Neck Shaping Tools-What do you use?

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by GeminiCG, Feb 28, 2020.

  1. GeminiCG

    GeminiCG Tele-Meister

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    Hey everyone,

    So I have some questions on what kind of tools you use for shaping guitar necks. For the first guitar I plan on building I want to make the neck by hand as I have a distinctive headstock shape that I want to use.

    Also, any tips and tricks are highly welcome. And if you have any jigs or tools that have proven to work for you, please share! I am interested in learning about the process.

    Thank you!
     
  2. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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  3. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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  4. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Files and sandpaper :).

    There are lots of different types and styles files. For necks, I like the bigger files 12" - 14"; nothing under 10".

    To rough things in and cut the "facets" I use large aggressive files with a tooth pattern similar to the farriers rasp. For myself, the bigger the better; easier to control and I get a flatter more even surface.

    As I get closer to the desired profile, I switch to less aggressive patterns like the Shinto rasp which is just a number of double edged hacksaw blade riveted together; a good tool. I also use my big Magic-Kut files (flat and half-round) at this stage; they are very similar to the more expensive "razor" files.

    From that point I switch to sandpaper. I back it up with a flat stick of wood or a piece of PVC pipe of the right radius to match the transitions in the neck at the head and heel. If you have a sander that uses sanding drums or spindles, those work real good too, when hand-held.

    Something that will make your neck shaping much easier - devising a way to hold the neck securely while still offering you easy working access from all sides. It makes a very big difference in how much easier the work flows.


    edit: You want to have a clear plan of attack with your desired profiles established before you commence work on the neck blank. "Winging it" is not a plan :).
     
  5. GeminiCG

    GeminiCG Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the tips everyone. I will look into some rasps and files eventually, any specific sizes or grit that you recommend?

    (Also to the admin that moved this thread from "The Tele Home Depot" to "The DIY Tool Shed," thank you. I am still new to this and didn't know that it was in the wrong place.)
     
  6. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Working with files is a skill that develops as you practice it :).

    Files are one of my favorite old-time tools.

    For me, there is something very zen-like and enjoyable about shaping a neck with hand tools. It's sort of a trippy experience as you reveal the neck's shape and profile stroke by stroke ;).

    As far as sizes or tooth configurations go, you can make a very educated guess on how aggressive a file will cut just by looking at the teeth.

    If they are big and pointy, they are going to remove a considerable amount of wood in a single good stroke and leave a rough surface.

    If they are small and flat, they will remove considerably less wood and leave a smoother surface.

    There are a couple of exceptions though.

    One exception is the "Shinto" rasp, which is really a hybrid tool - somewhere between a saw and a file.

    It's made from double-edged hacksaw blades with fine teeth on one side and coarser teeth on the other. It cuts very efficiently because by design, the teeth don't clog-up. It's a good tool for roughing in neck profiles and it's relatively wide which makes it easier to create a flatter surface. A good tool for roughing in the majority of the neck - everything but the radii at the neck and heel.

    Another exception is the "razor" files. How aggressively they cut is dependent on how much pressure you apply. They make a nice smooth cut, and depending on how much pressure you apply, they will take a big cut or remove just a whisker. The nice thing about razor files is that they are available either in a flat or a radiused profile. The "half-round" or tapered radius style is great for shaping the radii at the transitions at the head and heel.



    Good files aren't cheap and you want to keep them sharp by properly caring for and maintaining them. Buy a "file card", which looks sort of like a wire brush with real short bristles. The good file cards have the short steel bristles on one side and a brush with relatively short animal hair bristles on the other side.

    If your file is cutting rough and leaving ridges and gouges in the surface, there is probably some junk clogged up in between it's teeth.

    To properly clean your files, use the steel bristle side of the card and brush in line with the file's cutting edges. That should dislodge any swarf or junk in the teeth's gullets. If that doesn't get the junk out of the gullets, you can use a sharp point like a dental probe to dislodge the crap. Then finish up by a thorough brushing with the soft bristles on the other side of the card. Keeping them clean will help keep them from rusting.

    Store your files properly. That means storing them individually so they don't bang together and dull the teeth. Rolling them up in a cloth or towel works good. If you don't have a towel handy, just roll them up in newspaper or a paper bag :).
     
