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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

My first Telecaster type build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by richa, May 6, 2016.

  1. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    This is my first Tele-type build. I've built some 3 and 4 string cigar box guitars but this is my first 6 string. I sort of had an idea I might post some pics when it was all done…but after seeing some of the other build threads I decided to provide some entertainment as it unfolds. After all, what do we live for but to give our neighbors sport? That said I'm already a ways into this build so I'll reconstruct how I got here as best I can over a few posts. So here goes my first TDPRI thread.

    I have two real goals.
    1. End up with a guitar to start learning 6 string. I'm a novice guitar player and enjoy the open tunings typical with cigar box guitars. I didn't really start out with the idea of even wanting to play six string. I mean…I've only got four fingers…what's up with that? But playing three and four string at some point you think to yourself…if only I had another string say…oh I dunno… maybe four half steps lower…and the light comes on. So anyway I'm going to give it a go.
    2. Make as many build mistakes as I can as fast as I can. This approach has worked very well with the cigar box guitars so I see little reason to change it…and I'm really good at the making mistakes part so there's a real sense of accomplishment there. :)

    Body: Basswood - found a decent piece for cheap at a local lumber store. A bit soft - dunno if I'd use it again but there are things I like about it. Anyway, press on.

    Neck: Hard maple from the odds and ends bin at same lumber store.

    Fretboard: TBD

    Pickups: Wilde (Bill and Becky Lawrence) L48TL bridge, L-500C neck

    Pickup Selector: 5 position, push/pull vol/tone. Still noodling on wiring.

    Bridge: Gotoh six saddle

    Finish: Natural'ish. More in a later post.


    First few steps as seen in pic.

    • Cut the basswood board in half and join. Plane to thickness (a bit more than 1 3/4") with a hand plane. I like using hand tools.
    • Made paper template in Visio from tele pictures on google along with dimensions of the parts, which arrived by that time. Trace body and cavities with a knife through the template.
    • Used a drill press and forstner bit to remove a lot of the waste from the cavities. I don't like using hand tools that much.
    20160407_172329.jpg
     

  2. tedocaster

    tedocaster TDPRI Member

    66
    Feb 16, 2016
    Westwood, Ontario
    You got a very smooth surface with your plane, tidy boring too.
     

  3. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's

    Oct 23, 2011
    Lynchburg Tennessee
    Looks like you have a great start!! I'll be watching.
     

  4. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Thanks for the encouragement. Gives me incentive to put together another post tonight.
     
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  5. HockeyPop98

    HockeyPop98 Tele-Meister

    498
    Oct 12, 2012
    Ohio
    Besides being a light wood, basswood is a great medium for carving with hand tools. Straight grain, even consistency. You chose well for a first project, and even as a core should you want to sandwich it between exotics later.

    Good luck with your build.
     

  6. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Thanks HockyPop.

    Next up - cavities. I started by getting the edges established with a chisel then kept removing more layers of waste. When it got close to the bottom I switched to a router plane to remove the rest. Not as clean as using a template and a router (at least not when I do it) but I find it less stressful.

    20160407_173750.jpg

    For the string anchors on the back I couldn't convince myself that ferrules in this soft wood have enough bearing surface. Instead I decided to use a recessed steel plate.

    So you can see from that steel plate that I decided to drill the through holes at an angle. What mysterious dark purposes could I possibly have for doing such a thing? I dunno - premature optimization I guess. It's a curse. I had this notion that avoiding a hard break angle in the string where it enters the through-hole on the bridge plate might be good. And maybe result in more string compliance (assuming that would even be a good thing if true). In any case I won't have a baseline to compare it against and I certainly don't have any established preferences in the matter. On the bright side I might get lucky and find out that it messes something up…which would be a definitive result and spare me endless tortured months wondering if it actually makes any difference one way or the other. So there's that. Maybe we'll just call it aesthetic preference and leave it at that.


