The misadventures of a first time build….

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by John Nicholas, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    So because Fender wanted so much, you decided to build your own?

    After taking the course, is building what you've done as your profession all these years?

    Thank you so much BlueBlooded!
     
  2. HenryD

    HenryD Tele-Meister

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    you're making me want to build a strat. Awesome job so far!
     
  3. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Been a bit busy lately and the guitar was sort of on the slow build track!!

    Needed to head out to the hardware store to buy an 11/32 drill bit, could not get Brad Point bits in that size so it's a standard bit. I drilled out the tuner holes in the headstock, by drilling about halfway through the headstock from one side, then flipping it over and drilling from the other side.

    There is a very small step inside a couple of the holes, will this be a problem?

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    Next was to drill the holes for the fret markers, using the 1/4" forstner bit and measuring a few times to make sure they went in the right frets and place. Actually I wrote the number of each of the fret spaces that was to get a marker to make sure I didn't mess it up. In the upper part of the photo you can see an upside down 12…

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    Then it was off to make clay fret markers. Bought a thick aluminum ruler from Harbor Freight, cut off a 6 inch or so length, still leaving my wife with a 39" ruler. Spent some time on the drill press drilling holes so that I could make enough fret markers for two guitars, plus a couple extra, just in case.

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    The clay was very dry and a bit difficult to get into the small holes, so it took far longer then I thought it would.

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    Popped them in the oven for 25 minutes, then my ten year old daughter helped to push them out of the aluminum.

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    Then it was off to radius the fret board. This was an extreme lesson in patience. Maple is much harder then I thought and it took a long time to sand the radius.

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    Did I mention there was lot's of sanding?

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    The end result was far better then expected. Hey… it looks like a neck! I feel good about that.

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    The one thing that really bugs me is the opening for the truss rod, it looks too big. For the next neck either I'll drill the hole from the heel, or more likely, I'll put the truss rod in so it can be adjusted at the neck….

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    Then my daughter helped me glue in the fret markers…

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    She helped with the sanding of the radius and offered guidance on the sanding of the markers. While we worked together (which I loved!) we talked about lots of stuff. I asked her if she'd be interested in playing guitar. Of course she said yes.

    So I told her I'd build her a guitar when I got a bit better at this stuff. She loved the idea! Then we talked about what the guitar would look like, at first I tried to get her to agree to a Stratocaster (I have all the templates… ) but thought better of it, so I offered her the idea of a heart shaped guitar.

    You should have seen her face! It lit up like the sun.

    Guess what? I'm going to be building a heart shaped guitar in the not so distant future! I can't wait.

    To make it even more fun, with any luck on my part, she's going to be involved throughout the build. That is if she wants to. From what she was saying while we worked on the fret markers, it sounds like she does. I'm a very happy man!

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  4. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you Henry!!

    One of the builds on my list in the not so distant future is a bass. So I've been following along with yours.
     
  5. JReazor

    JReazor Tele-Holic

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    John,

    My wife happened to be looking over my shoulder while I was scrolling through your post. She is an artist who frequently works in polymer clay. She says that Fimo is one of the harder brands to work with. Sculpey Premo is softer and easier to work. Sculpey III is softer still but can be a bit brittle once it's cured.

    I know you didn't ask for advice but I thought I'd pass it along in case you feel like trying something different for your next batch.

    Your build looks great so far. Can't wait to see the finished product.

    -James
     
  6. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

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    JN, THe neck looks great, love the dots!!
     
  7. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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  8. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    James, please tell you wife a big thank you from me… when we were in the store I was unable to decide between the Fimo and Sculpey.. the only reason I went with the Fimo is because a video I saw from Fletcher Guitars. He had used the Fimo… I will buy some of the Sculpy for the next batch.

    Thank you so much Bill!

     
  9. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Yep, Vermont....I lived in Texas at the time, so it was a big decision to make. One of my best though.
     
  10. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Next on the hit parade was to add side markers, then carve the neck. For some reason the work was more fun then taking photos of my progress.

    Drilling the holes for the side markers required setting up a bit of a jig to hold the neck square to the drill bit. For some reason when pressing the first marker in (at the 3rd fret) it felt like it collapsed. After sanding it level, it looked pretty bad. The marker has a bit of a crack in it.

    Is there something that can be done to patch up the marker or do you think I should drill it out and replace it?

    I used Marty's (guitarbuilder) method of carving the neck. Thanks so much for taking the time to write up the step by step directions. Greatly appreciated.

    Since I love the feel of my American Stratocaster neck, so the dimensions for that were used. The first step was to draw up what the neck contour would be on the 1st and 12th frets…

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    Used the measurements which were transferred to the neck. Making markings from the 1st fret and 12th fret to the back of the neck. Connecting all the lines for the transitions and the first lines to cut the facet.

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    Using a rasp to cut the facets, it was actually a lot of fun. So much so that no photos after these were taken.

    After the first facet, the second one went pretty fast. Then the smaller ones followed. Then the sandpaper was used… lot's of sanding later, the neck looked like this.

