The Ohio Thinlines Project

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by blackbelt308, Dec 7, 2019.

  1. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    Not so much a build thread as a series of "project wrap-up" posts...

    In late 2016, I moved job, house, family & workshop from St. Louis to Columbus, Ohio. Took me a few months to get the shop up and functional again, and in (by choice) less space. In the fall of 2017, my neighbor and I dropped a large black walnut tree that was sitting on our property line (and thunking walnuts on his roof; he couldn't take it anymore!). I've always thought it would be fun to build a guitar from a tree taken from one's own property, so I decided to snag a log and see what I could make happen. Since I grew up in Ohio and was pretty happy to be back in my native state, all the better to build an axe with Ohio wood!

    walnut log copy.jpg

    Not sure what this beast weighed, but it was several hundred pounds! Two of us slid it up a ramp into the back of my Grand Cherokee.

    I called around central Ohio until I found a sawmill willing to saw it up for me. The owner - Jeff - was a great guy. He called me up several days later to say that the work was done and I could come and collect my boards. He mentioned that the wood looked great but didn't really have any special figuring that would jump out on a fancy guitar (he was in on the grand plan!). But he told me that he might have some other wood I might be interested in. Ended up buying some nice crotch walnut from him, but ultimately decided not to use it... Why not, you ask? Because he introduced me to curly oak!

    Check it out:

    curly oak board copy.jpg

    So now I'm thinking bookmatched curly oak top-over-black walnut thinline! Right?! All Ohio wood!

    Next stop: Kreis Sawmill in Marysville, Ohio and a request to put my piddling amount of lumber in one of their kilns for a few weeks. Met a guy named Steve Kreis who initially thought I was crazy, showing up with a handful of walnut boards and raving about building electric guitars. But as we talked, Steve clearly got fired up about my project (and he loved the curly oak!). As we were making plans for drying my walnut, I asked if he ever came across any curly maple. "Sure, got a whole bin over here! Have a look..." I picked out one very nice figured board, also - of course! - from central Ohio! Steve asked "Have you ever worked with ambrosia maple?" while pulling a board out of an adjacent bin. "This came from an Amish carpenter not far from here." Whoa! What a stunning piece of lumber! "I'll take it!" LOL

    So... Couple of months later, after all the wood is dried, I head back to Steve's sawmill and we cut up the wood in preparation for making bodies. Here's the haul, walnut in the center, flame maple on the left, ambrosia maple on the right:

    walnut and maple copy.jpg

    I'll leave it to you to Google "ambrosia maple" if you don't know it's origin. Pretty spectacular stuff! Hard to see from this photo but it has some reddish color to it. Thought it might go well over a piece of mahogany...

    Anyway, at this point, early in 2018, I'm thinking three Ohio thinline Tele-style guitars:

    1. curly oak over black walnut (tele bridge pickup with mini-humbucker at the neck)

    2. ambrosia maple over mahogany (pair of P-90s and a wraparound bridge)

    3. flame maple over swamp ash, bursted (pickups ala a '69 style thinline)

    So the work needed to begin...
     
  2. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    Before we talk bodies, let's talk about necks...

    I already had one spectacular Tele neck ready to be finished... Before I left St. Louis, my friend Vince Cunetto (yes, the Vince Cunetto) hooked me up with two Brazilian rosewood fingerboard blanks. I shipped one off to USA Custom Guitars and asked Tommy Rosamond to pick me out a worthy chunk of roasted flame maple. The result was amazing! You'll see it in a bit... So there's neck #1, and I decided to pair it with the oak-walnut body. Also decided to finish this neck with nothing but shellac.

    The other two necks came from Musikraft...

    First one (neck #2) is rosewood over mahogany, to be finished in heritage cherry and paired with the ambrosia maple top body. Second one (neck #3) is rosewood over flame maple, which would be paired with the flame maple top body. Both of these would be finished with nitrocellulose lacquer.

