Jupiter’s Official Unofficial 2012 Challenge Build Thread (Electramaster Content)

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Jupiter, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Well, it’s not a tele, and there’s no way it’s getting done in 2 months, but watching the Challenge builds take shape inspired me to take a hack at a scratch build. I’ve assembled a LaCab clone from parts, and I’ve built my own speaker cabinet, and done some basic mods to a couple of my guitars, but that’s the extent of my experience, so I’m definitely qualified for the Beginner Class.

    In addition to lack of experience, I have few and crappy tools. No table saw, no jointer, no drill press, no spindle sander, etc. My jigsaw and circular saw have stamped metal shoes that are warped and can’t be adjusted to bring the blades square to the work surface; the laminate trimmer I started out with (that’s another story) came with a plastic base that also couldn’t be brought square to the work surface, etc. All my “outdoor” tools and materials have to fit into a closet smaller than a phone booth when I’m done (I do all my work out on a covered deck and a patio).

    Still, looking at build threads where guys are doing great stuff with even less equipment and/or space than I have made me think that my lack of tools is a lame excuse (I think the sight that finally tipped the scales for me was the fella using 2 wooden blocks and a hacksaw blade to cut fret slots). :eek: Also, the home-made jigs thread showed me that there are a kazillion different ways to skin a cat, so I figured I could find a way to, say, cut a straight line, for example. (Still puzzling about how to drill a straight hole, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.)

    I’ve wanted to have an offset body guitar for a while. I checked out a few Jazzmasters, and I quite liked them, except that they’re HUGE slabs, and the few tremolos I tried seemed really squishy. Then I saw the Grosh Electrajets,
    [​IMG]
    and soon after that, flatfive’s electrajet-inspired build thread, and I thought they looked really cool. Also, when I saw flatfive make his template by copying the body from a photo, I realized that I could do pretty much whatever I wanted about the body shape, if I just got the neck pocket and the bridge in the right places.

    So I started designing my template—in MSWord, of all things. It’s limited and wacky for drawing, compared to a “real” graphics program, but you can lay down a grid, measure and specify dimensions, draw Bezier curves, insert jpegs, print to PDF—and I already have it. :D I actually downloaded a CAD program (Cadintosh) and cracked it open, but was immediately discouraged by the interface. It would have taken me weeks to figure out how to draw curves, and anyway, I don’t need that level of precision.

    What I did instead was piggyback on flatfive: he got a photo, marked a grid on it, and then transferred the picture onto a full-sized grid by hand; I just pasted the pic of his template into Word, traced and measured the grid lines he drew, turned on the grid function in Word and set the lines to the same distance as the ones on his picture, and traced the outline in Bezier curves. (You can see at this point that I had already started fiddling around with the treble horn.)

    [​IMG]

    Then I started tweaking it—rotating, scaling to a more-user friendly 1cm=1inch scale, and messing with the curves. There was something, for example, about the cutaway and horn that somehow seemed like it was from a different guitar, so I messed around with that a little bit. I also pulled the lower cutaway in a bit more to help my little fingers reach the high frets. I stretched the length about 5% because I want to get one of those GFS Extrem vintage-style vibrato units on it; it's still gonna be tight. . . . Then, since I already knew I wanted Jazzmaster pickups, and since the Jazzy is a classic offset body shape, I decided to cross the Electrajet with a Jazzmaster: thus the Electramaster was born. I used a Jazzmaster template from the awesome Jazzmaster blueprint thread to locate the neck pocket, pickups, bridge, etc., and the more I looked at, the more the outline started to reflect JM influences.

    [​IMG]

    More petite than a Jazzmaster, a little more streamlined than an Electrajet, it turned out rather uncomfortably close to a Duo-Sonic. :neutral:

    A quick look at the headstock design; it's almost there (somehow the distance between the tuner holes is extended, though they still line up with where the nut slots will be, I think:

    [​IMG]

    I spent about a week focused on the design aspect of the build (not including the months of daydreaming I did before starting in earnest), but I have to say this part's been considerably more trouble-free than what has been going on in the analog realm. Next episode: Tool Troubles.
     
  2. vtcyclist

    vtcyclist Tele-Afflicted

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    Good luck, Have fun.


    P.S. Don't use your finger as push sticks. :D
     
  3. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Thanks! But so far, I don't have anything to push wood through yet. :neutral: But I woke up this morning dreaming of a router table. . . .
     
  4. flatfive

    flatfive Friend of Leo's

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    Your body design looks really great, and I like the headstock
    design a lot, too.

    Thanks for mentioning my build, too.
     
  5. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

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    I think I'm going to like this; offset bodies used to send me screaming from the room, but they've been growing on me lately.

    Don't get hung up on your tools; patience and foresight can mitigate a lot of tool problems.
     
  6. sfcmark

    sfcmark Tele-Meister

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    Those are some pretty impressive drawing skills in MS Word. I like the body design a lot. I'm looking forward to seeing this take shape.
     
