Fluffy Explorer Build

skipjackrc4

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I love looking at guitar build threads. I could never do it and am fascinated by the precision methods used looking forward to seeing the completion of this cool guitar.

Very impressive so far
Thanks guys!

I clamped the neck in the ball vise and wicked thin CA into the fret ends.
PXL_20220620_201908358.MP.jpg


After the glue dried I trimmed the fret ends and packed the exposed fret slots with maple dust and filled with CA.
PXL_20220620_230342995.jpg


Next is to file the fret ends flush to the neck and begin carving.
 

TN Tele

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Beautiful build, the custom control plate handle magnet was a nice touch. I look forward to seeing the rest of this guitar thread. Spectacular, and the world needs more Explorers.
 

skipjackrc4

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Fret ends trimmed flush with the neck using the Solo Music fret beveling tool (it has a 0 degree setting for flush trimming).

PXL_20220625_204931111.jpg


And here we go:
PXL_20220625_210007795.MP.jpg


I'm carving the neck using rasps and files. I love using these things.
PXL_20220625_211412320.jpg


I carved the 1st and 11th fret to Stew Mac's 59 LP template, then blended the region in between. It's turned out with a little more of a V shape than I had intended, but a very soft V. More like what I've seen described as a vintage C profile. Anyway, I started working on heel here with a chisel:

PXL_20220626_010050545.jpg
 

Telekarster

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Looking forward to this build!!! Great job thus far. I wish I had your shop!! LOL! ;) Very nice
 

skipjackrc4

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Got the neck basically profiled now. The frets are pretty good right off the press, but there's still more work to do on their ends and some light leveling to do.

PXL_20220706_224524072.jpg


And drilled the holes for the strap buttons. I'm using GFS knockoffs of the Schaller locking buttons. I typically don't use locking buttons but I didn't want to be messing with trying to attach a regular strap while working around the fur.

PXL_20220709_202358832.jpg


I have a gold Explorer jack plate that is bent to too tight a radius to fit the body. I taped it to the body and tried beating on it through a felt sheet, but it's so flexible that it wouldn't stay bent at all. I'll try over bending on a press, and if that doesn't work probably just use an electrosocket.
 

skipjackrc4

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I got the fret ends beveled to 25 degrees. I've done 35 in the past, but the steeper angle takes up a lot of fretboard real estate. This is the first time I've tried 25, but it feels pretty good so far.

I put pencil marks between each fret on the corner of the fretboard. This way I could tell when the frets were fully beveled and just a bit of the fretboard edge was hit with the file. The fretboard bevel looks bigger than it is in the photo below because of the 25 degree angle, but very little of the edge is actually beveled. I'll ease the board edges a bit more with sandpaper.

PXL_20220710_212350189.jpg
 

skipjackrc4

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I'm not sure how I missed this thread so far but, wow! It is coming along really nicely.
Thanks!

I installed the magnets in the body control cavity, but put them in backwards because I had my reference magnet flipped. Oops. It's easier to redo the cavity cover than it is to drill out the magnets in the body, so I started over. I figured I'd document the process better this time.

The cavity cover was sanded to 0.22" thick and cut on the scroll saw. I flattened it using adhesive backed paper on a granite block. I skipped this step on the first plate and regretted it, so here we are:
PXL_20220715_213056838.jpg


I'm using a 1/2" diameter magnet for the removal, so I drilled a very shallow 1/2" hole using a Forstner bit and cleaned it up with a 1/2" end mill for a flat bottom hole:
PXL_20220715_221811196.jpg


PXL_20220715_221821364.MP.jpg


I got the mating magnets installed in the correct polarity this time, and now it seats well. The black outline is just pencil marking used during the fitting process.
PXL_20220717_005106414.jpg
 

skipjackrc4

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Got the frets levelled today. I also worked on the pickup selector switch knob. I ordered a gold knob for a Switchcraft switch, but the thread was 6x40 rather than 8x32. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention. I covered the knob in heat shrink to protect it:
PXL_20220724_195732611.jpg


And drilled/tapped on the lathe:
PXL_20220724_194722336.jpg

Here we are:
PXL_20220724_215259255.jpg


I'm going to mock up the full instrument before starting the finish process, so here's the body as it stands now:
PXL_20220724_233054119.jpg
 

skipjackrc4

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Because I'm painting the fretboard white, I want to dress the frets as much as possible prior to finishing. I crowned and dressed the ends and sanded them to 600 grit, then hit them with steel wool. They're not perfectly smooth at this point, but they should be polished enough to be able to easily scrape paint off after finishing.

PXL_20220807_002228155.jpg


I attached the neck and strung it up to check alignment and intonation range. I still need to intonate the low E, but I think it's going to be fine.
PXL_20220807_232612716.jpg


I have to say that the Explorer shape is every bit as awkward to play as it looks. It sits OK when seated, but that upper wing hits your right elbow. Standing, the strap location forces the neck really far forward.
 




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