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    Still more work to be done on the transitions. Also noticed the headstock is still too thick, so it needs to be cut down about 2mm. Thinking about planing the face. Any other suggestions for cutting it thinner?

    After the fiasco of using Rustoleum for the body painting, I had to sand the body down after letting it dry for over a week. Unfortunately the paint still feels a bit soft. Then I sprayed it with some Duplicolor sanding primer. Which I'm going to let dry for a few days, before thinking about doing anything with it.

    Headed off on vacation (Disney World) for the next week, when I get back some more work will be done.
     
  11. Captain Nutslot

    Captain Nutslot Friend of Leo's

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  12. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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  13. HenryD

    HenryD Tele-Meister

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    That is one good looking neck!
     
  14. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you so much Henry!
     
  15. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Back to work...

    After getting ready for vacation, driving to Florida, spending long days at Disney, it's been a while since I last worked on my guitar.

    Sure a day here or there I worked on sanding and priming the body. Kind of boring to post pictures of. Especially when there was no real progress.

    During the past week I purchased a ROSS (YEAH!). Bought a maple slab for building necks from Otterhound (Thanks for the tour!) and went to Condon lumber in White Plains, NY (about an hour from my house) I picked up enough Alder to build two bodies. Plus I got the wood for my daughter's guitar.

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    The top piece is Poplar, on the left and bottom is the Alder, the dark piece of wood is Sapele for the neck of my daughter's guitar. Together the Poplar and Sapele cost $10.

    Back to the build in progress…

    The back of the neck needed to be leveled out. While the carve came out really good, there were high and low spots. So using a file I knocked them down and sanded them out.

    Next on the hit parade was to thickness the headstock as it was too thick. Before messing up the neck, I figured it would be better to level and thickness the maple slab. So that was first.

    There is quite a bit to learn when doing these things!! First building the jig takes some skill, then setting up the board to thickness, then determining how much material to remove at each pass (little as possible!)

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    There are some skills that must be gained with experience. And of course making mistakes. Lucky for me the one side of the board came out quite good. Instead of having a rocking board, it was nice and flat.

    So I figured I had enough experience to thickness the headstock. It worked pretty good, especially since I took off so little material at a time.

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    Once it was thicknessed to nearly the line. It was time to test out the ROSS. I've heard so many great reviews on this machine, I was excited to try it out.

    First I used the Spindle sander to work the transition from the fretboard to the headstock. It was kind of weird using the ROSS. Probably the grit the machine came with is too rough?

    But it came out pretty good, not perfect but not bad. Next was to change to the belt sander to flatten the headstock. At first it worked really well.

    But then disaster struck!!

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    At first I was really upset about what happened. But then I thought about it for a while, you know this is the first time using many of these tools. It's the first ever guitar and neck. It's the main reason inexpensive wood from Home Depot was used. This was done because I didn't have the experience required for a build.

    Besides, the neck did have a bunch of issues I was unhappy with. Both fret markers on the third fret didn't look right. They cracked when I pressed them in. I was considering drilling them out and replacing them.

    I didn't care for the transition from the fret board to the headstock face, it was too sharp.

    I made a huge mistake when routing out the channel for the truss rod. It bugged me every time I looked at it. Worse, it was at the heel and I really want to have the adjustment at the headstock.

    Then the fret slots were not exactly in the right place. I had made a boo boo or two when cutting the slots.

    So with all these issues, it wasn't quite as bad as I first thought. I will only develop better skills the next one… so move onward.

    As a reminder this will get hung on the wall.

    There's a good chance in the future I'll mess up a body, when that does happen I can bolt them together and have a guitar sculpture on the wall!!

    Oh well… off to thickness the other side of the maple plank.
     
  16. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

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    The thing about the FIMO clay is you have to knead it like bread dough. Then it will soften up enough to work with.

    Sorry your neck had a problem, hopefully your next one will work out.
     
  17. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire

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    Youch! No worries JN, the next one will be great.
     
  18. crazygtr

    crazygtr TDPRI Member

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    Don't know how it happened but, when you present a piece to a sanding drum or similar tool do it against the rotation of the tool so the piece doesn't get sucked by it. Just my .02. Now get more wood and carry on.
     
  19. John Nicholas

    John Nicholas Friend of Leo's

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    Great tip on the FIMO clay, I'll give it a try next time.

    Thanks for the support!

    Thanks!

    crazygtr - The worst part is it didn't get "sucked" in, it was all my fault. I held it very lightly against the sanding drum, but held it so the angle of the transition was the wrong angle. Just a silly rookie mistake. It just stinks because I didn't recognize there was a problem until it was far too late.

    Already have more wood and will cut out three more necks. Might as well build a couple at a time to make sure one of them comes out good! LOL
     
  20. oldrebel

    oldrebel Friend of Leo's

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    Wow, I hate that about the neck. It was looking so good. Oh well, making more necks will just give you more practice. It sounds like you got a good deal on the new lumber. Be sure to post the heart shaped build when you make it.
     
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