    20160410_145817.jpg


    What else. Ah yes, a moments loss of concentration. When I was cleaning up the walls of the neck pocket with the chisel I managed to undercut one side toward the outer edge of the pocket.

    Glue and sawdust seems just fine there. Used a chisel to pare it square though this picture doesn't show the fix.

    20160408_175855.jpg


    Ah yes - now we come to that unsightly blemish on the back. Eeeeeek! It's the blob! I wanted a round straight-in jack plate on the front (instead of the usual thingy on the edge). Well surely I couldn't get into much trouble drilling a half inch wire routing hole from the control cavity to the jack cavity…ahem. Lesson learned - I think I'll drill smaller pilot holes in future - easier to patch. Well - that and just don't get cocky. About the patch. I put a plug in there to fill most of the space but thought I could get away with sawdust and glue for a filler. Not on this light colored wood obviously. This will have implications for how I decide to finish it but that's for another post.

    20160410_145846.jpg


    Finally time for the band saw. That's another exception to the hand tool preference. The band saw is fun. Hey, it kinda looks like a guitar. Or as my son said after I cut it out - "Ooooh, TAR!".

    20160410_181501.jpg


    Join us for the next installment when our hero has a distressing encounter with a blow torch.
     
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  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    For the string anchors on the back I couldn't convince myself that ferrules in this soft wood have enough bearing surface. Instead I decided to use a recessed steel plate.


    Half a billion guitars have been made from basswood, including guitars made by Fender and other large manufacturers, whose guitars have tremolo bars bolted in. I think you can rest easy that it will do the job. :)
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016

  8. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's

    Oct 23, 2011
    Lynchburg Tennessee
    That's really looking good richa!!
     

  9. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    I believe you have hit the nail on the head. Premature optimization is the engineers curse.
     
    CLPeterman likes this.

  10. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Getting ready for the finish. I use a japanese saw file and half-round rasp to smooth the edges...and sandpaper wrapped around a dowel (80, 220). Lots of sanding. So here's where I am right now with the finish on the body. Or it was two weeks ago - I've been letting it rest before final sanding while I finish up a cigar box banjo. I used Transtint vintage maple in blond shellac (and a little bit of reddish brown). It always looks more yellow in every photo I've tried to take - plus everyone's monitor is different so who knows what you'll see. It's not as splotchy as it looks either - some of the lighter areas are things reflecting off the finish.

    P5064411.jpg P5064414.jpg

    So why with significant surface blemishes did I decide to go transparent? When I first envisioned this project I had in my head (and I am still very taken with) the light-colored ceruse'd blackguards. After reading up on that a bit I thought I might be over-reaching for a first finish project. I decided to do basswood with an opaque vintage cream finish. In retrospect it would have been saner. But…ya see…it's like this…I was looking at tele pics one night and asked my wife if any of them jumped out at her. Without hesitation she pointed to one of the pictures that happened to show up in the google search. It was a Ron Kirn pine tele…glurg. What could I say to the love of my life, the brightest star in my sky? Um…yeah sweety…that would look good. With basswood that's lighter than my legs in springtime, and has about as much visual texture as a…a…thing with no visual texture…and for my first solid-body build. Oooookay…

    This would have been the time to either stay the original course, or find some different wood. But nah. I wanted the guitar to look new not relic'd - but I didn't mind trying to make the wood look like it had lived a little and learned to sing the blues before being made into a guitar. So I used a screw-thread imprint to make it look like it had been re-sawn and exposed a screw bore, and added a few light dings. Then I filled these to level thinking if did a little burning on the surface they would darken more than the surrounding areas. That worked as far as it goes.

    Ignoring all the advice I found about how hard it can be to control the burning process I proceeded to make a bit of a mess of things. I did practice a little - and was successful enough to decide to proceed. But I wanted to get something that would at least evoke the dark stains you get in barnwood sometimes. And the problem is it wouldn't quite look right so I would expand the burned area to try feathering the edges better etc. etc. and then this thing just sort of overcame me and next thing I knew it looked like the tree had been through a forest fire. Well - ok…not that bad. But…

    WARNING: Don't take a blow torch to a glue joint without being *very* careful. You really need to make sure the area doesn't get hot enough for the glue to melt/vaporize/go poof - and that's not hot at all.