  7. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Troubles with Tribbles--I mean Tools

    Episode 2: Tool Troubles

    No table saw, no band saw, no drill press, no spindle sander, no jointer. . . . I need to figure out how to reliably dimension and shape wood. I decided to build my first honest-to-god jig: the router sled. (First, I gotta say that the idea itself is genius. :idea: Whoever thought of it needs a medal or a cheeseburger or something.) I looked at a lot of different designs before I settled on mine.

    [​IMG]

    It’s not as basic as some of the ones people are getting great results from, but I tried to add a few fool-proofing tricks. I made a slot instead of just a hole, so that the router (well, mine’s a laminate trimmer, actually; full-on routers are hard to find in Japan) can move laterally without the sled having to move. The slot also allows me to see down to the work piece. I also added little blocks of ply to the top to stop the router from hitting the aluminum tracks on the base, as well as blocks on the bottom to prevent the sled from moving laterally. I chose the L-shaped aluminum extruded because it was light, rigid, easy to lay out and drill and had a nice smooth edge. My only regret was that I couldn’t find any stock that was at least 5cm, so I had to mount it on another piece of wood in order to get the sled up high enough to thickness a body blank. Even so, it scraped on this terribly cupped wood (see the next installment: Wood Troubles) until I got it down a couple mm.

    [​IMG]

    I was inordinately proud of it when it was done. There were some issues: one of the wooden rails was about .25mm thicker than the other one. I took the oscillating sander to it, but not quite enough, because I was afraid I’d either overdo it or introduce a bump. The difference is tiny, and of no consequence for body thickness, except that if I plane the blank flat, take it out and flip it around, the bit will mark the top on one side. Also, the aluminum is nicely rigid, but the sled can still flex a little bit around the slot, so I need to be careful not to put any unnecessary weight on the trimmer as I slide it across. Finally, the bed can flex a little bit, and I just found out that the two leaves of my adjustable workbench are not perfectly flat or perfectly flush with each other, so clamping the bed to my bench introduces slight bowing. I have some nice rectangular extruded aluminum stock that I think I’ll screw along each end to make the bed more rigid.

    Before I could use it, though, I needed to work on my laminate trimmer base. The base is acrylic (well, probably something even cheaper than that), and had problems: First, it’s warped. Second, the bracket that tightens the trimmer in the base is cracked, because I over-tightened it once with my powerful fingers (if you saw my fingers, you’d know that’s a joke).

    [​IMG]

    Third, because of sloppiness in the molding process, the trimmer wouldn’t stand up perfectly straight. So some CA glue here, some sanding and filing there, and an hour or so later, I was ready to try out my sled.

    I started planing my planks, which were about 1cm too thick—and cupped. Part way through, my trimmer, which was a 50-buck piece of not-good stuff, started squealing, then racketing, then speeding up and slowing down, then grinding, and then it died. :mad: In retrospect, I probably shold have given up on it much sooner than it gave up on me. I was frustrated at the time, because I was about 10 minutes short of where I wanted to be with my planing,

    [​IMG]

    but it turned out to be a blessing, because 150 or so bucks later, I have a much nicer Bosch trimmer.

    [​IMG]

    It better be tougher than the last one, because it’ll be doing almost all the work from here on. :neutral:

    Meanwhile, I was thinking down the road to shaping my template and the body. The blade on my jigsaw just barely pokes out the other side of the blank, and when I tried cutting some curves in a piece of scrap, the blade wandered all over the place,

    [​IMG]

    so I’m afraid to get too close to the line when I cut stuff out—which is going to mean lots of sanding . . . so what to do?

    Well, my handheld belt sander’s body is ALMOST square. I clamped it sideways to my workbench and then clamped a board in front of it as a work surface.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Success!

    [​IMG]

    It might need some shims to get it perfectly perpendicular to the work surface, and I’ll need a bigger, flatter board for my work surface, but it looks like I’ll be able to use it for my template and body—AND, I’m thinking, with some kind of fence, I may be able to use it to dimension my neck blank when I get to that stage. :D Maybe I’ll build a separate jig to hold it more securely, instead of just clamping it directly to the bench.
     
  8. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Tool Troubles, continued

    So that’ll work for the convex parts, but for the cutaways and waist, I need a spindle sander, which is--what? Just a motor, a sanding drum, and a way to hold them together, right? Here’s my first attempt at it:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Okay, that’s embarrassing, but it was just an experiment. I need a better motor, a better mount, and a better spindle. A better motor: a fan I picked up for free from the city recycling center.

    [​IMG]

    Not very strong and not very fast, but the price was right! Also, because it’s so old, it has mechanical switches for 3 speeds, not electronic ones, so I reckon it’ll be easy to mount the controls on a box somehow. Ironically, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll have to pay them to pick it up again.

    I took it apart and learned some interesting things. First, if I take it out of the plastic housing, it’s totally exposed, which seems dangerous and difficult to keep clean. Also, there’s no impeller/cooling fan for it, so if I keep it in its housing, it’s gonna heat up. Third, the spinner screws right into the shaft with a 5mm machine screw. That seemed like good luck! I could just build my spindle around a long machine screw and screw it right into the shaft. When I measured the screw, I got a kind of weird feeling, but I couldn't put my finger on it. . . .

