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

ready to start tele build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by PonyExpress, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Tele-Meister

    Sep 28, 2017
    So, as I said in my introduction I have lots of questions

    1. which tele should I build. looking at lots of images on google, I like the older ones I think. Im asking because I want to buy the templates and plans and I probably need to decide that right? Since I dont really know any history on Teles I'm going mostly on looks. No binding, plain pick guard, basic electronics(not a semi hollow/ thin line)

    2. I found the Terry Downs plan, is it just 1 page? what tele is it?

    3. can I make a 1 piece neck (maple) and use a modern 2 way truss rod?
    and would that have a flat level router chanel?

    4. Local lumber supplier has alder and poplar in 8/4. they want to sell the whole board. the alder is 7"wide, 8 foot long $51. Poplar is 7 1/2 wide 10 foot long $32. What would go with and why? body will be painter solid color.

    5. are 1/4 inch MDF templates adequate or should I buy the 1/2?

    6. looks like EBay may be the best place to buy plans templates and luthier tools $$$ wise. Agree?

    7. does neck wood (maple most likely) need to be 1/4 sawn? and will 13/16 thick s4s work? any maple? soft, hard, birds eye etc.

    I think that once all these questions have been answered and decided on I can start the buying process. I know I can buy a Fender Tele new for far less that what I'm about to spend but I want to build it myself.

    Thanks in advance for all your responses and help.

  2. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

    Oct 24, 2009
    Long Island NY
    You won't find plans better than the T Downs plan IMO , you can get it printed out full size at Staples for a few bucks and make your own 1/4" thick master template for the price of the MDF , you can use your master template to make either a 1/2" or 3/4" thick working template . I prefer 3/4" thick working templates , more meat for the guide bearing . I suggest making your templates vs buying as you'll gain experience and confidence in the making .
    There are probably far more flat sawn necks out there than 1/4 sawn , that should tell you something . I never worried about it and use mostly flat sawn . I've made 2 piece necks from 3/4" thick stock . Soft maple , hard maple are decent neck woods generally .
    As far as poplar vs alder I'd go with alder as my preference , but poplar would work just fine .

  3. NotAnotherHobby

    NotAnotherHobby Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 27, 2015
    Da' Magic Mittin'
    Not sure, but I'd go the "cheap" route for your first build (and you're probably going to hear that a lot).


    Poplar, because it is inexpensive, and if you good, you won't be mad at yourself for spending the extra money.

    Go 1/2".

    No. It depends on what you are looking to buy.

    A lot of templates do not come with a center line on them. It is not a real hassle for the neck, because you can kinda figure it out, but on the body finding the center line is a pain, in my opinion.

    Plus things like fret saws, nut files, and so on, are pretty specific.

    Just my opinion, of course. I've gotten some decent deals on things. Others I have regretted.

    It does not need to be quarter-sawn (the big guitar companies don't do it as a rule). And 13/16 is fine if the board is pretty straight. Hard maple if good. Danelectro made necks out of Poplar. Guys have necks made out of pine and plywood. Regular maple (especially for your first build) I think would be fine.

    Just remember your first one isn't going to be fantastic (unless you are actually good at woodworking, which I am not). I scrapped my first body. I patched the crap out of my second. I've basically ruined three necks with the stupid truss rod channel. Some might consider it a Journey, not a destination.

    On second thought...maybe I shouldn't be giving advice about "good decisions"...

    And remember, "Don't Stop, Believin'".

  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017

  5. ponce

    ponce Tele-Meister

    Dec 21, 2011
    I would suggest using traditional ash or alder even if its a tiny bit more costly. There's no reason the first build shouldn't come out good and perfectly playable, even if it takes longer and more care. Starting with proper materials just gives a better motivation to do it right. It doesn't have to be a perfect swamp ash piece from the Leo's stash though. On the body, its easier to correct the mistakes without much influence on aesthetics, geometry or playability. Neck is harder to make, so don't give up if you ruin a few blanks before you suceed. One important thing is to take care of dimensions, geometry and the center line. For example it's very easy to oversand the neck and loose the width, so it doesn't fit the neck pocket and gets missaligned according to the bridge/saddles. When making a neck template, its good to leave a bit more material outside the line, otherwise removing the router marks by sanding could lead to a narrower neck.

    Good luck with your endeavour!

  6. rscalzi

    rscalzi Tele-Holic

    Jun 7, 2010
    Macomb MI
    3. can I make a 1 piece neck (maple) and use a modern 2 way truss rod?
    and would that have a flat level router chanel?

    I think you might get some debate on this one. I have done it, but I still question if the skunk strip would be strong enough to take a lot of pressure if you need make more than moderate adjustments. But I could be wrong :)

  7. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

    Mar 27, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    I was under the impression that T Downs plan was from a '53 but I could be wrong. It's a great plan and as mentioned making your own templates gives you a better understanding of how it all goes together. I would use something like poplar to start with. You're going to make mistakes I hate to say but everybody does. If you have an expensive piece of wood and wreck it then you'll be kicking yourself. I buy 8/4 alder and poplar in 10 foot lengths just in case.. For luthier tools you have to look around. I like to save a $$ here and there so I take a good look beforehand. Stewmac has everything but they can be extremely expensive compared to other sites with similar or identical items. I have used them though. Google is your friend. Good luck, ask as many questions as you want and post a build thread when you get started. Make sure you read some build threads.

  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County

    Correct I knew it was one or the other and guessed at '52. Probably the same body shape in 12/52 as 1/53...LOL

    ed hawley credit from tdowns.png

  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    You need to print two copies of the TDowns drawing, one with the neck pocket one without. Only one needs the control pocket and pickup cavities. paste the full size drawing down. You can hand make the first template, and use that for trimming the second one then go in and hand cut the neck pocket. Since you are messing around and thinking about it, you might as well make a couple of separate rectangular boards with humbucker, P90, and Strat pickup routes that you can use in adjusting your pickup preferences. You will get ideas about trying any and all combinations...

    I use half inch plywood. After you make the first templates, write on them "Master" in big letters and then use them to make a second set you will actually use. My working set already has a nick that I glued in a replacement bit of wood then used the master to router to perfect size again I went back to work on the guitar.

    Harbor freight bar clamps in 6inch and 12 inch as many as you can afford, the long electrician's drill to go from the corner of the neck pocket through each pickup cavity into the control cavity and not need to cut in that slot with the router so you can show off the wood without a pickguard, pack of rat files for $3 and grind safety edges on the sides and end of the flat one to use for all fretwork.

    I'd go to the local big box hardware store and buy stock 1x poplar and then find a 1/4 thick wood top to put on a pretty wood you may have scrounged or find interesting. I have one with pallet wood on the top as inlay. As the others say, you build several guitars before you get the one you want.


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