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Billy Bo Palletcaster

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by RiversQC, Nov 28, 2020.

  1. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    If you're like me you probably see most wooden objects as potential guitars. Which means I can't really help but check out pallets as I drive by.

    driving by.jpg
    pallets.jpg


    I'm pretty good about not always picking them up but when I saw this one... I knew it had potential. Clean, long straight boards...


    20200409_174614.jpg

    whoa.jpg

    But enough to make a whole guitar? Eh probably.

    So I know palletcasters have been done. And better than I'm about to do. But I thought I'd document this build anyway. I sure hope it turns out!

    A few ground rules I set entirely for myself:
    • embrace the fact that this is a shipping pallet, nothing too fancy added
    • accordingly, aim for high playability on a serious budget... I'm thinking like $100 but we'll see
    • try some new things
    • rock & roll machine
    -Neil
     
  2. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    Admittedly I'm playing a bit of catch up here. That photo above is from April, still some snow on the ground. And my reason for starting the build about a month ago was to do something with that darn pallet in my workshop before this winter (which has arrived!)

    I should say for safety's sake be sure to check any pallets, that they aren't chemically treated. This one is "HT" for heat treated as opposed to anything potentially harmful. (And made in Mexico!) All good.

    20200409_174625 (1).jpg

    It's all softwood. I think the bigger pieces are pine, but I kind of wonder about the longer, thinner pieces with straight grain (which is what led me to pick this one up). Spruce maybe? Nicely quarter sawn!

    20201011_132157 (1).jpg

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    To get anything resembling a guitar I had to rip the pieces with my bandsaw and thickness plane. The goal was to get the nice quartersawn pieces on the front and back and somehow keep the whole thing looking au naturel.

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    I'll tell you this might have been free but it's a ton of work! Much easier to build with some properly sourced tone wood but that's not really the point here...
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2020
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Worked for Bob

    upload_2020-11-28_16-24-28.jpeg
     
  4. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    So I just looked that Bob Taylor one up and yeah... mine's not even going to be in the same ballpark. How cool is that.

    Totally different, but as I was trying to think of a new model to build, I kept coming back to how cool the Billy Bo Jupiter Thunderbird looks (especially played by Billy Gibbons). I have never really paid them any attention but they are growing on me like crazy. Such a cool space age design.

    404px-Billy_gibbons_finland_2010.jpg

    It suited my purposes well too because, working with my pallet, my guitar body thickness was going to be 1 1/2" and I had a mix of long and short pieces. So something long and sleek would make good use of my materials. (I should also point out that because of what my materials dictated, as well as not needing a Bigsby mount, I modified the butt end of the guitar to be an uninterrupted curve).

    20201115_121948.jpg

    I wouldn't have made a template for a one-off but did since I needed to align three layers without much waste. Tight fit!


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    You can see I used some toothpicks for alignment when gluing up.

    I also wanted to keep some of the nail holes visible in my top without having all the wood glue shoot through and fill them! I tried a few things, like adding superglue with a wax paper backing (mostly leaked through). Didn't have any epoxy, nor did my local hardware store. On a few stubborn holes I eventually just put a dab of silicone beading. That worked!

    20201120_102204.jpg

    Obligatory glue up:

    20201122_182405.jpg
     
  5. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    So this is about where the body sits. Glued, rough cut, and I've mostly sanded to the line. (You can forget how much working with pine can suck - I need some new sleeves for my spindle sander, these are toast).

    20201124_122935.jpg

    My plan is to bind it top and bottom. This will disguise some of the seams.

    The other thing I really wrestled with is the neck. Bolt on or set?

    Well, I've only ever built bolt on 25 1/2" scale guitars so I thought I should try set neck.

    I don't have all the ideal tools or jigs, so that gave me some pause. I'm also trying to keep this build very inexpensive by design so I wasnt going to buy mahogany or rosewood.

    So I started with my scrap pile. Here's a maple tele neck blank I screwed up early in my 'career.' I was routing the truss rod channel left-to-right, and it jumped. I now always go right-to-left.

    20201115_144706.jpg

    (That's my 9 yo modding his skateboard in background - he comes by it honestly).

    The advantage is it still has a nice jointed edge to work from. And worst that can happen is I totally ruin this piece of scrap. So I'll attempt a scarf joint. Tried for a rough 13 degree angle cut on my band saw, to sand afterward.

    20201115_152927.jpg
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    Worked okay, but sanding was going slow. Had a brain flash I wouldn't try with more expensive wood... why not plane it level using my router sled? After an elaborate set up:

    20201115_161536.jpg

    Worked satisfactorily giving me a 12 angle.