    [​IMG]
    Raise your hand if you can tell what's coming.

    I spent close to two hours walking around a huge DIY store trying to find parts to make a sanding drum. They have little girly sanding drums for Dremel tools, but I needed something about 2 inches tall, about 1 inch in diameter, and a way to mount it on a 5mm machine screw. Finally, I stumbled over this in the rubber section (no, not that rubber section):

    [​IMG]

    A rubber cylinder about 6 inches long, an inch in diameter, with a hole just big enough to thread a 5mm bolt through. Yahoo! I have no idea what people would normally use this for, but I think it will work for a spindle. I cut a 5cm hunk off, ran a machine screw through it, a couple of washers and a nut, and done! Feeling proud of my genius, I go to screw this puppy into the hole in the shaft. And it won’t thread. I KNOW it’s the right diameter, I measured the original screw with a micrometer, but it’s not going in, so I take another look at the original screw, and I finally realize: it’s reverse-threaded.

    [​IMG]

    WHYYYYYYY?

    After 2 hours of trying to search for 80mm M5 reverse-threaded machine screws in Japanese, I gave up, and decided that cruder measures were called for. Today I went to the DIY shop and bought a regular 5mm tap (but not a handle, because I’m cheap). Jammed it in the hole and cranked it around with vice grips. For some reason, I thought that since it was already threaded once, the tap would naturally go in straight, which it almost did. But not quite. Other than that, it worked really well! :D The spindle screwed in there really easily, the fan spun fine, the spindle stayed in there. It just wobbles a bit.

    [​IMG]

    I don’t think it’s going to be true enough for final sanding of a body, but it oughta get me close enough on the template for final hand sanding. So I continued with disassembling the fan. This thing is so old it doesn’t even say Made In China! The wiring is pretty simple, though there’s a timer in there that I don’t need and will try to remove, if I can puzzle it out.

    [​IMG]

    The fan’s pretty weak—I can easily grab the spindle and stop the motor with my bare hands. So I’ll make do with it for this build, but it’s still just a prototype. I’ll be keeping my eye out for a better motor.

    Weeks of bumbling around, several embarrassing posts on THD, hours wandering the aisles at the DIY store, three book-long posts, and we've only had fleeting glimpses of the wood so far. I know that problem-solving is half the fun of projects like this, but I can't help thinking about the guys who grab a board, saw it in two pieces, run it through the thickness sander and the jointer, glue it and clamp it together in less time than I spent with that dang fan this afternoon....

    Next Episode: Wood Troubles!
     
  9. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Wood Troubles

    Regarding wood in Japan, the first hurdle is just finding some instrument-grade stock. The Japanese equivalent of Home Depot doesn’t carry hardwoods—or anything, really—the proper size for a guitar blank. They have sticks of spruce, hinoki, cedar, and something called “ruan” up to about 2x2 or 1x4, and butcher-block-style laminated pine planks about 3/4 inch thick in various sizes. The next step up you find huge slabs of keyaki, tamo, nara that people use for table tops, which go for a thousand bucks, and they’re about ½ an inch too thin. The in-between zone, where you might expect to find ash, alder, maple, etc. in moderate widths, doesn’t seem to exist, except maybe on-line (more on that later).

    The next trick is identifying the wood, its properties and appropriate uses. Ichou, keyaki, nara, tamo. . . . Even if I identify the common name in English (ichou is paulownia, tamo is a kind of ash), different kinds of “ash” can have quite different properties, and I don’t know what wood is good for what purpose. I’m sure a lot of guys in the Tele Home Depot could look and judge each board on its own merits, but I’m not one of those guys yet.

    So wood’s a bit of a puzzle. I bumbled around on the Internet for a while, and did manage to find some mahogany boards, but I didn’t want to buy a rough board without looking at it, so I hesitated. I found another place that wanted 150 bucks and up for alder or ash blanks; too rich for my blood. Then I found a place called Aichi Mokuzai Processing Industries. An unlikely name for a place that specializes in wood for guitars, but that’s just what it is. They have body blanks in alder, basswood, African and Honduran mahogany, walnut, ash, soft maple, hard maple, light ash, bubinga, monkeypod; it’s a wonderland! You can’t see the blanks (no pics), but they are graded from 2A (nice enough for a transparent finish) to B (paint-grade). A paint-grade alder or African mahogany body blank big enough to cut out a strat shape is less than 35 bucks, and basswood is less than 30. That’s totally reasonable. I should have gone for that.

    But I didn’t! :D I will next time (and I'm going to buy my neck woods from there), but I wanted my first scratch-build to be a scratch build, which for me means prepping my own blank.

