Route Neck Pocket before or after cutting body?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Vespa_One, Jan 10, 2019.

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Route Neck Pocket before or after cutting body?

  1. Route neck pocket BEFORE cutting body

    12 vote(s)
    40.0%
  2. Route neck pocket AFTER cutting body

    18 vote(s)
    60.0%
  1. Vespa_One

    Vespa_One Tele-Holic

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    Howdy folks,

    Building a guitar body. I've built a couple in the past and I routed the neck pocket after I cut the body.
    I've seen around here many are routing the neck pocket before cutting the body. I could see how there could be advantages to this method...

    So what's your approach, route neck pocket before or after cutting body? Why?

    Thanks for any input!
     
  2. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    It's best to cut it when ya want to .. that's about the only real defining factor.

    rk
     
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  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Before. Why before? The router has some material to sit on that way. If you do it after, there is a greater chance to tip on the cutaways. When it tips, you gouge the side of the body. Many of us can attest to this when you make enough bodies over the years.

    A regular router has a base of about 3" from cutter to edge to support it. I like to have that amount of wood under the router when I'm routing. The alternative is to have an auxiliary base which provides more surface area.


    Now when you do the neck first and cut the shape later, and route later, you risk a bit of tear-out at the previously made rout. The same thing holds true if you rout the neck after you cut the body, so it's a trade off. You need to examine what you are doing and do it carefully, no matter which way you do it.


    There is a logical order of operations when building guitars. Routing before cutting makes more sense to me on both necks and bodies.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  4. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    I don't think it matters if you're using a template that is wide enough around the neck pocket to support the router.
     
  5. darren7

    darren7 Tele-Meister

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    Or better yet, use a router table instead of a handheld router. It’s much safer.

    I’ve seen it done both ways. Mostly I see cavities cut first, then the perimeter cut out.
     
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  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    How is not seeing the rout you are routing safer :) ? I've done it a couple times that way to make a neck pocket deeper and it is stressful not seeing what you are doing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  7. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    If you're using a router table, you should be using a template (cause you really don't want to guide it blindly).

    I did the pocket last on my first one. Won't do that again...mostly because of handling issues though. Seemingly every time I picked up the damn thing, I knocked a corner.

    This one has been roughed out on the band saw and then all the pockets roughed via forstner bit...then all pockets finished to depth on the router table. So far, so good. The only area I have concern about is the thin stuff around the neck pocket when I do the final perimeter and edge rounding. Just gotta be a little more careful with that, I think.
     
  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    The template's underneath the wood. The bit is coming up through the table You can have a second template or drawing on top, but that doesn't make it much different.
     
  9. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I guess I don't understand where the problem lies. My router bit has a shoulder bearing (I have both end and shoulder types), so the bearing rides on the template and cuts the wood above. I sit the guitar down over the bit and then turn on the router (if I'm not at full depth, I turn on the router first)...I don't need to see in there at all, just feel when the bearing makes contact with the template. With the neck pocket, you can see to start it as it is open on one end.
     
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  10. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I know what you are saying but you are still working blind. I prefer to actually see what I'm doing if I can. Different strokes I guess.
     
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  11. Mat UK

    Mat UK Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I feel pretty uncomfortable using a router at the best of times - and that's when I can see the router bit. Once the cutter disappears under a hunk of wood and template, that's when my confidence drops and accidents feel more likely to happen... so I personally wouldn't route cavities on a table.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  12. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Ah! Now I understand. Comfort level is very important. While I do work with the router in hand, I tend to prefer the table. I actually feel a little safer doing pockets blind as the bit is completely contained. I've been using power tools since I was a boy...the only one I was ever uncomfortable using was Dad's old radial arm saw. While we never had an accident, it just looked like an accident waiting to happen. Much happier around a table saw.

    Respect is healthy. Cheers!
     
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  13. Meteorman

    Meteorman Tele-Holic

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    I do a sort of hybrid approach. I cut the body profile first, but leave a "sprue" at the neck (1) for neck pocket template attachment, and (2) for router stability when routing the neck pocket.
    Most of the fiddly stuff, the little pointy sprouts where the body gives way to the pocket, I can then do carefully by hand with a gent saw, files, and sandpaper. No tear out.
    After the pocket is done. I cut off the sprue and finish routing the neck pocket area with a template.

    Not sure how I came to this approach - I'm just weird like that.

    [​IMG]Untitled
     
  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I've only built one Tele, and I feel this was my major mistake, at least for the way I was approaching it. I initially thought I'd route the pocket first, because there's more wood for the router to sit on. But then, trying to get that perimeter just right, those two little 'returns' or 'lips', where pocket meets the edge... that was incredibly difficult to do. For me. I had bandsaw, sanders, and router at my disposal, and nothing was easy.

    I went so far as to rout a chunk out, plug it, and do it over again. With the perimeter already cut, the pocket pretty much cuts itself. Straight lines, and where they extend past the body, those difficult little returns just magically appear. Perfect.
     
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  15. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Here's the thing about when and why to do something... this is an art form.... the guitar is an interpretation of your skills and talent... too many want to quantify every aspect and go through things like it was a kit. For those guys, its "paint by numbers"

    ya just go with the flow, and it's you that establishes what that flow is..

    rk
     
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  16. GuitarJonz

    GuitarJonz Poster Extraordinaire

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    Ron is a wise sage
     
  17. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Not at the Fender factory...It's industrial engineering and trying to make a product with the most efficient means with the lowest cost..... :) One creates a flowchart! Making something willy -nilly only costs you money and adds to the firewood pile and maybe the artifacts you put on your wall. That's the art part of it.....

    People would be wise to think about the steps they should do before they do it, especially if you are trying to duplicate a factory product like the tele.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Holic

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    On a flat topped guitar like a Fender I don't think it matters - the bottom of the pocket is parallel to the top. On an arched top guitar like most Gibsons I think it matters a lot - the bottom of the slot is still parallel to the top but the top is now at an angle. Since my first few electric guitars were Gibson style I just got in the habit of shaping the body first, then routing the pocket.

    What I do think makes a difference is to route the neck pocket before doing the pickup cavities. I screw my template into the area where the pickups will go (I simply don't trust double stick tape). When I do the p/u holes my templates use their mounting holes. A second reason for doing the neck pocket before the p/u cavities (and bridge) is that once your neck is set you can establish the centerline of the neck at the bridge.

    I'm like Marty, I prefer to see the bit of my router but I do use a table for some operations. Neck pockets or pickup cavities is not one of them.
     
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  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Tele-Holic

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    I couldn't agree more. I make mostly set neck instruments and the order of building the neck can determine how easy (and successful) it will be.
     
  20. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's

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    Concur that a nice wide and long template renders the "more bearing surface if you do it first" argument moot, but for Tele builds I think it is better by a good bit to rout the neck pocket last, not only after cutting out the body and routing it's edges but also after doing the roundover. If the top is to be bound, I think one can expect the neck pocket to turn out much nicer if you leave the neck pocket uncut, run the binding channel all the way around it, install the binding, then lay the neck pocket routing template on it and cut the neck pocket last. Thinking this through reveals how much easier it is to get the binding nice and pretty where it tapers into the neck pocket if you do it this way.

    Just my two cents,
    Rex
     
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