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Old December 12th, 2012, 03:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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My winter projects

Hello,
I've started some new builds that I'd like to finish this winter.

At a local wood store I spotted some pieces of thermo Aspen that had a nice figuring.


I bought a bunch. They're 5 inches wide, so I had to do a 3-piece top. That's an alder body, and they got glued together. This is project #1. I'm thinking of binding, no pickguard etc.. let's see.


Then I have a two-piece basswood body here. Will be painted, I'm thinking of light blue like Daphne or Sonic. That's #2.


Number 3 has a spruce top piece, and will get a bottom piece too.


The upper portion is hollowed. F-hole is roughly cut for now. You can also see that the neck pocket area is already been fixed. I have an idea of a Cabronita -inspired guitar that has Firebird pickups and a "Tele jr" style pickguard. I'd like this to be matte black and paint the top without a sealer coat so that the grain will show through…

#3 will have a birch bottom. Here rough cut before gluing:


Three neck blanks in progress.


Two on the left are maple, the one on the right is the leftover laminated birch piece from my 2012 challenge build.

I want one with rosewood board and heel adjust truss rod. I have to cheat, as my rosewood blanks are too short:

The joint will be just on the nut edge.. This neck is planned for #2 (basswood body)

Then there's a one-piece maple neck that I'm imagining for #1.

The birch neck would go to the experimental black thing #3. I want something else for the fret board. From grandad's old stash I found some hard Oak and cut a slice. If Brian May has oak fretboard, I want one too:


I wanted to shape the birch neck. Went really slow and careful, downhill etc.. and then this:


A note to myself: sand the damn headstock to shape.. Ok, this was very likely to happen as the grain is "quartersawn" here, splits easily.. So don't feel bad repairing it as it is made out of sticks anyway.


I try to get the bodies and necks into a synchronised progress so that I can use one tool or jig on all at once. Let's see what happens.

Oh, some of the other stuff too:


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Old December 12th, 2012, 04:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Looks like these will keep you busy during those long, dark Finish days. :)

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Old December 12th, 2012, 04:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You may want to invest in onve of those up-cut spiral bits with a bearing on the end. Bit I have also grown weary of routing the headstock. The heal is not really that fun either.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 05:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You may want to invest in onve of those up-cut spiral bits with a bearing on the end
Yes, but first I would have to invest in a 1/2" router.. (Yeah, and some sort of ROSS equivalent)

If I do the next challenge, I will not use the router at all. That's a promise!
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Old December 12th, 2012, 06:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm trying to do some things here that I've not done before. Such as:
- One piece neck
- F-hole
- Binding

Oh, this is what I did today too, not for the first time though.


- Drilled two shallow holes on the centerline
- Set a fence so that the router bit hits both holes (the router has a bigger base, that's why such a distance)
- Used a bigger bit on the end to make room for the wider part of the rod
- With just one fence run the router only on one direction so it doesn't pull off the centerline (done that . . )



Then when drilling the end hole, clamp some scrap wood on top to prevent splitting:





The rod is a bit short, but hey it costs 2 euros.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 02:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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But wait, you've done some of the coolest binding EVER! Twice...

I have wanted to try your binding method ever since I saw you do it on your challenge build. Mostly I just want those cool little shavings everywhere. How is that binding holding up?
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Old December 13th, 2012, 03:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey, thanks Muzikp
That guitar has been through a lot of tweaks. It has new pickups, it's string-through now, and I reshaped the neck, but the binding stays on. No problems on that area.
Now I'd like to try a glued-on binding, just for the thrill.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 07:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Here's some things that have inspired these builds:
#3:
the Rat Rod Esquire built by user afoolsparadise made me want to do something in matte black, and I'm trying to follow some of Barncaster's advice on firebird style pickups.
The pickguard could be in this style:


But controls through the top as in the LaCabronita.

With #2 I'm aiming at something like this:

But maybe with white pearloid pickguard?

#1: no clear idea yet. Maybe modern bridge, humbucker at neck, no pickguard but standard control plate.

But transparent finish of course.. and the 'bucker shall have a cover.

The plans will be altered during the process!
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Old December 13th, 2012, 08:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Pretty ambitious undertaking. That is a good way to spend the cold and dark days.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 09:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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yeah, I will have spare time in January. Oh I forgot I have a Jaguar/Jazzmaster style bass on the drawing board.
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Old December 15th, 2012, 03:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I decided to scrap that birch neck that I tried to repair. There's too many other imperfections. Now I'm going to test how a non-laminated birch neck will work. I went through grandad's old wood stacks and found a perfect piece that has straight grain and hasn't warped. Cut a new neck:



Because grandad passed away over a year ago and hadn't been woodworking for at least a year before that, I guess this piece has been lying around in the warm shop for at least three years. It was unusually staight, so I have high hopes. I glued the oak fingerboard blank on it and so we'll see what it will be. Gonna make a curved truss rod with headstock adjust, skunk stripe etc.

If it will turn out a lemon, I will replace it with a maple neck. It's so easy with these bolt-on guitars, you can replace any piece if needed.

Birch is the standard hardwood around here. Maple is much harder to get. I guess, if the electric guitar was invented here, we all would want just pine bodies and birch necks..

Body #1 has the top glued on and trimmed. Lots of sanding will be required still:



It's going to take some time before I'm getting all three builds "synchronized". I have also glued the birch bottom piece on body #3.
When I have truss rods in each neck and the bodies in right thickness, it will be more like a production line going on.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 05:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Some work done today. An awful lot to do and many difficult tasks, but I believe I will end up with three different Tele's. I hope someone will also play them..

Bodies are now thicknessed using these tools. Sorry about the mess and poor photos. The things I try to show here are the router planer jig (the best working jig I have ever made) and the sander to smoothen the surface.


