Minimalist lightweight offset bolt-on with Formica!

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by mtorn, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for the input on that. Although I love my router table for some tasks, sometimes when I use it I feel like I'm on the brink of some major disaster!
    I've ordered a Robo-Sander from StewMac (essentially a sanding drum for your drill press, with a template bearing on the bottom). Too bad you can't easily do template sanding with an oscillating spindle sander.

    I can't imagine that I'll make the neck TOO rigid, although I'm almost hoping to! The CF bars are thinner than pencils. And the Richlite fingerboard, while super hard, is not as ridgid as something like ebony.
    The last guitar I built (the one I mentioned at the top) has a very rigid through-neck. When installed the frets, I accidentally gave it a little back-bow, so when stringed with a set of 10's, I actually have to use the double action on the truss rod to give it some relief. I don't imagine that this neck, even with CF, will be that rigid.
     
  2. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    Interesting (your neck design)... any pictures?
    I grain fill with Z-poxy, so in practice I guess it could be made seamless to the touch.

    Parker guitars (which was a bit of an inspiration for this one) are often some light wood, like basswood or spruce, even for the neck, since all the strength is in the carbon fiber exoskeleton.
     
  3. Nickadermis

    Nickadermis Friend of Leo's

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    I'm sorry for the confusion, my lay ups were for 10 foot wingspan radio control sailplanes that had to survive launching with a winch. I have never tried building a neck. The fretting process seems pretty daunting to me.

    But I'm trying to learn enough to give it a go.
     
  4. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    Before I route the neck pocket, I need to set the template up with some angle shims. Normally I like my necks to be flat (parallel with the top of the guitar), but in this case I need a little angle, since I'll be using a Gibson-style wraparound bridge.

    The easiest way I could think of do do this was on the table saw, with my crosscutting jig. After figuring out the angle (about 1.3 degrees), I just shimmed the scrap stock to angle it properly, and cut four slices.

    IMG_6419.jpg

    With the shims double stuck to the template, and the template double stuck to the body, I routed the pocket, in a bunch of passes (no pictures of this). It's a deep route, 1" at the deepest, since the neck stock is thicker than the usual ¾", and since I have the neck angle, I can set it nearly flush with the top.

    Once I got the neck outline shaped, I could try it out.
    It works really well! A light push of the neck into the pocket, and it holds on quite strongly, without any bolts (obviously I'll use some).

    IMG_6436.jpg

    I can pick it up by the neck and fling it around, no problem!

    IMG_6437.jpg

    And this is how the four bolts will sit.
    The horizontal bolt will be accessed through the bridge pickup cavity (not routed yet), and will be the special sauce for this design. Obviously the pickup will have to come out for the neck to come off, which is a bit of a bummer. Also, this design won't work with anything but a single bridge pickup, although it could probably be modified for other uses.

    The idea is that you push in the neck, then tighten the pull bolt. Technically that could possibly be enough, but I also use three more conventional bolts that will be tightened last. In addition to the bolts, string pull will tighten things further, if anything.
    The gap is intentional (although it could be smaller), so the neck doesn't bottom out, and can be wedged as deep as it wants to go.

    I'm using threaded inserts, and flathead hex bolts for all four (IKEA-style). The threaded inserts are primarily because I didn't know if normal bolt threads would hold in the end grain. And because of the flat heads, I don't need any neck plate or ferrules.

    IMG_6438.jpg
     
  5. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    Gotcha! I fly RC planes myself, but only smaller ones, where the CF is very spindly.
    I'd encourage you to try to build a neck, at least with a pre-slotted radiused board. The fretting is not as much difficult as it is tedious. I'm working on streamlining it as much as I can.
     
