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Newbie Tele build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by brownale99, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    How do folks, not sure if this is the place to do it but thought I'd try and document my first build as I go along and add in the stuff I've had to buy along the way so others can get an idea of tools and cost. I've got zero woodworking skills and had very few tools so I've had to buy a few things to get started and I'll add others as I need them. I'm in the UK so things may differ slightly to the US but I'm sure you'll get the idea.
    As I say, all I know of luthierising has been picked up from forums so if you think I've bought or done something wrong please shout up.
    Gonna start with the body and see how that goes before trying a neck, first port of call was to print out the Terry Downs rev E blueprint which led me to my first purchase. Sellotape lol.
    After watching ebay, shpock and gumtree I managed to buy some basic tools.

    Burgess BK3 plus 12" bandsaw £20
    Tuffsaw 6tpi blade £8.95
    Performance Power Pillar Drill £25
    Drill bit set £15
    Forstner set £7.95
    Drum sander bit set with bands £10
    Stanley Bailey No5 £20
    Stanley Bailey No4 £15
    Bosch POF 1400 Ace £25
    Vernier calipers £7
    2 piece sapele body blank £25
    2 x 450mmx100mm F clamps £25
    McAllister workbench £45
    1 1220mmx2440mm 9mm mdf sheet shop cut for templates £10 (6 body blanks and 3 long cuts for neck blanks etc)

    Any advice on other tools would be appreciated, cost is a massive factor which is why I've tried to buy second hand. I can always upgrade/add if this becomes an ongoing hobby.

    Cut out the blueprint after checking the reference line matched with the calipers and stuck it to the mdf and traced round. I made 2, one with the body shape and the other with the neck pocket and cavities in.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Used the bandsaw to rough out the templates then used the pillar drill with the drum sander in to sand up to the lines.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Found I'm going to need to take a bit of mdf and cut a hole in big enough for the drum sander to sit in and fix it to the drill table so I can sand the full edge as the drum currently doesn't sit flush with the table. Both templates are cut now and just need a bit tidying when I sort the drill out.

    For the template neck pocket and cavities I'll bandsaw where possible and take the majority out with the forstner bits but what is the best way to get everything square and tidy just a good old file? I cant use the drum on the drill as it has very little throat. I do have a dremel, is it worth buying a router type bracket and using a straight edge or dare I use the router itself free hand? When the templates are done should I transfer to a thicker template or as a first build should I just use this as a working model then back it up if it comes out okay? Any advice would be great. I'll have a read up and see what other folk have done as well.

    I've ordered some titebond and a set of stones for sharpening the planes as they're blunt as hell. I tried to plane the joints and it became obvious I was going nowhere fast so I watched a youtube clip with Paul Sellars on setting up and servicing a plane so thats my next task while I wait for the glue to turn up. I've also ordered a Freud 1/4" 19mmx25.4mm top bearing bit and a 1/8" round over bit for the routing, I'm sure I've read on here they are the best sizes to get. The bearing bit cost more than the router but I've read numerous comments about bit quality so thought it best not to cut corners (doh!)

    Anyhoo, thats it for now. I'll hopefully get a bit more done next week when I get back from work, fingers crossed the weathers a bit better so I can work outside to avoid the dust. It's gonna be slow going as I don't get a great deal of spare time but that's maybe a good thing first time round.

    Cheers
     

    Attached Files:

    Arch Stanton, DonM, Daniel94 and 3 others like this.

  2. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Welcome to the forum! You are in the right place and what you have as far as tools is fine. You'll find ways to do things if you don't have the right tool moving forward.

    Are you also planning on building a neck?

    Using a file is fine for roughing the pockets, but I'd suggest following up with sandpaper on a block...

    Take your time and enjoy. Building is very addictive!
     
    brownale99 likes this.

  3. Milspec

    Milspec Tele-Holic

    894
    Feb 15, 2016
    Nebraska
    That is very ambitious.....I tip my hat to you. I purchased my body as a cut blank and took it from there, but I wouldn't dream of trusting myself to build a neck. You are a much handier person than me.
     
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  5. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    Hi John, thanks for the welcome.

    I'll stick with the file and sandpaper for the pockets, I was kinda hoping that was the best as I'm terrified of using the router lol. I think I'll make another template using this as a master just to get used to using it.

    I'm definitely going to have a go at making a neck but thought it would be best to try the body first as it looked a lot easier. Should I make the neck at the same time or should I get a donor neck initially to try out then build one afterwards?

