First build: Picklecaster, a poplar Telecaster

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by brandonh, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. Nickadermis

    Nickadermis Friend of Leo's

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    Looks great so far , thanks for sharing :)
     
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  2. Bristlehound

    Bristlehound Friend of Leo's

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    Lookin' good!
     
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  3. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    That is really looking good!!
     
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  4. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    Today was a mixed blessing in the shop. I made a real screw-up out of this fretboard, no? This was my second shot with the "nice" board; the ugly first board came out pretty well!

    3-28.jpg

    Fortunately, this got me to do some measuring, starting at that critical 12th fret, and I realized the neck blueprint I was using to mark out my fret slots was printed at the wrong scale. When I had the plans printed up for the body, the shop printed them wrong. I got the body plans re-printed, but it didn't occur to me to check the neck prints, too. I'm going to get the neck plans re-printed at scale so I can transfer the fret slot lines.

    3-27.jpg

    Hopefully I'll be back in business soon, but in the meantime, check my logic on this: I couldn't for the life of me figure out why my measurements weren't coming out right on my MDF neck templates when I followed the blueprints (duh, because the blueprints were off!). So I made a template this way: drew a long centerline, drew two parallel lines 18 3/8-inches apart, marked the widths out for the nut and the heel, made a set of lines from the nut and heel marks, and then made the rest of the neck around that. This is what I used to route the neck blank and fretboard blank. I just double-checked my neck blank heel and nut widths and they are fine. Assuming I can get the right scale length transferred from the plans (plans are correct) to the fretboard, am I OK? The way I figure it, the only thing I've screwed up is about $6 in material (I got 4 fretboards out of a $12 board), a little bit of pride, and a work session in the shop. Glad I found the measuring mistake now instead of down the road when I'm trying to intonate with a glued-on wrong fretboard. So far the only permanent thing I've done on the neck blank is rout the truss rod. With this snafu in mind, I'll be sure to triple-check my tuning holes before I drill those out.

    On the bright side, I got some good practice cutting fret slots. I'm pretty good at cutting straight lines. Looks like I just need some help getting them in the right spot.
     
  5. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    Hey, don't discard that fretboard. If the printer printed it to the wrong scale, but still to scale, you should have a usable fretboard you can put on a one-off custom build.
    What is the current distance from the nut to the 12th fret? Just put the bridge at double this distance and Bob's you uncle.
    Good luck on the rest!
    Rex
     
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  6. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    This is turning out to be a warts-and-all thread, but that's how it's breaking right now. All along I’ve had an inner 3-strikes-and-you’re-out rule: if there’s anything I can’t get right after the third attempt, I’ll outsource that step or part. I got my templates right on the third try. Got the neck shape right on the second try. Got the body rout on the first try, etc. After 2 bad attempts, my third attempt at a slotted fret board yielded 19/21 really great fret slots and 2 dogs! I can work with that.

    3-29.jpg
    My basic setup. I’m using a fine Veritas dovetail saw. The frets seemed to seat well on my tester, but I’m planning on using CA anyway when I seat them just to be sure.

    3-30.jpg
    Corrected plans, cut out with a little gutter on either side to mark the fret positions.

    3-31.jpg
    Marked out with an extra-fine mechanical pencil. After I marked the pencil lines, I followed with my marking blade and combo square ruler to score a good line for the saw to follow. I didn't mark the full line in pencil on my first attempts, only two pips that I met up with a marking knife and straight edge. I think I must have slipped when scoring the line on those. The pencil marks were dead on this time around (trust me, I triple-checked before I went to my bench with a saw).

    3-32.jpg
    Since I already angled out the fingerboard, I’m using my routing template as a support on my bench hook. I’m not using this as a miter box, just as a work holding appliance. I probably should have rigged up a miter box for those 2 slots that I butchered.

    3-33.jpg
    “That’s a bad cut. Let me just see if I can’t fix it up!” Ouch. Keep an eye on that sawdust...

    3-34.jpg
    The walnut dining table I built a few years back had a few knot holes that I filled with epoxy. I thought bad fret slots could take it too. I ended up just using rosewood sawdust instead of adding the powdered dye, too.

    3-35.jpeg
    I used my straight pin to work the epoxy into the two bad fret slots and the saw chatter. You can't tell from the picture, but there are two strips of tape on either side acting as a dam. I used a 30-minute open epoxy to give myself enough time to flail around. I’m cool as a cucumber during emergency situations, but my brain turns to mush when epoxy and glue come out. The plan is to let it cure tonight. Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll re-cut, followed by installing the truss rod and gluing up the fretboard and neck. We’ll see.

