not-so-newbie's first neck build (and possibly a quilted maple thinline?)

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by scubadoo, May 20, 2009.

  1. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks to everyone who offered so much advice during the 'thinking' stage of this. It took me a while to get my head around how to build a neck but I think I'm getting there.

    This thread is for my first neck, and it may end up going on a quilted maple thinline that I'm thinking of building to sell on my website, if I ever getting it up and running that is.

    If anyone can suggest better methods please feel free to say, i would welcome any input.

    Here's the timber for the body; a nice piece of Swamp Ash from David Dyke and a quilted maple bookmatched set from a lovely chap on ebay.

    [​IMG]

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    I also bought a AA grade maple neck blank from David Dyke. Here it is roughly cut out along with my template. This is the headstock design that I'll be using from now on.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately i didn't get any photos of cutting the truss rod channel, but here's what i did. I traced the template outline and marked the centreline. Then i positioned the rod on the neck with the adjusting nut just shy of the end of the neck and marked where the rod ended up near the 2nd fret, allowing for the radius of the bit.

    Then i got one of these, a 1/4" bit, and popped it in the router.

    [​IMG]

    I clamped and screwed the blank to the bench and also clamped a piece of straight timber to act as a guide. With the bit raised just above the surface I ran the router along the guide to make sure that it stayed straight on the line. I also placed a stop block stuck down with double-sided tape at the headstock end to make sure i didn't go too far.

    Then it was time to cut my frst truss rod channel.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2009
  2. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    It went really well, i think i went about 15mm deep and stopped about 3/4" short of the heel end.

    [​IMG]

    This is similar to the rod I'm using, from CH Guitars on ebay. It's a single action rod but he also sells double action ones. They're about £6.

    [​IMG]

    I had to widen the area around the sleeve that the rod moves through with files, checking the fit all the time.

    Onto the outline; I screwed the template down using one screw on the headstock that would be hidden by a tuner and one at the heel. I also used tape along the neck to stop the template wandering. Then it was over to the router table with a 3/4" template bit. That maple does not like being routed does it!

    I wish someone had told me this but you REALLY have to hold the bugger tight when routing the end grain and go against the direction of the cutter. If you don't, this happens :rolleyes:

    [​IMG]

    Not too worried though as i can probably sand that out.
     
  3. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    And here she is, starting to look like a neck now!

    [​IMG]

    The fit with the rod was good. I think in the past I'd stupidly thought that the rod was inserted from the outside through the heel or headstock hole. I guess this is how you do vintage rods? But with this rod it gets inserted through the channel and the thread pokes through the hole (hopefully) that I still need to drill at the heel end. I forgot to mention that ths rod goes in a flat bottomed channel. The truss unit comprises a flat steel bar that is welded to the rod at one end and at the adjustment end a sleeve is welded to the bar but not the rod so that when you tighten the nut, the rod moves through the sleeve. This forces the bar to bend because the length of rod between the anchor and the sleeve is now shorter. So the flat bar needs to go closest to the fingerboard, at the bottom of the truss rod channel to counteract the pull of the strings.

    I think I've always been confused about truss rods and would have to say that the best way to understand it is to buy one and tighten it or to do an installation

    In order to get the rod in I needed to drill the hole for the nut. To do this i had to measure the position of the threaded rod relative to the fingerboard and make a simple jig to make sure the drill bit stayed horizontal and at the right height and would enter the channel correctly. I used a bit of ash offcut, marked squares all round and marked the height position based on my measurements, then clamped the neck and lined up the jig, making sure the centrelines were lined up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The rod fitted nicley and with a bit of, ehum, persuasion the nut fitted on.
     
  4. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    The next thing was to make a skunk stripe fillet. The piece of walnut i had was about 1/2" x 1/2" so i needed to get it to 1/4" to fit the channel. Man, I wish I had a bandsaw!

    I borrowed an old Stanley 60 1/2" block plane from my neighbour to do the job.

    [​IMG]

    I don't have bench dogs or vices so i just put a screw into my bench so that it was less than 1/4" high and used this as a stop. The plane seemed to work better cutting against the grain, is that normal?

    [​IMG]

    This didn't take too long, and I kept checking the fit as I went.

    [​IMG]

    I went slightly too narrow in one place but i think the glue will cover this.

    At the heel end, i trimmed the walnut slightly to take account of the raised sleeve

    [​IMG].

    I'm not sure if i should have done anything else, like putting silicone in? but seeing as the rod has a plastic coating i just glued the skunk stripe in and lightly clamped it. I used Titebond.

    I'm assuming that the rod stays in place because the rod sits in the channel deeper than the hole drilled for the adjusting nut. I do wonder if it should be anchored more securely somehow.
     
  5. muttley

    muttley TDPRI Member

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    Hey scubadoo, did you get that quilt from Andy Fellows? I kind of recognise it. If so I can show you what it looks like finished.;)

    As far as widening the slot at the heel was that because the rod weld was oversize? You can file that flush.

    The end grain thing, get the router cutter moving at the right speed and keep the router moving and take of very small amounts in many passes. What bits are you using? It really is worth getting a few decent flush cutters from trend if you don't have them.