    Cheers

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017

  6. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    Hi Milspec, I thought about going down the bought body and neck route but the more I read up in these forums the more interested I was starting in from scratch. Reading through some of the builds it must be so satisfying to see and play the end product that started out as a lump of wood. I've no doubt this first build will be a comedy of errors whilst I'm learning but I've done my usual and jumped in both feet now lol. You've gotta start somewhere :)
     
    MM73 likes this.

  7. Meteorman

    Meteorman Tele-Holic

    544
    Dec 23, 2012
    State College PA
    Dave, i assume you're going overcome that fear of using your router, thats why you're making a template. If you're gonna use a standard tele pickguard and bridge, routing the pickup and control cavities might be the best place to start - you wont see it later. Unless you go waaay off the reservation. Practice on some scrap. Read up on the proper techniques, hold on firmly, and keep a healthy respect for it. You can do it!
    Having said that, if your head and heart truly just arent into it, best to leave it on the sidelines.
     
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  8. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    I'm in it both feet now so I'll give it a go. I'll finish the 9mm templates and try the router to make an 18mm one, that's a good call trying the pickup cavities first I'll be sure to do that. I've got a freud 1/2" x 1" top bearing bit on order so I'll sort a bit scrap out to try it first.
    Cheers for the tips :)
     

  9. Daniel94

    Daniel94 Tele-Meister

    138
    Oct 31, 2016
    Odessa, MO
    Welcome to the forum! This is definitely a very addicting hobby, I'm sure you'll be hooked by the time you finish this. I'm getting close to finishing up my first tele, I'll be following your thread and maybe able to give some tips or things to watch out for from mistakes I made on mine. Good luck!
     
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  10. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    Thanks Dan, it's definitely a bug once you get going. I'd appreciate any pointers especially when it comes from personal experience. Did you build the neck as well or start with the body?
     

  11. Daniel94

    Daniel94 Tele-Meister

    138
    Oct 31, 2016
    Odessa, MO
    I built the neck also, I did the body and neck at the same time. I personally don't think a neck is much harder than a body, the carving I think can seem intimidating but is really not that hard and is actually pretty enjoyable and satisfying to do!
     

  12. crisscrosscrash

    crisscrosscrash TDPRI Member

    81
    May 8, 2015
    Montreal
    When I did my first build, I thought the neck was going to be another level of difficulty from the body, but in retrospect, it's really not. I had a donor neck from an old Yamaha that I was going to use, but then I tried making my own, using the donor as guide (and a fallback, safety plan!) -- in the end the neck I built turned out fine and the donor went back to it's Yamaha home. I agree with Dan above: neck carving seemed really intimidating, but it's actually super easy and has become my favourite part of any build. If you look up Fletcher guitars on youtube, there's a nice video of how to lay out lines for carving facets that works well, and is pretty idiot-proof.

    So I'd say get a donor neck, but try building one anyhow (something to work on while you wait weeks for body lacquer to dry!) -- if the neck doesn't work out, you've only sacrificed some wood, some time, and 10$ of frets. And if it does work out, then you've got a donor neck you'll have an excuse to make ANOTHER body for.


    EDITED TO ADD: here's that video
     
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  13. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    Thanks for those links guys, that's kinda put my mind at ease and I'm definitely going to try making a neck. I've ordered a fretboard blank and looking for a neck blank now.
    I had a few hours spare today so decided to get the workbench out and plod on. I cut a hole in some mdf to allow the sanding drum to sit lower to allow me to sand the edges of the template (photo is a temp measure, I joined 2 bits with titebond and fastened to the plate once I knew it would work.

    [​IMG]

    Once the outer edges were to the lines I started on the neck pocket and cavities, this didn't go quite as well. Drilled a few holes freehand with a forstner bit and it kept ripping the mdf on the other side, same thing happened with a flat bit. Not sure if this is normal or if its just crap mdf.

    [​IMG]

    Ended up going with a coping saw and a dremel then finished off with a file and sandpaper. Once that was done I moved on to the body blank. Both bits had a machined edge and the opposite one was rough so I decided to see if I could square the rough edge. I learned a few things here, planes are bloody hard to use. The blade has to be as sharp as you can get it and sapele is a pain in the arse to plane. After taking what seemed like 6 inches off the rough edges and leaving it looking like the Himalayas I decided to change tact. I watched youtube clip from Bailey Guitars and he used sanding blocks and scrapers. I took my fret levelling beam with some 120 grit on, crosshatched the edge so I could see the low spots and then leveled off with the scraper checking with a square as I went. Worked a treat but getting a bit worried about planing the body blank once the glue has set. I'll have a search on planing tips but any you guys have would be appreciated.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Well that's it for today, weather permitting I'll rough out the body tomorrow and have a go at planing it flat. Are there other option to planing, could I just use an orbital sander or should I man up and go for it. Thanks again for all the help, it's much appreciated.
     

