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Author Topic:  Formica Replacement
Barry Yasika


From:
Bethlehem, Pa.
Post  Posted 8 Aug 2022 10:12 am    
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Is there a Emmons, Steel Guitar Cabinet Formica Zen out there that can either restore the original brilliance of the Formica, or replace it entirely? I love the color of my steel, Emmons, white top, bright red aprons but over the years its starting to look like an old kitchen counter top. I've tried rubbing compounds and polish but it just doesn't do what I'm looking for. Polishing aluminum is easy peasy but man trying to get that original "shiney new" texture back in the Formica is really a challenge.

Has anyone had this done? Is it necessary? Am I doing something wrong? If needed, What is replacement cost (ballpark)? Guess I could always just put up with it the way it is, I get a lot of positive comments on the two tone layout. I'm sure they're out there but to me mine is almost one of kind. Wood Grains, Black, White, Red, Blue and whatever just seem so ordinary and painfully redundant.

So thoughts? Experiences? By the way wrapping is out.
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Donny Hinson

 

From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 8 Aug 2022 11:24 am    
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The surface finish on Formica is far thinner than a sheet of paper, so you can't do too much polishing without losing the finish. Your choices are either to spray with a gloss topcoat, or replace the Formica.
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Barry Yasika


From:
Bethlehem, Pa.
Post  Posted 8 Aug 2022 1:23 pm     formica
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THanks Tommy, would it be worth using an ultra lite sand paper or steel wool to smooth it out first?
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Bobby D. Jones

 

From:
West Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 8 Aug 2022 8:31 pm    
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I have owned 2 white Formica MSA steels. Certain stains seem to want to soak into the finish. Never use abrasives like steel wool or sand paper on Formica.

The white Formica had stains on 1 of the guitars. Smelled like an old ash tray. I used a paste of Baking Soda and Water, Put on let set 5 minutes wiped off, Wiped with clean wet cloth, Dried and polished with car wax. Be careful near seams water may hurt glue.

Good Luck in making it look pretty and shiney,
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Bill Ferguson


From:
Milton, FL USA
Post  Posted 9 Aug 2022 5:47 am    
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Being in the cabinet business for 30 years, I used my share of laminate (Formica).
The number one question from homeowners was "how do I get stains off Formica"

My number one answer was "you can't"

Once the "super thin" top layer of paper is scratched or stained, you can only clean it. Some use bleach, but after a while, bleach will eat through the top layer.

Once damaged, it is unrepairable. Period.

You can "mask" coat the finish with any good non-abrasive wax, but that is about it.

And if you have used a compound cleaner, you added more fuel to the fire, so to speak.

Replacing the Formica is a big job and should be done by a professional if you want the finished product to look as good as the original. It is tedious work, especially with the aluminum trim pieces (which you will probably need to replace).

Not trying to discourage you, but unless you just can't live with it, leave it alone. Stained Formica does not affect the tone/playability of the steel.

In fact, changing the Formica could alter the tone of the steel, albeit every so slightly.

Just my thoughts.
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Ron Whitworth


From:
Yuma,Ariz.USA Yeah they say it's a DRY heat !!
Post  Posted 9 Aug 2022 7:00 am    
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Maybe look into putting what is known as a wrap on it.
Just another way to go.
My best to you.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 9 Aug 2022 4:39 pm     Re: formica
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Barry Yasika wrote:
Thanks Tommy, would it be worth using an ultra lite sand paper or steel wool to smooth it out first?


If you think it looks bad now just wait and see how bad it will get after sanding! Shocked Whoa! Laughing

It's easy to replace Formica. It's hard to take apart a push pull and put it back together right and have it playable.
There are several guys on the forum who do specialize in Emmons Steels and could do it, but it won't be cheap.

A better option...
Maybe save up a little extra cash. Sell you Emmons at a good price as per condition and buy one in better shape for those extra saved $$$ Very Happy
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Barry Yasika


From:
Bethlehem, Pa.
Post  Posted 10 Aug 2022 12:17 am     Fromica Replacement
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I just double checked and maybe it's not as bad as I thought😊 and I don't think the Formica looks all that bad. Probably better to leave it the way it is, it's not cracked or chipped up, no discernable scratches that I can see so - I guess good is good enough Smile
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Greg Duncan

 

From:
Florida, USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2022 3:24 am     Formica
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Wrap the guitar in vinyl wrap
Like they do on cars
You will have hundreds of Choices
I have some results on guitars
It looks really good
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Flip Brown


From:
Vermont, USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2022 6:46 am    
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I wrapped my 2004 MSA Milly. You have to look very closely to see where there are some tiny gaps or wrinkles, but I love the way it turned out. I used the 3M 2080 Carbon Fiber vinyl, and there are tons of colors available. The whole process took me about an hour and a half, once I took the strings and pad off. I bought a kit on eBay that included all the tools as well. When I purchased it I paid $49.95 but i see the price has gone up to $62. https://www.ebay.com/itm/133923566972

Attached are the before and after pics.



