Neck shaping

Made a neck carving fixture. Got the idea from another luthier online.
It’s nice because you can clamp it horizontal to work on the fretboard edges.

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Then it clamps vertical in the vise and keeps it high enough to use a spokeshave.

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Got one neck pretty close. Need to drill the tuners and final sand before I put it on the guitar.

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Then two more necks to catch up on.

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Necks and fingerboards

Made a prototype adjustable radius sanding block. Had to figure out how to radius these fretboards.

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 It worked well.  Sanded the fretboards down to 120.  I made a second block at the same time.  A bit more low profile.  I put 220 paper on there for use when everything is on the guitar.

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I have the headstocks thinned down and the veneers on all three.  They are all in semi different stages of preliminary carving.  The heel is the only thing that really needs to be pretty close at this point, just so the neck can be fit once more before the fretboard is attached.  Final carving won’t get done until the fingerboards are on.

I need to figure out what to do for the side markers.  Once they’re done, a fretboard can go on at least one of the necks.  The rest to follow shortly after.

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I just couldn’t resist laying one of the fingerboards on as I was checking the neck fit.  Seeing that makes me excited.  Also makes me thing of how much sanding i need to do, which always seems to wait till absolutely last minute.  It also makes me think about the damn finishing work!

Oh well.

Progressing… slowly.

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.

neck dovetail 3

Routed the slots for the truss rods.  Made use of my binding fixture with a temporary fence.

improvised router table

Glued up some headstock veneer from scraps that came off the back material.

Veneer book matching

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.

home made slotting fixture

 

fretboards

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.

Expletive, expletive dovetail neck joint

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.

dovetail templates

Marked the mortise on the body first.

mortise marking

Then cut and chiseled it out.

yikes

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.

checking twist

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.

fitting

 

Finally got it.

neck dovetail

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!

 

The necks are neck and neck… and neck?

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?

Neck boards

– 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.

Fancy jig

– 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.

Flattening

– 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.

Scarf gluing

– 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.

Heel stack

– 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.

Neck blanks

* 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…

Well that’s enough of these for now.

Gallery

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Finished the binding and end graft on all three.  Just did some minor variations on the ends.  The cherry guitar got rosewood trim.  The end on that one is a bit busy, but I think the contrast will tone down … Continue reading