First Build (Telecaster style Kit)

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by ghostchord, Aug 5, 2020.

  1. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    Have started building a kit this last weekend. This is an "ash" body telecaster kit ordered from Amazon Canada. If there's interest I can give more details on the specific kit and a more in-depth review, so far it seems like good value for money though it's not without issues. "Ash" body (looks like ash, 2 piece) Maple neck and fretboard.

    What I did this weekend is sand (and sand and sand and sand) by hand (with a block). I initially started with 150, but that seemed to be too fine so switched to 100 (maybe should have gone coarser), then 150, then 220. I was able to get the top and bottom nice and smooth with no scratches. The sides though were pretty tough and there's still a few scratches, especially in the deeper cuts near the neck pocket that after spending hours on I sort of gave up on ever removing completely. As you can see the bottom has some dark spots which I was also unable to remove with sanding, that might just be the wood.


    DSC_5472.JPG

    Then I used Keda Dyes to stain the top. I started with black/water. Sanded back with 220 while still leaving a fair bit of black. Then applied blue/rubbing alcohol. Then black around the edge trying to get a bursty effect. Blended that in with some blue. A few more touches and this is what I got. When it's wet it looks a lot darker which is possibly what this will end up looking like.

    Another achievement I'm proud of is that I drilled through-holes for the strings. I figure a Tele just needs those and the body didn't come with them (the bridge supports either through or top loading). As the body wouldn't fit deep enough in my drill press I ended up drilling a wooden template, then using that template to hand drill the body, go all the way through on the E's and then use the template on the other side to still the remaining 4 holes half way. The holes on the back look pretty much perfect to my eyes (hey, it's my baby ;) ). No ferrules yet, they're on order.

    I'm thinking of leaving the back and sides natural, the back has very nice grain patterns, the sides are sort of meh but I hope it ends up looking ok with the right finish. So the plan is now to use UV curable grain filler on the whole body. And later gloss wipe-on poly to finish.

    Some concerns/questions:
    - I'm a little worried I might have touched the wood too many times with my bare hands and left some oily residues. The grain filler is supposed to not care about oil. Should I clean the whole thing with naphtha before applying it? Would that potentially damage my top?
    - The neck is a paddle shaped maple/maple neck that has a finish on it. I'd really like to cut a proper Tele headstock shape (or something similar) but I don't have a bandsaw or a rotary sander which seem to be the right tools for the job. I have a jigsaw though. I'm a little worried I'm going to a) ruin the neck ... b) not be able to match the existing finish if I start cutting/messing with it. I also have this idea of putting an inlay in it (and similar concerns).
    - I was wondering if it'd be worthwhile upgrading some of the components, so far I sprung for a bone nut, I'm probably going to use all the existing bits first and see where that gets me, also wouldn't want to spend money on more parts before I know I can actually finish this project...

    I've taken some videos of me doing some of this work... maybe one day I'll be a YouTube star ;)

    Any other random unsolicited tips welcome.
     
  2. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    Got my ferrules today (pack of 30, so I guess I'll need to build 4 more guitars) and drilled the right size holes for them with a bit of healthy fear and a hand drill and my template made on my too small drill press... Nothing too exciting but hey, I didn't totally destroy anything yet. Used a 1/4" bit (which is 6.35mm), the ferrules are 6.5mm, so with a bit of persuasion they'll sit in there nice and tight (will need to be careful about keeping those holes clean when finishing).

    Tomorrow I'll be thinking and maybe doing something about the headstock, it'll probably either meet Mr. Router or Mr. Grinder and try not get destroyed in the process. Also the back is gonna get a bit more sanding now that those holes are done and I'm contemplating rounding the edges a little more, they're fairly sharp right now and from what I can tell Fender seems to do a bit of a small chamfer or rounding there.

    DSC_5481 copy.jpg
     
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  3. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    When I cut the headstock shape for a Tele kit (I had no bandsaw) I traced the headstock outline onto the paddle, using the tuning machine holes to line it up. Then I made numerous cuts with a hand saw from the outside almost to the outline, and then used a sharp chisel to get very close to the outline. Sanded from there. It worked well. 20200218_111958.jpg
     
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  4. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    i think you have a great color on the top, will be looking good.
    the sides have black areas you say.
    why not dye this black, sand it of so you would have the grain structure showing more so the 'black' area will not take so much attention?
    you could opt to do this with the back to and make it a full color blue.

    the headstock can be done with the handheld jigsaw if you give yourself the time and a good brand off saw blades.
    maybe you know those mechanical electric jigsaws?
    with the right saw blade they handle this thickness just fine.
    you would benefit from more control than with a router
     
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  5. ping-ping-clicka

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

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    this is great, keep on! I wanna see the photos.
     