    So my next adventure was going to a lumber mill. I live kind of out in the boonies of northern Osaka Prefecture, up in the hills, and it’s not that hard to find small family-owned lumber mills up here. I walked into one and told the guy I wanted to make an electric guitar and I needed good wood for that. Of course, he had no idea. :confused: But we started walking around his wood stash. There was a lot of stuff, much of which had been air-drying there for eons, but the trick was identifying it, and finding a plank thick enough for my purposes. Most of the boards were 4cm, and I figured I needed 5cm to start with.

    I finally found a board of hinoki cypress. I was interested in hinoki because it was used extensively in the building of my semi-Japanese-style house. We have a lot of exposed, planed, unfinished beams and posts, including one giant mama that’s basically a “king post”.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In addition, it’s used as the wall finish in our bathroom/shower, and it’s held up really well to 7 years of water and steam. It's not too heavy and obviously planes well. Plus it smells great! So I went for this 8x2 board that was about 6ft long. It was more expensive than I expected (about 70 dollars), but I could get two blanks out of it, so I thought it would be okay.

    When I got it home, I realized it was cupped quite a bit.

    [​IMG]

    Oh well, I have plenty of thickness, so no big deal, right? I started planing it and got one side of two pieces reasonably flat. As I was congratulating myself on that, I started hearing little tinking/cracking noises. I picked up one of the boards and looked at the end and the dang thing was checking, as I watched. :(

    [​IMG]

    I thought it was going to burst into flinders right in my hand. Very bummed.

    So maybe it was dried too quickly or something. I think it had been standing in the lumber guy’s warehouse for a lot of years, though, so it seems like it should have been stable. Anyway, I thought I’ll just plow ahead, and use it to practice and to test my templates, and if it works out, I’ll use it, if not, I’ll buy a blank from Aichi. I let it rest overnight, and the cracks actually closed up considerably; I don’t know what that means.

    My next challenge was to prepare the faces for gluing together. I tried doing this first by clamping the boards together and running my belt sander over them.

    [​IMG]

    I got them smooth, but not flat or square, so I needed another approach. One of the first, simplest jigs I ever saw on TDPRI was one to plane the edges of blanks with a router, which basically only used a few boards clamped together in a WorkMate. So I did that myself, and then smoothed it out a bit with big my big chunk o' granite.

    [​IMG]

    It came out okay.

    I glued and clamped my boards, at which time I realized my clamps were inadequate and crappy. The shafts flexed, and I’m afraid I didn’t get enough pressure on there.

    [​IMG]

    Also, the blanks weren’t really done moving yet, so the pressure might not have been even. So as it turned out, I got a nice tight seam on one side, but a thin glue line on the other side.

    [​IMG]

    I’m unsure of the strength of that joint, but I don’t really think it’s going to split open or anything. Mostly I’m afraid that it’s going to show through the paint.

    So after the glue dried, I did my last (maybe) planing/thicknessing. I got it down to about 43mm (less than 1.75 in, but more than 1 5/8 inch). That’s just where I wanted it to be: thinner than a tele, but not quite as thin as a Jazzmaster). The blank has sat for a couple days, and it’s still flat, so I guess we’re ready for the next step: the template.
     
  10. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    First Body Template

    I have a piece of MDF that’s about ¼ inch thick, and just big enough to get the body, neck and PG templates out of. That’s what I’ll start with. Since my drawings were scaled 1cm = 1in, I could fit the body comfortably on an A4 sheet of paper. I blew it up 254% on a photocopier. I had to tile it a bit to get everything. Then I taped the pieces on a window, using the little registration crosshairs to get things to line up.

    [​IMG]

    That was pretty easy. Taped a piece of butcher paper over all that and traced the outline and routes with a pencil.

    [​IMG]

    Then I used spray glue to put the paper onto the MDF:

    [​IMG]

    and then I made a mistake. :( I wanted to spray it with clear to protect the paper, which is a good idea, right? The clear I had, though, was water-based. Which was a bad idea.

    [​IMG]

    I KNEW that was a bad idea. I don’t know why I did it. Sometimes I just do stuff. :oops: Anyhow, predictably, the water in the spray made the paper lift and bubble. I pressed it back down, and when it dried it flattened back out even more, but the shrinking of the paper as it dried lifted it from the MDF in spots. I glued a corner back down with CA. Once I finish smoothing the sides, I’ll hit the edges with more CA.

    The next day, I cut along the outside of the lines with a razor knife, thinking that it would make it easier to see when I got to the edge. (It didn't work out that way, exactly, though; I ended up just pulling that little strip off all the way around because it was lifting up and getting in the way when I started sanding.)

    [​IMG]

    Today, I was going to put together my drum sander with the fan I bought, but I changed my mind. Somebody resurrected boneyguy’s 3-year-old thread about his DIY drum sander, which looked better than mine, :lol: but which was basically the same concept. I’m going to get one of those drill guide thingies at some point, but for now, I just chucked my homebrew spindle into the drill and turned it on, and it didn’t wobble at all, so I got re-inspired to set that baby up.

    Which I did, without even having to cut any wood. I chucked my Frankensander in between the leaves of my workbench, then clamped some 2x4 scraps around it.

