Please note: all the little thumbnails can be clicked for a bigger view, i just did it this way so the whole page would load faster, gonna be lots of pics..
started gearing up for a batch of solid body guitars. the bodies or at least the majority of them will be from this slab of Tassie blackwood
its about 7 feet long, maybe 16 inches or so wide at its narrowest point, and two and a half inches thick. I got two of these for $110 from a guy who mills fallen trees he finds. Because he doesnt chop the trees down Im more than happy to buy the stuff.
the neck blanks are here
from the left, three Tassie Blackwood and two Queensland walnut one piece jobs, then some nicely flamed tassie oak which ill be laminating up with walnut veneer tomorrow after i get my clamps back from this one
which is recycled merbau decking laminated with tas oak veneer. this is for an extended range 7 stringer, the one piece necks will be four pair jobbies. One of them is for my good buddy Harrison Withers, so hopefully he'll chime in at some point and say 'i want that one'.. making an axe for harri is kinda intimidating incidentally, cos he's got one off just about everybody, theres probably more gitts at his place from members of this community than anywhere else on the planet.
Ill be doing my best to remember to document everything so you can see some of my tricks and mistakes too. Ill also try to stick to a batch mentaility as long as i can, although i generally cant avoid taking one and just running with it at some point. it always happens.
all questions, suggestions, criticisms etc welcome :)
Wed June 20
ok been a couple days..
got the laminates out of clamps, ripped each up the middle so now i got two neck blanks from each.
cleaned em up and got fingerboards on the four, a blackwood and a merbau one on the merbau pair and a spotty gum one and some spalty mystery wood one on the tas oak ones. all but the spotty gum one had a contrasting veneer underneath for a kinda fake binding look. unfortunately the spotty gum (a eucalypt btw, very hard wood) cupped a little while in the clamps.. its ok but the join is not super clean, so i guess ill be binding my first fingerboard here.. see, mistakes become features.. (Iearned this from the maestro, Mr Ted Crocker)
broke the blackwood into four body blanks, I was kinda hoping for five bummer..
put the Qld walnut neck blacks back on the shelf, Ill be doing three one piece Blackwood ones and one of the laminated ones with these four.
Ok so I got four of em slotted and drilled for dots. Ill be giving my usual cheapskate twig dots a break and doing abalone, these blackwood necks are kinda special, and ones going to Harrison, a guy with many many guitars, so a few 40c dots wont hurt..
left 8cm for a scroll or carving on each of the one piece necks, and 17cm for the tuner slot
thinking Harris neck is the third from left. The real spalty Blackwood one at left is kinda special, it was one of the backgrounds in my iPhone app jefretcalc in its first version.. the other half of that one was on this one from 10/2010 btw autumn moon guitar
for placing the dots i rule a line from one corner to the other, dead simple..
for the doubled ones i measure in a mark from each edge, 14mm in this case, and make two X's the amount of the inset determines how far apart the dots will be centre to centre. I guess this is pretty obvious, but i thort id put it up, might help someone or other :)
oh, and when ur drilling for dots guys, start em with your drill in reverse, sure it blunts the bit faster, but you get a much cleaner hole with less risk of tearing small chunks out
Thurs June 21
got the abalone dots in, oh my they are nice huh. This is my first time with these. I always thought they would be quite expensive, but if you search ebay for 'abalone inlay' you can find em pretty cheap indeed. These ones are 6mm green abalone. Shown with an earlier bolt in mandola neck with my old stylee twig dots. might hafta drill those back out. rubbed a little tung oil in for this pic, thl they are only quick sanded to 120 grit at this point
tomorrow we get the router out :)
Tues June 25
pretty much had the weekend off, had my daughters birthday etc..
took the widest of the necks that I had slotted and dotted above, the merbau / merbau one, and decided to make it a 6 string cbg.. well an hour here an hour there and thats just about done, but while waiting on glue today i had a little guilty pang about jabes there waiting on help for neck slots, so time to get back to the main event..
up until this year i had only ever done one size of bolt in neck slot, standard Fender size. thats pretty easy, because you have a jig to follow, basically a rectangle the exact right size, and you can tape or clamp it down and just follow that with the router.. well this year Ive done everything but standard, and every necks a different dimension, so I need a jig with some adjustment. There would definitely be better ways to do this, this is just my quick way of doing it, but it hasnt let me down yet in 8 neck slots so far this year.
we start with two planks, nice and square and of identical thickness. I used the sides of a crusty old drawer I found. we also need one more bit of scrap, nice and square and around 7mm thick, maybe 1/4".. I used a bit of fingerboard trimming..
I put the neck on the plank where i want it and trace around the end with a pencil. the fingerboard scrap piece is double-side taped down on the plank to mark the end of the slot. by pushing down real hard i get the double-side tape to stick quite well. From here on out, where Im using double side tape, please take it as read that ive applied a nice bit of pressure on it, leaning my body weight on it.
the sides of the slot will be marked with the drawer sides, so I prepare the top of the fingerboard scrap with double tape on one side
the first drawer side goes down, and I drop a few screws through into the body where it wont matter because the cutaway will remove the holes. make sure that the screws go right in countersunk so you dont impede the router..
the other side of the slot is prepare with the double tape..
