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

Gretch-like build with bent-ply, vacuum pressing, and Formica

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by mtorn, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    I did one like this with much the same thought. I'm still waiting for time to tell. :) But on the whole I have decided that I'm ok with any shape on an angled stock as long as it works.
  2. Zepfan

    Zepfan Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 30, 2013
    Horn Lake, MS
    I do my scarf joints much the same way. I don't use pins, I drill 2 pilot holes for wood screws. The wood screws become my clamps while the glue dries. Then remove the screws, drill holes to 1/4" and glue in 1/4" wood dowels. Trim off excess and sand flush.

    The dowels do show on the back of the neck when carving, so you can use dowels of same wood or different wood to show it off.
  3. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    I got a lot done on the neck this weekend.

    I'm using a spoke style StewMac truss rod, so I need to route for the adjuster at the heel of the neck.
    This is a template I made a few guitars ago. I'm using my new favorite plunge router, a small Dewalt, with a template bushing and a ¼" spiral bit.

    Sometimes half the battle is just figuring out how to hold the workpiece steady. These Kreg clamps are coming in very useful.

    In the past I've drilled ahead of time, to hog out the bulk. This time I'm just going for it!


    A little cleanup with a chisel.


    And here is the rest of the truss rod channel being routed. This too is a jig from a few guitars ago. I had made it to fit my old non-plunge Porter Cable router, but as luck would have it, the small Dewalt has the same base plate footprint.

    After carefully calculating the plunge depth, I did it in two passes.


    Isn't it lovely when things just fit?

    naneek, Minimalist518, AAT65 and 2 others like this.
  4. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Remember how I had filled the old, bad, fret slots with epoxy? Well, it's time to cut some new ones.

    Normally I cut the slots before I put a radius on a fingerboard. This time around the radius is already there, which means I'll have a bit of a challenge keeping the fingerboard flat, face down on my saw. So I cut a few spacers from scrap, exactly the thickness of the fingerboard at its thickest, and double stuck it to my fret slotting template.


    And this is my homemade fret slotting jig. It sits on my cross cutting sled on my table saw.

    First I had carefully marked the center of one of the old fret slots, and made sure that the saw blade would align as closely as possible, so it cuts all the slots in the same spot as before.


    It worked! Every cut was accompanied by a cloud of burned epoxy. This was good, since it meant that I managed to hit each slot where I had put in the epoxy filler. It was nasty dust though, so I used a respirator.

    For the last cut, next to the fret slot where the zero fret will go, I raised the saw blade, so it would cut all the way through. That way the nut end of my fretboard will be perfectly parallel with the fret slots.


    Lastly I needed to make the cutout for the truss rod adjuster spoke wheel. An old template again, cut with a spiral bit, using the shank as the template follower.

  5. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Time to glue!
    This time, for once, I didn't forget to remove the tape that covers the truss rod when spreading the glue.

    Oily woods need to be wiped down with acetone before gluing. I'm not sure if ebony counts as an oily kind, but it probably can't hurt.

    I used the same technique of using small nails cut at an angle as alignment pins.


    All wrapped up in an inner tube cocoon. The clamp is only there to keep the rubber band from unwinding.


    The day after. It appears that my alignment nails could use a bit of a revision. The fingerboard has slid a little towards the low string side. Not a lot, about 1/32", but enough to ruin my illusion of high precision.


    Angled headstock necks are really annoying. You can't lay them flat on a router table, to flush route the neck!
    I did my best, using a router, a hand plane, a power sander, and a sanding block, to make it all flush and straight. I'm pretty happy with this.

  6. Jerry Lee

    Jerry Lee Tele-Afflicted

    May 29, 2011
    La Crescenta, CA
    Wow. Even in 2D that is amazing. I didn't think Formica could bend like that.
  7. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    It can... but just barely!
    Jerry Lee likes this.
  8. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Back to work on this!

    I'll be using a zero fret for this guitar, so it's important that the strings will have a clear line between the fret and the tuning peg. I freehand sanded the fingerboard, and tested it out with some scrap as stand-in for fret and peg. I can always sand it more later, if necessary.

    There will be a "nut" of sorts, but its purpose will only be to orient the strings side to side.
    Hope the angle over the zero fret won't be too steep to let the strings glide when whammying.


    Pressing in the frets. This didn't go as well as it has with my recent Richlite fingerboards. The frets just didn't stay in place very well. Either it's function of this ebony, but perhaps more likely it's because I've cut the slots twice in the same place, so even though I filled the old slots with epoxy, they opened up again when I re-cut them.

    So it's medium super glue in the slot, press in the fret, and while pressed spritz with accelerator. It takes a while, and makes a mess.


    I also fill the fret ends with more glue. This not only fills the gaps for cosmetic reasons, but also secures the frets a bit further.


    The will be some cleanup needed!


    But first I can bevel the fret ends.

    naneek and Minimalist518 like this.
  9. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    This whole mess of the fret installation was less than satisfactory. While cleaning up the glue, I also checked that the frets were totally seated, by making sure that the edge of the blade couldn't slide up underneath the frets. A few required further banging!


    At this point I suddenly realized that I had totally forgotten to snip the tang off the fret ends!
    In the past I've cut off a small diagonal at each end, so they won't protrude if the neck shrinks back when the weather gets dry. With the Richlite fingerboards I've completely skip that step since Richlite doesn't shrink, but ebony is well know for doing that. Oh well, too late now!

  10. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    And then it's time to carve, using the usual bevel method and the usual Microplane rasps.

    The fingerboard is thicker than the usual ¼", so I have to account for that when marking my bevel, otherwise I'd end up with a pretty chunky neck.
    I've made a few measurements of other necks that I like, so I'm aiming for that.


