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  #21  
Old 10-31-2012, 12:20 PM
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Don't buy cheap tools!

Ok, first of all the good news:

It looks like I have found a wood supplier! I'll probably receive it this week.


So to the "Don't do thinks like this"-section of today's post:

Don't buy cheap tools! Here is why:


I tried making the knobs this weekend. Should be simple enough. Just cut a piece of round bar, drill a hole in the middle and add a set screw. It all went well up until the drilling a hole-part. It turns out that my cheap drill press isn't straight.

My drill press isn't really a real drill press. It's a stand that you mount a normal drill machine into. The problem with the stand I had was that the column was made from a hollow tube. The set screw for the height adjustment had slightly deformed the tube. This made the "head" sit at a ever so slight angle. It wasn't very noticeable, but it was enough to render my volume knobs useless...

I noticed that the headpiece have the same problem with the string retainer screws, but in that case it isn't a problem at all.


I did try to fix the problem. Here is the knobs after being milled and drilled.

I also made a "skirt" to hide the nuts. (Just like Scottish men do. )

They look fine, but the center hole is crooked. so I decided to fill in the hole and re drill:

Holes filled with silver solder. After this I just milled out the knobs again in exactly the same way as before. Unfortunately it was after I had done this I discovered that the drill press was the problem and not the vice (As I first thought).

I also planned to leave the set screw in the knobs when soldering to plug the hole in the side. I though that the tin wouldn't stick to the threads. Turns out it did...

I did try to save the knobs by drilling out the screws. Long story short, the knobs are ruined along with one of my 2mm mill bits.

I have now bought a new drill press stand of better quality and will do another try at making the knobs later.


Anyway, I have refined the design slightly:

Just some small adjustments. I'm still not satisfied with the headstock. I'm hopelessly stuck on that one. Really open for suggestions on that one.

Last edited by Smilodon : 10-31-2012 at 12:23 PM.
  #22  
Old 11-01-2012, 02:48 AM
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Have you tried just leaving it as a proper headless?

Maybe a Pigs head style would look interesting; it has some jazzy curves on it.
  #23  
Old 11-01-2012, 11:02 AM
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I tried drawing it as a proper headless, but didn't like it. Headless designs are growing on me, but i'm not quite there yet.


What is a pigs head style headstock? I have never heard of such a thing. Google wasn't very helpful either.
  #24  
Old 11-01-2012, 02:32 PM
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I think the headstock looks more like Scooby Doo, but I can see pig as well if I squint a little.

Wonderfull bridgework I would love to work the metal side as well, but resources are tight.
  #25  
Old 11-01-2012, 04:43 PM
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Sorry, Fender headstock. I was using obscure terminology.
  #26  
Old 11-02-2012, 02:20 AM
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Ah! I see what you mean now. I'll give it a shot this weekend.
  #27  
Old 11-04-2012, 10:26 AM
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Just a small update today. I got around to making new knobs and painting all the metal parts this weekend.

Round stock for the knobs:

This is taken after they have been milled to the correct length. If you look closely you can just about make out the scribed line to indicate where i'm going to drill the center hole and mill the "skirt".

Knobs ready milled:

As you can see the new drill press works way better than the old one. In case anybody is wondering, To do the final sanding the knobs were mounted to a 6mm bar in the the drill press and filed/sanded down. Much quicker than doing it by hand.

Primer drying:

My living room now smell like paint...

All the pieces are held in place by small nails except for the saddles and the back plate for the headpiece. those are taped in place. I didn't want to paint the sides of the saddles. The paint would only make the saddles too tight to move. The side of the saddles isn't visible anyway.

Most of the pieces after a couple of coats of flat black paint.

The primer wasn't sanded down before laying down the color coat because I wanted a little bit of texture to the paint. It got slightly smoother than intended, but close enough.

Bridge frame after paint:

Note that the frame were painted with the base plate in place. It was easier this way, and there were no reason to paint them separately.


Finished bridge:



The top lid is also painted. I figured it was best to do it before it was milled down to fit the wood veneer. I don't want to deal with the black paint around unfinished wood.


