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A chambered tele-ish sort of thing

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Freeman Keller, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    If I were making a lot of guitars with the same scale and radius in some sort of production setting I would certainly tool up. However what I really do is just the opposite - I make one or two guitars of all sorts of designs, scale and radii and fretboard widths. I often think I should build a good fretting miter box and some router sleds for the radii that I do use (9 , 12, 16, 20 and flat). It would be very easy to plot the fret layouts for each of the scales - I do have Autocad and I also have access to a Trumph metal cutting laser.

    However I'm also ordering the ebony or rosewood blanks (that's all I've ever used) so why not just have them slotted and radiused and be done with it. I'm afraid that if I only did it partway it would be too easy to compromise on a design (FK says to self "Martin long scale is close enough to Fender that if I move the sound hole and braces a bit I could make something work.....".)
     
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  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thank you. I'm starting to get serious about how I want to finish it. I've saved a bunch of scraps and will be doing some experiments in the next few days. Will post them for comments.
     
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  3. PingGuo

    PingGuo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Elysa and I built one of these: http://www.eguitarplans.com/Fretboard_Radius_Jig_11x17.pdf

    Are construction wasn't perfect so it took a little finesse to get it dialed in. But not it works like a charm I'll attach the video in a sec.
     
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  4. PingGuo

    PingGuo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I prefer this over the build a radius sled for each radius you want method...
     
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  5. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not only is that very clever, it looks like it works well. I'll bookmark the pdf and one of these days when things slow down maybe put one together. Thanks

    btw - have you seen the pivoting belt sanders that Warmoth uses? A recent issue of American Lutherie featured an interview with Ken Warmoth and a look at some of their tooling. Yours is a whole lot simpler.
     
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  6. PingGuo

    PingGuo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    So... If I'm being totally honest...
    The guy that designed the plans I sent you moved on to using a belt sander technique. I don't think I'll do that unless I can buy the dedicated machine for it.

    I think he does it all on CNC now.

    I haven't seen the warmoth ones but I'm guessing they look like this?:
    http://www.grizzly.com/products/Gri...9fUESYZFa-UtscFavVN_VnU_3Jgn7egxoCnUMQAvD_BwE
     
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  7. magic smoke

    magic smoke Tele-Meister

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    @Freeman Keller , Your work is fantastic. Your luthier skills are formidable, your humility is endearing and your posts are a wealth of knowledge. No points deducted here for outsourcing the fretboards. There are many paths that a luthier can choose from a single build to tooling up for full industrial production . I appreciate you sharing your individual processes for the benefit of all in this community!

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/a-chambered-lpish-looking-thing.874641/page-2
     
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  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm still a week away from finishing but I thought it was time to start thinking about it. I have a couple of issues - first, my body cap is flamed maple but rather than just being the off white that we are used to it has a lot of brownish tint to it. When I first got it I thought I would probably just put some sort of tobacco or Cremola burst on it, but I don't think the colors will work and besides its way to pretty to hide any of the figure. An ice tea burst would probably work but I've already got that on my Lester so I've ruled that out.

    What it comes down to is that I think I just want to pop the grain as much as possible in its natural color and then shoot lacquer over it. I can always add a burst or an edge fade in the lacquer if it seems necessary, but I'm going to start with it natural.

    The second problem is that I've veneered the head with some plain old white maple. Its got some flame but its definitely a different color than the body. Most of the time I would use cutoffs from the top wood to make the head plate but there just wasn't enough so I used some veneer. Ideally I would like to stain the veneer so it somewhat matches the top - right now I just want to experiment with some different products.

    So, what we have here is a cutoff of both the body and the veneer. I have treated them with a variety of different products. I know I'm going to use Zpoxy for the pore fill on the mahogany and I like the way it pops grain so there is a pair of scraps with Zpoxy diluted about 1:2 with DA. I hate using CA for pore fill but I thought I would see what it looks like. In the upper right is a piece of each wood with simple stains wiped on - StewMac Colortone brown and amber mixed with DA. Below that is a piece of each with straight nitro and at the bottom a piece of the top with DA (which is what I've been using all along as I work.