    OK, on to the bodies... The mahogany and the swamp ash (obviously?) did not originate in Ohio, but I managed to find some very nice lumber. Here are a few shots of the bodies before I started any finishing work. Decided to bind the ambrosia maple top with black plastic.

    #1: curly oak over black walnut

    Curly oak front copy.JPG

    Curly oak back copy.JPG

    #2: ambrosia maple over mahogany

    Ambr maple front copy.JPG

    Ambr maple back copy.JPG

    #3: flame maple over swamp ash

    Flame maple front copy.JPG

    Flame maple back copy.JPG

    So, by the late summer of 2018 I was ready to start spraying lacquer. Given my work load and a few other projects that were underway, I did these sequentially, rather than all at one time.

    No hurry, right?
     
  3. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    I started on the curly oak-walnut body first... Unfortunately, I don't have any in-process pics from that one to share with you. Used some golden oak stain to enhance the top a bit, and used some dark walnut stain to add some tone to the walnut. Also rubbed in some boiled linseed oil to enhance the grain. Finished with about 18 coats of nitro and left it to cure during the first half of the winter.

    Next up was the ambrosia maple top body... I applied several coats of clear shellac (freshly made from flakes) to seal and pop the figuring on the top wood. And I dyed the mahogany with an alcohol-based cherry red dye. Subsequently finished the body with about 18 coats of nitro. This was done in the spring of 2019, and I hung it up for several weeks to cure.

    Here's a pic of the ambrosia maple top body pre-nitro:

    Ambr maple pre-fin.JPG

    Looking good, right?
     
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  4. RoarDog

    RoarDog Tele-Meister

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    The ambrosia maple is stunning! We've got a ton of black walnut at our place. I'm curious as to what tonal qualities it possesses. I'm thinking about crawling my way through my first build.
     
  5. reddy2300

    reddy2300 Tele-Meister

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    Hey there! I'm in Dublin Ohio! Welcome home! Lol.

    If you need milling work done, I've had Woodcraft on Bethel Rd do stuff for me. They charge very reasonable rates for doing the work for you.

    I'll have to get up to Marysville and see what Mr Kreis has laying around. ;)

    Very nice builds, btw!
     
  6. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    So, on to the flame maple top body... Happily, I discovered Zpoxy (thanks Freeman!) by the time I started on this one, and I used a few applications to pop the figuring on the top wood. Used "rosewood" grain filler on the swamp ash since I was planning a "bourbon" burst finish. I do have some pics to share from the finishing process on this body...

    Here's a close look at the body before I started spraying lacquer...

    FMT 1.JPG

    I wanted faux wood binding on the top so I used some 1/4" automotive masking tape to mask the top edge:

    FMT 2.JPG

    Sprayed a little tinted clear on the top and back of the body (not important on the sides since they'll be getting the darker burst color):

    FMT 3.JPG

    I use a cardboard mask, 1/2" smaller than the full body outline and raised a bit on wood screws, to apply the burst ring"

    FMT 4.JPG

    I've had great success with this method. If you're using rattle cans and you heat them up before use, you'll have a nice fine spray that results in a perfect color gradient.

    FMT 5.JPG

    Next, peel off the marking tape:

    FMT 6.JPG

    I use an emery board to bevel away the burst color and create a bit of a top edge:

    FMT 7.JPG

    There! Now she's ready for several coats of clear nitro!

    FMT 8.JPG

    And here's the burst on the back of the body:

    FMT 9.JPG

    Progress!
     
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  7. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    OK viewers, it's time to cut to the chase! Let's check out the finished products...

    First finished was the curly oak-over-black walnut thinline. All-Ohio (yay!) wood for the body, plus a nice fat neck crafted from Brazilian rosewood and roasted flame maple. Pickups for this one are a matched set custom wound by Lindy Fralin: Alnico 5 mini-humbucker at the neck and a Blues Special bridge pickup. Simple volume and no-load tone controls with a Gibby style toggle switch up where I won't bump into it! Rutters steel compensated saddles on a chrome-plated steel vintage-style bridge plate.

