I never worry, but I have started to fret.

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Started fretting the guitars.  I have two done so far.  These were my first bound fretboards so I had to clip the tang off the fret to go over the binding.  I made a little device based on one I had seen, with some modifications.  I call it the Detanginator.  Worked really well to grind off the tang and dress the bottom.

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All the guitars have been oiled and sealed with shellac.

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One more to fret.  Then to build, locate and mask off the bridges.  Then I should be close to spraying lacquer.  That should be interesting as a first.

 

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Working my way towards a finish

 

 

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Masked off the two flamed maple guitars for stain.  Opposite color schemes for these.

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Used a homemade walnut stain I made last fall.  Dark back and sides on one, dark bindings on the other.

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Added a couple coats of boiled linseed oil/turpentine mix to help accent the figure, careful to mask off the top and neck.

I have the neck on the third guitar, but I’m not happy with how it seated.  I may remove it and reset it.  I guess I’ll get a bit of experience steaming apart a neck joint.  Hope to get that done soon and the neck back on with a nicer fit.

Then on to shellac sealing, fretting, bridge making and the lacquer finish.

Hey, first steel string… mit neck!

I’ve been slowly shaping necks.  Got the first one to where I think its a good shape.  I have a hard time telling on neck shape as I’m not much of a guitar player… hell, I don’t even own a real steel string guitar.

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Sanded both the body and the neck, crossed my fingers and glued it on.  Overall I’m fairly happy.

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There are a few things I’d like to improve as I progress.  Of course, I noticed spots that needed more sanding as soon as I looked at it in a different light.

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While the hot hide glue was heated up, I glued the fretboard on the third neck.  The second guitar is pretty close to being ready for assembly too.  Just a bit more sanding on both pieces.

I’m going to stain parts of both of the flamed maple guitars.  Hope to start that soon.  I have a few steps before I can seal with shellac.  Then the frets, then the finish.

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.

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.

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.

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Marked the mortise on the body first.

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Then cut and chiseled it out.

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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.

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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.

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Finally got it.

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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!