    I also had a short end of maple from a table project, planed it to 1/2" for the scarf/headstock

    20201118_123458.jpg

    Placed it a gluing jig:

    20201128_212026.jpg

    (The lower-most piece of maple was just the neck offcut, used to help clamp).

    Super rough work, I know, but working so far and fitting the spirit of the thing.
     
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  6. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    Back to my router sled to gradually level the scarf to flush. Finished with hand plan and sanding, perfectly flat.

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    One problem my re-using a neck leaves is that with the scarf, my (old) truss rod channel extends too far, so I'll have to fix that later.

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    Re-do the new business end of the truss rod channel.

    20201122_112303.jpg

    And, using the extra length of the headstock cut off, I build up my neck heel

    20201127_205744.jpg
     
  7. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'd do bolt on neck, but that's me :)
     
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  8. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    I really did think about it. Part of my decision was, um, wood limitation. I, er, didn't have enough wood available to fit both the long tail section of the body as well as what I thought would be a sufficient pocket for a bolt on. I (sheesh) would have wanted another inch or so. I could have set the pocket back further but lose some upper fret access?

    Trying something new just kind of tipped the balance for me. I might yet regret that.

    Despite the haphazard nature of the build, I have made an honest effort of the geometry. Will just come down to execution now. :)


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  9. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    No worries, I used to prototype using southern yellow pine stairtreads. 4' X 10" and hard as nails, what's not to love :). Had you access I'd have used a neck through piece in the sandwich. You'd just need sharp router bits for the neck pocket and sharp drill bits. SYP is so tough you have to drill for nail holes lol
     
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  10. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    And a 3 inch long neck pocket is sufficient ;)
     
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  11. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    "aim for high playability"

    You said it man! :)

    It's not so much the materials, but the effort and skill put into the build.

    Geometry takes precedence ;).

    Looks like it's going to be a cool build.
     
  12. gmann

    gmann Friend of Leo's

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    Can't wait to see the end result!
     
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  13. Dereksys38

    Dereksys38 Tele-Meister

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    Aww yeah! This is looking nice!
     
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  14. Sybo

    Sybo Tele-Meister

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    Yup, following this!!!!!
     
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  15. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the encouragement:)

    So with measurements in hand I set about the mortise and tenon, a first.

    I chopped off the heel curve first, that's easy while it's square

    20201128_112953.jpg

    Then tackled the 2 degree side cut. This is that matter of execution I was worried about - all well and good to know that my line should be 1.15mm offset, another thing to cut that perfectly. I wound up a touch off, but close.

    20201128_130046.jpg

    Then cut tenon sides on band saw, cleaned that up

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    Then I could make a template for my mortise.

    Luckily, before cutting that out of the body, I remembered I want a strip of binding at the bottom! So flipped it over and cut that slot

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    With a bit more work, able to rough them together... and my angle and fit seems good!

    20201128_160629.jpg
     
  16. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    So I'm in real time now. That was yesterday and I did the following this morning.

    Trimmed down my neck almost to the line

    20201129_103003.jpg

    Then to get a perfectly straight edge, I ran my router along some surfaced mdf. I use a series of clamps and move them as needed, without ever having less than 3 on at one time so that nothing shifts. Takes a few passes.

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    Got a first real view of my scarf joint

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    I've also been fussing over the heel joint area. Saws, sandpaper, chisels, anything to get it even and flush as possible. Still some work to do.

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    (I also wanted to share my old sharpening stones. I'm lucky to have some tools from my grandfather and enjoy getting to use them)

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    And here how she's looking, ready for lift off! (If you squint at it)

    20201129_121356.jpg
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    River, if you undercut the cheeks towards the tenon so that just the outside touches the end of the body then you can floss the cheeks with strips of sand paper and pull them in nice and tight. You can also make very subtle changes in the angle if you need to.
     
  18. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    This is a cool looking build, and great execution using bits and pieces of old wood. Nothing wrong with pallet casters - the body of my Route 66 Tele is exactly that, and she sings like a bird.
     
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  19. ping-ping-clicka

    ping-ping-clicka Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    as and east bay native I have one question: What all that white stuff, everywhere?
    I salute your repurposing all those pallets and creating something wonderful.
    hmmm, obviously your skill set is jumping off the scales.
    I'm most impressed.
    A Thin-man Lap Steel comes to mind as an obvious possibility
    thank you for sharing your work-in-progress.
    charlie_brown_lucy-rose wood or maple.jpg
     
  20. RiversQC

    RiversQC Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, Freeman. I was anticipating the flossing part but I guess didnt quite internalize how to get there. Nothing like trying to figure it out the issues!

    I'll try to refine that area next chance I get. I already anticipate having to maybe shim/fill those spots a little - I'll be applying a solid colour so it will at least be disguised as long as I get a good solid joint.
     
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