Scratch Tele Build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by MM73, Feb 26, 2015.

  1. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    This build technically started with a DIY shelf project in the basement 10 or so years ago. The woodwork skills have improved and converged with my love for music and guitars.

    This Tele build will be my first from scratch. Much of my planning has been taken directly from this site. Hopefully, compiling all of this info, including my mistakes, and adding anything original I might discover, into my build thread will help someone else.

    At the very least, I hope others with a similar interest in building guitars will find this entertaining!

    While researching the guitar, I found my inspiration photo - that workhorse Tele on the cover of Springsteen's Born to Run album. I'm not looking to build a replica, just something similar that I can play.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Starting Blocks

    I don't have a jointer or planer, but have good contacts at the local millworks shop.

    I spec'd a 2 pc. body blank made from flat-sawn "White Ash" with finish dimensions of 14" x 20" x 1-3/4". I wanted "Swamp Ash", but read somewhere that the difference between the two is primarily where the trees grow, blah, blah, blah.

    Swamp Ash wasn't an option, so a week later I came home with a dang heavy block of White Ash. More on this later...I'll be making a couple posts to catch everyone up on the project.

    I also bought a Maple blank for the neck, finish dimensions 4" x 30" x 1-3/16", flat-sawn. Quarter-sawn would seem to have been more stable for a neck, but after researching other builds, I was comfortable with flatsawn...so far I still am. I spec'd 1-3/16" just to have a little extra material, since my original plan was to build a vintage thick neck.

    Pic shows the blanks next to the Pyle kit stratocaster that I built last summer.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Templates Arrive

    Templates fit perfectly within the blanks.

    Had they not fit...it would have been a pretty good sign that I wasn't ready for this.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Template Work

    The 1/4" MDF CNC cut templates I ordered will be masters...I've already got ideas dancing around in my melon for the next build : )

    The working copies were rough cut from 1/2" MDF with my jigsaw, then trimmed with the router and 1/2" x 1" top bearing flush trim bit. I've seen some guys do this work on a router table, I'm just more comfortable running it around the template by hand. Just be sure to keep the router base flat, so the bit doesn't tip into the wood. Make sure the depth is set just right, so you don't cut your template or leave a lip on the work piece.

    I secured the template with double sided carpet tape. Use a lot. I've had templates shift in the past due to the sideload from the router bearing (I haven't developed finesse yet...probably never will).

    Also, have a dust mask at a minimum. A respirator would be better, and I plan to upgrade to one before I paint. I don't know what kind of glue is used to make MDF, but routing it throws up a lot of dust. An unhealthy amount of dust. Keep a shop vac handy for clean up.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. alpinewhite

    alpinewhite Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    180
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Location:
    Sterling Heights, MI
    All right! Another from the mitten state. Good luck on the build.
     
  6. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    A little bit about Ash

    Know your trees, or just buy Alder.

    I realized my dang heavy White Ash blank was going to turn into a dang heavy Telecaster...too heavy. So, I had to educate myself a bit about ash wood, then ordered a new blank when I couldn't find a local source for Swamp Ash.

    To those that care to know, Fraxinus Americana (White Ash) is a lot denser than a southern grown Fraxinus Pennsylvanica (Swamp Ash). I'm trusting Wikipedia here, but mostly because I can't imagine anyone would take the time to make this stuff up about ash trees.

    Two blanks the same size. The White Ash on the left is a whopping 14.6 lbs. The new Swamp Ash blank on the right is a svelt 8.04 lb.

    After cutting the templates, I got a boost in my confidence, so splurged on a single pc swamp ash blank. The decision all but guaranteed that this thing will have some type of clear or translucent finish...a la that Born to Run guitar.

    The other chunk of wood will now become fodder for practicing the 1/8" round-over and testing finishes.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Guitar hardware is just plain cool.

    The project amped up the fun with the first hardware delivery last week. There is something incredibly joyful about getting a box full of guitar hardware.

    Remember being a kid and piecing a model together before the glue was dry, just to see what it was going to look like?

    There was some purpose here. I wanted to make sure the pieces fit before I put carbide to wood.

    I only placed a partial order. This is my first build, so there is a distinct possibility that this thing could be toasting s'mores this summer. It would be even more dreadful to be toasting s'mores with an even bigger pile of unused guitar parts waiting to be unloaded at a loss on Ebay.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Framing Your Artwork

    Don't get anxious like a friend of mine (me) and immediately trace out the profile onto your soon to be Tele blank.

    I clamped the template down and proceeded to lay down a swath of pencil lead so thick it could choke a horse. When I lifted the template, I realized the whole profile needed to be shifted over an inch or two.

    No lie, I spent a day researching how to pull pencil lead off wood. Then I just took a good gummy block eraser from my college drafting days and erased it.

    I then shifted the template, and did the same stupid thing again.

    Tracing onto paper and cutting out a pattern will allow you to view many different possible layouts.

    This kinda stuff doesn't get posted, because the average beginner luthier is far, far smarter than I.

    Since I started with a nicely squared up blank, I was able to use a combo square to laydown the centerline, which helped align the pattern.

    Back to real time building. This weekend, I plan to finally start cutting the blank.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. barbrainy

    barbrainy RIP

    Posts:
    3,444
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2012
    Location:
    Northampton, UK
    Don't write it off just yet. You can still make a nice guitar, maybe chambered if weight is that bad, out of regular ash.

    I did. More than once. (Ahem. The green one is still waiting completion, though.....)
     

    Attached Files:

  10. DrASATele

    DrASATele Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,662
    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Location:
    North of Boston
    Northern ash was used in some of the thin lines. There are several threads on the subject.

