Having just completed my first build I was thinking over the things I'd do differently and the parts of the build that gave me the most trouble.  Building the box from scratch was truly simple woodworking and was perhaps the easiest major part of the build.

Making the neck and fretboard however was a different matter. Whilst my first build is fretless and don't suppose the neck and fretboard being a tiny bit out of true mattered too much, I sweated over getting it as accurate as possible by hand sanding alone.

Deciding to go fretted on my next build I began looking at planer/thicknessers and quickly came to the conclusion they were out of my budget for the time being. So I started looking on line at what other solutions there may be and stumbled across people having made their own. Whilst there were some great builds (I will probably take inspiration from them and build a bigger machine at a later date), I wanted to use what I had lying around in my workshop.

After much pondering I decided to mount my handheld belt sander in a frame so timber could be fed through underneath on an adjustable bed.

  • The timber will be pushed through, under the sander, against the rotation of the belt, which is held in by the frame (although I will probably strap it down using webbing).
  • The bed is adjusted by turning a bolt which is mounted underneath, giving me zero to about 2 inches to play with, which is plenty for neck blanks.

As the build is based upon a 4 inch sander it will only be good for necks and fretboard although I will also try it for small planks to use in box construction.

I haven't given it a proper test yet but seems to works really well, the main problems may be, making sure the felt is square to the bed and having to push timber through uphill.

Have a look at the pics.







I'd be grateful for your thoughts.

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This is very relevant to my interests. Keep us posted.  I use my 3" belt sander sandwiched in a vise to rough-shape the back of the neck before rasping, btw. 

I will surely keep you posted. Great idea re: clamping sander in vice.

 Seems a lot of work when you can buy fretboard blanks from Chickenbone John from as little as £4 plus p/p .

My interest is for reclaiming wood, and using lumber from trees I have personally cut. I like the green bragging rights.

Jasus..take care using that rig, looks like a good way of breaking a thumb or worse if it kicks back or whatever. With a bit of luck it won't have too much power to fire the timber backwards if it grabs a-hold of the work. I use a bench belt sander every day and use the utmost respect with it..it's a proper tool, properly designed for the job but a second's inattention and either you've bust a finger or sanded your knuckle to the bone. Good luck with it, but personally I wouldn't use any power tool in a way that it's not supposed to be used..so take extra care.

Thanks for the concern. If it is at all dangerous I'll just dismantle it and buy presanded fretboard blanks for now.


I've just done a test run on the thicknesser and worked better than my expectations.

To set the cut depth I placed the 12mm stock into the thicknesser, while it was turned off, and changed the bed depth using the bolt underneath, removed the stock then gave the nut a quarter turn.

The thicknesser was strapped to a bench to stop any unwanted movement or vibration ran very smoothly. Having turned on the machine I pushed the stock through with a push stick and once it was through the other side helped it through from the back. As I am only removing small amounts at a time I had none of the kickback that chicken bone John was worried about (I really do appreciate the concern). I gave the stock a few passes through, turning the timber end over end and side over side to ensure an even cut.

I made several passes removing small amounts at a time and the end result is a perfectly square, flat piece of timber reduced from 12mm to 6mm.

I'll post some pics when I put a neck blank through.

nice apparatus !

Always drink heavily when you play w/ power tools!!!!


I like your rig,thats what this thing is about,building something that shouldnt be.

As said just be carefull,I'm scared of my hand planer.One slip and finger tip gone,or to the knuckle and bone.

I know right! To me CIG is all about making something from nothing.

I am very careful though. Non of us can afford a serious accident when there's bills to pay and mouth to feed.

As it happens my hand never goes near the belt surface, I use push sticks and wait until it's well clear the other side.


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