I use the neck to help me line up the second drawer side, but theres a trick, you lift the neck and nudge the drawer side in a pinch before you stick it down, so the neck wont actually fit..
its kinda fiddly and takes a couple minutes, but its worth the effort for a nice snug join.
as we can now see, the piece of fingerboard scrap creates an angle which the router will ride, and cut into the bottom of the slot. Ive gone for a bit of an angle here because these will be resos with coverplates, but i always do a lot anyway so there you go its just an excuse ;)
this is the router bit i used, just about my favourite bit. it has a big bearing above the cutter, perfect for following a template from above..
when you're routing like this you have to be careful not to cut into your guides. the bearing needs to run up to the drawer sides and fingerboard scrap but the carbide edges mustn't touch them. so you need to go in to the right depth before you clean up the sides. Take it easy with the router, if you only take a few mm with each bite you'll get a nice clean cut. ALWAYS GO CLOCKWISE. and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS KEEP BOTH HANDS ON THE ROUTER. clamp your work down, never ever ever have one hand on the work and one on the router. ok lecture over, sorry.. I dont wanna encourage anybody to lose a finger or two..
once i have the depth about right I set up for one of my secret (well, used to be :D ) weapons, routing in an extra 2mm at the back end only. I'll drop a small scrap of sheet steel in here when I bolt the neck in, I believe it helps keep the screws perpendicular to each other, so the neck cant twist at all (which it shouldn't anyway, as we have such a snug fitting slot so far)
pulled the jig off, and its a real snug fit. Because im doing a few at once i pair the neck and body by marking with a number.
ok so I did two like this, one for me and one for harri.
it took a fair bit of effort, but I managed to push the neck into its slot in my one for a pic, illustrates the neck angle.
Harrisons one is an even tighter fit, no way its going in without a few shavings from the chisel, but i'll leave it until the neck is finished and sanded etc.
next.. designing some bodies :)..
Wednesday June 27
using a straight edge i extend the lines from the neck's edges onto the body's face, marking the outer path of the strings,
then mark in the approximate bridge location. the center of the bridge is the center of the tone well, so I knocked up a little circle cutting jig and anchored it there.
a scrap of ply drilled for the trammels keeps things square while i cut some donuts
got such a nice fit for the cookie tin lid 'cone' that when i test fitted it i really struggled to get it out again
the coverplates for these come from one of these, if you want a three pack search ebay for 'cake stand chrome folding' most of them are in the UK dont go past $20, they come up all the time
ok with the tone well cut into a decent depth, about an inch, I can start roughing out a shape
after a few minutes fine tuning it i roughed out on the bandsaw,
got a bit of bug eaten barky edge up top, think I like it..
tomorrow, catching up with Harris...
Thurs June 28
well I said I'd catch Harri's one up, so got the tonewell dug out and started on cutting out a rough shape..
made a start on the shape but im unsure how im going to do the enlarged upper cutaway.. plan is for an array of sympathy strings, a zither with tuners up here..
gave that a break and got some planing / sanding done on my one, rubbed a little tung oil in for this pic although again its only rough sanded, and a lot of it with the disc sander, so its all those curved lines on it..
the worm eaten edges are particularly cool, and im very pleased how well the spalty neck matches it..
i always think its a good test for your bolt in neck slots if you can hold the body up by the neck, with no glue or screws, just the tight fit there
tomorrow, more body beating
Fri June 29
******Had a bit of a health scare with my son which kept me from building for a couple weeks. He's ok now
Fri July 13
Sat July 14
******Out of the clamps, trimmed the back down using the bandsaw and sanders, wary that a flush trimming with the router might tear out bits of the veneer.
Thurs July 20
******Been making little refinements to the body for the other one, it's a little dr Seuss because of the wood I need for the zither tuners up there. Hopefully with a lot of hollowing out and carving it'll become something guitarish. YOu may have noticed that I flipped this blank over right at the start for the neck slot compared to the other, so this will feature the white sapwood much more than the other on the face, which is predominantly the chocolate heartwood. Unfortunately a lot of that checking is quite deep and will not sand out completely, although some will. It'll still be real nice Harrison don't stress. This happens from the wood shifting as it dries, this is quite a knotty piece with a couple branches coming off the tree right here.
Fri July 21
******With the body shape on the first one pretty much finalized we can finally return our attention to the neck. I needed the neck started to make the slot, but the taper and profile is better left til now so that it meets the body perfectly and is still square at the portion which sits inside the slot in the body.
Wed July 26
Fri July 28
Mon July 30
******The amplifier circuit for the sustainer comes from this Hannah Montana headphone amp
Wed Aug 2
******Drew up my circuit (as it will appear from behind, ie thru the control covers when soldering..) on some little sketch app on the iPad..
Sun Aug 5
******Have a goat hide and half a kangaroo hide from my banjo trip a couple years back.
mon Aug 6
******Not a lot of time before dark tonight, big and difficult day at work..
wow Jef thats some real pretty wood you got there...yeah guess i`d best get started on my first solid body build myself. I`ll take a look in my slab pile for something nice...i`ll be hittin you up for added info as the build progresses..
thanks Jef ,i see now why you route the body blank to the neck first . If you mess up at least you haven't done all that work on the body first,and also the grain of the wood can in some ways design the body shape i guess.
Well anyway ,yesterday i chopped out the slot with a couple of chisels and got a nice tight fit with the neck and angle, it 's looking pretty good so far, although a bit predictable as far as the body shape. Now to cut the headstock shape,this is the first time i ever added 'ears' .
when i've finished i'll post a pic or two . thanks, i'll try you're method next time ,who knows this one may not work out...;)
naw mate, looking good !!
yeah as I proceed, the order I do things in will make sense, but there really are no rules.. (I would have my scale length sorted before i cut anything at all for example..)
whats the plan here? 3, 4 strings?
we'll see my little jig for testing filters (cap, resistor values etc) towards the end. It really depends on the pickup..
this all seems to have stopped dead- everything ok over there????