Swamp Ash build

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

  1. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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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 Ad Free Member

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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 Silver Supporter

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    Nice work. I'm watching!
     
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  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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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 :)
     
  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
     
  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 Ad Free Member

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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 Ad Free Member

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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 Ad Free Member

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

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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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 Ad Free Member

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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 Ad Free Member

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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 Ad Free Member

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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 Ad Free Member

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

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Well, I had good intentions, of a photo-rich thread. Then I got going, and mostly forgot. So, here's where we are now...

    I wanted to paint it my version of Coral Pink, which leans more toward carnation, and doesn't have the orange tint that Tahitian has.

    I sprayed a coat or two of white vinyl sealer over the filler. After a couple tries with the pink, way too red at first, cutting the small batch in half, and adding white, I finally wound up with something good. I would have preferred it a bit more pastel, but it's growing on me.


    After two weeks' hang time, and some wet sanding, behold "Bazooka" (as in the bubblegum).


    20191111_012314.jpg

    20191111_012345.jpg


    And here's one of the images I used as a model. Not too far off...

    Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 01.28.22 AM.png


    So, the body is complete, all wired up, but waiting for a set of OC Duff Buckaroo pickups. I used an AV64 threaded-steel-saddle bridge, and it's getting a rosewood board, so definitely going after the early 60s vibe.
     

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  19. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    For the neck, I used the Ed Hawley diagram (thanks guys, thanks Ed). Had it printed 1:1 at Staples. To make the template, I cut out the paper and stuck it to some baltic plywood. Cut carefully, sand to line, you know the drill.

    I had some 4/4 curly maple on hand, and I bought an unslotted, unradiused EI Rosewood blank from StewMac (very pretty). I wanted a hand-filling profile, right around 1.00" thick, so I was keeping an eye on thicknesses. I debated getting some 5/4 maple, but in the end it worked out - without any thickness to spare. The rosewood was milled ready to go, but only 7/32". I'd have preferred 5/16", to help with that thick slab board vibe.

    I laid out the neck centerline on the jointed S4S maple board, and then laid the template on it, lining up the centers, and tracing the outline.

    I cut the truss rod on the router table, using a 3/16" spiral 'up' bit. The StewMac Hot Rod truss rod is .223". I didn't want the 'slop' of using a 1/4" bit. Took it slow, taking three passes to achieve depth. Moved the fence BACK, and ran one cleanup pass, to full width. Fits like a glove, except where I hacked up the spoke cavity a little... And yes, I'm installing the rod upside down. I wanted the wheel closer to the surface, to get more 'swing'. Especially an issue with this 1/2" spoke wheel they're using. And as you can see, I'm burying the wheel in the neck, instead of chopping the pocket for it. The fingerboard will be notched.


    20191022_083334.jpg 20191022_083733.jpg 20191022_083741.jpg


    This is the first time slotting a fingerboard, and I mulled over methods. Wanted to get it right, so some kind of jig. I stayed away from the table saw, thinking I was in no hurry. I looked at the StewMac miter box. I already have their fret saw, and their scale templates are nice. But I didn't care for the price of the miter box itself. I found this company Elmer Guitar, who makes what appears to be an exact replica of the StewMac miter box, even down to the type of screws for adjustments. And of course it works with StewMac templates. For $100 less. I'm cautious about buying knock-off products, but this was everything I hoped for.


    20191027_224258.jpg 20191027_225834.jpg


    I saved a little baggie of rosewood dust, even though I got a bunch more when I radiused the board. I used it to fill the tang ends...

    Meanwhile, I cut the neck to shape - bandsaw, sand a bit, then router table.

    20191019_201116.jpg


    The next steps I neglected to photograph. In order:

    Notched the board for the spoke wheel, using handheld router and simple template.

    Installed the face dot markers. Bought some 'clay' lookalike from Phila Luthier, and glued with CA. Left them proud, and took down with a razor file later.

    Taped the board to the neck, aligning centers, and traced the outline of the neck. Removed it, and cut to shape on the bandsaw.

    Radius board. I jointed a couple hardwood billets, and laid them on the table saw, with a full-length aluminum radius caul sandwiched between. Taped the boards down, marked center, and taped the fingerboard, on center. Sanded the 7.25" radius with 80 grit, then cleaned it up with 120, 220, and later, with some 400. Next time I need to watch the even pressure. One corner is a bit low. I don't remember exactly, maybe .015, but you can see it by eye if you look for it. I know, I should just burn it...

    I was a bit aggressive with the double-stick tape, and had the devil of a time getting the board off the table saw. Dummy.

    At this point, I put the board back in the miter box, and cut the flat-bottom nut slot to final depth. I wasn't sure earlier, plus, I had everything set up for fret tang depth, plus a bit. So, I just scored the nut, and came back now to finish it up.