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  6. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    ok, so I "gave up" and dyed the sides and back black:
    DSC_5483 copy.jpg
    this is it, not gonna touch this body until the grain filler arrives.
     
  7. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Welcome to TDPRI. I think the back stain looks good, was a good idea. There’s still nice grain showing through. With the right finishing it should show through nicely.
     
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  8. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    Decided to make a template for the headstock and then to use the router. This is the first time I'm doing any work of this sorts... The nice thing about a template is that if you mess something up (which I did) you can add material back since the cosmetics don't matter.

    I did notice today that the first and second fret on my neck have a bit of a scratch or tooling mark (you can just barely see it in the photo). It goes past the fret so was definitely there before the frets were put in. I guess this is what you get with cheap-o kits? I wonder if I should ask the seller for another neck. It's not super noticeable ... until you notice it ;) Repairing it would be annoying since it's fairly deep and the surface has a finish. Not really a functional issue, the guitar will play just fine... This would be a very nice neck if not for some smaller issues, maybe the seller is buying some rejects or something. I'm still not sure if this neck is any good, looks and feels ok and fits the pocket, but fret work is big question mark.

    DSC_5485 copy.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  9. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    that is looking really good and i think the total picture will be good to.;)
     
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  10. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    now i think of it.
    if the black blue contrast is to much for you, you could sand it down so the grain pops, and than use a clearcoat with some black mix to get a transparent mixture so the look of that black will be softer.
    but you would have to try that on a piece of scrap wood first;)
     
  11. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    Spent some quality time with the headstock. I sort of realized the headstock that was already on there didn't look like it could actually be turned into a proper Tele heastock. The problem was some Strat-y looking features very close to the nut that seemed incompatible with my template (or at least I couldn't figure out how to make them work). White I was contemplating the neck I also noticed some more scratches- what can you do.

    And so, I modified the pattern, creating some sort of half-strat-y, clamped the neck down (protecting it with a towel), and took my jigsaw to it. Small relief cuts and then cutting not too close to my line. The tape is to protect the surface from the jigsaw's base.
    DSC_5502 copy.jpg

    Then after buying a flush trim bit out came the router. I worked with the template but it was hard to hold the router exactly parallel given the very small surface and I was sort of learning on the fly, so the results were not perfect:
    DSC_5507 copy.jpg

    This can be fixed with file + sanding so should be ok. I will try to clear coat (with gloss poly) just the parts I cut and see what that looks like. The shape looks a bit meh to me but hopefully and improvement on the paddle. I can still take material off if I want to go through all this again (I've more material here than either a Strat or a Tele).

    A router table would make this job a fair bit easier vs. a hand held router. The router did cut through the maple like butter though.
     
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  12. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    Nice "first draft" - I'm sure you can sand that into something you'll be happy with.
     
  13. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Holic

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    Nice build. I have always liked the blue midnight burst.
     
  14. Dana Rudd

    Dana Rudd Tele-Meister

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    Welcome to TDPRI. Looking good on your kit build. Will be awaiting more pictures as you proceed.
     
  15. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    Cleaned up the headstock outline, it's definitely a something ;) sanded that to 100, was briefly pondering sanding all the existing finish from this neck so I can sand away some of the minor blemishes... and also not worry about matching the current finish... I donno. I guess the nice thing about bolt-on necks is that this guitar can always get another neck and the neck can always be removed for some rework. I'm probably going to try satin wipe-on poly to match on the cut edges. Hopefully the Solarez grain filler will arrive before the weekend for the body.

    DSC_5593 copy.jpg
     
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  16. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    Solarez UV sealer/filler went on the body today... I started on one side, cured it, then did the other, then tried to do the edges, and patch a few spots. And finally I did one extra light coat over the whole thing.