Ok, the necks. The fingerboards were trimmed flush, no pics of that.

Two of the necks will have curved truss rods with headstock adjust. Here's the curved channel routing jig, almost the same I used in 2012 challenge (and haven't used since..) I've added strips of wood on top of the arcs to get more clearance for the router base.


Again, drilled two holes on the centerline to help centering the neck to the router jig, visible on the neck that isn't routed yet.

And tuner holes. Two on the left will have vintage style tuners (=smaller holes), the one on the right will have something else. That guitar (#3) will have nothing traditional in it.


The headstock thicknessing / transition curve setup:


Does the job slowly. Here's the results.


The lines drawn on the fret boards are for nut edge and transition end. I didn't go all the way on the two on the right, because I gotta drill the truss rod adjust nut hole, and want to keep some extra wood there if I start it by messing up.

I thought I'd make a new jig for this, but didn't because I found the old one from a pile of scrap wood. I will burn that piece of wood very soon!


Start with the big hole. Centered, clamped. The neck is also clamped on the nut area just in case it wants to split.

When the big hole has a beginning, I tried my new innovation. Put those two aluminium tubes in there, and the inner diameter is just right for the smaller bit:


Like this (blurry non-action shot):


I hit the truss rod channel bottom, just half a mm off to one side, but the rod goes through. Pretty good in that sense. On the outside it looks like this after some more belt sander action. Not nice with that groove. I got it a bit better by taking some more thickness off the headstock, but I don't want to remove any more wood there. I guess it's some filler and a painted headstock on this one..


With the next one I positioned the jig a bit differently. Looks better on the surface, but the hole didn't come out flush with the bottom of the channel. Have to think a little if I need to fix it somehow. But here they are as of now. The nut is there just to show it fits in.


There's also the threaded rod and the strips of wood to be used as the filler / skunk stripes.

By the way, it's M6 (6mm diameter) threaded rod. I use it because the only metric truss rod nuts I found locally have that thread. And then I realized I'd need a matching tap to thread the anchor, and I don't have that...

But on my way back home I got a mighty idea and went to buy a bag of these:


Next: drilling anchor holes, assembling truss rods, installing the skunk stripes... a long winter ahead.
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Old January 3rd, 2013, 08:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Great thread, tklaavo. Makes me wish I didn't have to come back to work yesterday. Want to play in the shop. In your last shot, are those the connectors for the knocked-down (Ikea type) furniture you buy in a box? They look perfect for truss rod anchors, if the thread is right--just drill a little deeper, screw the rod in, weld or peen it in place, and you're good to go!
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Old January 4th, 2013, 07:50 AM   #14 (permalink)
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are those the connectors for the knocked-down (Ikea type) furniture you buy in a box?
Yes that's what they are.. Thread should be right. They will go deep into the hole, and the diameter could be bigger, but I'll try to make it so that the skunk stripe keeps it tightly in place and takes most of the tension.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 10:57 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I love the idea of using unconventional woods like the oak and birch you're using. Keep up the good work.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 01:40 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I love the idea of using unconventional woods like the oak and birch you're using. Keep up the good work.
Thanks!
I just counted eight species of wood are being used in these builds. The skunk stripes are same stuff as the figured top.
The oak, birch, alder and spruce are from grandad's old stock. I use them just because they're available.. I had decent pieces of maple for just two necks. Maple, rosewood, figured aspen and basswood I've bought.

I've been thinking how to finish the oak fret board. Any good examples?
I read somewhere that Brian May's FB is painted dark. I'm thinking of some dye/stain + oil or wax. No real plan yet. I'm open to suggestions!
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Old January 4th, 2013, 02:45 PM   #17 (permalink)
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How do you plan on finishing the rest of the neck? You could use Tru-oil over Sealer-Filler. They're both made by Birchwood Casey. I've only used them on guns, but they worked really well. Then you wouldn't have to worry about finishing the neck and fretboard differently.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:52 PM   #18 (permalink)
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How do you plan on finishing the rest of the neck? You could use Tru-oil over Sealer-Filler.
Thanks for the suggestion - and I've seen pics of some fabulous-looking Tru-Oiled necks. I guess I can find it somewhere around here, not so sure about the availability of that sealer-filler product though.

What I'd like to have is a bit more contrast between the birch and oak parts, that's why I thought about dyeing the oak. The fact that oak is very porous and surely needs filling is another thing to consider.

I like to have frets installed and at least the ends trimmed before finishing, as I know I'd ruin the finish on the fret board edges if I did it the other way around.

The two birch necks I've made have both been finished with Rustins Danish Oil, which leaves a natural feeling. Birch doesn't sand as smooth as maple, there's more texture unless it's sealed first. I had considered trying shellac, and I love the maple neck in my Duo-Sonic build, which has just shellac finish.

Those birch necks were laminated from three pieces, this is the first one with just one piece, and it's flat sawn unlike the others, so it will also feel different because of that.

So many options, but I'm not quite there yet..
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Old January 4th, 2013, 04:43 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Winter? Ha!

It was 41 deg here in Melbourne yesterday (~106 deg F) and it was hotter in other parts of Oz -
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Old January 4th, 2013, 04:44 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tklaavo View Post
Thanks for the suggestion - and I've seen pics of some fabulous-looking Tru-Oiled necks. I guess I can find it somewhere around here, not so sure about the availability of that sealer-filler product though
First, check any sporting goods stores that carry firearms, then if all else fails, order direct from Birchwood-Casy LINK

As for contrast, I would use a rosewood or similar colored pore-filler on that oak. When wiped back, then Tru-Oiled, it would be amazing
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