    I know it probably doesn't matter, but I wanted to see how this process works. I could have cut the fret slots plenty deep, so they'd be deep enough even after the radius. But I didn't want that big gap under the center of every fret. So, using StewMac 0148 wire, which is similar to 6230, the tang was around .05, and I slotted maybe .09". Turns out just deep enough that there was still kerf all the way across after radiusing. So, then I put the depth stop on the fret saw, and without the miter box, ran over each fret once more, radiusing the slot bottoms. The only drawback was the lexan stop marked the board a little. That's when I used the 400 to clean it up.

    Finally time to install the truss rod. I used three very small dabs of clear silicone caulk in the bottom of the channel, under the two brass end blocks, and in the middle. There really wasn't room for more material in the channel, but I didn't want any rattles. Before using the silicone, I masked the wood around the channel, just in case I got squeeze out. Didn't want to screw up a glue joint!

    Next, and I can't believe I didn't take any photos through here... I set two small brads into the neck, away from frets or inlays. Clipped their heads off, leaving barely 1/16". Aligning very carefully, I pressed the board down onto the sharp, cut nails. Removed the board, and drilled two tiny, short holes in the underside of the board. Laid the board back down, and it dropped right into place, on the center lines.

    Tape over the rod channel, spread glue on the maple. Lay the board on, press down, and lift it off. Now the glue is nicely smeared. Remove the tape, and replace the board. Clamp it down, using the aluminum caul. One problem, and I hope it doesn't bite me. I clamped firmly, and the brad/pins didn't quite hold. The board slipped 1/32" off center - just at the heel. So, not centered, not square. Still, pretty tiny... Hoping... I think next time, four pins.

    Out of the clamps, and trim the fingerboard on the router table. Can't use a spiral flush trim bit here, as the template (neck) is on the bottom. Can't flip it because of the radius. So, I just got a sharp, new Whiteside straight template bit, and went slow around the end. No chip out.

    Next, installed the side dots in the drill press, using a small block under the neck to keep it roughly level. CA glue, snip with wire cutters. Spray accelerator at the end, and then flush all dots with a sharp chisel. Keep going, working the sides of the neck with scraper, then sandpaper. Roll the fingerboard a wee bit - last chance...

    Chamfered the slots slightly, and installed the frets. I undercut the tangs as if there were binding, and applied a bit of Titebond I to the tangs. Seated frets with a hammer, then ran the whole board under the fret press caul mounted in the drill press. Even so, two fret ends popped up, so I wicked some CA in underneath, and clamped those two individually.

    After beveling the fret ends, and bullnosing them a bit, I packed some of the rosewood dust I'd saved, into each tang end. Drop of CA, accelerator, and trim the hard, bubbly mess flush with a chisel.


    Oiled the board for fun - it's still going to get dust all over it. It's nice and chocolatey dark. Perfect.


    Somewhere in there I drilled the tuners. I'd previously transferred the marks from the templates with a 11/32" punch, and 'saved' the marks by drilling 1/16" thru holes. Now, I drilled 11/32" holes on those centers, using the drill press fence. I was careful about coming out the bottom - snuck up on it to avoid tearout.

    Now with the board glued on, it was time to cut the headstock to thickness, and make the transition. I knew how it *should* go, but this worried me. And sure enough, I nearly lost the neck.

    I resawed the headstock face down to a heavy 9/16" with no problem. I stopped a bit short out of fear, and wound up hitting it again. In retrospect, I should have gone even further. I was following the Hawley transition profile, more or less. Even though this guitar has a 60s vibe, like Hawley's, I always preferred the steep transition on the earlier Teles. I didn't think of that until later. Next time I'll go further with the bandsaw, and have an easier time of it.

    After cleaning up the bandsawn face, I clamped a fence on my spindle sander (sure wish I had a photo, duh), with just enough clearance so the spindle kissed the face. In a distracted moment, I got the neck close, and SHOOM! it's out of my hand, between fence and spindle, slamming into the wall, and now it's on the ground. All in a microsecond. I prepared myself to have to start over, but nope. It seems fine. A bit dinged up on the tip of the headstock, and a corner of the heel. Sanded both mostly out. There's a minor chip in the rosewood at the very heel end. I'll never need that hunk of wood...

    Phew, that was close. (And yes, I thought what if that had been my hand instead of the headstock...) Easy to get complacent when there's no blade.... And it just occurred to me now, that I should have put the fence on the other side, so the neck would have been pushed back to me.


    Finally, it's time to carve the profile. I'm using a simple method I found on youtube (Fletcher). In fact, I got a ton of ideas from this gentleman. Start by marking a center line on the neck, then two tapering lines, one on either side. The taper points are 5mm from center at the first fret, and 10mm from center at the 12th. Extend lines through those points. Next, mark a line longitudinally on each side of the neck, 2/3 of the way up from the bottom. Add a couple short angles for headstock and heel transitions.

    Remove the wood between the lines, avoiding the transitions at first. Keep going, refining the facets, until it's round. I'm using a coarse Dragon rasp, and a large flat razor file. It's going pretty quickly...
     
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  20. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Here's the photos of the carving so far, and the fretted neck. Thanks for reading!


    20191110_193715.jpg 20191110_203306.jpg 20191110_203324.jpg 20191111_012452.jpg 20191111_012500.jpg 20191111_012536.jpg
     
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