Swamp Ash build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by moosie, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I decided to start a Tele yesterday. It's a pre-joined 2 pc blank I got from GuitarWoodExperts last year. The full billet weighs only 7.9 lbs. Hoping for a nice light one. Still deciding on finish. The grain pattern doesn't blow me away, and I like solid color Teles, so I might go opaque... Inca Silver maybe...

    This is my second scratch body - first one was a double-bound alder last summer. And it'll be my first scratch neck, assuming I get that far this season. Shop is unheated, and I'm already feeling the push.

    Mainly I started the guitar now because we're in the middle of some PERFECT spraying weather. Normally it's still pretty humid here this time of year, but not lately. So let's see how quickly I can blast through the body prep and get to finishing.

    Template is taped and screwed (into neck pickup and control cavities, I hope).

    20190916_204743.jpg


    Ready for sanding...

    20190916_211149.jpg


    I did a little belt sanding before realizing the table wasn't square. Crap. Not the end of the world, but there is a slight angle here and there. I don't see it, except with a square.

    20190917_211852.jpg



    I think that's some of the weirdness on the horn.

    20190917_211918.jpg



    This spiral bit cuts like the proverbial butter. I only took about 1/64, 1/32 max, and I did not do any climb cuts. Went slow, with the router speed approximately 20k rpm. Zero tear out.

    20190917_211956.jpg


    My template isn't perfect. There's a bit of ripple here and there, so much as I'd have liked to finish it right off the router, I needed to sand a bit. I just wrapped some 100 grit around a small oak block I normally use for wet sanding, making sure to stay flat and sand the entire width of the blank.

    20190917_234400.jpg


    Huh, I thought it was good, but in this photo, I still see a bit of ripple. See it?


    20190917_234410.jpg



    I'm using the TDowns E as my guide, but not for the perimeter. Instead, I copied my AV 58. This is what I did last year, when I made the template for the initial build. I was finding that my Fender guitar was not quite lining up with the schematic. In fact, I still see an artifact of that. My template, and thus my new body, is 3/32" longer in the butt than the AV58.


    20190917_234423.jpg


    I was kind of a mess last year, doing my first build, making the template. Started with TDowns, then the discrepancies began throwing me off, to the point where I figured I had this one known good AV58 in hand, and I could certainly do worse than to have all my guitars look like that one. The extra length was one of the TDowns inconsistencies.

    Note, I'm not saying the TDowns is wrong. I have no idea. Probably, Fender made new vintage-correct templates for the AV line, and because they were pretty gung ho about it, maybe they actually copied a vintage guitar. Anyway, I started over last year, making a second template, by squaring down and transferring the AV58 profile onto the MDF. But somehow I must have got mixed up, because it seems the extra length of the TDowns got in there. I think I saw it last year, too late, and said heck with it. And then this year, when I should have corrected my template.... I forgot.

    Anyway, I was pleased to see the routed and sanded body is smooth (but I gotta get those last ripples out), and that it generally follows the contour of the AV58 quite well. Aside from the 3/32 on the butt, there's a bit of extra material in the crook of the horn, but very little, and it's currently a nice transition, so I'm leaving it. I have a smoothed-out classic router hump. Not the worst thing.

    Finally, there's maybe 3/64" inconsistency on the upper bout, right on the top edge (in playing position). Problem is, I cut away 3/64 more than I should have (but I followed the template!), so not fixing that.

    Note to self: next build, start by making a better template.
     
  2. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I had to stop machining for the evening, too noisy. But I continued, doing some layout. Not all of it is necessary, but I wanted to confirm that everything worked, and it does.

    I don't have a loose bridge handy, but estimating placement of the pickguard, the all-important treble-side reveal looks even.

    20190918_014539.jpg


    That was giving me headaches last year. So.... whew.


    I don't know if anyone else does this, but I find it easiest to use two story sticks for everything on the body except for the perimeter cut. One stick has the vertical dimensions, the other horizontal. Everything stems from the center line. I like this method a lot better than using a body-shaped cavities template, for example.

    20190918_014136.jpg



    20190918_014158.jpg



    And then I use StewMac templates for neck pocket and pickups. It's not cheating unless I say it is. :lol: They're so convenient, with the clear lexan and lasered center lines.



    If the body looks a bit 'fat', it's not the monitor. The faces were flat, so I didn't need to do any prep in that regard. But the thickness is still nearly 1/8" over. I'll send it through the planer before cutting the cavities, and bring it down to about 1.78".

    More shop time tomorrow afternoon, hopefully.
     
  3. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    Nice work. I'm watching!
     
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  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    And then I use StewMac templates for neck pocket and pickups. It's not cheating unless I say it is. :lol: They're so convenient, with the clear lexan and lasered center lines.



    I'd say a template is a template. I have some stewmac ones and they are really nice. I find it interesting that you are fussing over the shape of Tdowns over the AV. I bet the Fender guys in the 50's on Monday sanded more or less than they did on Friday and probably still do :)
     
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  5. Ronkirn

    Ronkirn Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    yeah I'm with Marty on this... accuracy is a moving target when trying to duplicate the Leo era guitars... they were done by hand, by guys the skew to keep sanding until any foibles were gone...

    the ultimate standard was if when its all assembled if Freddie Tavares can play something on it, then its perfect...

