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First Post, First Build...strat Style

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Ashentep, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    So I dived into guitar building recently, after dreaming of building for years. I've never been great at woodworking, but always chalked it up to not being a big furniture lover. I always lose interest when the sanding and such starts.

    Anywho, quick backstory on this guitar: about 2 years ago, my wife's great uncle (Lane) gave me a bunch of walnut to build a bathroom vanity for the home addition I did around that time. Well...the vanity had yet to happen and Lane was in declining health, so I wanted to do something with the walnut to show him before he passed. Unfortunately, I'm about a month late on finishing this, but am looking forward to showing the results to his wife. Lane was always good with his hands and built some beautiful furniture and houses, so I feel he would've loved this.

    So here we go...I only had one board thick enough to really work with. Luckily, it was a particularly straight board with beautiful grain and few knots. 1.5x7.5" so I glued up the blank.

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    I was going to cut it out on my father-in-law's bandsaw, but it wouldn't even scratch it. Rather than buy a new blade, I made a ton of shallow passes with the router to cut it out.

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    The only thing that didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped was that I narrowed the blank to fit in my 13" planer, and narrowed a hair too much, so there was slight flat spots on the hips of the body. I pressed on though, as nobody noticed but me until I pointed it out.

    I used a body template set bought off Amazon to do the build. I have to say, don't purchase any templates from Amazon, please. Do yourself a favor and spend a little more for a good set. It looked great, but nothing fit quite right as it was, so I had to shuffle the template around and route further in a bunch of spots, mostly for the tremolo, jack plate, bridge pickup, and neck pocket...so yea, just about everything.

    Luckily, after doing the round over and sanding, the flat hips all but disappeared. Although, I forgot to take the round over I. Account when lining up to avoid a knot on the edge (of the back) and naturally, the knot ended up on the edge exactly where I wanted to avoid it. Ugh. Character, it adds character.

    image.jpg

    Apparently I can only attach a few pictures and I don't want to start this typing thing over, so this will be on hold until I upload pics somewhere else, unless the next post starts the count over...hah!
     
  2. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    Excellent, the count indeed follows posts rather than user.

    Onwards!

    Here you can see the knot I was trying to avoid. Oh well. I almost left the belly cut and forearm cuts out as I could see myself screwing up massively. However, I found this to be the most enjoyable part of the body build. It was almost soul soothing watching the contours take shape with the Shinto rasp.

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    Here comes the tru-oil! I really enjoyed working with this stuff, it really made the grain pop with the very first coat and just kept getting better. you can also see the neck template I made off a friends Squire guitar in the background.

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    Body done, let's get the real challenge started! Neck blank, Macassar ebony fretboard blank, and template. Oh my!

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    Trouble started early with the neck. Truss rod route went really easy and cause an abundance of confidence. Sooooo...I didn't cut close enough to the pattern on the headstock "ball" and the router took it upon itself to teach me a few lessons. 1. Get it close, stupid! 2. Don't stand in the line of fire when routing end grain! And 3. Walnut hurts when hurled at you. I was ok at this point and figure I can cut and glue the missing wood back in.

    Next, I didn't pay attention to the grain as I was routing the neck edge and had some tear out near the heel. It was at this point the router operator hurled the neck blank across the shop.

    A few days later, I decided to go grab the neck blank and look at the damage again. After some thought, I decided to glue up and clamp the tear out as it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought. Try two turned out perfect, as I got the rough cut within a 1/16" AND payed attention to the grain. *whew*.

    Neck, time to fix the headstock. Unfortunately at this time I had few scraps left and wasn't able to match the grain very well, but...its a first build...right?

    image.jpg
     
    lbridenstine and mozzman like this.
  3. Bulldog87

    Bulldog87 Tele-Afflicted

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    Very cool indeed! Good luck! And sorry for your loss.
     
  4. src9000

    src9000 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Welcome Ash'. Nice work on the body. I love walnut, but I think I'm allergic to it.
     
  5. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    On to the fretboard (and more lessons learned)!

    Lesson? Don't cheap out on templates. I bought a $15 plastic fret marking template instead of the metal template from Stewmac. Now, I had good intentions of saving money with this move, but it didn't quite work out. I still believe my slotting jig to be sound, but the process I used wasn't quite up to par. I marked the edges on the fretboard for locating notches to line up with a pin placed in the jig. Unfortunately as I mad the notches in the sides of the board, the fretsaw would dance ever so slightly one way or another. Slightly enough so that I didn't catch it until the board was actually slotted.

    The only slot you can tell that's out of place from the picture is near the right side of the picture where there are double slots about 1/8" from each other. I thought I recovered from a bad error when I did the second slot. I can just fix the out of place slot with dust and superglue. Then I laid the marking template down over the board again and noticed about half of the slots were out of place by .010-.040". Ugh.