    It's a great idea, and I appreciate the tip on doubling the 12th fret distance for the bridge. That's a real "duh why didn't I think of that" idea. I was pretty off on a few of my cuts, unfortunately. I was only marking two small spots on each edge, then matching them up with a knife cut to score the wood. I think my ruler slipped when I was scoring some of the positions. It’s goosed as a fret board, but I’ll keep it around. There’s always something to be spruced up with an inlay. I’m going to make a wall-mounted stand to hang the guitar when it’s done, so maybe it will go towards that somehow.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2019
  7. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    I too use a little gents dovetail saw for my fret slots. I'll try to post a couple pics of my little miter box I use tomorrow. Works well for me and I haven't gooned up a fret slot yet.
     
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  8. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    Here's my fret slot cutting set-up. Like you I mark my slots out with a pencil first. This is just a little miter box with an overhanging lip like your bench hook in the previous posts. I use holdfasts to clamp it to the bench in use.
    IMG_8008.JPG
    The key is this sliding panel that fits exactly between the sides of the box:
    IMG_8010.JPG
    It has a centerline scribed that is parallel to the edges and the outlines of a Strat and Tele neck on it. When I want to cut fret slots I double stick the neck to it (I glue my two piece necks up first before cutting fret slots.) First I take the panel with the neck taped to it to the table saw and cut the nut slot in a single pass with my tablesaw blade which leaves a 1/8" kerf slot. My slotting saw has been filed and stoned to cut a .023 kerf and I have a piece of plexiglass double-side taped to it to both form a depth stop (I cut fret slots before radiusing) and makes it fill the 1/8" slot on the miter box:
    IMG_8009.JPG
    IMG_8013.JPG
    Since I can slide the panel inside the miter box I just move it every cut to line up my pencil mark to cut the slot.
    IMG_8011.JPG
    IMG_8012.JPG
    Hope any of this helps. I think semi-free handing the slots as you have been doing is too challenging.
    Cheers,
    Rex
     
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  9. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    That's a pretty neat trick using the plexi to fill the miter box kerf and act as a depth stop, too. If I'm following you right, that keeps the blade from wandering or chattering when it is seated in the miter box. That seems simple, repeatable, and accurate. In other words, pretty much opposite of what I did! I really like it.

    I got a little more time in the garage at lunch. The epoxy filler set up nice and hard, so I fixed the two bad cuts. One patch is obviously worse than the other. I haven't radiused the board yet. I'm hoping once I do that, get a final sanding on, wipe it down with mineral oil, and set the frets, the epoxy fix won't be too noticeable.

    3-36.jpg 3-37.jpg
     
  10. Euphonica

    Euphonica TDPRI Member

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    You’re obviously a great dad! Excellent posts and photos!
     
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  11. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    There is still a little slop in my miter box so I make sure when I start the cut I have saw plate registered against the left side of the slot on both the near and far sides. Once I make the first pass the saw kerf keeps it registered afterward. There are way more elegant ways of doing this than mine, but I doubt there re many cheaper!
     
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  12. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

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    For fret positioning, I abandon INCHES and switch to metric CENTIMETERS, makes measurements so-o-o-o-o-o much easier, especially approaching butt end of neck.
     
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  13. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    Brandonh, I should have mentioned that though that Veritas dovetail saw is a fine tool, if it is a proper dovetail saw, the teeth should be filed to a rip profile, not crosscut, since dovetailing is technically a rip cut.
    [I just checked their website and that's confirmed: http://www.leevalley.com/us/wood/page.aspx?p=64007&cat=1,42884 ]
    Ironically, when I first got that little gent's saw in my post above, I recut the crosscut teeth that were on it already to rip teeth, specifically for dovetailing. Then, when I did my first guitar build around 2011, I had to go back and recut them back to crosscut teeth again, because none of my other saws were the right size to make the .023 kerf I needed.
    Though that Veritas dovetail saw is a fine tool, you may find you don't get near as clean a cut when cutting fret slots as you would if the teeth were crosscut - it's just not designed for that. I see on that site linked above that Veritas also offers this same basic platform with crosscut teeth, for those who don't do their own saw filing. Or maybe you have another fine-cut crosscut around. Just food for thought.
    Cheers,
    Rex
     
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  14. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    The fretboard goof-ups from last weekend bummed me out, so I picked up the neck blank to get some forward momentum on a different part of the project.

    3-38.jpg
    The first order of business was figuring out how to set up a fence on the drill press. Oh, yeah, pretty straightforward! Neat! I like only having to worry about 1 axis of movement when drilling. Should have gotten one of these years ago.

    3-39.jpg
    Tester came out well...

    3-40.jpg
    ... and so did the main event. Here’s what I did:

    3-41.jpg
    On the tester, I popped in the tuner parts and punched an awl into the screw down retainer (not sure of the lingo here). I averaged out the distance of those marks from the edge of the big holes, set one pair of dividers, and marked my starting position.

    3-42.jpg
    Then I matched another set of dividers to the centerlines from the blueprints I used for the big holes. Starting at my first hole, it was just a matter of walking out the dots and landing on my centerline.

    3-43.jpg
    I did some tinkering to figure out the right depth stop to match the screws, chucked a bit, and went to town. I thought the laser center-finder was gimmicky in the product description, but it was set up well at the factory and was useful here. I used my second smallest bit for the pilot holes, I want to say 5/64ths.