    [​IMG]

    Initial attempts were disappointing. Because I didn’t trust my jigsaw, I had upwards of ¼-inch of waste material to remove all the way around, and Frankensander wasn’t exactly buzzing through it. It would take me 4 hours to get down to the line this way.

    [​IMG]

    But I do have a tool that will buzz through MDF: my new laminate trimmer! I decided to free-hand it and get closer to the lines.

    [​IMG]

    Scary, but quicker, and at least the cuts would be square to the surface. I had a couple of spots where I got right onto the line, but I didn’t cross it, and it only took about 10 minutes.

    After that, the sanding was very manageable. It still took about an hour, but I got it right to the line.

    [​IMG]

    Of course, there are hours of hand-sanding left to get the sides smooth and square, and I need to figure out a way to do that, but it was really exciting to see my design silhouetted in wood, and from arm’s length, it looks about perfect! :cool: I didn’t even get the belt sander out.

    [​IMG]

    So if you’re still hanging with me after so many long posts and so little actual progress, and if you have any ideas about how I can hand-finish this template with smooth, straight and true edges, I’d be happy to hear about it! :D
     
  11. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    #&$'(# (#'$'%!!!

    Rainy day today; hard to get any progress made. Sitting in front of the computer, and I start to hear a tap tap tapping somewhere in the room. I look around, and realize the ceiling's dripping--RIGHT ON MY TEMPLATE! :mad::mad::mad:

    I was lucky, really; could've been dripping on the computer, or my amp, or it could have been dripping on my template all night while I slept in the next room, but still, DANGIT! Am I gonna have to put a roof over my workbench inside my own house?
     
  12. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Baby jigs!

    While I was waiting for it to stop raining, I thought about how to sand the edges of my template. I haven't seen much about this on build threads; lots of guys talk about how important it is to get your templates perfect, but I haven't seen many pictures showing people actually DOING it.

    I think the hard part, more than getting a smooth outline, is getting the edges true and square to the surface of the template, so that you don't get weirdness as you move the bit downwards on successive passes. I know if I tried to sand the edges strictly by hand, I'd round 'em over. So I need a gizmo to keep the sandpaper oriented properly to the edge.

    I got a little scrap of plywood and sanded it flatter on my granite slab. Then I cut a piece of rectangular extruded aluminum and screwed in onto the scrap. Presto! the world's simplest jig.

    [​IMG]

    I ran a piece of masking tape around it, and glued the sandpaper to the tape with spray glue; that way, when I want to change the paper, I don't have to scrub the glue off the aluminum.

    [​IMG]

    It has a nice 90-degree angle and it'll work great for the convex curves.
    But what about the waist and cutaways? I puzzled about this for a long time, and finally decided to use a hunk of dowel. I used the sanding jig I had just made to get the bottom of the dowel as square as possible, and glued it with some white glue, and Shazam! The new world's simplest jig!

    [​IMG]

    Nice and square:

    [​IMG]

    Now I can just let the scrap ride the top of the template to keep the sanding surfaces at right angles to the top. It worked pretty well, except for one problem: the MDF loads up the paper almost immediately. I was able to get an extra turn from the paper by sliding another little piece of plywood between the template and the jig,

    [​IMG]

    but the glue holding the MDF together makes a hard crust that can't be removed by brushing.

    [​IMG]

    I have a few other kinds of sandpaper to try; hopefully I can find one that doesn't load so quickly.
     
  13. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Adventures in MDF

    So I sanded this template for a couple of days. I’d work on it for a few minutes, go away and do something else, and come back a little later. I got some aluminum oxide sandpaper that was a little more resistant to loading, and I found quicker ways to deal with changing paper. I wrapped several turns of it around the dowel jig and held it on with a rubber band. Then when I wanted to renew, I’d just roll the rubber band up a bit, tear off one wrap, and roll the band back down. My little jigs worked well for getting the edges straight, but for getting the wobblies out, I used an eraser and a little hunk of that black rubber cylinder I bought for my spindle sander.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When I thought I had it perfect, I tried treating the edges with CA glue to harden them. I sort of botched that job. :( first, I ran out of water-thin CA, so I tried to work with some slightly thicker stuff. Also, I tried to apply it by daubing some on straight from the bottle and then smoothing it with a bit of card stock. I had a little drippage, some rough spots where the glue dried on the surface instead of soaking in, and little ridges on the corners in some spots where I had too much glue on the card. I sanded the uglies off after it dried, but I was annoyed about the graceless way I got through that. I’ll try a cotton swab or something next time. I also bought another good-sized bottle of the water-thin stuff.

