Therefore, I bound fingerboards.
Still flat, they need to be sanded to a radius, but that will come later.
On to shaping the necks.
After a few days of no real work in the shop, I was able to get a few things done over the past few days.
Fit up my third dovetail neck. Paid close attention and used some quick gauges to make sure the angles were consistent. Best of the three. These will be final fit once the heels are carved.
Routed the slots for the truss rods. Made use of my binding fixture with a temporary fence.
Glued up some headstock veneer from scraps that came off the back material.
Trued up three rosewood fingerboards from the Martin wood stash. Made a new 24.75” scale template for my home made fret slotting fixture. Then proceeded to slot the boards.
Next step is tapering, sanding to radius and binding on the fretboards. Then on to thicknessing the headstocks and laminating on front and back veneers.
Ok, this was tough. Probably one of the most challenging things I’ve done so far.
The hand cut dove tail neck joint.
Started my making templates to lay out the pieces.
Marked the mortise on the body first.
Then cut and chiseled it out.
Other than the trepidation of taking a saw to a newly finished guitar body, this went pretty smoothly.
The neck then has to be cut at a slight angle to match the angle of the top, in this case about 2 degrees. Then, using the templates, I marked out the tail on the end of the neck. Cutting to these lines at two different angles is a bit tricky, but luckily they are supposed to be cut oversize and trimmed down to fit.
Then the fitting. This was the difficult part. Lots of different things to look for and consider before removing material anywhere. Dovetail needs to slide in tight and (1)the top of the neck must be flush with the body. (2)The neck has to be flat to the soundboard top and not twisted in either direction. (3)Neck has to be centered on the joint and the (4)center line from the neck must be aligned to the center line on the body, no angle left to right. (5)Then the shoulders, where the neck meets the body, must be flat with no gaps underneath. Shaving something in one spot could very well change what happens in 1 or more of the other critical areas.
So, got that, most of it went fine with a bit of thought. The flat shoulders were my real issue. Once I got the dovetail in and all the angles right, my shoulders needed to be improved. Got those touched up and the neck ended up down too far into the body. Ok, glued veneer to the tail, let it dry, then started fitting all over again.
Finally got it.
Not the cleanest thing, but I think it will work. For a first time, it went OK. I did learn a lot, which I should help on the next ones… make the shoulders perfectly flat first!
Jeez, did I just type that? And will I leave it in? If so, pardon me, I’m tired and delirious.
Necks. Yes. Almost there.
Bullet point list to reduce potential risk for bad puns:
– laminated 3 strips of mahogany for each neck board. Did that sometime earlier. Maybe when tops were drying?
– Laid out the board for scale length, etc… not exciting, picture a board with lines drawn on it.*
– Made a very fancy and elaborate jig for the band saw to cut a 14 degree scarf joint. I did the last ones with hand tools.
– Once cut, the cut pieces are placed on top of one another and trued up or flattened (being square is given in all these steps). Cut was smooth, so sandpaper worked pretty quickly to level everything. Hand plane is another way to go.
– Short piece of the scarf joint is flipped over and put under the longer side, thus making an angled peg head. Clamped and glued ON the bench. Use wax paper underneath to avoid gluing TO the bench.** Stops on the bench placed to keep the joint from sliding out of place.
– Excess length on the long end of the neck is cut down into shorter sections and stacked to make the heel. This is then glued into place at the proper spot.* Lots of things clamped down to keep things from sliding. Glue is surprisingly slippery.
– Neck blanks are ready to be cut to the proper angle to the body and dovetailed in. I’m not so ready. Need a fresh start for that. Also need to make dovetail templates.
* There is obviously a lot of detail skipped here. If you want to know how this works… don’t ask me. Read a book, research online, see how the pros do it, that’s what I do.
** I say this not because I actually glued something to my bench. Notice that I use clamp cauls in these glue ups. I usually have one side covered in clear tape to keep glue from sticking to it. I did have one of these flipped today. One stuck to the face of the one of the headstocks. Luckily there was little squeeze out and it knocked right off. I’m just cautioning…Don’t glue anything down to your bench!
Ok, stop typing and go to bed…
As much work as it is, I’m glad I do a few at a time. Each one I do, learn something that I apply to the next one before I forget it. For example, after the purfling goes on, I’ve really started to clean the binding ledges much better. Seems obvious, but its hard to determine what extents to go through with out a little trial and error. I started to use a scraper with a back light. My new motto is: if I can see the light, it won’t be tight. My new alternative motto is: if I can see a gap, it will look like crap. My pg-13 motto is: make it fit, or it will look like shit. Maybe I spend too much time by myself in the shop.
The binding and graft are done on the second flamed maple guitar. A pic of the channel mid-excavation is included for your viewing pleasure (yay, get excited).
Ledges and purfling are done on the third guitar, that’s the cherry one. Been kicking around several ideas for the graft. Just decided on a different one in the car this morning. Lots of little miters again. Cut it and installed this morning. Waiting for it to dry dry before continuing with binding, which I hope to finish this evening.
If all goes well, I should have all three cleaned up tomorrow. Minus sanding, which I will save for glue drying periods when I work on the necks.
Its a bit different than most, but I wanted to connect the rosewood purfling lines on the front and back. I used a strip in the center of the end graft to make the connection, rather than continuing the binding all the way around, as in a traditional binding scheme. Used a razor saw, chisel and router plane to excavate the the end channel. I’d have to imagine I was done before I could have devised a fixture to route it. One of the reasons I love hand tools… the binding ledges are a different story.
The first OO is all bound. Scraped down the bindings and purfling. Still need to sand everything. The scheme I had in mind was to mirror the rosette color scheme. Pretty happy with how it came out. Overall there were very few gaps. The gaps on my first guitar(s) were bigger and virtually disappeared after a bit of work on the finish, to the point where I can barely see them (believe me, I know exactly there they are).
Working on the second flamed maple guitar. I’ll probably do the same thing? Sometimes I change things in process. Not sure what I’ll do on the third yet, but I have some ideas.