First build: Picklecaster, a poplar Telecaster

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by brandonh, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    I had some modest progress over the weekend. I dimensioned the new neck and fretboard blanks to final thickness. I noticed a little wobble on the body blank, so I level sanded both sides. (I'm heavy handed with my planes, so I glued a few sheets of sandpaper to MDF to sand it level.) That took off just enough material that I re-routed my pickup routs and neck pocket to get them to spec. (I went from 1.75-inches in to 1.7) The control cavity was good enough. I also re-routed my edge round-over, using a new 1/8-inch bit (Yoniko off Amazon--I use some of their bits for picture frames).

    1-28-1.jpg
    I drilled my final holes for the strap buttons.

    1-28-2.jpg
    I cleaned up my bridge pickup rout with some Bondo.


    1-28-3.jpg
    And used the clothes iron to try to clean up some light scuffs and shop rash. My spouse kindly asked how many more times I thought I'd be ironing the guitar :D

    1-28-4.jpg
    I noticed a few small knotholes are opening up--very small, the size of a pencil point. I'm thinking of going over them with thin CA. Is that the best course of action?

    Once I get the final sanding done, I think I'll have the body done! That's a nice milestone to have behind me. We have wind and rain down here, so no chance to get into testing my finishing schedule. The new truss rod should come today. I hope my next update is neck work...
     
  2. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    My truss rod delivery is delayed because of the weather, so I routed, drilled, and chamfered my pickguard. It's a true white sparkle; the router table was in the shade and the white balance didn't do a great job of adjusting. Another item checked off the list.

    IMG_6447-1.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2019
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  3. chemobrain

    chemobrain Friend of Leo's

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    so what do in your spare time to relax, great work I'm really glad that there a guitar store not to far from here.
    Please continues posting your progress, you have a great skill set.
     
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  4. awasson

    awasson Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I’ve had similar openings in knots in my pine bodies. I’ve drop filled with epoxy quite successfully.
     
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  5. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    That makes me think that your wood is still drying. Worst case: the dimensions of your body are still changing.
     
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  6. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    To me, it looks like that pickguard is close enough as it is. The final sanding and paint will hide tiny irregularities. I've found that it's difficult to re-shape an off-the-shelf guard; it usually just makes things worse. A flat mill file is my tool of choice for re-shaping.

    Great project, it's really looking good!

    Also: FWIW, I've used water and naptha, (not at the same time) for sanding, I like naptha better.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  7. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for your kind words!
    Thanks! The black guard from a few posts is a Fender OEM. I used it as a shortcut to make an MDF pattern for my build. Two, actually: one standard, and one I sanded down a little bit where I sanded the body too far. My hunch was that it would be harder to get it down once beveled, which matches exactly what you said. Good to know.

    Thanks!

    I thought so too, but the moisture meter showed the same reading. I think what it was is I had some unevenness in the glue joint which I didn't do anything about until a week or two ago. Then I tried to clean up the seams, and that introduced some more play. I haven't seen the knots open up any more or any checking show up, either. I really hope I'm good!

    IMG_6461.jpg

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    Today's update: I've been rigging up a miter box for frets, and finally put it to use. Put a reference fretboard slots down (in this case, from StewMac), copied that to a reference block, affix the new blank to reference board. The reference board slots get caught by a razor blade (sharp end in the cavity, dull end up). The saw lines up with the pin an gets the fret slot straight, square, and right where it needs to go. Not my idea, ripped shamelessly from elsewhere on the internet. The Veritas saw is just a baby fart wider than the StewMac slots, so I'll be using thin CA when I set the frets just to be safe.

    IMG_6463.jpg
    And drilled for dots. Much easier to do with a square face, a fence, and a true centerline. I hope I can get the truss rod slotted tomorrow, fretboard sides angled from neck to heel, and neck and fretboard in clamps. Weather looks promising Sunday, so I hope I can get primer on the body, at least.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2019
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  8. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    Neck's coming along.
    2-4-1.jpg
    I tweaked the truss rod jig and got the slot right where I wanted it.

    2-4-2.jpg
    Planed down the side taper on the fingerboard.

    2-4-3.jpg

    Shaping the neck sans router.
    2-4-6.jpg

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    I finished sanding using a drill press sanding drum. I see the appeal of a R.O.S.S.

    Did I mention the router scares the hell out of me :D Even though it's slower, I'm glad to be using mostly hand tools for the new neck. I'm proud of the way it is shaping up. So far all of the mistakes of the first attempt have been corrected:
    -Straight and square fret slots
    -Straight truss rod channel
    -No tearout on endgrain
    -Peghead shape that's "mine"

    2-4-8.jpg
    The body is also coming along. I decided to do the pick guard and control plate pilot holes now since it's easier to fix bare poplar than when it's painted and lacquered.