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  6. 10orgtr

    10orgtr Tele-Meister

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    Hey Mtorn, be careful with the heat gun on the laminate, too much heat will cause the layers of paper that make it to delaminate causing bubbles. Right before it scorches. For the forearm contour, standard thickness (1/16") laminate may have enough flexibility to curve without heat. If you haven't ordered yet get V-32 thickness (1/32") laminate, it will definitely bend around the forearm contour with no issues.
    Cheers,
    Woody
     
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  7. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for the heads up!
    The stuff I ordered (and still waiting for) is 1/32" thick, so I'll try bending it without any heat first.

    If I do use heat and scorch it, no big worries, since I'll have about 5 times as much laminate as I actually need.
     
  8. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    I tried bending a Formica sample around the forearm contour. Turns out to be no problem, even without adding heat.

    A little body building...
    The aforementioned forearm contour was done with something fairly new to me: hand planes!
    It's eerie how effective my $11 Home Depot block plane is, after I flattened the sole and sharpened the blade properly. Before this I used to use a rasp and sandpaper for doing this, but this method is much better, because it automatically wants to produce a nice flat bevel.

    I didn't photograph the belly contour, but that was done with a Microplane rasp.

    IMG_6430.jpg

    I forgot to take pictures when I made the control cavity. It was nice to use something other than a router for this - since I will cover both the front and the back with Formica, I had the luxury of making the cavity all the way through the body.
    So I drilled a pilot hole, and cut the cavity with an electric scroll saw. I had gotten some blades that, presumably, could cut this thick wood, and it worked great. It cut slowly, but the cut surface was super smooth, almost glassy.

    After the control cavity, I drilled a few holes in the upper bout, for weight relief. I put the holes up there, because I worry that the guitar might become neck-heavy, so holes in that location would lighten the body AND help a little with neck dive.

    How much does the body weigh now?

    IMG_6440.jpg

    Just under three pounds! I'll lose a little more weight with the pickup cavity, and gain some with the Formica.
    With the neck, how much is it?

    IMG_6439.jpg

    Just under 4 pounds. Very lightweight. With the hardware added, I'm guessing it'll be around 5.5 pounds.
     
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  9. metecem

    metecem Friend of Leo's

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    Wow wow wow.... I was away for a couple of days and you're doing this?

    I like it. I'd approve if I were a person of authority!

    :twisted:
     
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  10. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    I forgot to mention that I now have a StewMac robo-sander drum. I used it for finalizing the shape of the neck, because this mahogany has proven to be very tearout-prone.

    If you don't know, and if it's not apparent in the picture, the robo-sander (silly name) is a sanding drum for your drill press, but with a bearing at the bottom that can follow your template. It's less aggressive and less scary than a router bit, but it takes longer to remove material, and can't get into the nooks and crannies as easily. You can get them in three sizes - 1", 2", 3" diameter - this one is a 2".

    I'm torn about this one, but overall I like it. Besides the obvious problem of it putting sideways stress on your drill press bearings, the problem lies with the bearing diameter - it's a bit too big. That means that your piece will be a little bigger than your template.
    So to fix this, I put the bearing in the drill press, and used coarse grit sandpaper to make it a bit smaller, like on a lathe. Checking the measurement often, I managed to get it to where it sands flush when using a 120-grit sleeve.

    The problem now is that the coarser (50 and 80-grit) sleeves have a slightly larger diameter than the 120-grit sleeve! So now, if you want to rough shape a piece, it makes it smaller than your template. And since the coarse sleeves produce slight grooves in your piece (since the spindle doesn't oscillate), you might want to put that 120-grit sleeve on there to clean it up, but now that sleeve won't even reach the wood!

    So the solution might be to buy another 2" robo-sander drum, and use that with the bigger, unmolested, bearing for coarse shaping, and then use the fine grit on my modified bearing to clean things up and get it to the final size.
    It's a bit silly to have to buy two of them (or more, if I want the other sizes), but the good results and the stress-free use might be worth it.

    In the picture the template faces up, but it should face down when sanding. Also, I build a snazzy vacuum hose holder to catch the dust.