    At first I thought the joint had completely delaminated on the wide end. But after probing with a razor I concluded that the wood had shrunk away from the lip of the joint only near the surface - as near as I could tell. So what I basically had was piece of wood with the equivalent of a shallow split. Hmmm. In retrospect epoxy would have been better. But at the time I just used filler and soldiered on. At this point I had given up on thoughts of a beautiful masterpiece and was just hoping for something that would function and not look too bad from a hundred feet away.

    P5064416.jpg

    Oh…and some cracks on the end grain. They were there already - but I hope the wood doesn't move and open them up more.

    Before sealing I sanded the surface down until the burned areas were relatively more understated. Oddly enough I got the back about how I wanted it. Because you know - we practice on the *front* to make sure when we get to the back we've got it down.
     
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  11. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Next installment - ready to start on the actual finishing process.

    Sealing - I used Bulls Eye shellac cut with denatured alcohol (maybe about 1/3 alcohol). Funny, their actual sealer product is dewaxed, and the rattle can product is dewaxed, but the regular shellac is not. But I already had the regular shellac around so I went with it. And after a few coats I was getting ready to start on tinting but decided that the burning was still too clumsy. Sand, re-seal and lightly sand. And at that point it looked like this.

    20160420_180411.jpg


    I guess a lot of people apply the tint directly to the wood. I wasn't confident in my ability to get it right but I suppose building it up in several light washes would give enough control. But I had read about tinting the shellac and building up to the right shade with several coats. I wanted to try this. For one thing it seemed easier to see what you were getting as you went and stop when you were satisfied. I had tried this out on some scrap. The mix looks dark when you add the tint (at least this one) but really doesn't go on all that dark. That's all good. And shellac dries pretty quick - but I still like to let it dry to the touch between coats. And after several coats I let it dry several hours and sand lightly before doing more. I was thinning the tinted shellac as well - but not as much as for the sealer. Maybe just 20% or so.

    Only one problem. There's always a problem. At this point I was brushing the shellac on. The tinted shellac does melt into the sealer coat, but not perfectly. I accidentally let something touch the surface after the shellac was tacky. In trying to smooth it out the tinted layer(s) and the clear sealer would not integrate perfectly leaving it blotchy. More sanding.

    If I were doing this again I would probably try tinting the sealer as well. Putting down tinted shellac on untinted really seems to be problematic - unless of course you make no mistakes. But if they were the same color it seems like it would allow you to recover better - shellac is normally pretty forgiving that way.

    Also, at this point I decided to try a Preval sprayer to put the rest of the tinted shellac on. This worked ok. It's not a very fine spray but I was pretty surprised how well it worked. Multiple coats do melt into one another and even out - but it seems to get an orange peel texture unless you sand off nearly all you put on. After I had the tint where I wanted it I used a rattle can of clear shellac I had. I put multiple coats on hoping it will sand level without taking the clear coat completely off. Though it might not matter all that much since it's all just shellac.

    And that pretty much brings me to real time. The body has been hanging up curing. Shellac drys fast but it does bruise easily for quite a while do I decided to give it a rest before before final sanding while I do other things and noodle on next steps. Oh…what happened to the unsightly blemish? That's not an unsightly blemish. That's patina. This from the guy who has been heard to say "sometimes patina is just rust". :)
     
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  12. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Ok, so here's a bit of a quandry. How much of a problem is a slight back bow in the neck?

    20160509_113916.jpg 20160509_114124.jpg



    I cut rough neck blanks from the maple plank a few weeks ago. The plank was about 2" so after cutting the rough shape I resawed it resulting in two neck blanks. Whatever will I do with another neck blank :). Since I was resawing I wanted to let them rest a while and see if they moved. Or rather how much they would move. Hmmm.

