High School Thinline! Rimu/Kahikatea/Tawa

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by limoooooooo, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Kia Ora! As the title says, I am a Year 12 high school student from New Zealand, and I am building my first ever guitar :D It's still a work in progress, so I will be catching up to where I am now before you get any real time posts. I'm building it almost totally from scratch. (No Warmoth or Allparts necks here! :lol:)

    I thought first I would explain why I decided to even THINK about doing something this crazy!

    In 2010 I came across many of the luthier forums on the internet. Ever since then, it has been a dream of mine to build a guitar. I took the Design Technology (NZ's version of workshop) subject last year, with the intent of getting my skills up to a level that I could actually pull this off. Last year I built a replica of my existing dining chairs, including all the legs and back which I turned on the lathe. This year, I asked my teacher if I could try build a guitar. Quite obviously he said yes :p

    I already had Photoshop/Kisakae mock ups that I'd been working on for a while, and in about mid-late March (once all my planning was up to scratch) I started building!

    Here's the mock up as it currently is now. It isn't actually correct as I am using a light fretboard wood and I'm using a standard Tele headstock shape (much to my dismay, but I'm sure a lot of you will be relieved ;) ):

    [​IMG]


    Here are the full specs so far:

    Neck:

    - 2 piece Tawa neck. Tawa is kind of NZ's equivalent of rock maple, but it has a coarser grain that is similar to mahogany.
    - Tele headstock
    - Stewmac Martin style truss rod. That's why it's a 2 piece :)
    - 25.5" scale
    - 9.5" radius
    - NZ Paua dots
    - 22 Medium jumbo frets
    - No idea what the shape is. I tried to combine aspects of a couple of my guitars, an Epi Les Paul and Squier Strat.
    - Roller string trees
    - Tusq Nut
    - Gotoh 6 in line tuners. Black
    - Tru Oil finish

    Body:

    - Thinline Tele. I've only routed a cavity for the F hole, since kahikatea is quite light.
    - Kahikatea body. It's English name is white pine, so technically this could be a pinecaster!
    - Rimu cap. It's sap wood with a nice streak of heart through one section
    - Single bridge humbucker in zebra. It's being custom wound by a NZ luthier.
    - Schaller hard tail top loading roller bridge. Black.
    - 1 volume no tone
    - Possibly amber stain, with a Tru Oil finish


    The first part of my build was practising making routing templates out of MDF, and using the table router. I won't bore you with that :)

    Here's my first order from SM. The delivery times are crazy fast, only 3 days to New Zealand! Faster than sending something within the country :lol::

    [​IMG]

    Here's the tawa for the neck/FB. That flame really came out once the neck was carved and oiled! I used a preslotted/inlayed board since I didn't feel comfortable without using a mitre box. I ran into some problems that I think were due to not deepening them well. Next time I'll invest in a SM mitrebox. You may remember my Newbie Fretting Problems thread...

    [​IMG]

    I copied my neck plate over to the neck blank, and after some bandsawing/routing I had this!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next up was the truss rod slot. The Martin style truss rod needed a 7/16"/11.1mm wide slot. Those aren't easy to come by in countries that know metric measurements make so much more sense ;) I was sure that there would be some jig that could handle it, but the workshop technician (who is the resident mastermind of everything) went off and ordered an 11.1mm bit. No complaints here!

    Here's me and the technician (Mr Stevens) setting up the routing jig:

    [​IMG]

    I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the process, but this was the result! There are a few small gaps in the slot, but it was still a perfect fit.

    [​IMG]

    I then glued the rod in with an epoxy based glue, and it was cramped up overnight.

    [​IMG]

    That's all for now. I try get this up to date within a week, but right now it's my night to cook dinner and I need to get onto it! I'll try post some more in a few hours, but till then goodbye :D
     
  2. DCzysz

    DCzysz Tele-Meister

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    I am also a senior in high school and just finished my first guitar build. Good luck!

