First build - '52 black guard-ish tele

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by 26and385, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Hello all,
    My name is Bill, and I've been reading this forum for a little over a year now. Let me start off by saying that I am amazed by the talent that so many of you display here every day! Even more amazing is the fact that you are so willing to share so much of your knowledge. I have spent numerous hours pouring over some of the better documented threads, most notably from Preeb, Ron Kirn, and Motor City Tele (having been born in Traverse City MI - the Cherry Capital of the World - I absolutely loved your cherrycaster!), but so many others as well.

    Early last year, I started my tele project. I'm somewhat of a tradionalist, so I thought a 52 BG would be a good start for making a guitar from scratch. I've done woodworking since I was a boy, but never anything that required this level of planning and precision. So the goals were:

    -Build as much as I can from scratch, at least the wood parts
    -For other parts, try to source from smaller, boutique manufacturers, hand made if possible. For example, I chose a set of Lollar BG pickups rather than getting the Fender version.
    -Try to be as true to the original 52 as i could be within reason, but make some minor concessions to practicality, playability, personal preference, etc.
    For example, I chose a 9.5" radius for the fingerboard, instead of 7.5", as the 7.5 just seems a little too much for my taste. I also have a compensated 3 saddle bridge rather than a vintage correct version. I will point out these variations as I go.

    I wanted to post my build thread here as a thank you to all of the others who've given so much of there time and knowledge to the forum. I'm sure I won't be passing on any groundbreaking innovations; virtually everything I plan on posting borrows heavily if not outright steals from all of you! I am also using this thread as a way to document the process for myself, making sure I capture all of the learnings both good and bad, so I can revisit for the next guitar.....

    I've made a fair amount of progress in the last year, but 3 kids and a full time job means that time is scarce to work on this project.

    Here we go!
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015
  2. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Templates

    Start with the templates
     

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  3. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Templates - continued

    I made templates out of cabinet grade 3/4" birch ply. Had plenty of it in my shop from other projects. I used spray adhesive to attach the plans to the plywood, and rough cut with a cheap jigsaw (didn't have a bandsaw yet). I bought the Ridgid Oscillating Spindle Sander - ROSS to do the sanding work, based on recommendations from many on this forum. I have to say it's a pretty good value, I'm pretty pleased with it so far. Make sure you hook up the dust collection!

    I also bought a 3 foot marble bathroom threshold to use as a flat sanding surface to make sure the neck template sides were dead straight. A little spray adhesive on the marble and the sandpaper, and then slow, precise sanding on each side of the neck template until I hit the proper dimension at the heel. Mark the surfaces to be sanded with pencil cross-hatch pattern to see where the high spots are.
     

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  4. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Jeesh... only 9 months since I started this thread!

    Been working on this Tele on and off all year, but have not gotten around to posting anything. The guitar is actually almost finished, I'm sanding the body and neck right now. Can't wait to hear this thing make some noise!
     
  5. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Working on the neck

    Got 6 neck blanks out of this piece of hard maple. I think I ended up junking 5 of them.... Chunked a few going around the bass side of the heel while routing.
     

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  6. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    A pair of neck blanks

    ..
     

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  7. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    The body

    Ordered a 2 piece swamp ash body from Warmoth. Not the lightest piece of wood, but very nicely joined and thicknessed. Dead flat out of the box at 1.75" thick. Love the grain pattern. Cut out with the bandsaw then sanded right down to the witness line before routing.
     

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  8. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Routing the body

    Used the whiteside 2 inch spiral pattern bit. That is a serious chunk of metal. Cut like butter going around the body. I stopped at the corner of the neck area, I learned my lesson after trying to go around corners like that on my "practice" necks.....
    Finished that area off with the ROSS. Did I mention that I love the ROSS?
     

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  9. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Pickguard

    As I said earlier, I wanted to try to do as much from scratch as I could, so no pre-made pickguard! Cut out the template and tested it on the body with the hardware to ensure a good fit. The bridge is a Joe Barden compensated 3 saddle bridge, control plate is generic from Allparts. Bought some Garolite from McMaster Carr, enough to make 3 pg's.
     

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  10. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    DOH!!!

    This pickguard ended up being the source for fingerboard dots....
     

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  11. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    New neck wood

    Decided to stock up on more neck wood, since I burned through my original blanks pretty quickly. I bought a piece of rough sawn birdseye maple from Downs & Reader in Stoughton Massachusetts. I love that place, the variety of wood there is great!

    I made a little sled to make sure the blanks were dead flat. Works great, since i don't have the $ or space for a jointer right now. I just slide it back and forth over the length of the board, on my cast iron table saw wing which is flat within a few thou.
     

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  12. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Truss rod channel

    I built the typical jig for routing the truss rod channel. My little twist is that the router base attaches to a sled that is elevated above the rails. This lets the router base clear the neck as it swings over the arc, and the rails can be the exact profile from the plans. Not sure if I'm explaining this clearly, but it worked great. After marking the centerline on the neck, I ensured perfect alignment in the jig by dropping a v-groove bit down on each end and making sure it hit the center of the line. Once everything was locked down, I made the cut to the mid-line of the truss rod with a spiral bit, then finished it to full depth with a round-nose bit.
     

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  13. src9000

    src9000 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Keep updating, looks like you are making a very nice guitar.
     
  14. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks SRC!
     
  15. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    If you're interested for next time you can get one piece swamp ash for a touch less $$ from http://guitarwoodexperts.com/

    I've bought 3 blanks from them and they have all been light and beautifully figured.

    Great looking build!
     
  16. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks Richard. I have checked out their site, it is definitely cheaper. I noticed that they sell ash blanks at 1 7/8 thickness. I don't have a good solution for getting full size body blanks to the correct thickness, so whatever money I'd save would probably be negated by the extra time in my shop trying figure out how to uniformly remove 1/8 inch!!! :p

    I have a couple of alder body strats that I started this fall, I just made them from rough sawn alder that I got at the local mill. They are 2 piece bodies, so I was able to get the thickness correct before I glued up. They have some "guitar ash" in stock, I'll have to get a board and see how heavy it is.
     
  17. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Headstock

    I used the bandsaw to remove most of the headstock material, then cleaned up with the router sled and a block clamped to the neck as a stop.
     

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  18. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Truss rod holes

    Made an angled drill guide to clamp to the headstock, and used the long Harbor Freight drill bits to drill to the channel. The bits are not very sharp, anybody have a good source for long bits? Then I opened up the hole for the anchor.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  19. 26and385

    26and385 TDPRI Member

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    Making the truss rod

    I bought some of the Stewmac nuts, and some 3/16 rod from Lowe's. I cut one of the nuts in half, and filed teeth into one end for an anchor. Then I cut and threaded the other end.
     

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  20. moose13

    moose13 Tele-Holic

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    Lookin good!
    Working on my first build too. Having a blast
     
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