tested over and over again. Most of my testing is done with 6 to 8 lamps run in lower power mode, simply to show what you can do at the lowest power level, and I’ve tested UV lamps for curing more than anyone I know. The more sources of UV, the better, every time. The smaller the distance to the UV source, the better, every time.

So if you have to skimp, skimp on the power and don’t skimp on the number of lamps. This will guarantee you have the best coverage, even coverage that will let your project cure evenly, without any wierd artifacts. It will also let you put the lamps closer and guarantee a cure time that is much easier to live with.


Notes: 4 lamps at 7 inches apart covers the area, 7 inches from the material is just over twice, so the power is reduced by 80%, but you have overlamp from other lamps (compounding the Inverse Square Law) so you end up closer to 50% to 60% of the original power per square inch, thus 10-15 minutes). The Inverse Square Law is based on a single point of light, and the mathemetics get exponentially complicated as you add sources of light, to the point of no longer being applicable, if you add enough lights. If you are turning the item in front of a flat panel of lamps, the math also gets tricky, but distance is still your enemy.

2014 Fender Nashville


I’ve been looking for one of these for some time now, the Nashville Deluxe with ash body, which means a Honey Blonde finish as the others are alder bodies. To find one cheap enough used, I had to buy it blind, but once it got here, I have to say I’m not disappointed. It is in perfect condition and the ash slabs seem to line up nicely. This is another I expect to strip then age down, again showing what can be done with ash, but this time on a pre-existing body. To be honest, it is cheaper to buy the whole guitar and strip it down rather than buy it in parts, so it makes financial sense. If you are looking to refinish a solid color and use a UV cure over the color, then the ash and aging doesn’t really matter, but for this demonstration, it does. It will probably be late next year before I can get around to this project, but wanted to just tease you a bit.

And yes, I love the Nashville guitar. Mexican made, but has the three pickups and the wider US style neck, at 1 11/16ths inch. I expect to also swap out some hardware and pickups as well, just to make it a fun little guitar. UV curing shouldn’t be this fun 🙂


Barncaster Number 3


This one came out interesting after a few coats of surfboard finish and some aging. It actually uses 6 boards, and is made from the same barn wood as the one below. I have too many projects, so I have this one listed for sale at to the best offer. Weighs 4.45 pounds empty, which is right in the sweet spot. More on it later.


Fender Telecaster Prototype #2 begins

Prototype Telecaster #2Here’s the before shot of the Fender Telecaster Prototype #2. I bought a couple of these bodies about a year ago, made out of 100 year old barn wood, so there is some street cred to them. The control plate is just like Leo Fender’s first prototype, although it is aluminum. I’m not sure what Leo used, might have been aluminum as well. The pickguard is an old LP record, so that is authentic to the original. I don’t show it here, but I added a generic vintage bridge plate, something that looks somewhat similar to what Leo would have used. And now the aging begins. This one will be aged with the hardware on, to show the difference before and after, and to make it look more authentic. This one already has some color, and is made from very different looking pine boards, so will have an even rougher look when completed.

The plan is to age it fairly well, up to a week on each side, but using my lower power rig (8 lamps x 32w each), hardware on. Then I’m going to test some new stain on some blank wood, what is called “Picking stain”, which looks kind of like white wash. It should show the wood through the white finish, but you never know until you try. The original Telecaster was painted white, so this isn’t completely original, but the “white blonde” look is still a popular finish. I expect to finish it off with just a coat or two of UV cure sealer, no hard finish, so the real sound comes through. This will let it breath and continue to age. I may just prewire it with some decent electronics and sell it off to a lucky buyer once I’m done. I can’t keep them all, and unique projects like this should be actually used by musicians.