    I have a bad habit of trying to make do. Of course, it’s great to be resourceful, and it’s not practical to be running down the mountain to the hardware store and back all the time, but sometimes when I lack something I really NEED, I’ll try to force my way through by using something else that’s not appropriate, because I want to do this thing right NOW. The CA glue was a perfect example. There was no big rush, the right material was not hard to get a hold of, but I was like “F&(# it; I’ll just use this stuff.” It’s not unusual for me to do the same thing with screws, that is, dig around in my box of junk until I find a screw that’s almost the right size rather than making a note of what I need and getting exactly the right thing the next time I drive by the store. This impatience is a character flaw. I keep waiting for it to really bite me on the butt at some point.... :neutral:
     
  14. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    24,017
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    More adventures in MDF

    Onward! I used my thin template to make a thicker one, but it’s not actually that thick; can’t find 3/4in.-equivalent MDF. This stuff is more like 12.3mm (that’d be 31/64ths for you folks in the U.S.).

    [​IMG]

    I was a little worried, because it seems like all the cools guys have 3/4in templates, but I can’t think why I’d need one, really.

    [​IMG]

    This time, because the board was thicker, I set up my belt sander sideways on my bench. It couldn’t get the inner curves of the horns, but it removed material much more efficiently than the spindle/drill rig.

    [​IMG]

    I got it within about 1/8in, but then I was temporarily stuck, because I didn’t have the necessary bits for my trimmer.

    It was an adventure getting trimmer bits. After a couple days of searching, I finally found a pretty cool website in Japan that sells a lot of tools and materials for woodworkers. They had a million kinds of bits, but I couldn’t find a 2-inch top-bearing flush cut bit with a 6mm shank (the longest one they had was only 1in, and it was a FAT mama). I don’t know why, but I’m guessing that such a bit is too long for that thin a shank. I got one that’s 19mm (like 3/4inch), which is of course plenty for cutting my template.

    [​IMG]

    I also got a pattern-following bit that’s 25.4mm (1inch), so when it’s time to cut the body, I’ll route halfway and flip it over. One plus about these bits is that I’ll have no trouble routing the neck pocket with a thinner template; this bit will work fine with it.

    I used double-stick tape to hold the two pieces of MDF together. I got a special kind that’s designed to peel off cleanly (for putting posters on the wall, etc.), and it’s nice and thin (.15mm). I was afraid my template might move, so I put on plenty of tape--

    [​IMG]

    so much tape, that I had a heck of a time getting the pieces apart afterwards. I had to slide a boxknife blade in between to release the tape somewhat, then insert a thin wedge of scrap wood in there and pry them apart. I spent about 10 minutes separating those pieces, and I was really afraid I was going to bust one of them. But after all, the tape peeled off very cleanly. Didn’t lift any of the MDF. It obviously holds well. :D I think I only need about 30% of the tape for cutting out the body.

    I had the work up on my bench cookies to clear the workbench, but I still wasn’t confident of it not moving, so I used one clamp.

    [​IMG]

    It worked pretty well; I was impressed at how the bit went through the MDF like butter (it’s not going to go through the hinoki like that though, is it?). One minor casualty; I thought I had the bench cookies under the body far enough to avoid the trimmer, but I nicked one of ‘em after all. Battle scar. ;-)

    After cutting and separating the template, I treated the edges with the water-thin CA. I read one of the build challenge guys saying he “swabbed” the edges with CA, so I tried a cotton swab. Of course it hardened into a little rock the moment I dripped the CA on it. . . . :rolleyes: What I ended up doing was just running the tip of the glue bottle along the edge and letting it run out. It soaked in immediately and left a clean surface. I had a slight run over the top, but it too soaked in. I scraped it a tiny bit with a boxknife blade. No prob. Then I sanded the edges a bit just to take the MDF hair off and now it’s nice and smooth.

    Thursday night after work I started on the PU/control routes. There are a few things that need to be right: the PU area depth needs to be good, the control routes need to be deep enough for the pots, jack and toggle without going all the way through (!), and of course it all needs to fit under the pickguard, leaving room for PG screws, but things aren’t as critical as with the body outline, because after all, who’s gonna see it? I got the starter holes drilled with the forstner bit, and the outlines cut roughly with the jigsaw before it got too dark to work.

    My goals for the weekend: finish routing this template freehand and with some straight-edges for the trimmer to run along, plane and glue my other body blank, then cut and route the first body outline and PU/control parts, and design the neck pocket/bridge locator template. Hmm, sounds like a lot to get done. . . .
     
  15. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    24,017
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    Workin’ the trimmer

    I started out this morning with the control/PU cavity template. I’m using my preliminary (thin) template for this. I designed the routes myself, but based on the Jazzmaster pattern. The PU selector switch is going up on the top horn, and there’s none of the fancy JM circuitry, so things could be simplified. Since it’s all going under the pickguard, I thought I’d make it easy on myself for wiring stuff by giving myself lotsa space under there, but later I decided to make it easy on myself by decreasing the amount of wood I’ll have to hog out of there. :D

    [​IMG]

    So I shrank the size of some of the routes. I also had some errors in my layout, it seems; some things weren’t quite centered, and I don’t really know how they got wrong. Anyway, I made some corrections and marked them in red ink so I wouldn’t forget and route the wrong lines.

    [​IMG]

    The next thing I needed to do was measure the distance from the edge of my router bit to the edge of the base, so I could calculate where to clamp my straightedge (just a scrap of cedar).