    2-4-9.jpg
    I filled the small knot holes. I sanded to 220 and scuff sanded at 320, per primer instructions. I need to hit up the sides one last time and then I'm calling this ready for primer. I raided the shed and found a piece of 1-1/4-OD conduit to make a painting stick. I'll hold it up with the bicycle repair stand. I scrounged a water heater box from the hardware store. Good stuff!
     
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  9. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    I went all out on my spraying setup. :lol: I'll knock back the fuzz and see what the damage is tonight after beansprout goes to bed.
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    This Telecaster is going to be very green!
     
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  10. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    I like that green! How about sharing the Duplicolor code on that one?

    Thanks, she's looking good,
    Rex
     
  11. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    It's Metal Specks Shimmering Green, MS500, 11oz rattle can.

    Also: Stole 20 minutes and got tuner holes drilled.
    2-5-4.jpg
     
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  12. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    I got a little more neck work done tonight, but not as much as I'd like. One of the reasons I'm re-doing the neck is that I took down the original thickness taper too close to the truss rod slot for comfort. I test drove some Teles at the big guitar retailer and decided I like it on the chunky side.
    2-6-1.jpg
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    This will be roughly sized at 0.875-in @ Fret 1 and 0.95-in @ Fret 12.

    2-6-5.jpg
    It almost looks like I know what I'm doing.

    2-6-3.jpg
    I installed the side dots. I got the little pearloid discs from StewMac to match the 1/4-inlay dots I'll use on the fretboard face. If it looks like I'm ever going that way again, smack me with a shovel or something. Rods or bust! It was a real pain getting those tiny discs in the tiny holes. I did get to use grandpa's egg beater drill, and that always puts a smile on my face.

    2-6-4.jpg
    And finally, I got my facet line measurements that I'll use for carving the neck radius a la Marty's method. (Worked out in Illustrator--no modeling software here.)
     
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  13. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    The neck is coming along.

    2-10-1.jpg
    I thicknessed the peghead.

    2-10-2.jpg
    I marked the carve lines and drew in transition areas.

    2-10-3.jpg
    I rough shaped the fretboard transition. I started this on a sanding drum on the drill press to rough out the stock, but most of it was done by hand. My main implement was a 3/4-in oak dowel with 80-grit wrapped around it. I also leveled out the bottom of the nut channel. Nut is not installed in this pic.

    2-10-4.jpg
    I'm happy with the arc on the transition.

    2-10-5.jpg
    I found installing the inlays to be straightforward. I used the flat face of the cherry block to evenly tap the inlays in.

    2-10-6.jpg
    I sanded the fretboard radius (9.5) and brought my fret slots down to final depth. I don't like the gap above the truss rod mechanism or the burned endgrain, but I don't think there's anything to do about that at this point (especially since this will be hidden).

    2-10-7.jpg
    I started carving the neck using the facet method. I'm using a nice, sharp spokeshave. Very satisfying! I'm hoping to get the rough carving done tonight.

    Too windy to paint...
     
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  14. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    I've done some more work on the neck. Here's the fretboard sanded and flashed with naptha. I can live with that!
    2-12-7.jpg

    The neck is shaped now. I think I've got the neck/head transition mostly carved out right, but I'm scratching my head about how to finish it out. I really like the look of the classic Tadeo taper. I could use some advice on how to achieve that with what I have. Is it simply a matter of rounding over the hard edges now and doing a final graceful transition? Feedback here would be much appreciated.

    (If it matters, I have some thickness to play around with starting at the peghead and going about halfway between the nut and first fret, if needed. I'm using some Harbor Freight rasps, some metal files, a few fine files, and strategic sandpaper wrapped on implements.)

    2-12-1.jpg
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    (If you're wondering about my notation marks, squiggles are for humps and circles are for low spots)
     
  15. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I like to use my sanding belt with the hard block inside for blending. I hold the neck vertically and just rotate the neck with my left hand and go up and down with the block in my dominant hand. A Ross drum and abrasive is useful here too. You kind of have to find out what works for you though.

    neck3_zpsdvqtgytj.jpg

    Mine isn't quite this elaborate.

    https://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Belt-Sander-Blocks/


    This page shows the process with the block

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/100-tele-style-build-redux.660179/page-6#post-7132976
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  16. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    I think I'm just about done fooling with the neck and heel transitions. I'll need to hit everything with fine sandpaper, but the shape is here and it's not changing.