    Attached Files:

    Daniel94 likes this.

  14. Daniel94

    Daniel94 Tele-Meister

    138
    Oct 31, 2016
    Odessa, MO
    Lookin good! Guitarbuilders link on carving a neck by facets is what I used for mine and it was very helpful and easy to follow.

    For planing the body I'd recommend building a router sled, the picture is of the one I built, it took a couple hours and around 20 bucks of materials and you can get your body blank dead flat, and it's also useful for stuff like thicknessing the peg head since you're gonna do a neck. You can search the forum for different sled designs, any of them should work just fine.

    IMG_0376.JPG
     
    brownale99 likes this.

  15. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    I've had a look at the links from Guitarbuilder and crisscrosscrash and they're spot on, I think I can follow those. I've ordered a neck blank and fret board now so should be here for next week. I think I'll take a leaf out of your book there and build a sled, my first foray into planing didn't go too well. Which is the best size router bit to use on a sled, I only have the flush trim bit at the moment. Thanks again for the help :)
     

  16. Reckless Rat

    Reckless Rat Tele-Meister

    388
    Feb 26, 2014
    UK
    Welcome to the house of fun... :)

    You're off to a good start, there. Sapele is a favourite of mine! A couple of things:-

    MDF - and most other things - will tear out like that if it's not supported underneath when the bit breaks through. I have taken to drilling just far enough for the tip of the bit to start to poke through, and then flip the piece over and use that centre spot as a guide to drill from the other side.

    Keep persisting with the planes, it will start to pay off and it's a lot more pleasant than the sound of a screaming router/planer (your neighbours will also thank you!). I have the same Stanley #5 and it's probably my favourite tool. The Paul Sellers videos are a great introduction, and you'll definitely feel the benefit of those sharpening stones. I have a double-sided diamond stone from Axminster. A honing guide is also a valuable purchase.

    Learning to read the grain is also very important. I find Sapele planes really nicely, although it tears out quite a lot if you're against the grain. Maple is generally just a bit too hard for me to plane reliably, but I keep persisting. I'll get it one day.

    Strange as it sounds, if you're near an Aldi, try to get a set of their woodworking chisels. They're dead cheap, take a good edge, and are surprisingly useful.

    If you can, practice on scrap until you get the hang of things.

    Good luck, and remember to post pictures!
     
    brownale99 likes this.

  17. brownale99

    brownale99 TDPRI Member

    30
    Feb 18, 2017
    Newcastle, UK
    Cheers Rat, thats a good tip for the mdf, I'll give that a go as I'm likely gonna redo the neck pocket/pickup template. I must admit the stones I bought were a bit cheap and nasty and likely haven't put the edge on the plane that I need, also the honing guide is something else I'll have to buy as I just tried to follow the existing angles. The initial outlay so far has been a bit more than I expected so I'm kinda struggling to buy everything. I think I'm going to try both ways to level a body, a sled would come in handy for other jobs as Dan pointed out and looks to be the easier option (once built) but I'd love to become competent with the plane as well. I might give the plane a go first to save on the extra cost of the sled and if that doesn't work out then try the sled.

    Thanks again for the help, you guys are awesome
     
    Daniel94 likes this.

  18. Daniel94

    Daniel94 Tele-Meister

    138
    Oct 31, 2016
    Odessa, MO
    If you do end up going with the sled, you can use any square bit in it, I've used both a 1/2" and 3/4" and they both worked just fine. The wider it is just means fewer passes.
     
    brownale99 likes this.

  19. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 26, 2014
    Poughkeepsie, NY
    Need to say one thing here.... there is no rush!! Take your time, learn your tools as you go. Have fun with the building. As you get better, you will find other ways to accomplish the same task. Each has its pluses and minuses, you get to chose which works for you.

    As for the cost of all the tools, supplies, lumber and more... it can get out of control very quickly! Again the first piece of advice also applies here.

    When I drill MDF (or any wood) there is always a sacrificial piece underneath, that fully supports the board being drilled. You will also get the hang of how deep you are drilling, where you can lessen the pressure so you don't experience blow-out on the backside. (< that sounds really bad! :eek:)

    I too built a neck on my first try... one is still sitting on a shelf in the garage, the second one is on a guitar, but it's not a great neck. This is a task where you get better as you go along. The "next" guitar is always the "best" one... at least in my experience.

    Enjoy the process, it sounds like you are already one of the crazies!!:lol::lol:
     
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