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Tips for cleaner sides?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by chillman, Sep 22, 2020.

  1. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

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    I've started making my own bodies recently and have been pretty darn successful if I do say so myself. The one area where I've consistently needed improvement is in the sides. I'm prone to making little gouges with the router and other minor imperfections.

    I bandsaw as close to the template as possible so I'm not using the router to remove much material. My template edge is sanded smooth and free of bumps.

    As of right now, I don't have a template bit long enough to rout the sides in one pass, so I rout as much as I can on the table and then use a flush trim bit to do the last pass.

    I assume a 2" pattern bit would help clean up the sides, since the more passes I make the more opportunity I'm giving myself to mess up. But I'm learning to be skeptical of any time I come to the conclusion that a problem can be solved by spending more money.

    I'm guessing it's my technique more than my tools. Any tips from experienced woodworkers? I'll try to add pics next time I'm out at the shop.
     
  2. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Consider one of the Infinity spiral flush trim cutters in your table. They are available in longer lengths and leave a very good surface. They are not inexpensive, but for "serious" flush trim work, they are about the best solution on the market right now. Fortunately, body outline isn't super critical in dimension, so cleaning everything up with a spindle sander will remove those lines. As long as you are careful regarding switching directions to reduce risk of tearout, you should be fine. A lot of folks just run the whole body around in one pass...that's risky.

    As an aside, even those of us who use CNC have to deal with this issue, honestly. There's a lot of end-grain exposure on a "body" cutout. I use a technique where all but the last pass is done with a very slight allowance out from the final surface and the last pass at full depth is at the line and in the opposite direction. But my machine can run a long .375" cutter.
     
  3. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    In a hand-held router a long cutter is problematic (I've tried 'em all). The longest cutter I use is 3/4", and it has a top bearing.

    Even better is to rout the entire body on a router table with the template screwed to the blank, and do it in stages. Take off no more than 1/2" on each pass. If you get greedy and take bigger bites, that leads to cutter chattering and wood tear-out.

    You have to decide where you're going to save time. If you take big cuts, you have to sand more. If you take smaller cuts, you sand less.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2020
  4. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    I use the Whiteside upcut sprial bit on my router table. Very smooth finish and minimal sanding.

    https://www.whitesiderouterbits.com/products/rft5200

    To me it all boils down to the template. Any tiny divot makes its way to the body. I've gotten use to spending the time sanding the sides and never expect that they will 99% ready to put on a finish.
     
  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Get a Ridgid Oscillating spindle sander aka ROSS, or an edge sander and use the cut/ sand method on your bodies instead of routing the shape. No tear out and probably safer if the truth is known.
     
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  6. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    I'll go along with Marty on the sanding.

    It takes a very deft touch when using the long template bits, where you're making a full height cut all in one pass.

    With the template bit you really have to pay very close attention to which areas you need to change your direction of cutting to get the best results. A little twitch or a jerky movement can lead to the bit taking a bite out of the edge or even transporting the body to a place you hadn't anticipated ;).

    Using an oscillating sander like the ROSS is far more forgiving and much safer in my opinion, especially for those of us who don't have a whole lot of experience, and even for those of us who do have a lot of experience :).

    I've worked with power tools all my life (retired union carpenter) and have a healthy respect for sharp edges, but even so, back about 25 years ago, I managed to grind the tip of my fretting hand ring finger off, right down to the white-ish bone. I was unable to play guitar for a good three years or so because I just couldn't bear to press down on a string with that finger tip. It's amazing how many nerves are concentrated in a finger tip ;).

    I always end up hand sanding the edges anyhow, because the end grain needs to be sanded with a finer grit to look right in relation to the rest of the body.

    This may sound a little weird, but I've gradually become accustomed to using hand sanding as a sort of Zen exercise that reveals the beauty of the wood. It doesn't have to be an obnoxious chore :).

    .
     
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  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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  8. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for the replies so far everyone. I do have a ROSS but honestly, like old wrench said, I end up hand sanding anyway, and prefer it to the spindle for the same reason. I might try the cut and sand method and skip the router next time so I can compare which method I like better, but so far I'd say I'm more skilled with the router than the ROSS.

    No doubt I'll buy a 2" pattern bit one day but it might make me a better woodworker if I do without it for a bit. Thanks for the recommendation of the Infinity one, Jim_in_PA, and for the upcut bit rec RickyRicardo. I use the Whiteside 3000, 3002, and 3004 bits right now. I have also heard excellent things about Radian cutters, as I believe they're engineered with luthiers in mind but they're in the UK.
     
  9. Mr_Q

    Mr_Q Tele-Meister

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    Others have given you all the good advice, and I believe them. The other thing I had to learn was not to push too hard laterally against the bit/bearing. Just let it ride.

    Also, I love my ROSS. Oh, and buy quality sandpaper, it really does work better.

    Good luck!

    ~Q
     
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  10. old wrench

    old wrench Tele-Afflicted

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    Hand sanding the body edges has become sort of a breeze since I adopted this somewhat primitive approach -



    IMG_1120.JPG




    I set the body on a couple of 3/4" strips to lift it above the surface of the bench.

    For the straighter edges I use a hardwood block cut with all accurate 90 degree edges which I can comfortably wrap my sandpaper around keeping it up a little bit so it doesn't drag on the work bench surface.

    You don't have to think about it too much because as long as the block is held down in contact with the bench's surface everything is nice and square and right with the world :).

    For the curved edges I made up a little gizmo that holds my sanding drums from the ROSS. It's just a small square of plywood with a 1/2" diameter hole drilled through it and a piece of 1/2" diameter dowel glued in.

    The plywood base slides easily on the bench's surface, and the base keeps the whole works nice and stable and at a perfect 90 degrees.

    I usually just wrap loose sandpaper around the drums because it's so easy to change grits that way.

    The plywood base also function to keep the sand paper up off the bench's surface so it's not dragging.

    That 3" diameter sanding drum is real handy and the larger radius helps to fair-in the curves much better than the smaller diameter drums.

    I made up a special insert for the ROSS's table that allows me to run the 3 incher in the ROSS. It's nothing fancy, just a piece of MDF with about a 3-1/4" hole in it. You also need to shim the 3" drum up with a couple of 1/2" flat washers underneath it to keep it from rubbing on the bottom.


    Zen and the Art of Edge Sanding ;)!!!

    Make it easy on yourself, it doesn't have to be a drag :).


    .
     
  11. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    I use a similar device Microplane Rotary Rasp with a pattern follower:
    [​IMG]
    Then I use the Whiteside RFT5200 spiral fluted bit to smooth it almost perfectly.
    [​IMG]
    It's scary big, but it does a great job, in uphill or downhill cuts.
     
  12. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

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    I really like this idea and can see how the larger diameter drum would be better for this. I have a 3" drum somewhere for sure. I have been meaning to build a standalone cabinet for the ROSS including a much larger table. Maybe I'll incorporate your idea into that project.
     
  13. chillman

    chillman Tele-Afflicted

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    Whoa this is cool! Is the black part the pattern follower? Or did you make one? Where do you mount it? Drill press?
     
  14. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    I got mine at Woodcraft, Franklin, TN about 8 years ago, and it has a black plastic follower on the bottom. Here is is in action:
    [​IMG]
     
  15. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Drum or spindle sander...

    Or you could do it by hand, but that would take forever, and your arms won't recover for a long time ...
     
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