    Sorry for the bad quality picture.
     

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  3. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Continued!

    Just cooked dinner! Sometimes I make the best tasting food. Tonight was one of those nights. No pictures though :rolleyes:

    So I left off after gluing the truss rod. After that I sanded a bit of the excess epoxy, then it was time to glue the fret board!

    I clamped it it place first, and hammered a couple of super tiny brads in the fret slots to create a register. When I unclamped it the fretboard came away easy but it would theoretically realign perfectly. I masked the truss rod area off, then spread the Titebond. I peeled off the tape. The idea is that the clamping will press glue further into the joint, but not enough to get into the truss rod cavity.

    I clamped on the fretboard using the pins as a register, and then (foolishly) removed them. When I came back the next day the fret board had slipped a few millimetres. By complete luck, it had slipped perfectly down the centre line. This just means my nut is 3-4mm closer to the headstock than normal. I doubt anyone will ever notice but me :p

    The glue joint isn't great near the overhang, but it's good enough that it should last. I think I needed a larger bit of MDF on the fretboard face, but the brads were in the way.

    Here's the clamp setup:

    [​IMG]

    I went to a salvage yard and scored some sap Rimu for $10 for 1.5m of 8x2". This was for the cap. I was told it was heart wood, but it definitely isn't. Either way, it fits great for the theme of my project.

    [​IMG]

    For the high school assessment this has to fit under theme of "Kiwiana-ish". This guitar is fitting under the theme by using all native timber, supporting local business (getting the custom wound pu), and because of this recycled rimu cap. For those of you who don't know, I live in Christchurch where we have had 2 massive earthquakes, and thousands of aftershocks. This timber was salvaged from a building that was demolished due to EQ damage. It's like a piece of Kiwi history is now part of my guitar!

    Back to building!

    I trimmed most of the excess fretboard on the bandsaw and then flush trimmed it on the table router. Loving those paua dots! I was planning on plain black dots but Adrian from Ash Custom Works who did the slotting/inlaying said he uses paua shell on light coloured fretboards. Who's gonna argue with that :D

    [​IMG]

    Next I shaped the fretboard overhang since this is a 22 fret. I don't know (and don't care) what the official radius is, so I used my compass, and just went with what looked nice.

    [​IMG]

    After the disc sander and light sanding of the corners:

    [​IMG]

    Up next I needed to thin down the headstock! My method wasn't the best but it worked! It's times like these I wish they sold the ROSS in NZ :rolleyes:

    Mr Stevens cut most of the thickness off on the bandsaw free hand. I didn't feel I was quite skilled enough to do it well :oops:

    [​IMG]

    After 2 shots

    [​IMG]

    First of all I flattened everything out a bit with a sanding block, and started working the transition. Again, I don't know/care bout the proper radius. I found a washer than had a shape that looked good, so I traced it on a scrap and made a sanding block

    [​IMG]

    Here it is when it was about finished

    [​IMG]

    I used the end of a beltsander to clean on the glue line and made everything a bit straighter. I really like the truss rod access. I wasn't sure how it would come out, but it only sticks out 15mm or so. The allen key just fits it there nicely. Little spouts of good luck like this are great!

    Next I drilled the tuner holes. I transferred their position from one of my clear printed templates. Having a dad that works in the sign writing industry is great! It means my logo will be professionally screen printed to :)

    [​IMG]

    By the way, I don't recommend that clear stuff for template making. The spray adhesive doesn't bond it to MDF well enough to be able to work easily.

    Anyway, I awled the positions and drilled with a brand new 10mm brad point bit on a brand new drill press. It was like a hot knife in butter :)

    [​IMG]

    Gonna carry on in a new post! Computers always like to crash when you have a heap of unsaved work and I won't wanna risk it :lol:
     
  4. Bri-Sonic

    Bri-Sonic Tele-Meister

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    Nice work limoooooooo. I ran a Year 11 guitar building DT course in Australia for a few years. Every guitar made worked (to a degree!), and the kids built up a huge range of skills. It's a great project, and hopefully will be the first of many for you - the bug bites! I've subscribed to this thread and will follow progress with interest. Your work looks top notch!