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Chris Lucker

 

From:
Los Angeles, California USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2022 7:45 am    
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At least with the black semi gloss and gloss horizontal grade Formica brand mica, the color is thicker than paper thin if you use the correct mica -- the fire retardant version. Also the backing is dark rather than white. That is the correct mica for the Early Emmons guitars. Still, it is important to note that the range of the horizontal grade solid color mica is something like 0.046" - 0.052" or 0.048" - 0.056" (it is on the website) The difference in thickness is more or less color.
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Chris Lucker
Red Bellies, Bigsbys and a lot of other guitars.


Last edited by Chris Lucker on 11 Aug 2022 7:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post  Posted 11 Aug 2022 7:47 am    
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Yes, replacing mica is a really big job, especially the top plates. I have done 4 or 5 and it is a time consuming tedious job but can be done. Also finding the same thickness mica is almost impossible. Mica now day is much thinner. Original was about .055 and closest I’ve found is .044. May be some out there but I didn’t find it. I’d just leave it alone.gives it character, lol. I’ve opted to never do another too.
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Henry Matthews

D-10 1992 Mullen Pre RP, 8 & 6
D-10 1974 Emmons cut tail, fat back,rosewood, 8&5
Nashville 112 amp, Fishman Loudbox Performer amp, Hilton pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings. No effects, doodads or stomp boxes.
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Alan Struthers

 

From:
New Jersey, USA
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2022 7:25 am     Vinyl link
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The link for 3M vinyl wrap that Flip Brown posted didn't work for me. Here's what I found:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/255346550271?hash=item3b73d725ff:g:FgYAAOSwgvVij9-C

Lots of nice color choices!
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania and Gallatin, Tennessee
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2022 8:11 am    
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The problem with the earlier ebay link was the period at the end. I fixed it, and it now works - or repeated here - https://www.ebay.com/itm/133923566972

It looks like the difference between the two (besides the price) is the tool kit.
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Flip Brown


From:
Vermont, USA
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2022 10:15 am    
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Thanks, Alan and Dave for fixing the link. I won't ask you to fix my steel if it needs it!
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post  Posted 13 Aug 2022 4:29 pm    
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Do (Did?) pedal steel guitar builders mostly use Formica brand laminate?
What about Wilsonart brand of laminate?
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Jack Stoner


From:
New Port Richey (Tampa) Florida
Post  Posted 14 Aug 2022 2:07 am    
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Lee Baucum wrote:
Do (Did?) pedal steel guitar builders mostly use Formica brand laminate?
What about Wilsonart brand of laminate?


The laminate on my (82) Franklin was "Nevamar" brand.
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Chris Lucker

 

From:
Los Angeles, California USA
Post  Posted 14 Aug 2022 9:35 pm    
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Henry Matthews wrote:
Yes, replacing mica is a really big job, especially the top plates. I have done 4 or 5 and it is a time consuming tedious job but can be done. Also finding the same thickness mica is almost impossible. Mica now day is much thinner. Original was about .055 and closest I’ve found is .044. May be some out there but I didn’t find it. I’d just leave it alone.gives it character, lol. I’ve opted to never do another too.

If you choose not to use the correct mica, is thinner mica a problem? Shim it. Geez.. Sorry you faced such a crisis.
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Chris Lucker
Red Bellies, Bigsbys and a lot of other guitars.
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post  Posted 14 Aug 2022 11:00 pm    
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Chris Lucker wrote:
Henry Matthews wrote:
Yes, replacing mica is a really big job, especially the top plates. I have done 4 or 5 and it is a time consuming tedious job but can be done. Also finding the same thickness mica is almost impossible. Mica now day is much thinner. Original was about .055 and closest I’ve found is .044. May be some out there but I didn’t find it. I’d just leave it alone.gives it character, lol. I’ve opted to never do another too.

If you choose not to use the correct mica, is thinner mica a problem? Shim it. Geez.. Sorry you faced such a crisis.