    Could be worse. The two pieces are bowing away from each other a bit. But no twist yet. So both pieces are a bit over 7/8", one a little more so. I kinda want the neck on the chunky side I think so I'm hoping to remove as little thickness as possible when I plane. So the way it worked out the slightly thicker one has the forward bow and the slightly thinner one has the back bow.

    So each piece has about 1/32" of bow which means I need to remove 1/16" to get rid of the bow (half on the front side half on the back). Plus whatever extra I have to remove because sometimes that's just the way it works. The forward bow I can plane out and still leave the neck just a little less than 7/8" thick. But the thinner one will probably end up closer to 3/4". Could be worse.

    But - thinks I, a slight back bow might not be the end of the world, or could even be a good thing. I'm just not sure how much hassle it will create while working on it - routing the truss rod channel, gluing the fretboard, shaping the neck, etc. I've done several necks for other projects but one way or another didn't run into this particular problem.

    Anyone have thoughts on this?
     
    Uncle Mui likes this.

  13. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    You did the right thing by letting it sit. I'd go for dead flat myself. You really need 1" of thickness with your fretboard. You can always leave the fretboard a bit thicker to compensate for making the neck thinner too.
     

  14. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Thanks for the input. That seems like the most sound approach. I haven't made a final decision about the fretboard yet so I think I will plane one of these before I do just so I know what I've got to work with.
     

  15. abrianb

    abrianb Tele-Meister

    212
    Mar 5, 2014
    Indiana
    Don't get in a hurry with that neck. I have had a board setting on my bench for a month. It was planned dead flat and surfaced s4. Then a week later it was bowed a little. Then it got surfaced again and so far has not moved. I'd like to get it close to final thickness tomorrow and if in a week no movement it will get final thickness and a truss rod slot.
     

  16. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    That's a point. Not like I don't have other things I can work on. Thanks.
     

  17. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Well, since the neck has gone off to Boulder, CO. to find itself I spent some time last night doing final sanding on the body. Then did some polishing tonight. Wet sanding was 320, 600, 1200, 2000. Polish was Meguiar's Fine-Cut. There are some problems with they way I laid down the shellac that can't be resolved without sanding back down to base coat. Not doing it. What with one thing and another I'm pretty happy with the way it came out. I'll take my lessons learned and move on.

    20160511_181827.jpg 20160511_182709.jpg 20160511_182822.jpg

    This one comes the closest to showing the color, at least on my computer. Sorry for the disturbing angle. Trying to hold in in the light for best effect and take a picture.
    20160511_182747.jpg
     
    Guy Lorshbaugh likes this.

  18. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Finally got back into this after finishing my License Plate Resonator Banjo here.

    The neck hasn't moved any more so decided to have a go at getting it planed to thickness. This is a two piece and after planing I've got just enough so that I can add a fretboard and get it to thickness. Ended up right at 3/4" thick at the pocket. The top of the neck is dead flat (unless things start moving again). I ended up with a little more play in the thickness at the headstock so I planed the back of the neck slightly thicker at the headstock - 13/16" before cutting the scoop or whatever that thingy in fender headstocks is called.

    Used winding sticks to check for twist

    20160611_124147.jpg


    Huh...how about that. A little flame started showing when I planed it. Didn't see that when I bought the plank. I'll take it.
    20160611_141402.jpg

    Got some decisions to make now about what I want to use for a fretboard... but that will have to be another post.
     
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  19. src9000

    src9000 Poster Extraordinaire

    Great thread. I'm digging that body.
    I think it's got that old furniture look.
     

  20. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Apr 23, 2016
    Washington
    Thanks. You know I keep thinking the same thing. Every time I look at this thing it triggers some half remembered feeling of playing on the floor at my grandparents house (surrounded by their furniture).
     

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