Add a cap?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Mark the Moose, May 20, 2019.

  1. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Meister

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    I'm planning a partscaster build, and considering adding a flame maple cap to an unfinished body. My thought is to pick up an unfinished body, plane it down according to the thickness of the cap panel(1/8 to 1/4"), glue the cap in place, then route to match the body and cutouts. Anybody done this before?

    I'm an amateur woodworker with good tools but a project like this would be new to me.
     
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Most of my guitars have one kind of body wood with a different cap on top - usually mahogany with some sort of show off wood. I make my bodies from scratch (if you can do all the planing and capping you are certainly capable of cutting out a body).

    Adding a cap ("drop top") opens some interesting possibilities - for one you can hide channels for wiring inside the body and if you are really creative, you can shave a pound or two off the guitar by chambering it. Adding the cap also introduces some minor considerations - you may have to deal with the woods differently when it comes time to finish (the body may need pore filling, you may decide to enhance the top, the seam between them may be an issue, you might even decide to bind).

    Another minor gotcha is routing the top back to the body - potential problem areas are the neck pocket and the jack hole (the follower bearing can fall into these and mess up the route).

    Here are two guitars with different tops from their bodies

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/a-chambered-tele-ish-sort-of-thing.884657/

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/a-chambered-lpish-looking-thing.874641/
     
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  3. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    If you are capable of doing that, just build the whole thing from scratch.
     
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  4. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Meister

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    I'm concerned about routing a proper neck pocket. Seems like if that isn't exactly right then the whole project fails. The process of adding a cap seems a little lower on the ladder.
     
  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Routing the cap back to the existing neck pocket is pretty straight forward (watch the point on the treble side) but if you download the D sized plans from this web site you can make a nice little template for the neck pocket and do the whole thing from scratch. I make it a point to fit the neck to the pocket before doing any other routing or drilling - that way I can establish a true center line off the sides of the neck and the scale from actual measurements. Yes its critical, but its not all that hard.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    This isn't too hard a job if you have some experience with wood working. I'd clamp the body down to the top on a nice flat surface and plenty of weight on top. You could rig up some clamping system with something like wedges in the middle, although a veneer press type system would be ideal.

    Then I'd cut off the excess on the bandsaw, and flush cut the top to the sides on a router table with a flush trim bit. Lastly, rout the top to the existing cavities with a flush trim bit with the bearing inside the body cavity with a hand held router or trimmer. Lastly, do your roundover on the router table.


    Making a body with good templates isn't any harder than the above. The templates do the hard part. You just guide the router and template bit up against them. Read some build threads and get some router practice.
     
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  7. philosofriend

    philosofriend Tele-Holic

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    Are you used to using a router with a ball-bearing guide? If you are, what you describe would be an easy project. Just rough out the outline, cut outs and neck pocket before glueing the cap on. Then use the router to trim everything like guitarbuilder said.

    If you haven't worked with a router before but want to learn, do a lot of practicing and read up. There are ways to accidentally whack out big hunks of wood from what was supposed to be your beautiful project. There are also ways to fix the damage, usually including a sunburst.

    You could probably do it without a router but I can't imagine any that don't involve really sharp chisels, lots of time and fine motor skills. Sorry if that sounded negative, I still treasure some instruments I made when I was a kid and didn't have any power tools. I also have the first tool I bought, a Craftsman chisel that took three weeks of lawn mowing money.
     
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  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    You'll need a router leveling box (see youtube) to cut the body back and then a bearing bit to follow the existing contours and pockets.

    I had this guitar that a prior owner hacked out the bridge pickup larger than the pickguard could cover, so I inlaid 1/4inch maple and walnut strips with a router. Then sanded, stained, and finished it.

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    that's a good point... but yes, what you propose is entirely doable... BUT . . I would recommend doing a test on some skank lumber with a trash wood cap first.... all it's gonna cost ya is a few bux,, and it'll save ya whatever the body and good cap wood cost, 'cause there's a really good chance what ya don't want to happen, will...

    rk
     
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  10. PingGuo

    PingGuo Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I like to do a test fit in pine before cutting the neck pocket in the actual body. this save a lot of heartache.
     
  11. hahns

    hahns TDPRI Member

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    I haven't added a cap to an existing guitar body before, but have built several from scratch. I'm not sure if Tele's ever have an arm bevel like a Strat, but if it does, that would be a challenge. Still possible. if you need to do that you can route a series of kirfs that end before the edge to make the wood more pliable.

    I agree with guitarbuilder above, a veneer press makes this way easier. That is how I typically mate a cap and it comes out seemless. Though with enough clamps you should get the same results.

    Here is my latest LP out of the press. Its like one piece of wood when complete. IMG_2557.JPG
     
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  12. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Afflicted

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    Here is a maple cap going on a tele body, two pounds of weight relief

    IMG_4632.JPG

    Here is a Spanish cedar cap going on a LP clone, not as much weight relief as the tele but still noticeable

    IMG_1947.JPG
     
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