my first build thread

Wheelhouse

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:eek:

I've been looking around TDPRI for some time, reading lots of other people's threads. I downloaded Ron Kirn's booklets and read them all twice. Last summer I got some northern Wisconsin poplar and left it to dry for a year. Now it's time to start making sawdust & scrap. Maybe I'll get a guitar out of it. We'll see.

I picked the poplar because it's a fairly light wood, similar to the basswood used in many mass-manufactured instruments, fairly easy to work. I did not know about sealing the ends of the slab when I left the wood to dry, so I got some splitting, but it also maybe dried quicker than expected. The moisture meter today read my poplar slab at about 8.9-9.2, which was actually slightly less than the cherry sticks that have been hanging out in the garage for several years. So I figured I was good to start cutting. I tried to pick the best part of the slab, away from some obvious cracking. But when I cut out my shape, there was internal cracking more than I expected. What does the assemble wisdom say? Maybe the wood is stable enough to fill this and continue?

Anyway, I was going to let it sit for a while after getting the basic shape before I come down to the outline and make it match the template, give it some time for the newly expose interior give up some more moisture. Meantime, I'll cut myself a new template for a neck pocket & pickup. The scrap end of my first piece will give me space to test-cut the pockets a couple times.

As I said in the "what's your workbench today" thread, I don't know enough to be making my own guitar, but that's part of the fun, right? At least I know enough to know I'm pretty clueless. :D
 

guitarbuilder

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The rule of thumb for air dried wood is a year per inch of thickness. I'd wait. Kiln dried poplar and basswood are the cheapest hardwoods east of the Mississippi. I'd get a blank or a plank that is dry and go from there. Next year try the air dried one. YMMV.
 

Wheelhouse

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Obligatory pics so far.
 

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Jim_in_PA

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The internal cracking you are discovering is concerning and might be a sign of stresses that were not necessarily moisture related with the specific log that the lumber came from. For a guitar body, as long as you can stabilize/fill the cracking you should be ok (assuming you are fine with any visual aspects of that), but anything showing shake or other cracking should be avoided at all costs for neck material.
 

Wheelhouse

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Further info on the slab: that reddish area turns out not to be just some color in the wood, everything in the red has some splitting between the original tree rings. From the cutoff pieces, I can break the layers apart by hand without that much force. Since there's a lot of that red area, I may have difficulty getting a sound body. My original purchase was an 8' long slab, so I'll have go farther down and see if I can find a solid piece. For this first piece, I'll go ahead and cut it all out and see how it comes out. I'm not going to fuss if this whole piece turns out to be a practice body. I guess poplar should be uniformly white, and this wood has much less "character" than I had thought, LOL
 

Wheelhouse

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Thanks, @Ronkirn. One pass with a pattern bit, one with a flush trim bit, and it's cut out, right to the template. Thanks for your booklets and knowledge.
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Yeah, that little bit of tearout on the top, that's the bad wood. Maybe it'll mostly come out with the roundover, but I'm calling this whole thing a test body unless it surprises me.
 

Wheelhouse

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I spent a couple hours this morning on the template. Mixed success. Boy, a good template takes a lot of work. At this point, the collective wisdom of TDPRI can start to point out differences between my build and a standard model. It was already different with the initial cutout of the body, but nobody would have seen it. This afternoon I'll do another test of the neck pocket template.

IMG_20220627_134949.jpg
 

Wheelhouse

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I figured that would take about an hour. :(

Neck pocket template works, mostly. I don't dare sand more out of the template, because the neck sits loose in the template. But in the real slab, it's too tight and the pocket takes a fair amount of sanding. And my router depth was off, and the test pocket is 1/16" too deep.

My approach is that the neck pocket has to be right, because that's where the string geometry starts. Everything else can be modified or adjusted, shape-wise, but that neck pocket has to be right.
 

Wheelhouse

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Here's the neck pocket template secured to the body. At this point, sharp-eyed observers might start to notice some oddities and inconsistencies.

I think I saw one thread here that said cut the neck pocket before the body shape. Good tip! I got my neck pocket template off after the first pass and didn't see much adjacent stock to support the router. :oops:. The first build is always a practice build, right?
 

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Wheelhouse

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Well, it's always something. The neck pocket is nearly wide enough, with minimal marring of surface or shape. But the neck stands up about 3/16" higher than my (Chinese) factory-made Tele. My original has the edge of the fretboard surface sitting 5/16" above the finished body. My garage work in progress in nearly a quarter inch higher! The neck pocket is right on for the standard 5/8" depth. Got the calipers, and sure enough my (Chinese) neck is a bit thicker than my Squier original. Hmph.

I guess I'll try to add a bit of depth to the pocket. I doubt the finish will add much to my body surface, since I haven't sanded yet. What I gain in finish I'll likely lose nearly as much in the sanding.

What a fun adventure! I think I'm done for today.
IMG_20220627_180145.jpg
 
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jimmywrangles

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An old woodworking master told me when you fill checking (cracks) always use a filler that is slightly darker than the timber itself, it looks more natural that way.
That's all I got.
PS: Have fun, building guitars is an extremely rewarding experience, the first time you plug it in and everything works as planned is a great moment, don't rush it and think it through before you do anything and you'll be fine.
 
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Wheelhouse

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Turns out, I got it wrong, I should have done the roundover first. :rolleyes:
IMG_20220630_193009.jpg

Now the edge is bunged up at the electrosocket hole, which isn't even finished anyway. o_O Oh well. The routing is pretty much finished now, unless I need to tweak the depth on the pickup pockets or control cavity. Now it's down to weeks of sanding. Or several days anyway.
 

Wheelhouse

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Spent some time with 120 grit today. Poplar is WHITE. Still have some roughness from the roundover. I'm getting pretty excited about this. After routing it's 3.4 pounds or 1.66 kg.
 

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