Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

A Literal "Carved Top" Take 2

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by skipjackrc4, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    I've had a super slow build thread going over the past 4 years (wow, that's a long time) that I'm planning on picking up again. Unfortunately, due to the Photobucket internet-hostage situation, the existing thread is basically ruined without any of the pictures. Due to the age of the thread, I can't go back and edit it.

    This thread is my attempt to reconstruct the original thread and will be updated with new progress as it happens.

    Original thread:
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  2. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    [Begin previous material]

    So first off, this is not a tele, or even a guitar. It's an electric violin. I'm posting it here because I think some people will find it interesting, and hopefully someone will be inspired to do something similar. I plan on doing a guitar version of this someday, but thought I'd start with a smaller instrument.

    I'm living in an apartment for the next several months, away from my power tools. To fight off boredom, I rough cut this thing back home and brought it and my hand tools with me.

    The body is solid cherry, as is the neck. The idea is to carve the body into a 3D celtic knot. There are lines penciled in, but they hardly show up in the picture.

    body-precarve (1280x857).jpg

    The neck joint that I use for electric violins is a tapered dovetail. This will be glued in right after carving.

    I've done a few celtic knot carves before, but nothing this big. Hopefully I don't screw it up... We'll see.

    neck dovetail (857x1280).jpg
    Torren61, Mat UK and LowThudd like this.
  3. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    The plan is to use the coping saw to cut down the external edges and clean them up with a chisel. After getting all the 3D heights set, I will go through and start rounding things over and cleaning up chiseling marks.

    cutting edge (1280x857).jpg

    Here I chiseled about half of the length. You can see the block on the end where I stopped with the coping saw. That will be chiseled out as well.

    1st side chiseled (1280x857).jpg

    This is that side done for now. Everything is pretty smooth (except for the end, which will be rounded over anyway). This cherry is a almost effortless to carve. Which is good, because it gets a lot harder from here.

    You may have noticed the grooves in the side. Those are routed in using a drawer bottom bit and are there to hold a shoulder rest. I'll post a picture of this later, for those who are not familiar with violins. Unfortunately, I have to work around these grooves, so the symmetry will be off a little. Oh well. No real way around that.

    I plan on doing several more sections today, while relaxing my hand in between. I tend to hold chisels too tightly and can get cramps if I'm not careful. Also, I need to adjust the white balance on the Nikon. The cherry is not actually bright yellow :rolleyes:

    chiseld part 1 (1280x857).jpg
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  4. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    I've been drawing the depth lines by tracing a piece of masking tape. Not the most elegant method, but it works pretty well.

    DSC_0006 (1280x857).jpg

    Here we are after 3 sections have been done. It's starting to look like something now. I'm hoping to have this part finished by next weekend. The long sections take about 45 minutes to do, though that depends on the grain direction. More to come tomorrow.

    DSC_0008 (1280x857).jpg
    2blue2 and LowThudd like this.
  5. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    Here is the shoulder rest attached. I don't like how I had to make the transition short, but that was the only way to do it.

    DSC_0001 (1280x857).jpg

    I cut the first underlapping segment today. Obviously, nothing is in its final form yet. Most of the cuts will be made deeper once everything is carved. I want to leave a little meat so I can fine tune things later.

    I'm going to have to order some skew chisels to get into the corners. I tried with my bench chisels, but that didn't do much good (ie, I screwed it up :rolleyes:). You can see the internal corners where the scroll saw didn't quite line up right. It's really hard to control a 8/4" piece on a tool designed to cut 1/4". The outer bandsaw marks are my fault... That is easy to get with a straight chisel.

    DSC_0006-001 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0005 (857x1280).jpg
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  6. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    More progress!

    DSC_0002 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0001-001 (1280x857).jpg

    The twisting part at the bottom is making me a little nervous. I got it all rough cut, but shaping that correctly is going to be difficult. I'm counting on the round over to help make everything look more natural, which it should.