    My experience with the product: It's not terrible hard to apply, I used a foam brush, but it seems to take a lot of volume to really cover the guitar. I started by pouring it directly on the body, and then brushing, and I had to keep adding more and more. It's fairly runny, maybe a little thicker than maple syrup, and has a bluish tint to it. For the sides I just dipped the brush in and used that. It also sucked in a lot of liquid. I guess that's just the wood and what is supposed to happen. It just seemed a lot more work than I expected and it was hard to ensure every little corner is covered. I had a few spots that looked like they need a touchup after my second coat (on the edges) and so I did that and cured it again.

    Some of the coating ended up being sticky even after being in the sun. It seems there's a situation where oxygen can react with the top surface long enough to prevent it from curing. This supposedly doesn't effect the curing deeper in the product, you sand away the sticky bit and you end up with a solid coat, which is what I'm finding out as well.

    Also it smells like turpentine though it's supposed to be "low" voc/odour. Supposedly cleanable with either acetone or a more friendly Solarez product. I had neither of those.

    I was working in a room with a window, put the blinds down, there was some minimal outside light coming in through the blinds and through the glass door but not enough to cure the filler so that was fine. I was a little concerned about just a small amount of stray UV causing problems I didn't run into issues.

    Another thing is that I was hand holding the body with my improvised stick while brushing and then squeegeeing with an old credit card. That wasn't so easy doing everything with one hand and trying to turn the guitar around to access all the surfaces. You get a lot of goop on the edge of the card which then is hard to get off and you end up getting this stuff all over the place. I guess I survived. Here's the body sunbathing after the last application, now we can sort of see its true colours (though I expect the poly is going to alter those a little).

    DSC_5613 copy.jpg DSC_5615 copy.jpg

    My contribution to a million ways to hold a body is some sort of cedar hanger thingy that I think is supposed to make your closet smell good or something ;) I drilled 4 holes to match the neck pocket and went through with two machine screws (only found two lying around that were a fit). This setup was pretty solid. The only minor issue is that the clearcoat covered the screw heads so it took a bit of force to break them loose and left some residue around them (which I sanded and is going to be behind the neck plate anyways).

    I need some advice though: There were some marks from the edges of the credit card squeegee and occasional application "blobs" for the filler. So with this stuff dry, at the right angles, there's clearly streaks and irregularities. I already went through one round of sanding the back and front with 600 grit dry paper (wrapped around a small rubber block) and couldn't completely get rid of them. How aggressively should I try to flatten the surface? If it's slightly uneven to the touch is that something that's gonna show up once I apply the poly on top or will it even out? I don't really have a good feel for how much material I'm removing while sanding (though how much can it be with 600 grit?) and what's the thickness the filler layer clear on top. What should I do here?

    [EDIT: I was just looking at Highline guitar's YouTube video of Solarez's grain filler. He ended up with similar marks and he didn't seem too concerned. He says he uses 220 grit to level the surface. However he seems to be using a different product. His is white and thicker while the one I was using was blue and thinner?]
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2020
  17. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

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    i think it turns out great, well done!
     
  18. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    It’s looking pretty good from the pictures you’ve shown, and you did a great job on that headstock - looks good.

    Only thing I wonder now is if the blue would look good on the back as well with a slight burst edge like you gave the front?? Don’t know if this is still possible re the products you’ve used, but it looks kinda mismatched to me given the solidity of the black on the sides. I know you don’t really see the back of the guitar, but those kinda things bug me personally.
     
  19. ghostchord

    ghostchord TDPRI Member

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    Changing colours now isn't really an (easy) option. Because I didn't really have any wood to test on (since this is a kit, I just had the entire body) it was not completely predictable what the outcome would be... And yeah, the back and the front sort of clash a little, but hey you're never gonna see them at the same time! Another note is that the colour is still going to change because the poly will make it a little warmer, so hopefully that will help! The sides aren't really as black as they look in the photo either, I just had the sun shining on the front of the guitar so they it looks darker. But they are darker than the back for sure (which was expected, the wood was also darker). The next guitar (will my wife let me is the question ;) ) will have some of these lessons learnt...
     
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  20. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    All good bud - I know what it’s like to have a body you can’t experiment with scrap on. Working on one atm. :p

    And as we agree - who sees the back anyway!? Even if it ends up as a wall hanger - you’re only gonna show the front, right!? :D

    It’s looking good though, and you’ve got the grain to show through nicely on both sides. And yes, the poly finish will make things look a hell of a lot better.

    It’s gonna be a great guitar! :)
     
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