    Tru Oil is a good choice for a finish, but it has a natural amber tint and tends to yellow with age - my OOO has yellowed a fair bit even living in a case, so you may not need to stain it amber.
     
  5. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    And more!

    So here's where everything was at so far!

    [​IMG]

    Next up was radiusing. I had a radius block from Stewmac. I built a simple jig to keep me sanding some what evenly. I still had to pay attention to what I was doing...

    The fret slots were getting quite shallow so I had to cut them deeper. The school didn't have anything suitable, but luckily Mr Stevens had a nice dozuki which did the job. The slots look shallower than they were because of sanding dust.

    [​IMG]

    Here it is after the final radiusing! The wee blemish in the wood hear the higher frets sanded out too.

    [​IMG]

    Now I was ready to shape the neck. It also happened to fall right on my schools open night, so I had 2.5 hours to carve! It also fairly impressed passers by. I'm sure I convinced a fair few people to come to my school :cool:

    I used a (quite blunt) surform rasp to rough out each end. That took probably 3-4 hours. The one thing you can't trust your school workshop to have is sharp rasps and files :rolleyes: I copied the 1st fret profile off my Epi Les Paul, and the 12th fret shape from my Squier Strat. I used a profile gauge to do this. It still isn't an exact copy but it helped a lot. Afterwards I shaped the rest firstly with a spokeshave (great fun! Probably the most pleasant hand tool to use unless sharp woodturning chisels count :D ). After the spokeshave I cleaned it up with rasps/files/sanding blocks.

    Picture time!

    Shaping the heel end!

    [​IMG]

    Partway through spokeshaving!

    [​IMG]

    Here's the finished carve! The lighting makes it look funky, and hard to see the transitions.

    [​IMG]

    And now I have to go because there is a show on TV I want to watch! Much more to come!
     
  6. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Subscribed?! Thank you! Yes the bug bites... I've planned out my year 13 build!

    As for top notch, well, there were some major problems soon to come :oops:

    As for the TO, it made a huge difference on the tawa when it was oiled. The kahikatea for the body is rather light and I need to get around to testing the oil on it! Also, I tested the oil on rimu and it really didn't do much to it. Good to know that it ages though, so that will definitely be a consideration now!
     
  7. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

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    Is the truss rod supposed to be glued in?
     
  8. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    The Martin style ones are glued, don't worry ;)
     
  9. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Cool.. I'm a fan..... the last guitar I put together I went creme on the headstock too....:cool:

    well.;). it had some half sanded B&W zebra stripes on it... I had to style it up somehow...:rolleyes:

    great work.... compared to the juvenile things we made at school....:rolleyes:

    nice woods too... :)
     

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  10. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good to see! It's looking great.

    Just so you know, despite the anglicised version of the name, kahikatea isn't actually a pine. We don't have native pines here. On a side note, it is also completely inert, so it can be used as a chopping board. NZ used to export butter in kahikatea boxes as it wouldn't taint the product in any way - you've probably already noticed it doesn't smell.

    I love it. Built my first tele out of it too. About the most inoffensive wood you can find. No noticeable grain to speak of, and no smell to it either, and highly unlikely to cause any sort of allergic reaction.
     
  11. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Ah damn! Yeah I read about the butter boxes. It's part of my material research on why I chose kahikatea :lol: . It works great to, my teacher routed the body shape with a hand held router, with a monster bit like these but with a much larger cutting length. Completely done against bit rotation (no dangerous downhill routing) and there wasn't a hint of tear out :D
     
  12. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Soldier on

    After carving the neck, I installed the side dots. I have no clue why I did it in this order but it worked! I used the 3/32" SM dots. I didn't have an identical drill bit but got very very close.