    IMG_6434.jpg
     
  11. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    A little more spindle sanding...

    Since the neck is mounted at a 1.3 degree angle, the heel end of the neck sticks out a little above the top of the instrument. Since I will put Formica over the whole shebang, this needs to be flush with the body.

    I considered using my router thicknessing jig for this, but instead decided to use the ROSS - I have a homebuilt thicknessing jig for it. I just taped one of the angled shims I made for routing the neck pocket to the neck, and sanded it down to the final thickness, stopping where the fingerboard will end.
    Hope the picture makes that a little more clear.

    IMG_6441.jpg

    So it sits like this.

    IMG_6442.jpg
     
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  12. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    And the fingerboard is glued on.

    I'm skipping the slotting, nut slot, radiusing, gluing (have to use epoxy with Richlite), and flush routing (I don't mind using a router for this, since Richlite has practically zero tearout) since those are all fairly routine.

    A quick word on the StewMac spoke wheel truss rods.
    When you receive these, the adjusting wheel has a pretty ratty grey surface. I found that it's really easy to clean it up with some 220-grit sandpaper, and then some steel wool. Before gluing it in, of course.

    IMG_6446.jpg

    Now I can finalize the headstock thickness, and make the curved transition to the fingerboard.
    I'm using the same method as I did for the heel (ROSS with a homemade thicknessing jig) for this, but with a bigger sanding drum.

    I put in the tuners (without their nuts) and the Earvana nut to verify the fit.
    If you are eagle-eyed, you might see that the nut is actually a bit too narrow for this neck. It's on purpose - a pet peeve of mine is when the outer strings fall off the fingerboard. So I'm using a slightly wide neck, but with normal string spacing. We'll see if I like it!

    IMG_6444.jpg

    Here are the tuners from the back. It's a tight fit, but it's better than the GFS tuners I used on the last project. I SHOULD get a straight string pull with this layout.

    IMG_6445.jpg
     
  13. Maricopa

    Maricopa Friend of Leo's

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    Digging this one big-time!
    I love that the MCM craze has led to that boomerang pattern being available again. I looked for it several years ago and couldn't find any.
     
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  14. TeleAnthony

    TeleAnthony Tele-Meister

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    Love the headstock design and the neck joint is amazing. I vote for the green formica.
     
  15. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    Thank you!
    I'm a fan of the old boomerang pattern, but the only one Formica makes is the subdued (drab?) charcoal color.
     
  16. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    Thanks! The headstock started out as a take on the Ibanez ATK bass headstock, with a little bit of Kiesel in there. But I guess I can call it my own signature now. It's nice not to have to reinvent it for each new project.

    About the green Formica... I've actually been second guessing my choice of the charcoal greek key, and now am leaning towards the green as well.
    The green is only available in gloss (matte is available "made to order", which might cost a lot or take a long time, I'm going to check), do you think gloss is fine? Keep in mind that this is "countertop gloss", not a deep nitro gloss.
    If I go green, I'd have to start over with the waiting time to have it delivered to the store.

    Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 7.53.17 AM.jpg
     
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  17. falcon5romeo

    falcon5romeo Tele-Holic

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    My vote is for the green, especially with the dark neck. Lookin good!
     
  18. Jdelys

    Jdelys Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

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    I really like your design idea with the tapered neck join - so much that I'd like to borrow it for my own build. Do you think you have enough angle built in that the neck will still pull easily when you want to remove it?
     
  19. mtorn

    mtorn Tele-Holic

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    It's official, the guitar will be green!
    I put in the order for the green Formica today. It turns out that my previous order of the grey one had accidentally been cancelled by the company, so it would never have arrived anyway.

    Time will tell! After having been tightened for a while, and with prolonged string pull, that thing might get pretty stuck. But I'd imagine that a few taps with a rubber mallet should dislodge the neck. I hope.
     
  20. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    That is one brilliantly elegant neck joint!
     
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