    I've seen guys go bat sh*t crazy because their body came out 1/8th different lengthwise or across the width than some blueprint said.... guys it just doesn't matter, .. any specific copy of a vintage guitar can only be a precise copy of that one vintage guitar.. they were all subtlety different..

    and take those nice new lucite templates and make working copies from them... save the masters for when ya screw ups the working templates because it WILL happen and its much nicer to mess up something you can easily replace than it is to dork up the nice new ones..

    rk
     
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  6. 440mhz

    440mhz TDPRI Member

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    I envy you guys with workshop and tools, I live in an apartment complex and have to buy parts that are pre-finished. Nice work!
     
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  7. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I appreciate the latitude you guys are giving me on the body. It doesn't need to be perfect, but I'd rather it was my choice instead of an inability to do it any other way. But to your points, my AV58 body is slightly different shape and size than my AV64, and again different from my son's Am Std. Which I'm guessing in this era means they programmed the CNC to make them all a bit different. It seems unlikely they'd be all measurably different if it was just some manual sanding, if they even do that anymore. Which implies to me that they really had fun with the update to the AV line.

    Ron, good call on duplicating the templates, but I already borked the pocket jig last time out. Not terribly, but also not worth duplicating. Making copies was my first thought, but I really found the lexan, and the alignment marks, useful. That said, on that first build, I messed up so much, and it probably took a month off and on to make the perimeter template and get as far as I got in two hours this time. So maybe I will take your advice and copy the two templates that aren't dinged yet. 3/4 thickness is a bit easier to deal with, too, cor the initial shallow pass.

    I wish I had a better way to make a new perimeter template that's not imperfect on the edges. It telegraphs right through to the fi ished piece, as I'm sure you know. My current process of sanding MDF to the line, feels more like sculpture than woodworking.
     
  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Try plywood. I made my first out of a good quality plywood and nearly 40 years later, they are still in good shape.
     
  9. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Will do, thanks. I have some 3/4 Baltic on hand...
     
  10. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Well, I made some better templates. The perimeter template is only 1/2" baltic birch, because I didn't have enough 3/4" on hand. Shouldn't be a problem.

    Here are the templates, and the bits. I used a short 9/16" dia bit for the cavities, because I need a new 1/2", and it didn't arrive yet. Once done, I came back in with a 1" long 1/2" dia bit and cleaned out the tighter corners.

    The big Whiteside RFT5200 is dreamy.

    20191002_204653.jpg



    I used Bondo to correct a minor router slip in the wiring channel. It's getting a solid color paint job, so I filled a couple small dents with it, too. Then grain filler, two coats, overnight dry each time. Sand with 320, then 400, and clean out all the holes. Screw on the painting 'handle'.

    Tomorrow should be lower humidity, so I'll use up this leftover white vinyl sealer.

    At this point, I'm thinking about trying to make my version of Coral Pink. In another thread, I called it the Fender name "Tahitian Coral", but that's not quite what I want. I've seen a few that look right to me, but most times TC has a distinctly orange tint that I don't care for.

    I bought an Earlex 5500 HVLP rig last week, and am getting used to it, spraying clear Watco nitro on a small cherry table I made for my wife (background, below). I'm just practicing with the cheap Watco, though it works surprisingly well. I have some Mohawk lacquer, thinner, retarder on the way, along with some ColorTone pigment from StewMac.


    20191002_204717.jpg


    I messed around with aerosol guitar painting last year, and in general I've been thinking about this stuff for a while now. This week, I finally decided to read Understanding Wood Finishing, by Bob Flexner. Great book! It cleared up so many things, for both guitar and furniture work...


    20191002_213707.jpg
     
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  11. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Now it's time to start the neck. I have no idea where to begin. Is there a neck version of the TDowns drawing? I've downloaded a few CAD-like Tele neck PDFs, but none of them look very inspiring. Barring a better idea, I may just sit down with my AV64 neck, and some calipers.
     
  12. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Silver Supporter

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  13. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    I agree. I've made quite a few from that drawing. If I remember correctly it's from his '66.
     
  14. mew122

    mew122 TDPRI Member

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    I'm glad to see this book mentioned here. I read it last month and was really impressed by how he takes a fairly complex subject and breaks it down in simple terms. Takes a lot of the mystery out of the finishing process which can be intimidating for new builders like myself. I wasn't happy with the finish on my first build and just got done stripping it down. I'm hoping that the process will go much smoother having read it. Definitely recommend it for beginners and even more experienced builders.

    Great looking build so far. Looking forward to seeing how you tackle the neck.
     
  15. Luthi3rz

    Luthi3rz Tele-Meister

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    Nice.
    Are you against just buying a neck template?

    Telecaster Guitar Neck Router Templates
    w Back Profiles CNC TELE 1/2" MDF 0.5"
    https://ebay.us/racAkJ via @eBay
     
  16. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Huh. Me, too... :lol:

    I might be procrastinating myself into next spring. My shop isn't heated, and around this time of year I always get a bit frantic, trying to cram as much in as possible before it gets too cold. I have a list of projects 'to do' a mile long, many of which I have no clue how to build.

    Today, instead of taking that Hawley design to the printer, I decided to mill / resaw some quartersawn white oak, to make an heirloom box for a friend who's been waiting a year. :rolleyes:


    20190801_131848.jpg
     
  17. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Thanks, but yeah, I'd rather do it myself. For now...
     
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