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New Custom Scratch Build - The Narwhal (Lots of Pics!)

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by overpwredbyfunk, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. overpwredbyfunk

    overpwredbyfunk TDPRI Member

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    I signed up for a membership at my local TechShop earlier in October. For anyone not familiar with TechShop, I highly suggest you check them out. Think of it as a membership the best workshop you could ever imagine giving you access to pretty much any tool you could ever need.

    Naturally, with access to all this tooling the thought for my first project was for a guitar. But this time, a scratch design and build.

    Meet, the Narwhal

    [​IMG]

    Inspired by a lot of things--Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Bilt Zatfigs, Tele Deluxes and Thinlines.

    A little background--I'm an architect by day and pretty cozy with CAD--you'll see why that's important later on in the build.

    Decided I wanted to use all North American woods on this guy. No exotics. Try to make it a little more sustainable, so here we go, a nice piece of 6/4 claro walnut to get started.

    This first post is probably a few weeks worth of work all in one dump :)

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    on to the band saw to get resawn. problem with doing this in a shared shop was the saw blade was a bit of a disaster, but it got the job done.

    after resawing and splitting those pieces in half, i'm left with enough for a guitar back/top and body

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    We have a pretty badass gluing jig in the shop for joining boards--keeping both inward and downward pressure, so after a trip to the planer and joiner, they get clamped down to be glued

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    while that stuff was gluing, on to the water jet to cut some metal parts. yes, we have a water jet, and yes, it's pretty incredible.

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    so, here's a control plate and a couple of neck plates.

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    before committing to the pretty wood, i hit the laser cutter and made a cardboard mockup of the guitar.

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    i knew i was going to use mastery parts on the guitar, so the control plates and neck plates are all directional sanded 304 stainless to match.

    and one last time, before committing to wood, i wanted to make sure all my bridge holes, pickup holes, and recessed area for the tremolo plate were good to go, so i tested it all out on some scrap plywood

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    i also decided why not go ALL THE WAY scratch and wind my own pickups? so, off to the laser cutter to cut the flatwork

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    and i also cut some maple bobbins on the laser too

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    im getting pretty dorky about the pole spacing on these things. since i have access to all kinds of tooling i'm making a set of "bridge" P90's, and a set of "neck" P90's, each with different pole piece spacings to be perfectly centered under the strings. do i think it matters? probably not. but since i can do it, i might as well. This will be a longer project since i'll need to injection mold custom covers (yes, we can injection mold here), but doing that will also require milling a mold. for now, this guitar will get built with Lollars.

    So, here's the cardboard mockup disassembled showing what will eventually need to be cut out of various materials.

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    on to the easy bit first--pickguards! and our first visit to the CNC this build. The CNC software has a cool "nest" command that will try to fit your pieces efficiently on the material you have.

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    made a MDF router template for the pick guard, then on to the routing table

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    for that sweet beveled edge

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    here it is back on the cardboard mockup--starting to put electronics in place, and got the holes on the metal parts countersunk.

    [​IMG]

    once my "blanks" were out of the gluing jig, they got thickness planed. To be honest, i had intended for this to be 2 pieces--a top, and a routed out bottom, but after resawing and leveling out the "thick" piece ended up a bit too thing--so this is where i changed strategy to a 3 piece--back, middle, and top. Aiming for 1.75" overall thickness. These pieces ended up 1.25" and .25".

    [​IMG]

    okay--finally CNCing wood! the back is up first

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    and then the middle section

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    i went ahead and made a male and female gluing jig to get these things clamped together.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. overpwredbyfunk

    overpwredbyfunk TDPRI Member

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    and then viola!

    [​IMG]

    once released from the clamp, we have most of a body

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    so that catches me up to today! wood for the top is on its way in the mail, and i'll have to get working on the neck, electronics, binding etc.--so more to come.
     
  3. I_build_my_own

    I_build_my_own Friend of Leo's

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    Aaawhh, drool - nice tools!!!!!! nice build
     
  4. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    ... to everything, design, tools, wood, processes.... WOW.
     
  5. overpwredbyfunk

    overpwredbyfunk TDPRI Member

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    thanks! it's been fun so far! lots more coming!
     
  6. overpwredbyfunk

    overpwredbyfunk TDPRI Member

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    okay! back for another image and progress dump!

    after joining my book matched piece of walnut, it was off to the CNC

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    and from there, into the gluing jig

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    and here it is all dry fit after coming out of the glue jig--looking sweet!

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    from there it was off to some sanding

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    and then on to the table router to cut some binding channels to hide the layering of wood. I thought long and hard about how to do this--either with binding or with a round over but finally settled on the binding because i've never done it and wanted the challenge.

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    from there, it was time to get binding. lots of binding tape, a heat gun, and stewmac binding glue. just took my time working around the guitar.