    No pics of the next step: bring the peghead down to a final thickness of 5/8-inch. I could have done this a few different ways. I went with the router table. I didn’t get any blowout at the sharp edges of the peghead or tuner holes. There was a little bit of tearout on the face, though. I hit this with a scraper card and random orbit sander, which put me just shy of 5/8.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  15. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    Getting some productive and straightforward work was a shot in the arm, so today I thought it was time to address the nut slot. One nice thing about messing up 2 fretboards was I had a lot of practice to get the nut slot done!

    3-44.jpg
    I set up a simple fence using aluminum angle. Marked the line with pencil, scored it with my marking razor, and used my crosscut carcass saw. (Rex, the x-cut was much cleaner than the rip. The only reason I used the rip saw for frets was that it had a finer kerf than my x-cut. The frets just wobbled a little too much for my liking with the x-cut whereas there was no play on the finer rip saw.)

    3-45.jpg
    Deep breath and Bob’s yer uncle. We have a nut slot! The slot is a little more narrow than my nut (Tusq). I figure it’s easier to sand the nut than to chisel the slot. I don’t have a 1/8-in chisel, so I need to rig something up to clean out the bottom of the slot. I’ll probably grind down a screwdriver or file or something like that. I did some envelope math looking at the blueprints, and I decided to give myself a good 3/4-inches above the nut slot to work through sanding my transition.

    3-46.jpg
    I’ve been studying guitarbuilder’s excellent Let’s make a neck! tutorial. I used his trick of driving in a few brads through the fret slots to register the fretboard and neck blank.

    3-47.jpg
    I scribbled a little note to shortstuff. Awww.

    3-48.jpg
    And promptly wiped it away with naphtha before the glue-up :D I seated the nut with just a snurdle of sealant on both ends. I was going to use that long board as a caul, but opted out after my first dry-run. The fretboard is just ever-so-slightly wider than the neck blank, and I had trouble getting them aligned with the caul, even with registration pins.

    3-49.jpg
    Victory! Just the right amount of squeeze out: enough to know I have good solid coverage, and not so much that I wasted glue or have to worry about the truss rod channel. I cleaned up the squeeze out after 40 minutes, then let it sit in clamps for 3-4 hours.

    All for now.
     
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  16. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    I stole another hour here and there and got a little more done.

    3-50.jpg
    I carved the neck to peghead transition using a 1.5 drum sander chucked into the drill press. Even though I used a table and fence, I still overshot the carve a little (small divot in the peghead). I’ll clean it up later; right now I don’t want the cure to be worse than the symptom.

    3-51.jpg
    I picked up these cheap needle files at the hardware store and used one to flatten the bottom of the nut slot.

    3-52.jpg
    I also picked up a set of forstner bits and chucked up the 1/4 bit for inlay dots. The resultant hole was a bit wider than 1/4, so I switched to a brad point bit. I was glad I had some scrap to play with in terms of depth, speed, tearout, etc.

    3-53.jpg
    Drilling!

    3-54.jpg
    Holes in the correct spots. Phew! I’ll install the dots after I carve the neck. No point in doing it now in case I screw up something big.
     
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  17. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    That neck looks great!

    Are you going to add a slight v to the leading edges of the fret slots? I believe @guitarbuilder mentions that in one of his neck building discussions to prevent binding or something. I think he just runs a triangle file across the opening to get rid of the right angle of the slot. I don't have it in front of me so I may be remembering it wrong but I think that was the case.
     
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  18. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    Thanks! It’s a good idea, and I probably will. This rosewood has been pretty brittle at every step of the way. I just kind of guessed at the fret slot depth based on a quick test with my fretwire. I’ll have to do more touching up after I put the radius on.
     
  19. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    Looks like real nice work!
     
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  20. brandonh

    brandonh TDPRI Member

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    Now I'm in the middle of neck carving. I spent some time doing my geometry homework based on guitarbuilder's tutelage on carving neck facets. The way I figured it in my mockup, I've got just over 1/8th inch of wood between the truss rod and the outside world. Everything I've read said that would be enough, so I'm going to trust the collective wisdom and experience here. I'm carving on my tester neck first in case I get into the weeds, but so far so good. In fact, I think the tester might be better than the main event since the former has nice straight grain and the latter has already torn out on me when dimensioning the peghead.

    4-1.jpg
    After I marked out my depth lines, I sanded down the neck thickness taper from nut to heel. Then I marked out my first set of facet lines.

    4-2.jpg

    I used the block plane to knock off the hard edges, switched to the spokeshave for the bulk of the work, then used the rasp and file to clean up the edge. There's still a lot to do, like bringing the carve closer to the peghead, working the transitions, and getting the next facets marked. I'm pleased with the work so far, enough that I may pick up another truss rod to turn my tester neck into a useable neck... Hmm...

    4-3.jpg
     
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