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

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

  1. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Here's another little problem that surface once the clamps were off.

    The small area of the top between the neck and the pickup is unsupported underneath. The glue clamps introduced a varying amount of bendiness.
    If I didn't do anything about this, the pickup would sit all crooked.

    IMG_7500.jpg

    I found a piece of scrap maple at the right thickness, and wedged it in on the low (left) side, and clamped it down on the high (right) side. That ought to keep it flat.
    It may also help reduce vibration at the pickup, which might help avoid feedback.

    IMG_7502.jpg
     

  2. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    A few more thing I should do before glueing the back on, simply because it'll be hard to get the body to sit flat afterwards.

    Bridge posts. After attaching the neck, I can use the old two-long-rulers technique, to make sure the bridge will be centered on the neck. I've already tried to get the neck to center on the body center, so ideally the bridge will also be centered on the body. But with no center line on the top, I don't think I'll ever know!

    IMG_7505.jpg

    I'm using extra long bushings, so they actually will anchor through five layers of wood, and one layer of Formica!
    These bushings are in the standard Gibson tailpiece locations. I had initially intended to also drill for the standard bridge bushings, but since this bridge doesn't use those I decided to skip those. If I want to switch to a Tune-O-Matic at some point, I can drill it then.

    I'm glad I don't have the back attached when hammering these in. The back is unsupported at the bridge, so it might have cracked it!

    IMG_7507.jpg

    Here's the bridge, attached. It's quite the mechanical monster!
    It's awkward shape gets very camouflaged against the Formica pattern.

    IMG_7508.jpg

    Another mockup, this time with a pickup. This helped me figure out where the volume knob and the output jack should go.

    IMG_7509.jpg

    Those I drill with a handheld, so I can somewhat match the angle of the top surface.
    Two different sized holes.

    I had considered that I should wire up the guitar at this point, while the back is open. It probably would have been a good idea!

    IMG_7510.jpg
     

  3. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Now for the back.
    Unfortunately with my bent sides, things got a little twisty and imprecise here and there. That means that what was a (nearly) perfect template for the top isn't quite right for the back.

    So I take the ¼" MDF template, and tinker with it on the sander until I can squeeze it into the body.
    Lucky that I have the f-holes on the front, otherwise I wouldn't know how I would pop it out again!

    IMG_7503.jpg

    Flush routing the back to the template. Double-stick barely works on this, because the back is fairly wavy, so I use clamps as well, moving them around to be able to reach the router bit.

    IMG_7504.jpg

    Glue!
    I had to work fast again. I guess I could have used Titebond III, it sets a bit slower.

    Last look at the inside!

    IMG_7511.jpg

    And clamps. This time I said "screw it", and skipped on the wood clamping cauls. I banked on that the pads of the clamps were soft enough, and that the protective plastic on the Formica was protective enough.

    They were, and it was.

    IMG_7512.jpg
     

  4. naneek

    naneek Tele-Meister

    205
    Mar 19, 2010
    PNW
    very cool project. Your design really has a cool mid century vibe, it reminds me of a lot of different things. The laminate top reminds me of a kay semihollow. I really like your use of a zero fret. I tend to enjoy necks with a zero fret, I think it's a very good idea but you rarely see it on new guitars.

    Your photos and documentation are great. I'll definitely be following this as you finish it up, it reminds me of all the funky 50's and 60's brands.
     

  5. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks!
    This is the first time I do this shape, and also the first time I attempt a non-flat top. Much of the look can of course be credited to the bizarre Formica pattern.

    I'm also a bit surprised that zero frets are so rare. I've use one on a bass, and a few on ukuleles, but this is my first on a guitar. Seems like it SHOULD work well with a tremolo bridge, with little or no binding of the strings. I used a regular height fret for the zero, hope that won't be too low!
    I still haven't quite figured out how I'll make the string guide that will sit where the nut usually goes.
     
    naneek likes this.

  6. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Big D
    Looking good Mtorn!
    I am loving that bridge combo with the laminate top, it looks great!!
     
    mtorn likes this.

  7. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    There are a few areas where there is a little bit of a gap between the rim and the back. Since the body is quite rigid at this stage, I couldn't have clamped that shut when doing the back glue-up. But I have a plan!

    You can also see a white outline to the Formica. That's mostly (but not entirely) fuzzies from routing the edge, and can be scraped off with a fingernail.

    IMG_7513.jpg

    To fill the gaps (there's not many of them), I'm using black Apoxie Sculpt. It's an epoxy modeling clay, and this one cures into black.
    A small ball of each gets mixed up, rolled into little thin sticks, and packed in the gaps. This is pretty cool stuff! East to shape, with plenty of time to work, and it dries very hard, although not quite black, more like a dark gray.
    I look forward to trying this in a binding channel, and then sanded flush.