    Look in Finely Finished you'll find a few ways to replicate the Butter Scotch Blonde / Amber tint that is on the Springsteen Blackguard. You may also find a few arguments that it's just an amber tint and not a BSB.
     
  11. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Us mitten-staters need indoor projects this time of year!

    Nice to meet ya Alpinewhite!

    A project like this really gets the brain thinking. Its been a lot of fun so far, and I haven't even cut into the wood yet!
     
  12. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Northern Ash

    Barbrainy had also mentioned preserving my northern ash blank for a chambered build. Probably wise, as I have other hardwood from house trim work that can be used for my practice/experiments.

    Thanks for the finish reference. I am definitely interested in the Butterscotch Blonde finish...kinda like a thin skin Tele I've seen. Unfortunately, I've never done much in the way of painting. That is, I have no spray equipment.

    I used ReRanch rattle cans on my kit strat last year. Seems that one can get a good finish, but I couldn't avoid the orange peel effect. The only way to get past it was to add thickness to get enough material to wet sand thru to flat. Doesn't seem that method would work for a thin/translucent finish. The ReRanch colors seem a shade or two on the bold side, also. My surf green finish actually looks like seafoam green in my opinion. Would be nice to have a bit more control over the coloring.

    My current plan is to mix a bit of Solarlux dyes to color the wood to my butterscotch blonde preference, seal, then maybe add a lightly colored grain filler to bring out the grain if needed. Then lay on a lot of thin coats of lacquer clear gloss with a rattle can (thick coating won't bother me with clear gloss...probably even prefer it once wet sanded and polished smooth).
     
  13. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,637
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2011
    Location:
    Lynchburg Tennessee

    I agree with barbrainy. If you have access to a mill, you could have them resaw a 1/4 inch top off the first blank. Then just chamber the bottom for a great guitar. There are lots of builds in the forum showing how to accomplish this. Good luck on your build/builds!!!
     
  14. ItZaLLGooD

    ItZaLLGooD Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    993
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2011
    Location:
    northeast ohio
    Brainy has it right. I would save it for a thinline build. Chamber it, then cap it.
     
  15. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    10,247
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    The last build I did on here was a butterscotch blond Tele. I used rattle cans of deft for the clear coats, bought a quart of deft and some thinner, went down to the wood craft store to acquire the proper pigments and dyes. then proceeded to mix my own which I applied with Prevale spray bottles. It is really quite easy to do.

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-home-depot/238981-butterscotch-christmas.html
     
  16. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Ironwolf - Your Ellycaster is exactly what I'm hoping to achieve. Thanks for posting the link. I'm going to follow up on the spray equipment.
     
  17. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Prep Work

    No cutting wood just yet. Built a larger table for the drill press. Now I have a better surface for holding the body - no tipping, and it's easier to clamp to it.

    Table was made from some scap 3/4" plywood, and secured with wing nuts so I can pull it off easily.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. rscalzi

    rscalzi Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    58
    Posts:
    1,003
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2010
    Location:
    Macomb MI
  19. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    Planning

    Still getting ready to start cutting wood. This is my first build, so I'm taking it slowly. As I get ready to cut the neck pocket, I made a sketch to double check the thickness I need for my template spacer and max rough cut depth with the forstner bit.

    I know there are a lot of pros out there, so this is probably dull stuff. Bear with me...I hope to have something to be proud of in the end!
     

    Attached Files:

  20. MM73

    MM73 Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    48
    Posts:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    South Lyon, MI
    We're talking about practice, man.

    So, there are a gazzilion threads on this site from pros about how to build these things - beginning to end. Unfortunately, I'm the goof that needs to learn by doing.

    I don't have access to a bandsaw, so wanted to practice cutting out a shape before taking jigsaw blade to ash. I decided to practice my skills on a piece of scrap framing lumber. Glad that I did.

    I started by using my master tele neck template to make a copy from 1/2" MDF. I promptly screwed up my 1/2" MDF template by undercutting the profile with my jigasaw when rough-cutting. What the heck, its practice, so I finished routing the new template anyway, imperfections and all.

    I then traced the profile onto the framing lumber, and promptly undercut it with the jigsaw when rough-cutting again. The jigsaw is going to give me problems.

    Anyway, I then attached the routing template with 2-sided carpet tape. I routed half the profile with a 1/2" x 1" router bit with top mounted bearing (Diablo DR50102). I then switched to a 1/2" x 1" flush trimming router bit with bottom bearing (Bosch 85441MC) to finish the profile.

    For routing, I opted to mount the router in the table in order to keep the work piece flat. I was worried I would tip the router if holding it by hand. The results were mixed. There was no tipping of the router, but I was not as comfortable pushing the workpiece along the bit, and the result was some awful tearout at the end of the headstock. The rough cut was very rough, and left too much material for the router bit to clean up.

    To finish, I then drilled the tuner holes (11/32") and mounting screw holes (1/8") with whatever bits I had in my tool box of the correct size. The drill bits were hard to align perfectly with the centerpoints and did not cut the wood cleanly. I also mistakenly drilled the mounting holes all the way thru.

    What did I learn?
    - I will need to cut much wider with the jigsaw on the rough cuts.
    - I want to pick up an oscillating sander to clean up the rough cut prior to routing. I blew up this years budget and have since picked up a Rigid Oscillating Edge/Belt Spindle Sander (EB4424).
    - I will route the next practice neck by hand (no table mount) and see if I get better results.
    - Use brad point drill bits for better alignment before drilling and smoother bores.
     

    Attached Files:

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.