(I know the dust show up very well on the last pictures. I had to boost the light levels pretty much. Showing details on flat black parts is difficult...)



edit:

Oh, earlier I said I would mill some flutes into the knobs. After I made the knobs I figured I liked the smooth ones better. I Figured I'd leave them like this and rather alter them if the get too slippery to operate.

Last edited by Smilodon : 11-04-2012 at 10:29 AM.
  #28  
Old 11-06-2012, 10:22 AM
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Wood!

The wood arrived today!


This is basically how it will be blued together. The headstock is the stack to the right. The veneer to the left is for the control cavities. (No, they won't be that big)

It looks like I may be able to match the grain of the body and control cavity cover pretty well with those pieces of veneer.



Here you can see how the wings and headstock will be laminated.

I did mess up the maths a bit when calculating the thickness of be body. As it it now It's about 4mm to thick. I may correct it, but it doesn't really matter all that much.



The bad news now is that the project will be more or less on hold for a while. I had some unforeseen expenses so I don't have expendable funds left at the moment. To get any further I need to order some stuff from stewmac.

At least that will give me some more time to get the design of the damned headstock sorted out...

Last edited by Smilodon : 11-06-2012 at 11:42 AM.
  #29  
Old 11-21-2012, 02:32 PM
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I almost forgot to post pictures in here...

So I found some money and took a weeks vacation to work on this thing.

I also found a plotter at work :

Here I'm in the process of sorting the pieces of wood to find the ones with the nicest grain.


Indexing pins for the stacks of wood that are going to become the body wings:

The ides is to have these to align and hold the pieces somewhat in place when gluing. Without these pins the pieces will slide about making clamping impossible. Especially as I'm gluing 10 pieces in one go. This have to be done quickly!

Practice stack.

As you can see there is some overhang on the bottom piece. The top piece is large enough to clamp the entire area of the bottom piece that is going to be used. (Both pieces are oversized)

The glass sheet is to prevent the glue sticking to the workbench.

Everything clamped up.

There is about a third of a bottle of Titebond in there...

Same process was used on the neck:

I didn't use indexing pins here. Instead I clamped the pieces to the workbench to keep it straight. Notice the larger piece of glass used as a glue collector. I also used some wax paper to prevent the clamping blocks to be glued to the neck. I almost got some paper into one of the glue joints...


Routing jig:

This one was intended to be used to make the edges of the body wings completely straight. Unfortunately I didn't take the bit length into consideration when making it. Turns out that my longest router bit can't reach more than 8mm onto the piece...

It did work well to create a straight edge that I could run a template bit along.

Body wings straightened out:



The beginning of the neck shaping:

This was done by clamping down a straight edge which I ran the router along. I didn't bother to make a template for the entire neck because that would be less accurate. I didn't have a large enough piece of MDF anyway.

Neck shaped:



Body wings fit very tightly:

As you can see I haven't removed the glue squeeze out on this side of the neck. I only did that on one side that was used as a reference.

Indexing pin on the body wing:

This was done by shooting in a staple that I cut about 2mm from the face of the wood. I ten dry clamped the pieces together to make indentation in the neck. This is to prevent the pieces from sliding around when I glue them on.

Body wings clamped after gluing:



Planing jig:

I don't have a planer, so I had to improvise. Two long clamps attached to the work table work as rails. and the router attached to a Ikea Drawer front. The melanin surface slide very nice on the rails.

I have also drilled a series of holes in the work surface that I feed small clamps through to prevent the workpiece to slide or lift.

Body planed:



Entire thing planed down. It isn't perfect, but nothing that some light sanding can't fix.



Body shape routed:

I had some minur tearouts, but that was on parts that are going to be rounded, so it doesn't matter.

Truss rod routing jig:

Those long clamps are very versatile.

Truss rod and CF rods in place:

The jig to route the CF rods were done with only one rail since the router bit matched the width perfectly. On the truss rod I had to add about a quarter of a millimeter to the width, so two rails were more practical.

Truss rod adjustment hole:

This will be covered up later.

Headstock angle jig:

The body is supported by a chair and a couple of tool suitcases.

It's much more secure than it sounds.