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    and the top done

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    and the bottom done

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    twelve hours from now we'll see how it looks! i left the binding just a bit proud so i can sand flush. with any luck, tomorrow i'll be able to get to that and add a coat of sanding sealer before grain filling.

    have to travel a bit for work tuesday to saturday, so there won't be any progress for a few days
     
  7. ehawley

    ehawley Tele-Afflicted

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    Looking good!!!
     
  8. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire

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    WOW! That's pretty flippin' sweet.

    An architect with access to CNC lasers and routers. No, that's not a recipe for awesomeness at all :lol:
     
  9. overpwredbyfunk

    overpwredbyfunk TDPRI Member

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    unwrapped the binding tape today . . .

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    to tell you the truth i don't love it. for one, it's so thin on the front and back sides that it's barely noticeable. why go through all the trouble of doing binding if you only notice it from the side?

    also, there were some craftsmanship issues. i guess i had some wobbly routes both in depth and height and by the time i sanded it smooth it looked a little poor. the binding with was 0.40, so there wasn't a lot of room for error and sanded through in a few spots. i thought about saying "screw it, i'll just do a round over" but it would have taken a pretty severe radius to clean up the "shelf". no big deal--changing gears.

    [​IMG]

    wen't with a thicker 0.90" BWB binding. with a little more thickness it gave the router bit something more to bite into. i rerouted and did a few things differently

    1. made sure the guitar was as flat against the router table as possible, and applied downward pressure. paid extra attention to the times when doing a 'climb' cut forced me to have a lot of the body off the table and not as much wood available to press down and flat against the table.

    2. i didn't route as shallow in the depth and tried to get just a hair higher than the face of the guitar front and back--to make for light sanding work.

    3. i test fit a piece of binding all the way around to make sure it's flush with the side faces when inserted. with layered binding there's not a lot of forgiveness if i need to sand the sides smooth.

    4. this is the most important one--i pre bend the binding with a heat gun. this helped immensely. i planned on making a jig on the CNC to do this, but couldn't find a suitable piece of scrap around the shop, so i just used the guitar itself for the pre bend.

    i think i nailed it this time. i'll know in a week when i'm back in town.
     
  10. teletubby25

    teletubby25 Tele-Meister

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    Can't wait to see this done, nice job!
     
  11. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    Very clean work! I agree that new binding is going to look much better. I hope it bends easily.

    Rex
     
  12. TRexF16

    TRexF16 Friend of Leo's Vendor Member

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    BTW, were you able to get the BWB binding already fused into the three color strips or did you custom make it from three different binding strips? Where did you get it?
    Thanks
    Rex
     
  13. Artslap

    Artslap Tele-Afflicted

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    Beautiful.
     
  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'm no builder, but what about scraping the binding flush, instead of sanding? Seems it could be easy, accurate, and it removes no wood.

    Isn't scraping a common technique for binding? I've read that it's still a specialized job at Gibson. They probably have the system slightly more perfected than you, for the bodies :rolleyes:, but I think someone still scrapes the binding off the (finished!) necks.
     
  15. Greenmachine

    Greenmachine Tele-Holic

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    S-s-s-subscribed!
     
  16. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Fantastic!!
     
  17. overpwredbyfunk

    overpwredbyfunk TDPRI Member

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    I got the BWB binding from LMII
     
    thyratron likes this.
  18. overpwredbyfunk

    overpwredbyfunk TDPRI Member

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    It's a first for me too! But I always thought scraping was just to get the finish film off? I'll definitely play with it though. I think I'll need to end up sanding anyways to smooth out a few light scratches from the router table
     
  19. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I know the bodies, it's to get the finish off, for sure. But on the Gibson neck, they leave the binding high, over the fret tops, and then scrape quite a bit of binding away between each fret. Definitely hand done. The article I read described the few experts were dedicated to this process because one slip, and you ruin the finished guitar. They each had their own odd scraper they liked best, often a particular piece of broken glass.

    Anyway, it was interesting, so I remembered it, and when you mentioned sanding to get binding off... Now I wonder what everyone else does with body binding height. I'd think it'd have to be a bit proud like you did... right?

    Anyway, popcorn's not running out here. Great show! Thanks for sharing. :)
     
  20. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

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    It's common to use a card scraper to scrape the binding flush, especially on the sides. You can find card scrapers at any woodworking supplier (Woodcraft, Highland Woodworking, etc.) They're very easy to setup and sharpen, all you need is a flat mill file and a smooth piece of steel harder than the scraper (the smooth shank of a standard HSS drill bit works great, although you can spend $25 on a scraper burnisher if you really want to.) You may also find that that using a scraper is much more fun than using sandpaper on the flat surfaces ;).
     
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