    2-15-1.jpg
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    I hit the fret slots with a file.
    2-15-5.jpg

    And then I pounded the frets home. I used a rubber mallet since that's what I had at hand. I did not like this part of the job, but it had to get done. Roughly filed 90*. I suppose now I have to jump in for some finishing tools (fret leveling beam, crowning file, etc).


    2-15-7.jpg

    Back to the body, finally. I primer-ed (primed?) a day here, a day there over the last two weeks as weather would allow. Fill two dips and add a scratch in the process. Fill the scratch and find another dip. I'll spare you the glazing putty chronicles.

    2-15-8.jpg

    Today was good temps, low wind, and about as good as I'm going to get with humidity (mid-50s). Out with the paint. The color was hard to capture accurately. I'll pull out the good camera when the guitar is built up. In the meantime, phone snaps:

    2-15-9.jpg

    2-15-10.jpg

    It's certainly not a perfect job, but the kiddo likes it and I can live with some of the small blemishes that slipped through the sanding and primer stages.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2019
  17. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    I got a second coat of paint sprayed on Saturday. It looked good enough that I was afraid a third coat might screw it up o_O First coat of lacquer sprayed today.

    2-19-0.jpg
    This is the second coat, before lacquer. I'm going to re-do the pick guard. Oh boy, another thing I get to re-do! I wanted to make sure the "client" liked the sparkle material more than the gloss white. Big surprise that my little girl picked more sparkles.

    2-19-0-2.jpg
    2-19-0-1.jpg
    I'm not sure what I fouled up when I drilled my control plate and pick guard screws, but I ended up with too much space on the outer horn cutout and too little space on the inner cutout. I traced the body and the guard at the primer stage, scanned it in to the computer, and made a new pick guard outline in Illustrator. I'll get to that while the finishes cure.

    On to the neck. My tools for the final fret work are ordered and en route. In the meantime, I taped up the fretboard and made a little jig to hold the neck for finishing.

    2-19-1.jpg
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    I chucked up a dowel and "sharpened" it down to fit in a tuner hole. I've got a 4mm hex truss rod in the heel, so I used a 3.5mm wrench here to hold that end.

    2-19-3.jpg
    I've decided to finish the neck using Tried & True Varnish Oil. I don't like the plasticky feel of the necks I've played at the big guitar store. I like Tried & True Oil for picture frames and other small projects. If it doesn't hold up well enough on a guitar, I figure I can shellac it and put on something else. I've decanted it into a little tin so I don't muck up the pot.

    2-19-4.jpg
    That's about how much I used for the whole neck (puddle is 1-1/4 x 1-3/4). I let it sit about 45-minutes before wiping/buffing with a clean cloth. I'll let it sit 24 hours per the instructions. I may wait 48. Then I'll scuff it with a white 3M synthetic steel wool pad and hit it with another coat. I usually do 3-4 coats for my frames. I'll aim for 6-8 and see where she takes me.

    Before, sanded to 320:
    2-19-5.jpg

    First coat wiped out:
    2-19-6.jpg

    I've only used Tried & True on walnut and cherry, where it is lovely. I did a tester on a scrap cutoff from the neck. There's some ever-so-slight darkening and yellowing on account of the linseed oil. I didn't want a silver, bare maple look, nor did I want a tinted/dyed yellow. I quite like where this landed.

    I feel like the train is coming in to the station. Time to dust off the soldering iron and get some practice in.
     
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  18. Muinarc

    Muinarc Tele-Meister

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    Loving that color! Can't wait to see the final product, you're so close now!
     
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  19. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    That is one of the nicer necks I've seen made around here in a while.... your transitions are really nice looking.
     
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  20. brandonh

    brandonh Tele-Meister

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    Thanks! It's been a lot of fun working on this in the garage, and I can't wait to get it into the house and play it.
    Thanks for your kind words. This was one of the most enjoyable steps of the project. I'd still be scratching my head without your threads and posts. You've given this rank amateur a fighting chance, and I appreciate it!

    My wife made a nice contribution to the project. She's picked up calligraphy, hand-lettering, brush pens, and such as a hobby. She got in on the action and drew a few variations of this for me, then we scanned into Illustrator to clean it up and Fender-ize it. (Holly is a diminutive of the family name.)

    Screen Shot 2019-02-21 at 1.23.42 PM.png

    I wasn't going to do the decal thing, but this is a nice addition and something that'll make me smile every time I see it. We still need to play around with sizing, placement, and secondary text. Sweet!
     
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