    IMG_4704.jpg

    IMG_4703.jpg

    Based on this I've pretty much made up my mind but I'm still not sure about the veneer. I kind of like the CA but I think I'll experiment a little more with stain - might try adding a hint of red. Stay tuned
     
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  9. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thank you, Smoke, and everyone else who has said nice things about this. What I hope to do with my little threads is first, to show people who might have doubts what is possible to do with very little equipment, knowledge or experience. How many times have I heard someone say "I'd like to build a guitar but....."

    The second is to help bridge that gap between true lutherie and all the beginning noobies out there. I've been there, mostly fairly recently and I can sympathize with the guy setting his first neck or trying to understand where a bridge goes. I know how many nights I've laid awake trying to figure out how to do something. Maybe I can help someone else.

    The last is to keep paying it forward. The little bit I have learned has been from sitting at the feet of people who really know what they are doing. Rather than hording secrets so many of the great luthiers seem to want to share. If I can pass some of that along to the next person then I'm doing my small bit.
     
  10. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Enough touchie feelie stuff, lets get back to sawdust. I've got the neck partially shaped and the important thing at this point is that the edges of the fretboard are straight and the correct distance apart. Whether I simply pick the measurements from a set of plans or from the neck I'm building, what I want to do now is either make a template that fits my neck heel or to make the neck heel fit a template. Here is one that I made some time ago, the neck seems to fit it pretty well so thats what I'll use. (The note that it is just over a 1/4 of an inch is so I can measure the depth of the pocket (0.625) as I am routing it)

    IMG_4700.jpg

    Get it perfectly lined up so the centerline of the neck matches the centerline of the body and screw it into the pickup cavities. The notch on the other end of that is my template for Gibson style tenons - just some scrap I had laying around. The neck is sitting on top of the guitar in the template, the straightedges extend from the nut to the 21st fret.

    IMG_4685.jpg

    Drilled out most of the waste with a Forstner bit, then routed tot the template. I wanted the body cavity to start out too small so I wrapped a couple of layers of 1/4 inch masking tape around the follower bearing. Routed the cavity, checked the neck fit, removed a wrap of tape and took another pass, then finessed it in with a chisel and sandpaper.

    IMG_4686.jpg

    That is a really crappy template - the treble side isn't supported very well and its really wobbly. I need to make a better one next time, some thicker material, probably birch plywood. Confirm the depth of the pocket

    IMG_4687.jpg
     
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  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Now I can drill the neck mounting holes thru the body

    IMG_4690.jpg

    and then drill the neck screw holes (the fretboard is resting on a curved sanding block and leveled under the drill press)

    IMG_4689.jpg

    Screw the neck on and establish the scale length and bridge location

    IMG_4688.jpg

    Route the pickup cavities (sorry, no picture, here is the results)

    IMG_4691.jpg
     
  12. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's

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    Wow, that looks great!!
     
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  13. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Back to the tele project. Time to refine the neck angle and transition. No big deal, just lots of sanding

    IMG_4706.jpg

    IMG_4707.jpg

    Stuck the template back on and drilled the bridge holes

    IMG_4708.jpg


    Laid out the control and spacing, soldered things together. I was really considering moving the pots forward and putting the switch behind them but on my jazz guitar it is in front and I'm kind of used to reaching down and forward to switch. I know lots of people like to flip the normal tele plate. I would say it doesn't make a difference and I could always change in the future but the switch is a bigger hole.

    IMG_4709.jpg

    IMG_4710.jpg

    The pickup wires will get soldered to the switch during final assembly. The white wire is the bridge/string ground, the shielded one will go to the jack.

    IMG_4711.jpg
     
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  14. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Drilled some holes in the f/b and side of the neck and glued in some marker dots

    IMG_4715.jpg

    Leveled them with a radiused sanding block,

    IMG_4716.jpg

    Then leveled the whole board with a big long heavy beam

    IMG_4718.jpg
     
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  15. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Got ready to fret it. Bent up some fretwire, cleaned out all the slots. The little L shaped thingie on the board is a piece of fretwire that I have filed the barbs off so I can check that my slot is clean and the correct size. That is really important with bound boards - its easy to have crud (or glue) in the end of the slot next to the binding. Anyway, its just one of my habits to run that little L across each slot before I start.

    Also, I am a believer in gluing frets in place and have settled on thin CA. Ken Warmoth talks about using glue (usually CA) - he says as much as the holding power it lubricates the slot. I expect that any repair tech who might be refretting one of my guitars in the future will use a bit of heat on the frets when she pulls them - that will nicely break the glue loose.