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then I just moved that straightedge around and routed ‘er up. A little bit of careful freehand routing to finish. Procedurally simpe, but I still spent a good hour on it. . . .

    [​IMG]

    The paper on the template got in the way a lot more than I expected, so I cut along the lines with a razor, and used a diamond file to clear away the fuzzies.

    [​IMG]

    I ended up with a couple of little bumpy spots, but it looks pretty good generally, and after all, nobody’s going to see it once the pickguard’s on. If I wasn’t doing this build thread, I probably would’ve just free-handed the whole thing right on the body. :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    24,017
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    Cutting out the body

    This was a big job for my little jigsaw. By far the thickest hunk of wood I’ve tried to cut with it.

    [​IMG]

    I knew from experimenting with scrap that the blade was going to walk, so I was very conservative (you might say "chicken") in cutting the body out. The outline I drew on the body was of the template prior to trimming, so it was already 1/8 of an inch or so on the large side, and I didn’t even cut up to that line. So there was a LOT of material left to remove: over ¼ of an inch in most places.

    [​IMG]

    I feel kinda dumb looking at it now, but I knew I'd be choked if I cut too deep.

    I was going to get the belt sander out and clamp it sideways, like I did with the template, but there was so much wood that even the belt sander seemed like a long afternoon, so I decided that I’d try to remove some material with my trimmer first. Seemed like a good chance to practice using it, too. I'm pretty nervous about the final routing, but with a whole centimeter or more to work with, I felt safe enough to get out my new bits.

    First I freehanded the top with an older 19.7 mm (¾-inch) flush cut bit (which was tearing out like hell, but I wasn't worried at this point), and then flipped it over and did the other side with a brand-new 25.4mm (1-inch) pattern-following bit (which cut nice and clean :)). Together, they just barely reached across the whole thickness of the body. :cool: BTW, one nice thing about NOT having a 2-inch bit like all the big kids have is that I can have the body lying flat on the workbench.

    I nicked the body once with the tip of the bit, and had a brief heart-attack, until I realized that the nick's in the neck pocket, so it'll disappear.

    [​IMG]

    I ended up getting pretty close to the line—but maybe not any closer than a careful person with a bandsaw would get with 15 minutes’ work. Still, it was good practice, and I’ll feel much more confident when I trim it to final size tomorrow.

    Cut within 2-3mm of the line, the body weighs 2.2kg (4.85 lbs.). That’s heavier than I expected, especially considering the body’s pretty small. I’m hoping the roundover, contouring and body cavities will take at least another pound off of it. The body's small, but there's going to be a bigsby-type tremolo on it, and one of my hopes for this build was to have a not-heavy guitar. . . .

    [​IMG]

    Question: how is it that routing generates more shavings than I had actual wood when I started? I got a MOUNTAIN of shavings trimming this body.
     
  17. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    24,017
    Joined:
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    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    Body route

    Sunday was the day to route the body outline. This was the most nerve-wracking task so far, but in the end it came out all right.

    First, tape. I used a lot less tape than last time.

    [​IMG]

    One of the tricky things with tape, I’m finding, is getting that bugger down in exactly the right place the first time. It sucks to be trying to reset it if you get it off line a bit.

    This non-skid stuff is designed for going under carpets, I think. Works great for holding the body.

    [​IMG]

    Got my mask on, my safety glasses (which are still fogging up on me :mad:), and my gloves, but in my excitement I forgot my earplugs. :( Hope I didn't do any lasting damage. . . .

    One time around with the 3/4in bit, then off with the template and one more time around. Inspecting progress, I find something disturbing:

    [​IMG]

    A check right at tip of the upper horn, running all the way from top to bottom. :cry: Not sure what to do about that. The other ones apparently got cut off when I jigsawed the body. I’m thinking of running some water-thin CA in there, but I know it’ll be harder than the surrounding wood and I’m afraid of sanding trouble after that, and I don’t really want to clamp it closed because I’m afraid that will just reintroduce the stresses that were released when it checked. I think I’m just going to proceed. We’ll see how much is left when we get to the round-over/bevel and final sanding. I still have the PU/control cavities to route anyway, and it might still move. I’ll just fill it right before I start spraying.

    [​IMG]

    Other than that, I got through the top-bearing part without major mishap.

    So after flipping and starting my passes with with bottom-bearing bit, I was disappointed to see these lines, showing that the bottom-bearing bit wasn’t cutting quite as deeply as the top-bearing bit did. :(

    [​IMG]

    I don’t know if this is an unavoidable part of using two bits, or if something was out of adjustment. It’s not a devastating setback (I mean, it's a couple of microns), but kind of a disappointment.