    I have 2 more easy sections to cut, and then come the short ones in the middle sections. Those will be difficult to get a chisel into, and even harder to do final shaping on. I'll probably start on those tomorrow.

    Other than little nicks here and there where the chisel slipped, everything is going pretty well. Some Narex skew chisels are on the way from Lee Valey to handle the corners.
  7. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    The Lee Valley order came in today. I got some skew chisels and a riffler file as well. This will be used to do the roundovers in the tight corners.

    I'm going to use an electric stone to flatten the backs of the chisels, which are pretty bad. For a $20 set, though, they seem pretty decent. We'll see how the hold up. Of course, my main chisels are the $10 ones from Lowes, so it's not like I'm accustomed to quality. I need to replace those some time...

    DSC_0003 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0007 (1280x857).jpg

    The Lee Valley order came in today. I got some skew chisels and a riffler file as well. This will be used to do the roundovers in the tight corners.

    I made some more progress on the back. These small sections are very difficult to do well. Also, I realized that the "rope" width changes significantly in some places. I'm mostly leaving it as-is for now, and hope to correct some of it after the entire thing is carved. Again, it will be a lot less noticeable when things are rounded and there are no sharp edges to follow with the eye. Also, I never imagined that this would turn out perfectly, so I'm not too worried about it. It's completely hand-done by somebody who has no clue what he's doing, after all. :D
    Torren61 and LowThudd like this.
  8. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    It's been a week, but I've made some more progress. The back is now carved, and I'm working on the top again today.

    I put a new bulb in my lamp, and now all the pictures are blue. Time to adjust white balance again...

    DSC_0001-002 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0003-001 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0002-001 (1280x857).jpg
  9. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    The top and back are now all carved!

    DSC_0004-001 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0005-001 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0006-002 (1280x857).jpg

    You can see the sander burn and tooling marks left over from the bandsaw and chisels. This shouldn't be too bad to get rid of (I don't think the burn goes very deep). About 1/3 of all corners have something like this. Fixing these will be the next step, and shouldn't take more than a couple hours.

    DSC_0010 (1280x857).jpg

    Here is the violin with the neck set in (not glued). I haven't done much work on the pegbox, other than roughing out the inside. You can see the trashcan I have under the workmate. In an apartment, this is a great setup--most of the dust and shavings fall straight down into the trashcan and don't make a mess.

    DSC_0011 (1280x857).jpg

    I'll start rounding things over by this weekend. That will be the moment of truth, when I find out if rounding things will fix all the problems that I've said it will...
    LeftFinger likes this.
  10. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    Using an assortment of hand tools:

    DSC_0004-002 (1280x857).jpg

    (note that the orange stuff on the files is NOT rust, but dust that seems to have permanently embedded itself in the file.)

    I've gotten this far:

    DSC_0005-002 (1280x857).jpg

    The part pictured here is about half done, and has taken about 2 hours already, though it should speed up as I figure out what I'm doing. Smoothing everything out from the carving is time consuming, and working up to the edges is pretty meticulous. Still, I'm quite pleased with how it is turning out. Hopefully I'll finish up this little section tonight. I'd say the whole instrument is probably about 40% done.
  11. LeftFinger

    LeftFinger Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 16, 2015
    but you just know we are going to nickname it the Pretzel
  12. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    This is pretty slow going. Still, I've made a fair bit of progress this last week. It looks a lot better in person. The picture makes the chiseled and sanded parts look a lot different, but the actually blend pretty well. Just the light. Everything will be sanded to 400 grit at the end, and all the rough places will be smoothed out.

    DSC_0001-003 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0003-002 (1280x857).jpg

    I'm planning on using a V gouge to make this transition a little more realistic. I'll start the rounding 1 cm or so below the point at which the right side starts to drop, if that makes sense.