Neck taken (almost) down to it's final thickness:

This was done with the same Jig I used to plane down the body and neck. I have only removed the bulk of the wood. The rest will be done mostly by hand.



I'll post more as I go along. I just have to remember to take pictures...
  #30  
Old 11-21-2012, 10:38 PM
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So what have you decided for the Headstock?

Looking good.
  #31  
Old 11-21-2012, 10:48 PM
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I'm not one who usually likes a multi-lam neck, but boy...That walnut and maple looks really good! Keep up the great work.
  #32  
Old 11-22-2012, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Splods View Post
So what have you decided for the Headstock?

Looking good.
As of now I don't think I'll do any cutout on the headstock. When I got the full sized plans printed I realized how small the headstock really is. (I actually altered the design slightly to make it larger.) As for the shape, look further down in this post.


So, some pictures:


Here is my jig for thinning down the headstock:

The body is propped up by a suitcase to get the headstock parallel to the table. I also re positioned the neck afterwards to remove most of the material in the volute area.


Entire bass after the headstock was shaped:

I know the headstock looks really scratched, but that's just some of the wood fibers that got compressed by the sole of the jigsaw. That will be taken care of with some light sanding.


Here is the shape of the headstock:

Some may have noticed earlier that I was planning on making a three piece laminate on the headstock. I realized that the pieces I had would be way to thick to let the roundover expose any maple. (Unless I used a 1/2" roundover which would look really weird on that headstock). I got an extra piece of walnut veneer from my wood supplier with a pretty nice grain which was perfect to stick on the headstock.

There is also a structural reason. Letting the neck beam run all the way around the headpiece will make it a bit stronger.

You can also see that I had a slight mishap when i was routing the headstock shape. I got into the walnut part of the neck in one spot. I was planning on going to that final depth by sanding... I shouldn't be a problem in the end, though.

Back of the headstock after being thinned down:

This will obviously be sanded down and shaped properly later on.

The flat spot on the front will be angled slightly later on. And a similar flat spot will be sanded on the front to expose the pattern in the neck beam.

Pickups cavities and cutouts routed:

I was thinking a lot about how I was going to shape the tips of the cutouts properly. After having routed with the smallest template bit I had at hand I figured I liked the slightly softer curves better. (The cutouts now match the cutout behind the bridge better this way. )

My template bits really suffered through this part. I did hog out some bulk with a forstner drill, but Didn't dare to go too close to the edges. Ohwell. Stewmac has more of those.


edit: oh, And I checked the balance. Before neck shaping and routing of the electronics cavity the balance point in exactly at the center of the trebble side bout. Looks like it should balance very well in the end.

Last edited by Smilodon : 11-22-2012 at 02:17 PM.
  #33  
Old 11-24-2012, 12:15 AM
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Reminds me of the scroll bases. I'm loving how this is turning out.
  #34  
Old 11-24-2012, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
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Reminds me of the scroll bases. I'm loving how this is turning out.
Never thought about that, but you are right.



Got some more work done today:


Fretboard tapering jig:

This is the same thing I used to true up the body wings only this time I used a template bit because that made it easier to get exact measurements.

This was a scary setup, though. To get the bit to sit high enough I had to leave only about 8mm of the shank inside the router collar. That's pushing the limits a bit. Especially since I also had to do a climb cut... It went alright, though.

Fret sawing jig:

Ok, it's used to cut the nut slot in this picture, but the setup is the same. It's a radius sanding block with 12 small magnets drilled into one side. I also marked the exact center of the block in both ends. When the two markers are lined up with the center line on the fretboard the magnetic face is at exactly 90 degrees.

I'm not sure how people normally cut nut slots, but I did it by cutting several slots close together. It worked great.


Nut in place:



This is what happens when one does not pay attention...

I had the saw at a steep angle and pulled it towards me which tore out a piece.

Some glue and tape and it's all good again:

Turns out that most of that piece got sanded away when the board was radius sanded. Ohwell...


Fretboard slotted and sanded:

Only side dots and a slight bevel above the nut left to do before gluing it on. I don't plan on doing fret dots on the front on this one.

Closeup of the end of the fretboard:

The hole is there for a reason. More on that later.