The thinner wasn’t a problem Chris, less than .010 difference counting both front and back apron together to fit endplates. Not enough to even see unless you really look close. I have replaced all mica on about 5 guitars and even though they look good, it is a very tedious job, especially that little thin piece between necks which I usually try to leave if in good shape unless I’m changing color of guitar. Also, getting old mica off can be a real pain. The older Emmons guitars, 60’s and very early 70’s come off easy with little heat but late 70’s are a different story. Don’t know what kind of glue they used but it’s really a job to remove. Maybe you know what glue they changed to. Did a Zum also and mica came off easy on it.was an early Zum, 79 I think.
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Henry Matthews

D-10 1992 Mullen Pre RP, 8 & 6
D-10 1974 Emmons cut tail, fat back,rosewood, 8&5
Nashville 112 amp, Fishman Loudbox Performer amp, Hilton pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings. No effects, doodads or stomp boxes.
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Chris Lucker

 

From:
Los Angeles, California USA
Post  Posted 14 Aug 2022 11:18 pm    
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The top decks were pressed with heat. The rest of the cabinet really does not matter if you take apart the guitar (double neck) and put it together correctly. Put one neck into the endplates. Then the other. Spread the endplates wings as far sosrt as spreader pressure allows. Then install the few center screws and the control panel. Let the control panel do its work. Then the cross shafts.
All parts of an Emmons are designed to keep the guitar straight. It is not a cabinet you add stuff to.
If your mics is smaller, make up for it when you spread apart the cabinet necks. No problem unless you think the cabinet is supposed to be fastened down the middle. Think, as Buddy Emmons did, Bigsby. Or early Sho-Bud or DALAND or Wright.
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Chris Lucker
Red Bellies, Bigsbys and a lot of other guitars.
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post  Posted 15 Aug 2022 10:13 pm    
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Putting body back together on a guitar is a no brainer really because the screw hole already there but the cabinet I built, I did what you’d were talking about by driillin screws to hold
Cabinet together. By clamping aprons to upend plate end plates to assure tight fit before I drilled hole to join cabinet came out good.
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Henry Matthews

D-10 1992 Mullen Pre RP, 8 & 6
D-10 1974 Emmons cut tail, fat back,rosewood, 8&5
Nashville 112 amp, Fishman Loudbox Performer amp, Hilton pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings. No effects, doodads or stomp boxes.
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Chris Lucker

 

From:
Los Angeles, California USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2022 2:17 pm    
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Henry, I don't mean clamp aprons to endplates. That is a passive way to simply fit the cabinet into the endplates.
Reverse the clamps to make them spreaders and spread apart the ears of the aprons and then fit each neck -- individually -- to each of the apron ears. Then you are likely going to need to drill new holes for the center cabinet screws, which are not there to keep the cabinet together, but to keep the two necks as far apart as possible after the spreaders are released from the endplate ears. The same purpose of the control panel -- keep the juncture of the two necks straight and spread apart. If your wood has shrunk over the years, new center holes and endplate tab holes will be necessary.
The real point here is that the center screw holes don't hold the cabinet together -- they keep the two top decks spears apart after the tension of the spread endplate ears is released. This is also why endplates should be cast and not machined from billet. If you spread endplates machined from stock they will simply keep bending and will not return to their original shape after the spreader pressure is released. Cast endplates will resist bending.
I know some guitar companies design their cabinets to be glued down the center and permanently joined and this was the mistake John Fabian made in his guide to "restoring" a push pull. That was Emmons #5 in the video, unfortunately. He glued the cabinet together and simply added the endplates, which is why they fell off the guitar when the mounting screws were removed. No tension whatsoever. In the video, Fabian was proud that he is reapplying the original mica on the guitar and proceeds to show us his using a laminate trimmer to remove the excess mica. I guess the question never entered his mind that if he is reusing the original mica, why did it need trimming? He did not know to spread the cabinet in the endplates.
Why didn't he?
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Chris Lucker
Red Bellies, Bigsbys and a lot of other guitars.
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Henry Matthews


From:
Texarkana, Ark USA
Post  Posted 17 Aug 2022 2:32 pm    
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It’s strange that you’re saying spread the endplates because the 78 that I built a new cabinet for, that’s exactly how I fit cabinet to end plates. I used a little spreader I made with some all thread and turn buckles to spread the cabinet into end plates before I put screws to join cabinets. It was pretty tight too. Thanks for all the info Chris. I saw that Emmons restore video once, yes, quit an experience.
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Henry Matthews

D-10 1992 Mullen Pre RP, 8 & 6
D-10 1974 Emmons cut tail, fat back,rosewood, 8&5
Nashville 112 amp, Fishman Loudbox Performer amp, Hilton pedal, BJS bar, Kyser picks, Live steel Strings. No effects, doodads or stomp boxes.
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Chris Lucker

 

From:
Los Angeles, California USA
Post  Posted 18 Aug 2022 3:43 pm    
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I should have fabricated all-thread spreaders as you describe. I bought a pair of looong clamps that I only use for spreading and it was kind of a waste. I use a wall-mounted clamp setup for clamping thetabinet/endplates lengthwise.
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Chris Lucker
Red Bellies, Bigsbys and a lot of other guitars.
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