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During the French polishing of the last three or four of my guitars, I've had the skin on my fingers eventually slough off and peel away to leave tender new skin. After the first time it happened, I tried protecting my hands with latex gloves, then vinyl, and then nitrile gloves, all to no avail.

I was puzzled because this hadn't happened to me in the previous 4-5 years of French polishing guitars. Thinking back over it, the only thing that changed was my vendor for denatured alcohol. I originally had used some product from a local paint shop that was ~95% ethanol and the rest methanol. My problems began when that shop closed and I switched to the Ace Hardware product. I looked up the MSDS online and found out that it only has ~45% ethanol but has a whopping 45% or so of methanol. I was shocked and dismayed. Okay, ;and felt a little stupic.

So, for the latest guitar, I used some Hock denatured alcohol that I bought at Woodcraft. It has 98% ethanol and only 2% methanol and I had absolutely no problems with skin peeling, etc.

Lesson: beware of gross methanol exposure and know what you're drinking.

Bob

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Thank you Bob for warning us!
Yep, Bob, I noted this problem many years ago and now keep glass between alcohol and my fingers - but I have noted that extended use of this procedure in dark unventilated taverns can cause headaches and nausea.........Rusty. P.S. Bob, thank you for your kind offer in a previous post and it goes without saying that our humble house is your house should you revisit our fine shores.
My sincere thanks, Rusty. I raise my glass to that day.

Cheers,
Bob
The way I get around this problem is by making my own ethanol. When making whisky the first few ounces from the still are called the 'heads' and are discarded because of the small chance of some methanol being in it. I save these heads and use them for french polishing. No skin problems yet, but I can't vouch for the condition of my liver.
Oh, you're not supposed to drink the heads? More things make sense now. Isn't AT&F under Homeland Security now?

Bob
"Honest Officer, it really is paint stripper!" he said as they put him into the squad car.

Ned

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