  7. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I have some razor files, and some 'dragon' rasps. All from StewMac.

    I've carved exactly one neck. It was much, much easier than I expected. And quick, too.

    The rasp did the bulk of the work.


    20191110_193715.jpg 20191110_203306.jpg 20191110_203324.jpg
     
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  8. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    Here's what I used for hand shaping the last batch of necks
    Harbor Freight $15 angle grinder and carbide wheel to take the most off, then files, paper on a carpet tube, and scraped with a computer panel.

    [​IMG]

    Quarter sawn douglas fir.

    [​IMG]

    Maple, fir, and walnut.
    [​IMG]


    However, I have been moving to CNC. No neck vids, just a quick body I did a while back.



    [​IMG]
     
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  9. ritten70

    ritten70 TDPRI Member

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    I use a rasp to set the depth and contour at the nut and neck joint the hit the belt sander to profile the rest of it and finish up with a cabinet scraper.
     
  10. GeminiCG

    GeminiCG Tele-Meister

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    Wow, thanks for all of the responses and information. I did find a jig that can carve a neck radius by using a router, I will post the link. But I think it will be good for more commercial builds in order to produce consistent necks. I wonder what you guys think of it.

    https://www.kappi.com/blog/2018/12/diy-plan-for-neck-router-jig/

    But I am still interested in carving a neck by hand, so all this information is appreciated and helpful.

    Again, thank you.
     
  11. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Search Bill Scheltema neck jig in the forum. He was the original designer of the adaptation linked above, of whom the link fails to credit.

    I have used a Scheltema jig for years and do my final transitions after with a ROSS sander drum attachment. I no longer use files or scrapers of any type. I also shape my headstock after band saw with a ROSS.

    Eric
     
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  12. GeminiCG

    GeminiCG Tele-Meister

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    Thanks Eric. I didn't know there was an original designer of that jig. The guy who made that website, should give credit. Could files be used for final touchups (if needed)?
     
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  13. GeminiCG

    GeminiCG Tele-Meister

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  14. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I bought a Grizzly handrail bit...same kind of thing. I only bought the roundover portion. I can tell you it was scary using it. Be wary of lots of spinning sharp metal without a guard if you don't have a fixture to hold onto the neck and a router table. You only really get one profile too. As a guy who promotes basic woodworking skill building here, I would encourage you to try a few by hand before you mechanize to the industrial level.


    https://www.grizzly.com/products/Gr...MImfjDn6b55wIVERgMCh2Uvwc-EAQYASABEgIzffD_BwE
     
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  15. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Anything that works can be used for final touch up. That is the key. Each person has to find what works best for them. No one way works for all. I personally don't use files much because well, I can personally make a mess of things with them.

    I also use a 3/4" bowl bit with my jig.

    As for the router shaping bit, they are large bits spinning at very high speed. As one who has had an emergency room trip from a router accident, unless a person has a quality router table setup and experience I can't recommend them. I consider them for experienced router users only.

    Eric
     
  16. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Tele-Meister

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    Ha! I like that a lot!
    Is that fabric on that cool looking guitar?
     
  17. Soapbarstrat

    Soapbarstrat Tele-Meister

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    Probably what I dislike most about the Internet. Should be a law or something to prevent that. At the very least, a shaming website.
     
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  18. dkmw

    dkmw Friend of Leo's

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    Please do not go anywhere near a router with oversized bits.

    I’m surprised no one has talked about the proper use of planing tools (which covers files and block sanding too). I’d imagine it’s covered in some of the video tutorials. In a few words, it’s about the angle you hold the tool. Straighter = fair line, angled too much can get dips. Don’t scrub in spots. Long passes only.
     
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  19. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Tele-Meister

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    For initial shaping, my big belt sander is a huge time saver.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    My main shaping tool is a Farriers rasp I found at a flea market over 30 years (pic) I also use other types of Rasp. I had (or may still have) Shinto Rasp did I really liked it have no idea where it is. My last neck I used a spoke shave quiet a bit seemed to work well; I also find a cabinet scraper is a great help in the heel area. The one tool I’ve never had much luck is a draw knife just seems tear out junks to easy. I find carving a neck very rewarding you really are relying on your skills. IMG_3628 copy.jpg IMG_3627 copy.jpg
     
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