Box Finish in a Day
Patience is not one of my virtues. In fact, I'm
running a little short in the overall virtues
department. But patience is the big one for me. When it
comes to finishing stompboxes, I have tried all sorts of
paints, sprays, decals, labels, paint pens, hammers,
etc. They all turned out like crap and took way too
After a long set of trial and error events,
punctuated by voluminous profanities, I have finally
perfected my Beavis "Box in a Day" technique. Folks have
asked about it so I thought it would make sense to post
it here as a list.
Note that there are thousands of variations on
finishing techniques--mine is not revolutionary nor will
it guarantee 100% professional results. But it strikes
the balance between good looks and a lack of patience.
- Drill all the holes you need in the enclosure
- Use sandpaper to smooth off any burrs or sharp
- Wipe down the box with Acetone and paper towels.
This will make sure it is clean.
- Paint it with a light coat of spray paint. I now
exclusively use Rustoleum because it is idiot proof.
- Pop it in your dedicated pedal-baking toaster
oven for 30 minutes at 150�F.
DO NOT USE ANY OVEN THAT IS USED IN THE PREPARATION
OF FOOD. THE RESULTING FUMES WILL BAKE ON TO THE
INTERIOR OF THE OVEN AND CONTINUE TO LEACH TOXIC
NASTINESS INTO SUBSEQUENT RE-HEATS.
get a used toaster oven for around 5 bucks. Don't
cheap out on this step. Don't cheat with your wife's
toaster oven. Not even once.
Pop it out of the oven with
gloves and let it cool for 10 minutes
Repeat 4-6 until you have
good color coverage.
Graphics and finishing
My box in a day method uses inkjet photo glossy white
sticker paper. I get the house brand at Office Depot.
- Print the graphic on white gloss sticker paper
on an inkjet printer. Make sure your labeling lines
up with the holes you drilled. A good trick is to
first print your design on a regular piece of paper.
Cut it to size and tape it on top of the enclosure.
Use your finger to push down on the paper. This will
leave dimples where the holes are, making it easier
to get things aligned.
- Let it dry for ten minutes. Stick it on the box.
- Clear coat the entire box, label and all, with
Minwax Clear Gloss Polyurethane out of a can using a
- Immediately throw it in the toaster oven at 150
F for 30 minutes
- Take it out, see if it is still tacky. If so
immediately bake for another 30 minutes.
- Repeat steps 3-5 until you've got a nice thick
- By now it is usually dry and ready to work.
- Cover the enclosure with blue painters tape to
protect the finish/label
- Populate the the box.
- Remove the blue tape.
- Wipe down the box with slightly damp paper
towels to remove grease and oils
- 2-3 coats of Carnuba car wax, buff until you're
Note that the poly will slightly permeate the label
using this process. White's will become slightly "aged"
looking. Overall the effect is very nice. If you want to
spray on some clear coat on the label before brushing on
the poly, that may work but I haven't personally tried
The best part is that is simple, repeatable, and you can
turn around a box in a single day.
Some Great Links for Finishing etc.
Fuzzdawg posted some great info on the
buildyourownclone messageboards. Thanks fuzz!
Paul Marossy has a great page on his DIYGuitarist.com
R.G. Keen's Geofex site has pretty much covered every
aspect of stompbox building and has some good info on
the finishing touch.
Got more links? Let me know and I'll add them.