    IMG_4719.jpg

    The other thing I do is press frets, with maybe a little tapping to make sure they are seated. I know the quill of my drill press isn't designed for this but until I break down an buy an arbor press, thats what I'll use.

    IMG_4720.jpg

    All fretted

    IMG_4721.jpg
     
  16. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm going to admit to something completely embarrassing. I almost always use StewMac's #148 medium medium fretwire for everything I build. When I do refrets I'm careful to select wire that is the same size as what I'm taking out (or if the player wants something different I'll make sure to get what she wants). On this guitar for some reason I thought maybe I would try something a little wider and taller, so I ordered some #152 wire. Bent it up to the right radius, checked the fret depth with my little L cleaner/gauge (which was made from 148 wire) and pressed the first fret in.

    It didn't seat. I always run a thin feeler blade around the base of the crown to make sure its seated - it wasn't. I banged on it with a fretting hammer, it still wasn't seated. Assuming the slot had something in it I pulled the fret, ran the L back and forth a few times, made another fret and pressed it in. The damn thing didn't seat either.

    Pulled that out and went to my computer. Turns out #148 wire has a tang 0.055 deep, #152 is 0.062. Probably good that I didn't select #151, it is 0.073 deep. I had just assumed that since the wire was from the same supplier the tangs would all be the same - same width, same depth, same barbs. Well, you know what they say about assuming.

    I did have a few sticks of #148, I rolled some of that and it went in fine, that is what you see in the above post. I guess I could have tried to saw the slots deeper but I'll be happy with the medium wire. And my lesson.
     
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  17. CraigB

    CraigB Tele-Afflicted

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    Looking great! My lesson: While pressing frets on my drillpress, I snapped the table. It really didn't take much pressure for the cast iron to break. I now use an arbor press.
     
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  18. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've been living on borrowed time. Time to go shopping - "honey, can I buy an arbor press.....?"
     
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  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    I posted some pictures of my experiments on scraps to help me decide how I was going to finish this thing. Got one like, no comments - oh well. My initial idea was to do a brown to red to amber burst - basically a classic Cremola burst - but I've decided against that for several reasons. First, while I think it would look good with the natural color of this wood I'm a little concerned about making it go amber in the center. I also think that dark bursts are really good for hiding ugly wood but this is anything but ugly and the figure goes all the way the the edge. So, Cremola burst is out.

    The more I wipe the top with alcohol the more I like the natural color of this wood. Unlike lots of flamed maple, this has a warm butterscotch color with lots of brown and red naturally - I don't think it needs any stain to bring out the figure. I'm going go give this a good 3A's and I don't want to muck that up with my amateur attempts to "improve" it.

    Also, of course, maple normally doesn't need pore filling like mahogany but from my samples above the epoxy filler seems to be the best at popping the grain. One big problem is that the head veneer is a very light, almost white, maple - it has a tiny bit of flame but its an entirely different color from the top. Somehow I want to get the head to look good with the top and my attempts with the scraps weren't cutting it. I figured what the heck, I'd give it a little stain, if it looked totally FUBAR I could always put a rosewood veneer over the maple and match that to the fretboard.

    So, armed with all of that, lets see what happens. First step is to pore fill the mahogany back and neck. Mix the Zpoxy, then spread it on with a piece of plastic working it into the grain.

    IMG_4724.jpg

    Sand that completely back to the wood (the Zpoxy showed a few sanding scratches that needed to be taken out), then a second coat of Zpoxy diluted maybe 2:1 with DA

    IMG_4723.jpg

    Let that kick off and sand back leaving a tiny bit of the epoxy on the surface.

    IMG_4727.jpg
     
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  20. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    The top gets a thinned coat of Zpoxy, then I mixed one drop of red dye, one of amber and two of brown in some DA. I mixed that with some Zpoxy and wiped that on the head plate. Then I went back to both the top and head and worked the stain around the edge, just slightly darkening it - what I guess is called an "edge burst".

    IMG_4725.jpg

    Closer shot of the head and top - I think that is a good enough match and trying to do any more will just mess it up

    IMG_4726.jpg

    One more shot, the head is laying on a piece of the maple veneer so you can see the color change.

    IMG_4729.jpg
     
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