Ordering neck and fretboard blanks from local lumber yard

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by newuser1, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. newuser1

    newuser1 Tele-Meister

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    I have to local lumber yards that I can order neck and fretboard blanks fromone of them in Burlington, ON called Exotic Woods and the other one in Stouffiville, ON called Century Mill. The Exotic Woods one has much better selection of woods and they actually cater to musical instrument makers - they offer body, fretboard, and neck blanks, however they are quite expensive.

    The Century Mill yard doesn't offer pre-made neck/body/freatboard blanks, but you can custom order them. This is what I'm planning to do, but I have a few questions on wood species and blanks' sizes I should order.

    Here are their choices for domestic and foreign hardwoods:

    http://centurymill.com/site/domestic-hardwood-1/

    http://centurymill.com/site/foreign-hardwoods-1/

    Which ones of those are well suited for neck and fretaboard blanks?

    I'm planning to build bolt-on necks only - mainly tele and strat, but I want to try some shredder-type necks too ibanez/jackson/bc rich.

    What are the minimum size neck blank dimensions that I should order, which will work for tele and start necks, and what about for other necks that have tilted or bigger headstocks?
     
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Well you can't go wrong with maple especially in Canada :). I've made cherry, black walnut, and mahogany necks with great success. The zebra wood one I made warped. Since that lousy experience, I steer away from the exotics. I prefer quartersawn fretboards myself, so I order 12/4 maple to orient the grain in a rift/quartersawn manner when I slice off a fretboard.
     
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  3. newuser1

    newuser1 Tele-Meister

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    This one I know :). They have soft and hard maple, so I just order hard maple for both neck and fretboard blanks right?

    How about other wood species on their lists, can I use some of them?
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    My thought is any wood can be used. I've used basswood, pine, and poplar. They ding more but they work.

    Oily woods will get a wipe with acetone before you glue them with regular titebond or yellow glue. Some of the exotics will be heavy and could contribute to neck dive. Pick a wood you like the looks of. Check out warmoth and see what they offer too to see what the wood looks like in a neck. Moisture content and dimensional stability would be things that would impact my choices. Denser wood is harder to work too.
     
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  5. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm guitarbuilder. I've used many species of any sawn direction with no fails. The key for me is moisture checking before using. If a blank has too much moisture when you start carving it is going to move as the newly exposed wood dries. Get a $20 moisture meter, I target 6-10%, and have fun.
     
  6. newuser1

    newuser1 Tele-Meister

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    Here is what I scored at the Exotic Woods yard. I'm glad I went there instead of the Century Mill one :).
    4 maple and one padauk neck blanks. 4 Indian rosewood freatboard blanks. Total with tax $214 CAD.

    IMG_1901.JPG IMG_1902.JPG

    Their store has special music room full of neck, fretboard, body blanks, templates, and more - a must see if you live in or around Toronto/GTA.

    IMG_1898.JPG IMG_1899.JPG
     
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  7. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Good score. Prices sound reasonable; I prefer to mill my own, but I have the tools to do it, and there is value in having parts already in rough size, with the majority of waste already removed. Nice looking fretboards! Not sure how it is in Canada, but down here, at my sources, it seems figured maple is somewhere between true “rock” or Sugar maple, and ordinary Acer species. Both make good, stable necks.
     
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  8. 2blue2

    2blue2 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    What a neat pile of guitar blanks.
    You could spend a couple of hours playing tap tone.
    Of course the best flamed maple is the shelf itself.
    :eek::D:rolleyes:
     
  9. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    All wood will acclimate to ambient conditions . Kiln a piece to 6% and remove it from the kiln . It will then absorb moisture until it reaches equilibrium with your ambient conditions . Kilning/drying to 6% simply serves to stabilize the wood going forward . If dried properly , moisture content will be consistent throughout . The key is to allow the wood to relax before you work it . Even with the greatest of care , unintended things happen . In case you are wondering , I harvest and process wood for luthery , so I have some experience with the process .
     
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  10. eallen

    eallen Tele-Afflicted

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    Not debating, but can you help me understand better? After kiln dried, the lumber in my shop stays 8-11% year round despite the humidy 60-85% in summer and around 40% in winter? I don't A/C and the humity gauge in the shop shows the same as outside. Or are we talking about different things?

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  11. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    We are not . The wood , once dried will reach equilibrium . That does not mean that it will rehydrate to your full humidity level . The cellular structure of wood places certain restrictions on the ability to rehydrate throughout the wood itself , but it will allow for the formation mold and other organisms the conditions are correct . For example . At the CF Martin Co , wood is either delivered to them at or around 6% . They will acclimate it before use so that it is relaxed/stable at the 38% level that is maintained in the assembly/build area . It is in a 38% environment , but it will not rise to that level unless forced to do so by immersion . Most kilns are set up to dry to 6% because this will stabilize the wood . When you drop below 6% , checking becomes a real possibility that is not desired . This is why the 6% number exists . Unless you are in an area where the outside relative humidity is in the 6% area , the wood will reabsorb moisture upon removal from the kiln . Apparently , where you are at , 8-11% is the number .
    I also air dry , but that takes time even with an upstairs " natural kiln " area . The supposed advantage of air drying , particularly in an area like I have available , is the periodic cycling of temp and humidity . This tends to result in more relaxed wood as well as color clarity .
    Could go on and on about this , but I need to get some sleep .
    You are doing no wrong and we are both right .
    Should you ever try drying your own wood , be sure to sticker it properly and get it below 22-25% ASAP ignorer to help prevent mold . Use fans to be sure to have air moving through and around a stack when air drying until it has reached the safe zone . Even then , you need to keep an eye on it concerning mold and be prepared to tear the stack down , wipe the wood down with naphtha and restock it if necessary . A few years back , I needed to do this twice with a stack of walnut because the ambient humidity levels refused to allow the stack to dry properly . It was worth it in the end because I ended up with some of the best walnut I have ever known .
     