    Because of the strange angles and small spaces to work in, the files often damage adjacent places. Once everything is rounded, I'll hit everything with 180 or so and keep the steel tools away from it from there on out.
    Torren61 and LowThudd like this.
  13. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    The bottom is close to done now. Both ends need some more stuff done to them, so I haven't rounded those yet. Other than some touch ups and heavy sanding/smoothing, everything else is about there.

    DSC_0001-004 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0003-003 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0004-003 (1280x857).jpg

    There are a lot of places that need some slight reshaping or more rounding, but I'm waiting for the end to do them all at once. That should help things be a little more consistent.

    Here is one part that needs to be reshaped a little bit. The arch is a bit too lopsided:

    DSC_0005-003 (1280x857).jpg

    I'm having a really hard time reaching in to those tight corners in the middle. The intersections there aren't quite rounded yet, and it's difficult to clean up the chisel marks from before. Small strips of sandpaper will help a lot, and I have a carving knife somewhere that should be able to better reach the tight spots.

    I'm hoping to get the top to match the bottom by the end of this week, and then start the 180 grit clean up. The whole thing will probably be sanded to 320 and finished in a few thin coats of Formby's. I've got the fittings (pegs, chinrest, fingerboard, etc...) mostly done, and I might take some pics of them for the next post.

    DSC_0006-003 (1280x857).jpg
  14. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 14, 2005
    Nueces Strip
    Wow! I'm impressed. Looked pretty nice before you even started carving.
  15. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    Alright, I've been doing a bit more work lately, and figured I should show the maple fittings I will be using.

    Chin Rest (not quite done):

    DSC_0002-002 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0004-004 (1280x857).jpg

    Tail Piece:

    DSC_0006-004 (857x1280).jpg

    DSC_0005-004 (857x1280).jpg

    End Pin:

    DSC_0007-001 (1280x857).jpg

    Everything (sort of) mocked up with mineral spirits:
    (the chin rest and tailpiece are a little darker than they appear here)

    DSC_0011-001 (1280x857).jpg

    I drilled out the holes to attach the end pin and the chin rest:

    DSC_0013 (857x1280).jpg

    I'm using 2" #8 screws and have counter drilled about 1/2". I'm just using ugly zinc hardware store screws, but they're buried, so they're not visible.
    2blue2, LowThudd and lbridenstine like this.
  16. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011

    DSC_0002-003 (1280x857).jpg


    DSC_0006-005 (1280x857).jpg


    DSC_0008-001 (1280x857).jpg

    I think I'll take this a little further back, but it's pretty good for now. Those skew chisels are really coming in handy. Over the past week, I've mostly been cleaning up the intersections and improving the shape of some of the overlaps. I've still got a long way to go, but things really are improving nicely. I've just been making small incremental improvements all over the place, rather than focusing on one single spot. This should make things more consistent in the end, I hope.

    DSC_0010-002 (1280x857).jpg

    This is a big improvement over what it was. Still not done with it, obviously:

    DSC_0012-001 (1280x857).jpg
    sergiomajluf and LowThudd like this.
  17. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    There was some pretty bad scroll saw burn (my last of 5 blades was pretty dull when I finished cutting it all) on the inside of a corner:

    DSC_0001-005 (1280x857).jpg

    Some filing and sanding:

    DSC_0002-004 (1280x857).jpg

    Turned it into this:

    DSC_0006-006 (1280x857).jpg

    I got some small detail files from Lowe's a few weeks ago, and they're very handy to cleaning things up in tight places. Shown here with a larger file for comparison:

    DSC_0007-002 (1280x857).jpg

    I've been working on making the roundovers more consistent, and found the perfect tool for the job. It's a contour gauge from Lee Valley. It costs around $30, and I'd never seen one before finding it online.

    DSC_0003-004 (1280x857).jpg

    As you can see, it's very easy to check the symmetry of curves, and it gives both a positive and negative contour.