    IMG_7514.jpg

    The gap filling went well enough that I didn't take any pictures, since it doesn't look like much of anything (which is what we want!).

    The neck mounting holes need to be drilled through the back. Up until now the holes are just in the body core.

    IMG_7516.jpg
     

  8. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    34
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    This is too cool. I hate that rattlecan bedliner junk. I have never seen good results with it. To do a halfway decent job, you have to invest in the actual gun. You worked it over nicely. Now, finish it, already!
     

  9. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    Time to deal with the squished and marred truck bed finish.
    After scraping the damaged bits flat, and after filling a few gouges with more Epoxy Sculpt, I masked up all the openings on the front.

    I relied on the protective plastic of the Formica to function as masking for the spray. There were a few spots where the plastic had peeled off around the edges, so I used a little masking tape to cover those spots.

    However, the protective plastic HAS peeled a little bit all around, maybe 1/16" to ⅛", and I didn't want to have to tape all the edges again. So instead I took a scrap piece of Formica and sprayed it with the truck bead coating, let it dry, and checked to see if I could clean it off again.
    I DOES scrape off, or you can use mineral spirits to rub it off. That's the beauty of the Formica, almost nothing sticks to it!

    So a couple of more light coats of black. I think I'm counting eight coats now, but if I hadn't screwed anything up along the way, four coats would probably have been about right.

    IMG_7517.jpg

    The way this looks makes me think that it would be cool to do an instrument with black burst edges on top of Formica! Of course, that would require a full-on lacquer finish.

    IMG_7518.jpg

    Alright, I think the surface texture is about right, finally!

    IMG_7519.jpg

    And now I can remove the protective plastic! This is my first look at the Formica glossy surface.
    It's mildly textured, not quite a mirror surface gloss, but it's quite nice. And I didn't have to sand and polish it!
    You can clearly see the reflection of the two fluorescent tubes in my work light.

    All the black overspray that made it onto the Formica scraped off easily.
    This makes me think that next time I can make it much more easy on myself, and do ALL of the black coats after gluing on the top and back. The protective plastic would work just fine to mask off the Formica, and wouldn't require any extra work.

    IMG_7520.jpg

    There is still a hint of a white outline on the Formica. Here's my fancy fix - a Sharpie.
    Again the non-stick surface of the Formica comes in handy. I can be fairly sloppy with the Sharpie, and just wipe it off again. Handily the Sharpie covering the white outline doesn't wipe off as easily.

    I'm also pleased to say that the amount of inset that I had calculated for the top and back turned out just perfect. The black rim sits about 1/32" inch taller than the Formica all around. This was something I had worried about.

    IMG_7524.jpg
     

  10. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    I'm torn about the bedliner as well. I just wanted a break from the usual labor intensive finishing job, although this ended up being more work that I had intended!
    Now I'm dragging my feet on finishing the neck. That one will be finished with fairly conventional waterbase gun lacquer.
     

  11. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    34
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma
    How does formica sound? Is it a dark tone material, or is it bright?
     

  12. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 28, 2012
    Sou Cal
    Is that hi-gain bed liner paint or low-gain?
     
    mtorn and ndeli55 like this.

  13. nresponse

    nresponse TDPRI Member

    I'm thinking the same laminate veneer would look sharp on the headstock..
     
    boredguy6060 likes this.

  14. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Oct 23, 2011
    Lynchburg Tennessee
    That looks great!! I love the formica pattern.
     
    mtorn likes this.

  15. coldengray

    coldengray Tele-Meister

    Age:
    40
    312
    Sep 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    This is awesome. Really love this thread, thanks for sharing.
     
    mtorn likes this.

  16. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    I’m not sure if you’re serious or joking! In light of the ever present “tone wood” debates it could be either one...

    But it does make me wonder! While I don’t think the top and back will vibrate all that much - they are fairly thick and rigid - adding the Formica layer should have SOME effect on the sound, however subtle. My guess is that it will dampen any wood resonance a little bit, due to the extra glue and extra rigidity.

    But I think that any change in tone will really only be noticeable acoustically.
    Using the Stetsbar instead of a hardtail probably has a much greater effect on the amplified tone.
     

  17. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

    566
    Nov 29, 2016
    Portland, Oregon
    I was absolutely thinking the same thing. But then I couldn’t come up with a good way to deal with the edge of the Formica. Insetting it, like I did on the body, would be pretty complicated, and leaving it exposed would be a bit trashy.
     
    boredguy6060 likes this.

  18. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 28, 2012
    Sou Cal
    +2
     

  19. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

    Mar 28, 2012
    Sou Cal
    The back looks great, nice job.
     

  20. ndeli55

    ndeli55 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    34
    May 12, 2008
    oklahoma

    Absolutely a joke. It will sound like an electric guitar, and I'm excited to hear it.
     

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