    Oak 1.JPG

    Oak 2.JPG

    Oak 3.JPG

    Oak 4.JPG

    Oak 5.JPG

    How about a closer look at that neck?! ;-)

    Oak 6.JPG
     
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  8. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    Next to be finished was the ambrosia maple-over-mahogany thinline... Here we're pairing that body with the Musikraft mahogany & rosewood neck (also nice & fat!). Pickups are a set of Lindy Fralin's hum-cancelling P-90s with Alnico rods (and they sound amazing!). Wanted a wraparound bridge for this build, and I always wanted to try one of those Hipshot Baby Grand bridges. The chrome knobs are volume and no-load tone, and the black knob is a rotary switch that allows me the usual three pickup selections.

    Ambrosia 1.JPG

    Love how the binding worked out!

    Ambrosia 2.JPG

    And here's the back:

    Ambrosia 3.jpg

    Not bad, eh?
     
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  9. zeedoctour

    zeedoctour Tele-Meister

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    Holy crap I need to have you build me a guitar. Outstanding.
     
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  10. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    Last but not least is the one I just finished last weekend: the flame maple-over-swamp ash build... I once built a really killer flame maple top thinline with a flame maple neck, but a buddy fell in love with it and talked me into selling it to him. Figured I could simply build another one but it ended up being five years later! LOL

    Anyway, this one turned out great. Wanted a '69 thinline-style configuration with a Fender CS Nocaster pickup set like the one I previously built and sold. Rutters brass compensated saddles on a chrome-plated steel vintage-style bridge plate.

    Flame 1.JPG

    Flame 2.JPG

    Flame 3.JPG

    I think that's a wrap! Nothing more for me to do other than play 'em!

    Thanks for looking!
    Rick
     
  11. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    Oops, forgot to say thanks to Tony Dudzik at Pickguardian for the fabulous perfectly-matched tortoise pickguard! Tony rocks!
     
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  12. esetter

    esetter Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    That white oak one is a beautiful guitar!!! Wow!!!
     
  13. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Holic

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    Very nice work!

    There truly is some exceptional wood that comes from Ohio trees.

    I've got some curing out up in the attic myself :).

    Yeah, Ohio is one of those places that you can't wait to leave when you're a kid, but can really appreciate after you've seen a bit of the rest of the world ;).


    g
     
  14. 39martind18

    39martind18 Tele-Holic

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    Fender Custom Shop, eat your hearts out!
     
  15. matmosphere

    matmosphere Tele-Holic

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    Cool stuff and nice idea to do all local wood!
     
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  16. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire

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    [​IMG]

    :lol::lol::lol:
     
  17. t-ray

    t-ray Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    The ambrosia maple - looks like spalted maple to my eyes, especially seeing the worm holes in it. Am I correct, or is this some other phenomenon?
    And, golly, I forgot to first say what an outstanding craftsman you are. Really beautiful work.
     
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  18. Macrogats

    Macrogats Friend of Leo's

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    Wow man. I am stunned. Such fantastic looking guitars. I’m drooling over the ambrosia maple one. Love the oak one as well. Hell, they’re ALL good. Wish I could get my hands on nice wood like those down here in NZ.
     
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  19. horseman308

    horseman308 Tele-Holic

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    Truly beautiful guitars. I love Thinlines, and that Ambrosia maple is amazing!

    That being said, a year living in Columbus was just too much for me. Go Blue!



    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
     
  20. blackbelt308

    blackbelt308 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for the kind words all!

    There are similarities... Spalting is caused by caused by fungus and decay, usually because the wood was water-soaked to some extent. Ambrosia wood is the result of the burrowing (i.e. "worm holes") of ambrosia beetles to deposit their larvae; they also carry fungus on their bodies which leads to the wood discoloration. Having worked with both, ambrosia lumber is nowhere near as "compromised" as spalted wood, and thus was easier - at least in my experience - on which to achieve a good finish!
     
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