    Fast forward to the card scraper.
    Clearly I'm not looking to carve a volute. I tend to prefer a plain transition to the head.


    Holding the neck up against the light I can check for divots and ripples. This looks close to done.


    The neck is nearly ready for a finish, but first I want to do a rough leveling of the frets (with a Home Depot square steel tube and some adhesive sandpaper). I'll do this once again much later, when the guitar is nearly done and the strings are under tension.
    Since my fret pressing was so imprecise, I ended up having to sand much more than I like.

    I also roughly crowned the frets and rounded the fret ends. Now it feels almost like a nicely playable neck.
    Now all that remains is a finish, some tuning heads (which I've yet to buy), and a final level, crown, polish.

    naneek, n__B, Mat UK and 1 other person like this.
  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI
    Keep an old salt shaker near your glue-up bench and salt the glue just before you set the parts and clamp. The salt digs in and stops the boards from sliding while clamping.

    Guitar is looking good!

    Tezuka27 likes this.
  12. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Big D
    Looking good, although you documenting your mistakes probably does not set well with you, I do appreciate it!
  13. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    The neck attaches with a basic 4-screw neck plate, the kind with a little bit of contour to it. Once I've marked the locations I can drill the holes.
    While the neck pocket is angled, I'm drilling them straight down at a 90 degree angle to the body.


    Here's the plate, and a piece of scrap representing the thickness of the back.


    So now I can check to see how deep to drill the holes in the neck.
    The screw closest to the camera is very close to being too long!

    Notice the masking tape on the neck. I spent a fair amount of time adding tape to strategic spots, to make sure that the neck not only sits snugly in the pocket, but more importantly is positioned perfectly on the center line.
    My first attempt at aligning the neck put me ⅛" too far north, but I had just enough wiggle room in the pocket that I could pad it with more tape to point it right at the center.

    Freekmagnet and naneek like this.
  14. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Hey, salt in the glue joint is a trick I haven't heard of!
    So it doesn't compromise the glue chemistry? Or function as a spacer between the layers of wood?
  15. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    I'm glad! I suspect reading about other people's mistakes is even more educational that reading about their successes.
  16. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    With the neck properly aligned and clamped in place, I can mark the four locations by simply banging some divots using one of the neck screws.


    The neck sits at an angle, but the holes in the body are straight. That means that the holes in the neck will need to be at an angle.
    I remembered that I had kept the shims I made for routing the neck pocket. Obviously they are at the correct angle, so I can use them to drill the holes!


    The screw holes are pretty tight, so it's probably a good idea to put some wax on the screws.


    And there it is! The neck and body joined together for the first time!

    The top is just put there temporarily for fun. Before I glue that in place, next it's time to finish the body rim.

    Freekmagnet, naneek, djh22 and 14 others like this.
  17. adamkoop

    adamkoop Tele-Meister

    Feb 18, 2016
    That top is a real trip when you see it in context ...
  18. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Wow, my progress here is really in fits and starts!

    I wanted to give the body a bit of a roundover, partially for playing comfort, and partially for paint adhesion.
    It won't lay flat on a router table, so the easiest way to go was just with some sandpaper.


    And to prep for the paint, I needed to fill in any gaps or divots. Especially on the top and bottom, where the layers of veneer might have left some gaps.
    I'm using Z-Poxy for this. I put a little black TransTint in there, so I could see what I was doing. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have, as it seems to have slowed down the curing time of the epoxy to over 24 hours.

    First I masked off all the parts that will remain non-painted.


    Now it's suddenly really ugly!

    Barncaster, loopy reed and naneek like this.
  19. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    And now for paint!
    I wanted something durable and simple. In the past I've used Truck Bed coating for some wooden motorcycle parts, and they have held up very well. So that's what I'm doing again.

    This was two coats, just a few minutes apart. The spray can really puts it out at a rapid pace!
    I should probably have worn gloves. Luckily it cleans off with mineral spirits.


    And after an hour or so, two more coats. Damn, too heavy! It had a run like this all the way around.
    But you can see the textured surface you end up with. Not sure what creates the texture, maybe small rubber particles?

    The runs were a mess to clean. The rubbery texture means that it doesn't work with sandpaper. In the end I used a small chisel as a scraper. Even with the texture, the paint telegraphs what's underneath, and it was hard to scrape it flat without introducing gouges.


    A few (lighter!) coats, and it's looking like I had intended.
    The speckles seem a bit coarse on the surface at first touch, but it's mostly dusty overspray. Once you rub the surface with your hand a bit, the sandpapery-ness goes away.


    Masking tape off. A little seeping under the tape won't matter, as long as I have a mostly clean wood surface for glue.

    Barncaster, richa and naneek like this.
  20. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Here I've finally glued the top on!
    When the glue hits the wood it's go-time, so no time for pictures until all the clamps are on.

    The water and rag was to wipe off squeeze-out. These are intended to be final surfaces, so I can't scrape or sand glue drops later.


    I had some round wood bits for cauls the the waist of the body, to clamp it tight to the top. They were slipping and rolling around under the clamp, so I had to quickly run over to the bandsaw and cut one of them in half. That helped keep them in place.

    You can see a sheet of ¾" plywood clamped under the body. I wanted to make sure that the glued-up parts would end up nice and flat.


    Day after, out of the clamps. Yuck, I had overestimated the strength of the truck bed paint!
    Not sure if it would have helped to let the paint cure a few days first.

    I'll have to figure out how to clean that up (and the same on the other side), and respray. Harder to do now that the top is glued on.


    I always like to weigh all the parts, to get an idea of how heavy the finished instrument will be.
    6lb 9.5oz, not too bad. I've made lighter ones, but I'm pleased with that.

    Barncaster, djh22, RogerC and 3 others like this.
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