  12. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Interesting info here. Thanks for the explanation otter!
     
  13. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks .
    I try , but sometimes I fall short . The keys with wood are patience and remembering that it used be a tree . Did I mention patience ?
    The remaining thing that tends to catch people is failing to seal the end grain ASAP . This single error can render your beautiful wood useless for anything but a fire .
    Certain woods , like sycamore , stain very easily . This means using same species stickers and even relocating the stickers in your stack every day or two until below 20% . Should your ambient humidity be high enough , you may be doing this for up to months until conditions allow .
    Some will even tear their stack down every day , turn the boards upside down and restack until dry .
     
  14. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    The wood will return to full ambient humidity over time, no matter what it is. What it won't do is go to a percent of moisture that matches the % humidity in the air - they're two different numbers. The straighter through a wood is (beech acclimates very quickly, despite being relatively dense), the faster it will acclimate, and the faster it will check or crack if the moisture changes a lot (e.g., if you keep wood in a garage through seasonal cycles).

    8-11% probably lines up with 60% RH in summer and very low RH (assuming the inside temp is below the outside temp) in winter, agree on the mould, though if it starts, you can bleach it - even if it goes a little deep, you can bleach a pretty good amount on the surface of wood - better to avoid, though. One of the planemakers I know bleaches the wood he receives regardless, just to prevent mould).

    I have a damp shop. When I build, a month or so later after the guitar is moved to my house, I get fret sprout and have to do a one-time clean up of the edges of the fingerboard to remove it. To me, it's a lot easier than it would be to run a dehumidifier in the summer all the time (which would just make the shop less humid, but hotter). As builders, we have the option to remove the wood from the shop before we build if we want it to dry and shrink some (or you can just do your building in the winter, and it won't be an issue). I haven't built any flat tops yet, but that will be an issue when I do, and I'll have to do what a pro friend suggested - put the tops in a heated dry environment before building and glue up (he actually puts his in a purpose built oven, but there's some level of risk doing that that I don't want to take on).

    IIRC, one of the quality issues gibson had when they moved from michigan was building guitars in an environment where there wasn't humidity control.

    That said, if wood is left in an environment, it will reabsorb moisture and constantly change, more so if the end grain is left unsealed - sometimes that's preferable, sometimes it's not (generally not if the wood is air dried). What it doesn't seem to do over time is expand back to the full size that it was before the moisture was dried out of it (in planes, we see this as old planes that shrink until their iron is stuck in them - if they're left alone for a long period of time, eventually the iron will split the sides out of the plane sometimes, or in old planes with threaded wooden rod, the boxwood nuts that turn on the threaded rod will often split). the properties of the wood change over time (it feels drier, but I don't think it's dryness - I think something happens to certain woods with age where they have less elasticity and feel drier/more splintery/more powdery. Beech definitely does that, douglas fir gets brittle, and ash (according to an old woodworking publication that I have) also gets brittle with age)
     
  15. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    IIRC, one of the quality issues gibson had when they moved from michigan was building guitars in an environment where there wasn't humidity control.



    I find this hard to believe that they didn't take this into consideration in the "southern US" before they moved in. It's not like they hadn't done this before. Bean counters were responsible for the quality issues.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
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  16. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    There is very little surface area on a plane as compared to . let's say , an acoustic guitar back . Take into consideration how thin the wood used on an acoustic body compared to a plane and you have 2 completely different worlds . The vast majority of cracks in an acoustic guitar are directly related to the wood being too dry.
    One question about your Pro friend , if I may . Does he use hide glue ?
     
  17. D_W_PGH

    D_W_PGH Friend of Leo's

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    He was the instrument maker at colonial williamsburg, and I'm sure that he used hide on his acoustic guitars. The cracks in an acoustic guitar are due to wood drying without being able to move freely. I don't think most of them would occur if you just took a 1/8th piece of spruce and introduced it to more and less moisture without having it glued to something running perpendicular to the grain. The heating of the tops (probably before bracing is glued to them) is so that they don't do that in less than moist conditions. His work environment didn't allow humidity control since it wasn't historically accurate, but I think his actual shop on his own property is probably heated and kept at a constant RH.

    When I say he heated the tops, I'm sure it wasn't for that long or at that high of a temperature. While tops crack (when not allowed freedom to move), they are far better behaved than 16/4 beech, which can side and end check in two days if the temperature drops 30 degrees, even if the wood is years old. Beech is a completely different animal (and 16/4 can dry in a single winter, whereas probably nothing else widely available can).

    I agree with your comments above about initial drying. It's a pain. If you have wood that transfers moisture quickly (or molds easily), the pain is magnified. If I start green wood in my garage, I visit it daily for the first few weeks, at least. Beech is worse than most (include apple in that, too, they're both bad) in that it will check on the sides, even if the ends are sealed, and it will do it air drying and stickered. I always follow green sticks of apple with a bottle of CA so that any emerging cracks aren't exposed to air.

    I think the important point is that if you're building guitars in an area that's humid, you need to be mindful of trying to reduce the moisture content and not just assembling guitars in 60-65% humidity, or they'll have problems down the road. In my case, I can just move blanks to an area on an upper floor of my house and they normalize to that relatively quickly.
     
  18. otterhound

    otterhound Poster Extraordinaire

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    Dollars to doughnuts that he heats the wood because he uses hide glue . It has nothing to do with anything else .
    Excessive dryness causes cracks .
     
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