    Also useful for necks. Here it is comparing a Strat neck to a fiddle neck:

    DSC_0004-005 (1280x857).jpg

    I used the lathe and ROSS this weekend to make some new pegs. I thought I'd liven them up a bit by adding some walnut burl veneer around the edges.

    DSC_0009-002 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0010-003 (1280x857).jpg

    They're not done, of course, but that's the idea. There are four total.
    LowThudd likes this.
  18. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    I haven't been posting anything lately because there has been little progress that will show up well in photos. I'm still working on getting everything smoothed out, and while I still have a bit to go, it's looking pretty good. It just takes so long to get the tooling marks out from these inside corners.


    DSC_0006-007 (1280x857).jpg


    DSC_0008-002 (1280x857).jpg

    I also filled the small knot with CA in the lower right of the above picture.

    I decided on using a 3.5mm jack for the output instead of a 1/4" due to spacing issues. I ordered a Neutrik right angle connector, shown here.

    DSC_0002-005 (857x1280).jpg

    It looks just like a miniature version of their 1/4" RA plug. Definitely the highest quality 3.5mm I've seen.

    I decided to go with a football style jack plate, but the metal ones from StewMac are too big to fit. So, I made my own out of laminated veneer.

    DSC_0001-006 (1280x857).jpg

    This has 2 layers of crossed-grain maple for strength, and walnut burl for the face. On the first prototype I made, I used a regular twist bit, which tore out pretty badly. I used a step bit for this one:

    DSC_0005-005 (1280x857).jpg

    In case you can't tell from the pic, this is going down by the twist on the left side. I will drill a 1/2" hole to make room for the jack. The hole will have to be drilled at an angle due to lack of clearance for a straight hole, but that is no problem. On a test piece, everything worked out.

    Here's the issue, though. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to attach it. My first thought was glue, but I want it to be removable for future jack repairs. Hide glue is an option. With a heat gun and something wedged in the jack to lever it out, I may be able to remove the plate without damaging it. Heat might delaminate the layers, though.

    Another thought was to use brass or copper plated upholstery tacks. They should be somewhat easy to pull out for repair.
    LowThudd likes this.
  19. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    I got the jack plate installed last night. There is a small bit of reshaping I'm going to do, but it fits pretty well.

    DSC_0003-005 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0006-008 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0008-003 (1280x857).jpg

    I'm worried that 2 screws will not hold up very well, so I might wind up using a few dabs of hide glue to keep it from flexing. Just a couple diluted drops should be easy enough to remove when necessary.
    tintag27 and LowThudd like this.
  20. skipjackrc4

    skipjackrc4 Tele-Meister

    Jan 21, 2011
    Well, I moved last week, and was home for a little while. While I was there, I decided to remake the neck because I wound up cutting the pegbox floor a little too thin (1mm instead of 3mm).

    So, lots of power tool pics!

    Violin necks are angled at about 4 degrees, so the first step is to cut that angle with the table saw.

    DSC_0007-003 (1280x857).jpg

    The assistant was sleeping on the job...

    DSC_0010-004 (1280x857).jpg

    Next, I set up my dovetail jig that uses a custom laser-cut acrylic template. Alignment is the key here. I need a better jig.

    DSC_0013-001 (1280x857).jpg

    Underneath the jig:

    DSC_0014 (1280x857).jpg

    Well, the cut was pretty good. I'm going to have to do a small bit of adjustment to the body side of the joint, but I'm pleased with it.

    DSC_0027 (1280x857).jpg

    I bandsaw out the neck profile and then sand to shape.

    DSC_0030 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0031 (1280x857).jpg

    I don't have a brad point bit that is the right diameter for the tuning pegs. I like them to be accurate, though, so I drill a pilot hole with a small bradpoint:

    DSC_0032 (1280x857).jpg

    And then use that to align a DeWalt bit:

    DSC_0038 (1280x857).jpg

    DSC_0037 (1280x857).jpg
    fenderchamp and LowThudd like this.
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