There are a couple of scratces there. One of them isn't really a deep scratch and the other one will be covered by the fret.

After sanding the board to 400 grit it showed some very nice flame pattern which is a nice surprise.

This is my first time working with ebony. It's really weird stuff to work with. The sanding dust will make everything black, which is a bit annoying...


I also started to shape the neck heel a bit. (Sorry, no pictures of that yet...) I'll do the rest when the fretboard is glued in place.

Last edited by Smilodon : 11-24-2012 at 04:00 PM.
  #35  
Old 11-25-2012, 10:44 AM
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This is my first time working with ebony. It's really weird stuff to work with. The sanding dust will make everything black, which is a bit annoying...
You've got that right. It's even worse when you are working with a tiny tiny piece. I got an ebony pen blank from a local woodworking shop to make a thumbrest... It smells REALLY DAMN BAD if you cut it with a high-speed tool and the friction burns it, too. The second item I made with ebony (leftovers) stained my hands black for three days.

Looks nice when it's done though

--Silvie

OT, the build looks really good.
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  #36  
Old 11-25-2012, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Blues View Post
You've got that right. It's even worse when you are working with a tiny tiny piece. I got an ebony pen blank from a local woodworking shop to make a thumbrest... It smells REALLY DAMN BAD if you cut it with a high-speed tool and the friction burns it, too. The second item I made with ebony (leftovers) stained my hands black for three days.

Looks nice when it's done though

--Silvie

OT, the build looks really good.
Thanks

Yeah, ebony is a really nice looking wood. Well worth the extra work IMO:



Got some details done today. The main thing was gluing the fretboard on. Unfortunately I was too busy with the clamps to take pictures. Sorry about that.


I have some pictures of some of the preparations, though:


Got the headpiece mounted:

I know it looks really crooked in this picture for some reason. It is pretty straight, though.

I also chiseled out a small "ramp" in the truss rod slot:

Remember the hole in the fretboard? This will be a part of the opening mechanism for the truss rod cover. Pushing a pin or a hex key into that hole to push the hidden part of the truss rod cover will make the exposed part pop up. The top of that "ramp" will act as a pivot point.


I somehow managed to dent the body:

One of the dents will be hidden by the bridge, but the other one will be visible.

I figured this was a good time to try to steam out the dents with a soldering iron.


It worked pretty well.

When the raised grain is sanded down I doubt anyone will notice.
  #37  
Old 11-25-2012, 04:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smilodon View Post
When the raised grain is sanded down I doubt anyone will notice.
Looks good.

Be sure to give it plenty of drying time before sanding, otherwise you'll create another divot as it shrinks back.
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  #38  
Old 11-28-2012, 11:43 AM
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Good tip.

I also noticed that the dents had reappeared slightly a little while after I had steamed them out. Another round with the soldering iron will probably sort that out.


I have run into a problem now, though. Gluing on the fretboard didn't go to plan.

Turns out that either the neck or the fretboard had a ever so slight bow in it from side to side. This resulted in a glue joint that is visible on some parts of the neck. I don't think it will be a structural issue since the glue joint around the truss rod is probably good.

The biggest problem now is that the fretboard is very uneven since the gap compressed more where the clamps were placed. I see now that i should have used a block of wood instead a rubber mat when clamping...

I think the less risky path now is to simply level the fretboard and hope that it holds. I fear that trying to remove the fretboard will damage the glue joints in the neck. :/

What do you guys think?
  #39  
Old 12-01-2012, 03:14 PM
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Weekend is finally here, so I got some more work done:

I got started on shaping the neck.

First I had to make a couple of depth gauges to prevent me form making the space under the truss rod too thin, or hitting one of the CF rods:

I just drew the outline of the internals of the neck ant cut it out. Then used the cutout as a gauge. It doesn't have to be accurate. it's just to give a general idea of where I'm at. The actual shape of the neck is decided by how it feels.

I figured that a surform isn't the tool for me:




Then I remembered how well spoke shaves work:

Nice to see that the glue holds up.


Shape as of now:

It will probably be refined a bit, but I'm pretty happy with it so far. It's ever so slightly asymmetrical which is nice.


