August 13, 2010

The bulk of the work

I'm going on vacation soon, so it is time to wrap this guitar project up! As such, I have been working quite hard on it.

No jokes about that last sentence, please.

First of all, I didn't take some pictures of some things. Those things include placing the truss rod, gluing on the fretboard, radiusing the fretboard, sanding down the fretboard to meet the neck more perfectly, and resawing the fret slots. I had to do that after radiusing the fretboard, as some of the fret slots were a bit shallow.

But here are some pictures of some finished work.

I got a workshop key finally!! It took awhile.

Here is the truss rod sticking out of the top of the neck. Not very pretty, but maybe I can work on that a bit.

Drilled holes for tuning machines. Like a glove!

Here is the finished fretboard radiusing job. I left it a little flatter in the middle. We'll see how that goes...
I'm so impressed with my carving, you get to see more pictures of it! Aren't you lucky?

I bought a pre-carved nut from Stew Mac, but it was curved on the bottom. So out came a piece of acrylic and some sandpaper. Taped the sandpaper to the acrylic (double-stick!) and flattened out the nut. Not so bad if I do say so myself.

Here is a view of the completed neck and fret slots after radiusing.

Here are some pickup cavities and the bushing cavities for the rocker bridge.

This is the back side electronics cavity. I think I'm going to make a cover for it from clear acrylic. How cool would that be?! Visible electronics! In the back.

An upclose of a bushing pocket.

Bushing in pocket to test fit. Now It stays there because it is a push bushing which I can't get out. Piss.

And that's the rat race so far. I need to wind up some pickups next, figure out how to connect my pickup routes to the electronics cavity and drill some "pot" holes! Then it's time for finishing. Wow. I didn't realize until right now how close I am to being finished with this project.

August 8, 2010

Trussing it up and carving the neck

I had another productive day on Saturday.

First out with the hacksaw to cut a truss rod length.

Then, to make some sparks! I don't have a bench grinder, so all of my grinding will be done with a Dremel tool - or on the ski slopes.
Look at the sparks fly!

After this, I used my 10-32 die to put some threads on both sides of the steel rod.

Here is a view of the T nut attached.

And the whole kit-n-kaboodle.

I just made a truss rod! I still need to purchase some Loctite Red before I put in the truss rod and attach the fret board. So close with the neck!

I also did some carving. I used surforms and rasps to shape the places between the headstock and neck and the neck base and length of the neck. Here is an image showing that. You can kind of see it at the point of the pencil. The auto focus was really getting me there.

After that, I started in with the spoke shave. I didn't realize how cool this tool was! It was practically effortless to use, and once I had the blade depth correctly set, it was super smooth. I tried using a belt sander for about ten seconds. In that time, I had so many unsightly dings and nicks that I ditched it for the hand tools. And that is today's lesson: sometimes power tools aren't the greatest. I have heard of people carving necks with a belt sander, but I need to see it done with my own eyes first before attempting it.

This is the jig that I set up to hold the neck in place. I went through a few iterations of this, and the one the I settled on is not the one pictured.

After all the carving was done, I picked up a rag and rolled it up really tightly, then I wrapped some 60 grit around it and started smoothing everything out. It looks and feels like butter! Baby bottom smooth!

Here is the finished neck product so far. I like it and am quite happy that carving the neck was not as traumatic a process as it could have been! I think I was more scared as I cut the fret board. Incidentally, that may have to be redone. I'm not sure all of my fret cuts were as good as I'd hoped.
Sighting down the back for a feel of the curvature.

And finally, a beautiful picture of the sum total of my woodworking labors.

Coming soon - I need to drill the holes for my tuning machines and start winding my pickups and cutting out the pickup compartments. Also, places for the jack and potentiometers to live. I will soon be installing the threaded inserts for bolting on the neck and possibly "milling" a plate to cover the neck and hold on the bolts. But maybe not.

August 6, 2010

I love double-sided tape!

Lots of work was done today. I was EXTREMELY productive.

First, with my brand new router armed with a 1/2" colletted 3/8" round over bit, I smoothed out the body of the guitar. The I took it over to the spindle sander yet again for a (hopefully) final round of edge sanding.

Looks nice, no?

After that, I cut out a neck template from some plywood that was lying around. I labeled it because I'm bound to forget what it is otherwise.

I decided not to use the plunge router to cut out the neck pocket as I didn't want to switch out the bases and sub bases and router bits and such. So I cut out the neck cavity with a drill press and a small chisel to "clean it up." This I affixed to the body using my favorite tool, Scotch double-sided tape!

It could stand some more cleaning up via the sandpaper - but it fits so nice and tight right now, I don't even want to mess with it until I get closer to neck attaching time. I took a picture of body with neck pocket.

I can taste how close this thing is to being done! Even though I have a bunch left to do. Below is the dry fit of the neck into the pocket.

Oh my! It looks like a guitar! I never thought it would look so good (so far - I have plenty of time to botch it up).

Later on that day...

I started dealing with the fingerboard. I know I am doing thins in a very strange order, but it keeps me from getting bored with the project. The more logical way would be to finish one thing and move on to the next. Unfortunately, this is not that kind of project.