    Here's a fun wee game! It's called spot the mistake... :oops: You can also see the bad glue line.

    [​IMG]

    I wasn't sure how to approach this. I didn't want to fill the hole because it could possible still be visible. My teacher suggested I use a white dot, which I thought was a actually a pretty cool idea! Maybe it could be a design feature all my guitars have :lol: I didn't have any white dot material so that one would wait till I made another order from SM

    For some reason CA wasn't bonding to the plastic so I used epoxy glue. Here they are the next day when I sanded then flush

    [​IMG]

    Now I went on to gluing up my body blank! It's a 4 piece made out of kahikatea. I was planning on a 2 piece but the school already had some 100x50 lengths. I figure a 4 piece is worth it when it costs $0.00 :)

    For anyone wondering, the teacher cleaned them up on the jointer (or buzzer as everyone calls them here)

    [​IMG]

    Next up I decided to plane a side of that recycled rimu 8x2 to finally get a look at the grain. Nothing special really. The nail holes were meant to be a feature to add to the mojo.

    [​IMG]

    The next day I cleaned up the kahikatea blank. Nothing special again

    [​IMG]



    Now to the not so fun part... fretting...

    I don't want to drag this out to long, so for people who want to hear the full story check it out here

    When I hammered the frets it didn't go to plan. They were seating nastily and the ends kept popping out. I glued the ends but it still wasn't good enough. I had to pull the frets with a soldering iron and some little nippers, which went fairly smoothly without very minimal chip out.

    I refretted again, by pressing with clamps and a radius block. I also glued the ended. The end result still wasn't great, but a huge improvement and I definitely learned a lot from that experience.

    Here's a pic of the final fret seating. The picture does exaggerate it, so the job is better irl.

    [​IMG]

    Next my 2nd order from SM arrived (including white side dot material :oops: )

    [​IMG]

    Here's the bridge. It cost the same as buying a standard Gotoh hard tail here in NZ. I'm stoked on it, nice and hefty, and great options for adjustment!

    [​IMG]

    So... where was I... Ah. Yes. Finishing :p

    I sanded the neck up nicely, cleaned her off, then on came the first coat of Tru Oil. I applied it in the spray booth with the dust extractor going, and wearing nitrile gloves. I thought you can never really be too safe!

    And wow did that grain pop, so much more figure than I thought when that blank first arrived! The oil also had a great tinting effect as Bri-Sonic mentioned.

    [​IMG]

    I went with 4 coats total. Here it is after the last coat was applied

    [​IMG]

    Now, I think that truly is all for me today! There is still more to come. Thanks to anyone who is actually reading this, whether it be today, tomorrow, or in 3 years time. It's pretty cool thinking everything I post here is immortalised on the internet, for people to enjoy and maybe even learn something from!
     
  13. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    5 stars? Thank you whoever that was :D
     
  14. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    That tawa looks fantastic! Nice job!
     
  15. kiwitele

    kiwitele TDPRI Member

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    a mate of mine built a kahikatea tele, one of the best I have played, great project
     
  16. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Only 2 weeks of backlog left!

    So the happenings from my last post occurred about 2 weeks ago. Not too long till you'll be getting real time updates!

    After the last coat of finish had hardened it was about time for some fret work. I needed a good long straight block to level the frets. I found a beam of steel that was dead straight but about twice as long as necessary. Here was the solution to that:

    [​IMG]

    Boy were my arms sore after that ;)

    I glued some P220 onto the beam with spray adhesive, masked up the fretboard, got the marker pen and I was ready to roll!

    [​IMG]

    It was a relatively quick and painless job, the weight of the steel did most of the work for me. Then I crowned the frets with a SM crowning file. It is definitely easier than using a triangular file for a beginner, but I can see why more experienced people would prefer them.