Also shaped the headstock a bit more:

More pictures of the final shaping will come later.

I then Had to deal with the wavy fretboard:

It's very difficult to see in this picture, but I laid down some pencil marks to see where the high spots were. Then sanded until the marks were gone.

The another round of pencil marks before some more sanding:

While I did this I also checked the straightness of the neck with a straightedge to make sure it didn't have any bow. I had to correct way less that it looked like when I first took the clamps of the fretboard. (The squeezeout of glue made the unevenness seem far worse than it really was).

It's now perfectly level. If the glue holds up it should be fine.


I also routed out the cavities for the electronics. Firs I had to make some templates:

The top one if the template for the lid. I wanded a 5mm lip for the lid to rest on. The offset on my router collar and smallest bit just so happen to be 5,2mm. Close enough. I just made the largest template first, then clamped it on top of another piece of MDF and routed out the outline. Instant cavity template! (the piece of wood under the MDF is a sacrificial piece of wood, not my workbench)

I just realized that I haven't taken any pictures of the finished cavities... I'll take some tomorrow.

I also got around to making a fret wire radiusing jig:

I was originally planning on bending it by hand, but realized that more precision is needed.

I really should rename this project to "Project Insomnia". many of the ideas for this project have been though out while trying to sleep. This jig included.

The ball bearings have a nice bevel which will protect the top pf the fret wire. The brass clamping piece have a small slot milled into it to protect the tang.

This is how it works:

Just place the fretwire in the jig and tighten the nut to bend the wire.

Then it's just a matter of feeding the wire through:

Amazingly this worked on the first try. I feed the fire with both hands. Pushing one end while pulling the other as to not deform the arch again. I also try to do the bending in several passes until the radius is correct. On my second try at using this jig I actually tightened more than intended and ended up with a perfect radius in one pass.

So, it's not pretty but it works.

I have to cut off about 3cm of each end of the wire, but I have 44ft of wire to work with, so...

I also made a "test fret". It's just a fret with the barbs ground off the tang so that it can be test fitted to check that the slots in the fretboard is deep enough. Turns out that it was a very good idea. I found a slot that wasn't perfect.
  #40  
Old 12-02-2012, 12:59 PM
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Frets!:

Sorry about the bad picture...

I'm trying to show the process of filing down the fret ends. My last order from stewmac included a "replacement file" that's intended to be used in their specially designed blocks for this. The price of that block is insane for what it is, so I made one myself. It's just a couple of pieces of plywood screwed together clamping the file in place. One of the pluwood pieces have a bevel. I just run the straight end down the fretboard to file down the fret ends, then turn it around to bevel them.

(I haven't made the bevel on the block in this picture yet. That was done afterwards)

Test fit:

This was done to check that everything lines up and to figure out how much the bridge had to be sunk into the body.

Bridge route:

The entire bridge is sunk down 3,5mm. I also made some holes to accommodate the string ends to make restringing easier. (I know they look a bit messy. I didn't bother to make a template for those. They will never be seen anyway.

I also beveled the end of be body a bit to improve access to the tuning knobs.

Electronics cavities:

The left one is for volume and tone knobs. The right one is for batteries.

On the left cavity my aim was to have the cavity depth so that I only had the thickness of the walnut top left. I hit the glue line pretty well I think. The body wing isn't 100% straight as you can see. It's not crooked enough that anyone will ever notice.

The battery cavity is larger than it needs to be for two reasons; Symmetry and weight. Foam is lighter than wood. I can also add weight if it turns out that the balance is off.

The bass as of now:

I hooked it up to a piezo pickup and played it a bit. It seems to be working very well.



The bulk of the work is now done. Things left to be done:

- Lots of sanding to final shape
- Cavity covers
- Truss rod cover
- Pickup baseplates (I'll explain that later)
- Bridge cover
- Headstock logo (Maybe)
- Fret leveling and dressing
- Final shaping if the nut
- Pickup switch holder.

I realized last night that I also should find a new jack. I was originally thinking about using a normal jack mounted in a plate, but maybe one of those intended to be mounted in wood will be a better option.
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