I drew up a CAD template of a 24" scale neck. With 24 frets. It took about 5 or 10 minutes all said and done. I then printed it off and went to the paper cutter. Trimming off the excess, I then taped together my overlap area, giving me this.

What do you think I did next? Of course! Double-sided tape! I attached this to the fret board blank I made. If you look closely, you can see where I wrote "BACK" in capital letters on the fret board.

I then set the depth of my saw by aligning the blade and depth stop with a piece of the fret wire I will be using. I didn't have a miter box that would work with the saw and stop, so I was VERY careful about making straight cuts.

The unveiling of the fret board...

Close enough for government work!

Then I decided to work a small amount on the neck. I got out the surform and rasp and got to raking.

I didn't do much because I want to check some pictures in a book I have to see how far I should carve.

Okay, that's it for today. More to come this weekend most likely.


August 4, 2010

Neck work, new tools, and more.

This is going to be a LOOOOOONG post. It's been awhile, and it's time to share.

I've been working more on the neck.

You can see here that I have cut out the neck shape and the fingerboard shape on the band saw.

It didn't look too shabby. Until I realized I made an amateur mistake...I cut out the neck shape before I cut my truss rod channel!

What a chucklehead move.

So how did I fix this? This is how:

Double stick tape! I'll show you how.

Cut a couple of pieces of tape and stick it to a board. You should use longer pieces than I have shown here...

Stick them to the board like so.

Here's what it should look like. Even with the two small pieces of tape I practiced with, you can see me holding it on with my hand on one board.

Line up your fence and run it through the saw a few times to get the right width.

And voila!

I neglected to mention that I cut the truss rod slot too wide initially. I panicked about this having a mild heart attack for a short time, and then got over it and figured out how I'd fix it. I cut a piece of the section leftover from trimming the neck and made a shim-like piece. Unless one looks for it, it is difficult to tell that it is there. This is the thin piece of maple I used to shim in the truss rod channel.

I obviously cut a small piece from it and didn't use the whole piece. I have plenty left to shim things later if needed.

I don't know if my truss rod needs to run the entire length of the neck will not be double action, so I may just need it to run most of the way. If it has to go all the way, I can deal with that later. I also cut the head depth.

Here is the fingerboard on top of the neck. It is going to be awesome.

I used a spindle sander to smooth out the sides and such. Should I have cut the fret slots first? Probably, but I didn't have the tools and I CAN do it later.

And I got some tools. The school has routers, but none are plunge routers, and I figured I'd be wanting one in the future anyway. The first picture is my carbide tipped blade set.

And here is my router.

Here are the pieces that I will use for building my own single action truss rod. I think a single action truss rod may better for the structural integrity of the neck as opposed to a double action, as the TR channel is not as deep.

I picked up a piece of 4' long unthreaded steel rod for a pittance at the local hardware place. It has a diameter of 3/16".

Here are some 10-32 hex nuts (you can't buy just one, I looked - but they are cheap) [top] and a 10-32 T nut. The T nut will be threaded on and attached with some loctite or cold weld or something as I don't know how to weld yet. The hex nut will provide my adjustment.

And here you can see the fruits of my current labor!! The unfinished truss rod fits into the slot perfectly.

I have an order from STEW MAC on the way which includes the following:

0130 500K Control Pot
0158 Fretwire Wide "Pyramid"
2' Piece
0170 Chrome Strap Buttons -
Set of 2
0415 8in Sanding Block with
7-1/4in radius
1463 Pickup Coil Wire 43 Gauge
1819 Flush-mount Stereo Output Jack
4937 Custom Dome Knob Ivoroid
6mm Shaft
5276 Locking Roller Bridge
5280 Auto Trim Planet Waves
Tuner Chrome 3L 3R
5745 Adjustable Pull Fret Saw
5943 Humbucker Polepiece Slug
5944 Humbucker Polepiece Screw
5945 Humbucker Magnet Alnico 5
5946 Metal Humbucker Spacer
6001-V Shaped Vintage Bone Nut

I have a lot left to go! It's a-gonna be a bumpy ride!

Why so much fret wire you ask? Well, (a) I'm making a zero fret - I'm going to have a fret right next to the nut that does nothing except offer a perfectly even surface for all six strings to cross. I'm doing this because I do not have confidence in my nut making ability. (b) I still have another guitar to make!

You can see that an important piece of the equation is still missing. I do not have a tailpiece...

I'm going for the Bigsby B-5 tremolo. I have been in love with the idea for ages, now. And since that is about the last thing I need to put on the guitar, I'm not too worried about it currently.

B5 vs. B50

A NOTE ON BIGSBY TREMOLOS: If you decide to purchase one of these, be careful! A lot of eBay sellers will say that they are selling a B-5 when in reality it is a B-50. There is a distinction and an easy way to tell apart the fakers. A "Bigsby licensed" tremolo will almost ALWAYS be a B-50. You can tell based on what it says on the bottom of the tremolo. It will either say "Bigsby" alone with nothing else or "Bigsby Licensed." The "licensed" part will appear under the "Bigsby" and will be significantly smaller.

People claim the b% is a more solid tremolo. The bar at the horseshoe opening is apparently permanently fixed as opposed to the B50, which I assume is not. Take these examples:

Stay tuned for in the very near future I will be ROUTING! And building jigs! And templates! And more! WOW!