    Looking good so far though good job.
     
  6. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Then it was just a case of planing down the excess timber of the skunk stripe until flush with the maple.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm very pleased so far :cool:

    Now i need to figure out a fret slotting jig.

    I was planning to cut out one of the neck templates that i had printed and stick the area of the frets onto the neck making sure that the centrelines were spot on. Then i can use this as a guide for where to cut. How does that sound?
     
  7. muttley

    muttley TDPRI Member

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    You can build a thicknesser for your router to save time hogging out wood with a block plane.

    The rod does just sit in the slot and no you don't need anything else in there with those rods as they are sealed. As long as the skunk strip is a good fit and glued in right your good to go.
     
  8. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Well spotted Muttley! :eek: That is indeed from Andy. I've had a few pieces from him including the flamed maple that I used on this build

    [​IMG]

    I'd love to see any finish pictures that you have. One thing i noticed with the guitar above is that you can very slightly feel the ripples of the flame. Would this be an issue with sanding or has the lacquer sunk?

    The bit I was using was a 3/4" template bit from Wealden. I've used CMT in the past and the Wealden seem comparable, have you tried them?

    What speed do you use on the router? I tend to have it on max for everything.
    Thanks for the input.
    Cheers
    dave
     
  9. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Do you have any pictures of that? Is it just a case of sitting the router on rails that are themselves on some straight blocks?

    That's great, thanks. I love this place :cool:
     
  10. muttley

    muttley TDPRI Member

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    For marking the frets you can print off a paper rule using this. Have you got an adjustable bevel square? You can use that yo mark the frets if you've already tapered the neck. Print off the scale length you want. Tape it to your neck along the centre line and using a bradawl mark each fret with a tiny pin whole. You can then use the sliding adjustable bevel at the right angle to mark the frets.

    After that you need to make a mitre box and plant on a soft wood packer to bring the neck square again to cut the slots. You can of course do that first and mark them with a square.
     
  11. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks Muttley, that fret calculator will be really useful in the future. For this build i have a printout from AutoCAD (I'm an ex-archaoeologist and surveyor) that Ed Hawley did in his '53 CNC build.

    By the way, if you ever need any CAD work/template drawings let me know, it'd be nice to give something back ;)

    An adjustable bevel square is definitely on my shopping list. Might try Axminster Tools later.
    Cheers
    Dave
     
  12. Jack Wells

    Jack Wells Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Downhill routing. What I've said about direction when routing bodies also applies to necks...........especially necks.
     
  13. muttley

    muttley TDPRI Member

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    I've used Andy for a while now and he's a decent bloke. He's a bit expensive for me but he does come up with some nice stuff sometimes. I'm pretty sure that billet you have is the same as this. I've done two with that stock and they are gassing off now waiting for final buffing and hardware.

    [​IMG]


    I only use the Trend pro range as they out last anything else I've found so I can't comment on the ones you have, sorry. You need to slow that router down. Exactly what speed depends on what your cutting and the diametre of the router bit. Different diametre bits travel at different speeds at the cut for the same rpm. Start slow and work up to a comfortable speed. There are some guidelines out there if you google but I usually work by feel. You'll get there with time. Practice on scrap
     
  14. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    That looks really lovely Muttley! What grade do you sand to before finishing? Does it feel nice and flat when it's finished? I'm trying to decide between a natural finish like that and an aniline dye burst. Is that wood binding?

    I'll have a look at those trend bits, i think i remember them being a bit pricey though.
     
  15. muttley

    muttley TDPRI Member

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    I've always wanted to learn CAD, I'm pretty computer savy but have never had time to get to grips with CAD much to my dismay. I may take you up on that as I have a bunch of drawings of my archtops I'd like to get done one day. I'm still in the land of roto pens and paper here. Maybe we can swap favours sometime.

    An adjustable Bevel square is a pretty essential tool so grab one when you can. They don't have to be brilliant quality either just true and secure.

    Adjustable bevel
     
  16. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Agreed :D, i'd done that on the rest of the neck but the very end of the headstock and the heel seemed to work better against the direction of the cutter.
     
  17. muttley

    muttley TDPRI Member

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    I sand to 600, use cabinet scrapers across the grain, sand to 2000 and then raise the grain and do it to 2000 again. Good hard sanding blocks are the key to getting a level surface and I use good well sharpened cabinet cabinet scrapers a lot as well. I can't get away with a corrugated finish.

    With the trend routers you get what you pay for and they will out last others ten fold of you look after them.
     
  18. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Anytime, would be glad to help if i can.

    CAD can be a bit of a nightmare to get into; the whole scale and units thing takes a while to get used, I've been using it for about 9 years and have only just touched the surface. I steer well clear of 3D though :lol:
     
  19. scubadoo

    scubadoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks, I'll try that this time. What do you use for sanding blocks?
     
  20. ehawley

    ehawley Tele-Afflicted

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    Great job Scubadoo!!...I like the use of the off-cut for the truss adjustment guide! I have so many of them it's good to find uses other then paint and stain tests!. Quilted maple always reminds me of staring into the middle of a bon-fire! Beautiful stuff!
    Cheers
    ED
     
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