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

Help with contours

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by YALCaster, May 10, 2018.

  1. YALCaster

    YALCaster Tele-Meister

    Jul 24, 2017
    Lots of skilled, helpful, knowledgeable people on this great forum. I am seeking help, tips, and opinions. I am soon going to be making my own body! This will be my first, and I need your guys help. On the forearm and belly contours, how do I get them? I’ve seen several ways and strategies people have used to achieve them, but I was curious what you guys would do? Files, hand sanding, make a jig and cut it with a saw? I’ve seen a couple of ways, but I’m nervous. Any and all help would be appreciated!
  2. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

    Any of the ways you mentioned will work including a combination. All personal preference and tools available. Read Ron Kirns Sharp Dressed Strat thread and you will have a wealth of all the info you need.

    Practice on junk wood and knock it out!
  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    You take a look at the Fender strat diagram on google images and transfer that information to the body blank. Since a tele is shorter, you need to fudge the location on the body. When I first started out, I would rasp the arm contour following with files and abrasive. The belly contour was a bear to rasp out, so I had this brilliant idea to make saw kerfs every 1/4" apart. I knew that short grain would come out more easily. I used a hammer and chisel to remove the bulk of the wood. It worked out great. The rasp, files and abrasive came next again.

    You also can use a hand or stationary belt sander on the arm contour pretty quickly and easily.
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  4. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    I just went at my Telecaster with a belt sander....removing what didn't look (or feel) like a forearm carve. I won't say it's beautiful, but it doesn't dig into my arm.
    Kinda like a lady I once heard responding to a question, "They're a C...but they taste like a D...."
  5. loopy reed

    loopy reed Friend of Leo's

    Nov 14, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Files and sanding is a lot of work. I tried that first on my current build, then switched to roughing it out with a sander then cleaned up with files and hand sanding
  6. Speedy454

    Speedy454 Tele-Holic

    Oct 1, 2013
    Highland, IL
    I use a 4" sander grinder with #36, then 60, then 80 then move to my DA/Orbital.
    It makes the work fairly quick but not so aggressive that mistakes happen.

    I pencil starting points on the front and back and depth marks along the sides.

    But I am not looking for a perfect replica, just personal comfort and a little weight reduction.
    I blend all of mine far more than a factory strat, but that's what I want. I don't want sharp angles. I like smooth gentle contours on the front and a modest break on the back. For me, leaving a sharp angle kind of defeats the purpose of body contours.
  7. YALCaster

    YALCaster Tele-Meister

    Jul 24, 2017
    Thanks for all the replies, I’m actually going to be making a Fender Maverick body. I’m nervous, but if I mess up I can always start again. I’ll likely use a sander as I don’t own any rasps. I wish I had the guts to do what this gentleman does in the video:

  8. Dunkerhook

    Dunkerhook Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Jul 29, 2011
    New Jersey
    Lots of good advice here already. +1 on the pencil lines to guide you, and on practicing on scrap, and the fact that you decide what “right” looks like, and on the Ron Kirn threads. Ron Kirn threads are good for this reason and 100 others — most of them, but not all, about guitars.

    I use micro planes. They’re “industrial strength” cheese graters. Not kidding. Get them at Hartville Tool or Amazon.

    I learned how to shape necks with them so, when it was time came to do contours, they were the tool I already had. So what the heck? I tried them and have not used any other method. They take the place of grinders or rasps. I follow the coarse and fine micro planes with 80 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of PVC pipe (belly) or a block (forearm), then 120 and 220 (finer grits in finish work later).

    My focus is on these three thoughts: take my time, mind my pencil lines, and keep the tools level to the plane I want for the contour. If you want a straight line at the transition, maintaining a single, consistent plane is important.

    At the end, I take strips of 120 and 220 and blend the contours into the round over on the rest of the body. Use a shoe-shine technique for this until it looks right — however you decide that should be. Or, as Ron says in his book — until it looks like a strat.
  9. 2blue2

    2blue2 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jul 20, 2013
    Island of Oahu

    THAT WAS AN AWESOME CUT! On those belly and arm contours!
    I Love that stuff.

    That being said I do it like speedy, I am a 4" death wheel freak.
    Of course if you useing that grinder you'll never be a real luther.
    Draw it how you want it is important.

    Go Speedy454 Go!

  10. 2blue2

    2blue2 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jul 20, 2013
    Island of Oahu
    Mustang, Bronco, Duo Sonic, Cyclone, Music Master, ?

    What is that cut mustang guitar in your avatar, can't remember what it is.
  11. YALCaster

    YALCaster Tele-Meister

    Jul 24, 2017
    Swinger/Arrow/Musiclander! I love it, it’s probably my favorite guitar. Of course I have to have the other odd one too, and have a Maverick :rolleyes:
    2blue2 likes this.
  12. 2blue2

    2blue2 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jul 20, 2013
    Island of Oahu
    So cool,
    I'm fond of Mustangs, got a couple.
  13. Mad Kiwi

    Mad Kiwi Friend of Leo's

    I started with a file and rapidly gave up that idea....went straight to band saw for tummy cut. Turned out perfect (amazingly).
  14. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Just rasp and sandpaper for me. But I'm not doing anything over the top belly or forearm wise - just going for the feel.
  15. Armo

    Armo Tele-Holic

    Nov 13, 2008
    I use an angle grinder with a flapper disc then a belt sander and then hand sanding.
  16. Jackadder

    Jackadder Tele-Holic

    Jun 12, 2014
    Western Australia
    I'm with you, bro. Weapon of choice:

    trancedental likes this.
  17. dbickford

    dbickford Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 24, 2012
    Morgan, Vermont
    I like a nice smooth one.

    I start with the 80 grit flap disc. Careful with that! Then its sandpaper glued to various shapes of woodblocks IMG_5133.JPG IMG_5165.JPG IMG_5180.JPG IMG_5217.JPG IMG_5183.JPG IMG_5207.JPG IMG_5219.JPG IMG_5460.JPG and lots of finger sanding.
  18. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 21, 2012
    Doing the back contour on a strat is a lot harder than it looks
  19. dbickford

    dbickford Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 24, 2012
    Morgan, Vermont
    Yes it is. If you have a steady hand, shaving that contour with a flap disc only takes a couple minutes. It’s the other couple hours is sanding thru consecutive grits using a straightedge to check for a nice,even shape to the cut that can be somewhat tedious.
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