    [​IMG]

    After that I did more shaping of the fret ends with some mini files. I'm still not totally happy and may do more work on that later. My main problem is the fretboard itself is a bit sharp. I bevelled the fret ends before finishing, but I should of taken it deeper. I guess it's too late now. This is a learning experience so I can't expect to get everything right the first time :lol:

    Then I put on my tuners as a mock up. They aren't actually properly fitted yet, I'm going to wait till assembly to do all that.

    [​IMG]

    That was it for the neck till I had the body ready. So surprise surprise, it was now time to direct all my attention to the body!

    To route the body shape I had to use a top bearing bit. The teacher didn't feel comfortable using it on the router table so I got out the hand held router. Then he didn't feel comfortable with me using in a hand held router, so he did the work for me. Not that I mind, I rather like having all 10 of my fingers :D

    [​IMG]

    He routed it all against bit rotation. But the combination of a sharp solid bit, the kahikatea's great workability, and decades of experience in cabinet making meant there wasn't a hint of tearout ;)

    [​IMG]

    There was some rough grain and a wee bit of burn, but nothing I can't sand out.

    Next up I marked on the cavity since this in a Thinline build. I decided to not route all the usual cavities, since kahikatea is very light and I don't want this to be neck heavy if possible.

    [​IMG]

    I hogged it out with a forstner bit

    [​IMG]

    Then I cleaned it up a bit with a chisel, before going on to routing. It was done relatively freehand, I just had a guide so I didn't route too much out

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There is still a bit more cleaning up to do there. I used a 6mm bit, simply because it was what we had on hand, plus it gave me extra control. I didn't take the route as deep as you normally would either. Simply to save every little bit of weight I could :lol:

    The rimu cap had already been ripped (using a combo of the table saw and bandsaw) and glued. I dressed it down to its final thickness. I checked the over thickness with the kahikatea.

    [​IMG]

    Bloody perfect! Just enough room left for sanding

    Now here's a fun wee game. I call it 'spot the glue line'. I don't even think I can win :D

    [​IMG]

    Now if only my fretboard joint was that good :oops:

    Since I was almost ready to cut the f hole, I decided it would be a good idea to practice. I traced it onto the end of the rimu cap, drilled some holes, learned how to use a jigsaw, and this is what happened:

    [​IMG]

    I couldn't be much happier! Obviously there would be hand shaping necessary to finish it off, but I'm confident enough now to do the real deal. I will also need to route out behind the real f hole first, so it looks nice and thin.

    And that is all my progress as of Thursday this week, so from this coming Monday onwards everything will be posted in real time :cool:

    In another 2-3 months this thing will theoretically be finished, so hopefully you guys stick around till then!

    Liam
     
  17. phoenixash

    phoenixash Tele-Holic

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    Hey great stuff kiddo I'm from welly theres plenty of kiwis on here to, I remember building a flippin coffee table in woodwork would of loved the opportunity to build a gat maybe I be looking you up to build me one one day. And that Tawa is really nice neck material love it.
     
  18. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Thanks :p ! Yeah I always find it amazing how many Kiwi's there are here considering our minuscule population!:

    One day maybe! I'm sure I'm a quite a way away from building for other people :lol: . It's really not that much harder than building a nice coffee table. I hadn't even used half of the tools I've used in this project before!

    Yeah, I love the tawa! We have some great native timber, it's a shame there isn't much of it left...
     
  19. limoooooooo

    limoooooooo Tele-Meister

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    Thanks! I love it!

    Cheers, yeah Adrian at Ash Custom Works spoke very highly of it so I figured I'd be an idiot not to use it!
     
  20. Bri-Sonic

    Bri-Sonic Tele-Meister

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    That neck looks great, now. Just be careful with the finish as it'll be in and out of the joint a few times while you're fitting it. I tend to finish neck and body when all the work is done for that reason.

    I can appreciate your teacher's apprehension - that's a beast of a router!

    Looking good - enjoying this thread!
     
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