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    Another order to Stewmac, and I had a preslotted rosewood board at my door.

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    Now, the most enjoyable part of the entire build: neck shaping. I thought this was going to, again, be the worst part and where I would screw up. However, it went beautifully, and I was able to get a shape that I feel is perfect. I like a chunky neck, especially up top, and this shape turned out great. I followed Fletcher's advice on YouTube and marked the neck and used a Shinto rasp again for the roughing, and a cabinet scraper for smoothing and final shape.

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    Neck, I made a radiused sanding block, glued the fret markers in and sanded the fretboard. Frets were bent by hand, which was surprisingly easy, and notched with a nibbler tool I've had laying around for years.

    Time for another mistake I think...yep. I filled the fret ends with rosewood dust and dropped superglue on the dust. I should've used thin superglue, but why do that when I have plenty of medium viscosity laying around? Because it doesn't quite work...that's why. The glue ended up sitting on top of the dust and after it had dried (or so I thought) I sanded it flush, but it ended up smearing all over the side of the fretboard and some on the edge of the fretboard face. Ugh. That wasn't fun to clean up with frets in place.

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    Fortunately lacquering went very uneventfully, and my water slide decal looks great.
     
  6. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    Here's the decal applied, before lacquering over it. "Hastings Steveocaster made is USA" and "in memory of Lane Boyd". I didn't quite align the second decal correctly, but hey, it's a first build, right? Seems to be a recurring theme here.

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    For hardware I used some things I had lying around mostly. A two post trem of unknown origins. No markings and I don't remember how I got it...seems decent quality, though. The tuners are locking Wilkinsons, American standard neck plate and jack plate. The pickguard is temporary, I hope, as I'm going to attempt an ambrosia maple guard after my lumber dries out. Keyword there is "attempt"!

    GFS overwound alnico pickups, and my own wiring concoction: standard Strat plus the neck tone is a push pull. Pull it out and the neck tone changes to a volume pot so you can roll the neck pickup in at any position. I hope it sounds as good in practice as it does in my head.

    Now I've got to level and dress the frets and make a nut. I'm close!!
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    By the way, I've already ordered more templates. Tele, Les Paul, and Les Paul double cutaway. This is addicting!
     
  7. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    Thanks! I am very happy with the results, though, at this point it may be completely unplayable, but it sure looks pretty. Hopefully it proves to be at least as good as a Squire!

    Thanks, I believe I'm slightly allergic as well, as it makes my skin itch.
     
  8. twocup

    twocup Tele-Meister

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    Looks great! Nice recovery(s), 95% of guitars in the world have them. Where did you get your decals? Looking forward to more builds, especially the LP double cut.
     
  9. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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  10. moose13

    moose13 Tele-Holic

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    Great job!
     
  11. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Wow, nice job. I love walnut. Thanks for all the pictures, very fun to watch your progress. So, what's up next?
     
  12. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    Thanks for the compliments. Up next is a Tele for sure. I've got some ambrosia maple begging to be a top. Gorgeous wood, the pictures don't do it justice. One piece is particularly nice and at 10' x 15" x 1.25" I have plenty of options. I'm thinking I'll cut it down to 7.5" width and book match it. Can you believe I paid $0.50 a board foot for this stuff? It was "waste". Some of it has some flame, too. I bought everything they had, close to 500 board feet. image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
     
  13. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    I almost forgot to mention. I strung up the guitar without yet leveling the frets and it plays beautifully except for a little buzz here and there. I think after leveling, it will be perfect! It sounds great, too.

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    Steve 78 and Blue Bill like this.
  14. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Love the look of the walnut! Great tribute.
     
  15. Andy Lights

    Andy Lights Former Member

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    Gorgeous! Wish I could hear what it sounds like
     
  16. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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    That looks amazing,
    I love walnut. Did you grain fill? If so what did you use?
     
  17. horseman308

    horseman308 Tele-Holic

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    That's just marvelous! I've got a walnut blank glued up for almost exactly the same thing, only I plan to do a hardtail and a Birdseye maple neck with the ebony board. Really nice job. Thanks also for the tips on the Amazon templates. I was gonna go that way but will avoid it now.
     
  18. Ashentep

    Ashentep TDPRI Member Ad Free Member

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    I didn't grain fill, I just sanded smooth and went straight into the Tru Oil finish. I like the look, but it isn't a perfect, flat gloss like what I achieved with lacquer on the neck. You can see definite areas where the Tru Oil has attempted to grain fill, but is too thin to do so. I don't regret the way I did the finish, though.

    As for templates, I've ordered a few from guitar building templates online (http://m.guitarbuildingtemplates.com) and they are much nicer than the Amazon sets. I have started a Telecaster build and so far everything is good with the templates. I would recommend them.
     
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