A chambered tele-ish sort of thing

Freeman Keller

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I'm at kind of a bitter sweet moment in a current project. Some of you might have looked into my Chambered LPish thread - that guitar now has all the finish on it and is hanging quietly in my shop/garage. If I am good, it will hang there for two or three weeks (four would be even better but I'm not that good), then I can color sand and buff it, wire and install the electronics, do the frets, make a nut, set it up and finally.......... play it.

Realistically that is a month away, maybe even more.

Mean time, I'm bored. I was kind of getting in a groove, going out to the shop, making some sawdust, posting a few pictures. I'm going to miss that. So I did what I always do when I'm bored - I started another project.

I don't actually own a telecaster. I've built four, but given them away to a cause that I believe in. I've got the Les Paul and jazz guitar bases pretty well covered but everyone needs a tele in their quiver, right? Besides, I've got a hunk of mahogany and some very pretty maple stashed away in the basement. Might as well make something out of while the LP thing outgasses and the little cross links link (or whatever the finish is doing as it cures).

Raw wood, maple, mahogany and a neck blank

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Ran them thru a friends thickness sander, then ran a router along the edge of the maple against a straight edge

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Shot the edge against a carpenters level with some 120 grit paper on it

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And glued them together

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Freeman Keller

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Before I go any further, the usual disclaimer and some background information.

First, I am a totally amateur hobby level builder. This will be my 24th instrument, most of them were acoustics of some sort. I build in the corner of a three car garage - I don't have a real "shop". Part of the reason for posting these threads is to show just what can be done with minimum tools and space, I have carefully selected the power and hand tools that I feel I need, but its pretty minimal when I look at pictures of some of your shops. There were some "shop" pictures at the Chambered LPish thread, I won't repeat them here.

When I build electric instruments I tend to be influenced by traditional Gibson styles which I realize are not the focus of this forum. As I said, I've built some tele-clones and given them all away, I intend to keep this one so it will get some of the little oddities that I like in a guitar.

The telecaster is kind of the antithesis of the other electric guitars that I've built, all which have humbuckers, set necks, carved tops. I like that kind of guitar and that kind of sound and if I didn't already own them I would consider making a tele-clone with 'buckers. But really, a tele should be twangy and so this guitar will get traditional single coils. Haven't decided on which ones yet (I do have a set of StewMac Golden Era that I might start with).

Second thing, its going to be chambered. I liked the results of chambering the LP clone (the reduced weight primarily) so I'm going to hog this one out. That makes it kind of like a Thinline, but I definitely will not put an f-hole in it - I think they just look wrong. This is a stunning set of maple so I'll do some sort of finish to take advantage of that - I was considering a Cremola or tobacco 'burst but that might hide too much of the wood. We'll see as we go on.

Otherwise it will be a pretty normal Fender type guitar. Screw on neck with no angle, flat top. I've got the mahogany for the body and neck and that nicely matches the flame in the maple. Rosewood fretboard and probably rosewood binding - that might change as I think about finish. Rosewood or maple veneer on the head so basically the guitar will have three woods that seem to work well together. Water born or solvent lacquer, we'll see what the weather is like when it comes time to finish.

Probably some other important things but I can't think of them right now, so lets let the glue dry on the top.
 

Freeman Keller

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That's gonna be one gorgeous top my friend!

My wife calls me "the wood slut".

Moving on. I made a simple little template that looked like pictures I've seen of chambered teles and set up my daughter's little picnic table outside. Drill out most of the waste wood from the body

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and cleaned it up with a router

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This is why I did it outside

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Cut out the basic shape

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and this is what I've got

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FenderLover

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Not that this isn't cool enough, (it's plenty cool!) I had always dreamed of this project by making another blank and stacking them for a double thickness hollow Tele, but that's a dream for another day. Carry on!
 

Freeman Keller

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Wasn't that a lot of work? ;)
I would think removing wood would be easier than jigging and bending and clamping.
Nice work. Carry on!

Bending is really very easy - remember that the sides of every acoustic have been bent. Its also much more economical with wood and you have so many wonderful wood choices. Stick around for a while, I'm planning on bending some rosewood (?) for binding when we get to that stage - that will be a bit trickier with the tight curves at the horn and the bass side of the neck.


Bending is surprisingly easy, though I’m still not sure I’m over the learning curve.

Tim D.

I sat in a seminar by Charles Fox (the guy the designed the bending machine that many of us use). He was doing a cutaway with mahogany, (relatively easy wood to bend) and it went "snap".... Charles took the broken pieces out, looked at them and said "that happens..." I think of that every time I bend a piece of cocobolo or Mad rose or Brazilian or.....
 

Freeman Keller

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Oh, before I forget it, I weighed the body block before and after doing the chambering but before I cut out the shape. I left one pound 14 oz of wood on the driveway. With a little effort I could have made that an even 2 pounds. The chambered LP was a pound and a half. I think I'm going to like both of these.
 

guitarbuilder

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Bending is really very easy - remember that the sides of every acoustic have been bent. Its also much more economical with wood and you have so many wonderful wood choices. Stick around for a while, I'm planning on bending some rosewood (?) for binding when we get to that stage - that will be a bit trickier with the tight curves at the horn and the bass side of the neck.




I sat in a seminar by Charles Fox (the guy the designed the bending machine that many of us use). He was doing a cutaway with mahogany, (relatively easy wood to bend) and it went "snap".... Charles took the broken pieces out, looked at them and said "that happens..." I think of that every time I bend a piece of cocobolo or Mad rose or Brazilian or.....



I spent 6 weeks with Charles and George Morris when he lived in Vermont and ran his GRD school. He was an interesting guy and a good teacher. I bent my sides on what was probably the original bending machine.....who knew. His methodology was based on efficient production methods. I actually learned more about woodworking there than at IA teacher college.
 
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Freeman Keller

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Back outside, this time to flush cut the outside of the body.

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I haven't decided if I want to use the Oak 4 way switch or something different but its pretty deep and I wanted to make sure I have enough clearance in the cavity.

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Route a hole in the back for the electronics - I don't want to mess up the top.

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Make a cover plate for the electronics

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Freeman Keller

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Time to start on the neck. Had my friend with the thickness sander face one side of the neck blank which will be the top (fretboard side). Band sawed the top of the head, then faced that off with a Safe-T-Planer.

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Routed the truss rod slot (LMI double acting rod installed from the top). Unfortunately no picture. Planed the back of the neck close to its final thickness

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Rough sawed the width

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and sanded it straight on the sides

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