    Anyway, besides that check and the lines, we got some fried spots, and some minor tear-outs that will sand away without much trouble, I think—just kinda furry spots, really. One thing that was interesting to me, but not surprising, of course, was that the areas of the body that furred up on one side cut perfectly smoothly when I flipped it over, and vice versa. It didn’t really seem to matter if I routed uphill or downhill. This got me thinking that the way to go would be to have 2 long bits, one top- and one bottom-bearing, and just keep flipping the body to get the smooth cuts. :idea:

    By the time I finished routing, I had a pretty good headache from concentrating so hard. :lol: I guess it will take a lot of hand sanding to get it really smooth, but I’m pretty jazzed to have gotten this far with it! :cool:

    [​IMG]

    After dusting off, I extended the center lines down the sides of the body to help me locate the remaining routes, and start on the cavities, but I didn’t get far today.

    I decided to clamp my template; after all the holes I cut into it, I was afraid I’d bust it trying to get it off the body again if I used tape.

    [​IMG]

    Then I got out my drill guide and a forstner bit. Some trial and error went into getting the right depth for the pick-up cavities, which was no problem, because the other parts have to be much deeper anyway. I just set the stop, drilled a bit, measured the hole, moved the stop, until I got the depth I need.

    [​IMG]

    For some reason, this bit isn’t cutting very well. I really have to lean on it, and it takes more time to hog it out than the router would, I think. I took a little sharpening stone to it and it cut better, so I think I’ll sharpen it up even a bit more before I continue.

    And that’s what I was going to do this afternoon, but my wife had other plans. Apparently I’m supposed to pay some attention to my kids on the weekend. . . . :confused: :lol:

    Just as well; I need to think a few things through. My template’s too thin for even my shortie bit to cut the PU cavities, which at 3/8ths of an inch (9.53mm) are absurdly shallow. Are Jazzmaster PU’s really that thin?? So I either gotta cut a thicker template, shim this thin one, or find a short (10cm) straight trimmer bit that is the same cutting diameter as one of my bearings. Also, I need to sharpen up that forstner bit, and/or get a larger one. Finally I need to settle on a method for routing the neck pocket. With luck, I'll get those questions and issues sorted out by next weekend.
     
  18. Erwin

    Erwin Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    153
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    May 27, 2011
    Location:
    Affligem Belgium
    nice thread.

    Mind if I steal some of baby jigs?
     
  19. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    24,017
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    Be my guest. :)
     
  20. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    24,017
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Location:
    Osaka, Japan
    I got cavities!

    I bought a 30mm forstner bit, and sharpened my 20mm bit, and got down to it. My drill guide is not the sturdiest, and I still don't know if I'll be able to drill tuner holes with it when we get to that, but it worked pretty well for hogging out the cavities. I used the depth stop on it, and found that if I could get up over the drill a bit by standing on the bench brace, I was able to apply plenty of pressure without straining.

    [​IMG]

    I also took a chisel to it just a bit to get the pointy parts. Since I was using a hand drill, I couldn't drill too close, because the bit would drift into previously drilled holes.

    Due to my chronic shortage of trimmer bits, I had to resort to a little trick to get those shallow JM PU cavities routed. I shimmed my template with scraps of MDF.

    [​IMG]

    That ended up working quite well, and saved me having to buy another bit or cut another template. This is one of the few unorthodox maneuvers I've resorted to so far that I'm actually kinda proud of. :) I may do something similar when it's time to route the neck pocket.

    [​IMG]

    After doing the PU cavities, I went around the other edges. then I removed the shims and template and let the bearing run on the sides of the cavity. I've been alarming some folks with wild talk about pulling the bit out of the collet a ways to get deeper routes with this bit, but I'd forgotten about the bearing, which is about 1/4" itself, so I was able to get down to just a hair shy of an inch without even adjusting the trimmer all the way down in its base. I reckon I can easily get another 1/4" without doing anything risky. Then I'll just use my forstner to deepen the cavities under the jack and the toggle (if I need to).

    I was stopped by darkness. I actually continued a bit longer than I should have past the point where visibility was being compromised, but when I'm working outside after my job and before dinner, I don't get much time.

    Maybe it's not bad for a first try, but--nah, it's pretty ugly. :oops:

    [​IMG]

    I'm not proud of it or even satisfied, beyond the fact that I didn't destroy it and none of it will show when the PG goes on.

    A few uglies, from right to left:
    1. Forstner bit drifted beyond the line
    2. Nicked the top AGAIN with the trimmer
    3. Uneven freehand routing of the border between PU and control cavities
    4. Dipped the trimmer and left a donut

    [​IMG]

    Man, that's twice I've grazed the top with a spinning trimmer, and just lucky that they both are in places that won't show when it's done. Third time's the charm??

    I'm going to take another pass around the deepest parts tomorrow evening, and try to straighten out those freehand bits a little (don't see how I'm going to make that nick go away, though). I might break out the chisel again too, and see if I can make it look a bit better here and there, though to be frank I'm not very skilled with the chisel, so it could go either way. :lol:

    Basically I'm going to call it "good enough" but one thing was made clear to me: I'm going to have to raise my game when it's time to route the neck pocket. I'm going to have to be considerably more precise. I've been worrying about it constantly since I got the body outline done, and tonight's experience didn't really do anything to boost my confidence. :neutral:
     
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