So making nicely shaped necks isn't very hard. At least it isn't rocket science. First off, you have to want to shape your CBG neck in a nice rounded fashion BUT that is not a rule at all. No one says you have to round off any neck you make. If you want to then here is a very quick and easy way to make VERY nicely rounded necks that rival CNC machines or routers.

What you will need is a neck of some kind. Here in the US we get 1"x2" (3/4" x 1 1/2") wood slats or boards. Usually poplar or red oak from our home improvement stores. Get what you can and adjust accordingly.

What you will see in the pics below is how I make my CBG necks. I do a laminated neck with (2) 1x2 slats that is cut down to 1x2 (sounds odd but you can see below what I am doing). For this illustration, I have not drawn the neck inside the box or how that is cut. As well, I do a scarf neck which is the angled end you will see. You don't have to to any of this but I do and I'm doing the illustrating :-)

You will also need a plain flat spokeshave. I have a cheap one and regret it with every neck but it works. MAKE SURE IT IS SHARP! A dull spokeshave is not only dangerous, but does not cut well.

So the neck above is how it looks before I mark and cut. See the heel (not carved yet. I usually carve that first). Also see the angle at the right end. That is for the scarf headstock. Again, that is usually attached before I do the neck rounding.

So to get the neck shape even, I'm going to use the spokeshave to 'facet' the neck as if it were 1/2 of an octagon. If shaved evenly will act as a guide to get the rest of the neck very even. I mark about 3/8" from the bottom corners into the bottom and side of the neck. I will make a pencil mark the length of the neck on those measurements which I will shave a flat area down to.

I also angle the ends in so that the neck and heel will transition well. See the areas in red. They will be the material removed with the spokeshave.

I clamp my neck down to a table (in my case I have a woodworking vise). Then I get to work with the spokeshave. Material comes off quickly but I don't want to take too much off too soon. I want the material cut evenly down to the lines. See how it looks like half of an octagon. Nice. This is what I want. You will also note that in this picture, I have drawn the marks for the heel shape.

Once that is complete, I will use the spokeshave to further round out the 'facets' but will not allow the spokeshave to make the sides, bottom, or the original shaved area any thinner. I simply want to round the facets down.

Once the neck is roughly round, I will take a wood rasp -- fine side only -- and continue to round out the neck. If you pay attention to what you are doing, the neck will come out VERY well.

Here are some real pics

Good Luck


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Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on October 7, 2010 at 6:50am
Why yes you do Mat! Right there off I85 in Greensboro. Hmmmm, I travel that way sometimes. Might have to stop in. If you get a chance to look at the spokeshaves, let us know how they look.

Comment by Mat Carruthers on October 6, 2010 at 8:19pm
I found some moderately priced shaves in the online catalog for Woodworker's Supply - they have a store about 30 minutes from the house. Judging by price alone, I'd guess they're higher quality than what's available at HF, but aren't as good as the Stanley, Kunz, or Wood River (that are available at Woodcraft). Any suggestions? I know eBay is always an option, too...
Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on October 6, 2010 at 7:45am
Oh and if you go too fast, your spokeshave will skip. You can see that in some of the pics above. Go slow and you might want to angle your spokeshave about 30 deg to the direction of the cut. Makes the spokeshave go thru easier.

Comment by Artist Formerly Known as Matt on October 5, 2010 at 10:03pm
This is how I do it .... except I use a sureform cheesegrater type rasp. Those things remove mucho material, mucho fast.
Then I sand, and sand, and sand ......

Nice Wes ... thanks!
Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on October 5, 2010 at 8:18pm
Mat. Yep. Buy American (or at least European).

Comment by Mat Carruthers on October 5, 2010 at 7:53pm
Thanks for posting this - I've been looking at spoke shaves the past few weeks and couldn't figure out whether I needed a flat face, a round face, or a half round. This tells me exactly what I need. By cheap spoke shave, do you mean "purchased at Harbor Freight"? I guess going for quality right out of the chute would be a good call, but looking at prices of spokeshaves at places like Woodcraft sends me right back to HF...
Comment by Naz Nomad on October 5, 2010 at 7:42pm
Cool post.

Sharpness is key ... If you're spokeshave/chisel isn't sharp enough to shave your face, it's not sharp enough to shave your neck.
Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on October 5, 2010 at 7:35pm
Oh and as for the chisel, I don't ever use a hammer or mallet. I do use a gentle push from both hands and basically chip away at the wood. If the chisel is good and sharp, carving is REAL easy.

I do refine the heel with a rasp too after the bulk of the material is removed.

Comment by Wes "I'm Baaaaack" Yates on October 5, 2010 at 7:32pm
Thanks Rand. I learned how to do necks like this on youtube. I carve my heel with a chisel. Again, VERY sharp and as the palm of my hand will attest, DO BE CAREFUL!

In the top photo, you see I have already carved the heel down as per the guide line on the bottom illustration. I start from the top and work down -- that is, I turn the neck bottom side up as in the photos, secure in a wood vise and begin carving. I work in a scooping motion which as opposed to hammering straight down the heel, will cause the cut to flair outwards. I know that the center line is where I want the 'nose' to be and that makes the cutting easy. I also know not to take off too much material as I will be refining the shape later. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Comment by Rand Moore on October 5, 2010 at 11:51am
Nice tutorial, Wes.

I'm about to make the plunge and buy a spoke shave, so this tutorial is very timely. To date I have just been rounding the corners of the neck with a wood rasp and sand paper. I am a little afraid of doing the heel. Did you use the spoke shave on it, or a rasp? How did you get your heel so well carved out?


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