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Project Bloodline

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Smilodon, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    Ok, so it's time for a new build again. Continuing the tradition of cheesy project names I'll name this one Bloodline! Because it has lines of bloodwood... geddit? *Crickets*


    Anyway, specs!

    34"scale
    5 strings
    Single Seymour Duncan SMB-5D and STC-3M4 preamp.
    Wenge and bloodwood neck
    Ebony fretboard with bloodwood and wenge block inlays.
    Custom bridge and tuning system. (Headless style)

    -------------------------

    I'm still working on the design, so that will come later. I have started to source materials, though. Because of my limited tooling the design will be somewhat dictated by the availability of materials.

    The only thing that have arrived so far is the wood from Bell Forest Products:
    [​IMG]
    This was just after I had unpacked it. The white spots is just wax residue. Not all of this wood is going into this bass. I ordered for some other small projects and some to have in spare. I probably have enough to make two basses, though... :D

    Because I'm impatient and wanted to see how the wood is to work with I figured I could start by making volume and tuner knobs. That should be easy enough using a plug cutter.

    The blanks:
    [​IMG]
    1,5"x1,5" pieces of bloodwood and wenge.

    Bloodwood pieces rough cut:
    [​IMG]
    Cutting a 1,5" piece along the grain using a jigsaw is slooow...

    Why cut the pieces before using the plug cutter, you may ask. The reason for this is that I don't want end grain on some of the knob and side grain on some parts. By cutting smaller pieces I can have the end grain facing upwards where there will be a wenge cap and have the nice shimmer of the side grain visible all the way round the knob.

    Both wenge caps and bloodwood pieces cut and milled to a uniform thickness using a small endmill:
    [​IMG]
    The straight faces will serve as reference to keep the knobs perfectly straight when using the plug cutter.

    Pieces glued together:
    [​IMG]
    In this case I used epoxy since I was gluing end grain to side grain.

    And here is the pieces glued to a piece of sacrificial wood:
    [​IMG]
    This is to be able to securely clamp the pieces during drilling.

    Drilling with a plug cutter:
    [​IMG]
    I actually pulled loose two of the pieces during drilling, but that happened as I was lifting the drill after punching through to the sacrificial wood. I just had to press the slug from inside the plug cutter, so this wan't really an issue. Drilling was fairly slow as I had to stop pretty often to allow the plug gutter to cool down.

    Knobs!:
    [​IMG]
    The larger ones are volume/tone knobs and the smaller ones are for the tuners. I have also milled away the residue from the sacrificial wood now, but forgot to take a picture. :meh:

    The final shaping, sanding and drilling will be done when I have the volume pots and the final design for the tuners done. I don't know the correct diameter for the shafts right now.



    So that's how far I have gotten until now. The progress will be slow in the start and I'm still designing and sourcing materials, but hopefully there will be more action later on. :)


    As always, comments are welcome. :)
  2. lbridenstine

    lbridenstine

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    1. Those woods are beautiful, can't wait to see this.
    2. The knobs look great so far.
    3. I think Bloodline might be trademarked by Jackson guitars.
    4. I'll be watching this thread.
    :D
  3. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    1: Me neither. ;)
    2: Thanks. :)
    3: Oh! I'm not planning on using it as a trademark, so I think it'll be fine. Actually, I'm seriously considering replacing the bloodwood with maple. I'm still of the fence about that one. Maple will need a finish, which wasn't really planned.
    4: Excellent. :D

    (I like lists. ;) )
  4. lbridenstine

    lbridenstine

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    I really like how the bloodwood and wenge look together, but obviously, your choice!
  5. jmorbita

    jmorbita

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    nice! what a handy tool!
  6. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    Ok, so I have gotten a bit more work done on my knobs today. Unfortunately it have been a day filled with Stupid Mistakes™. :bag:

    I finally got the dividing head for my mill, so I figured I's give it a test run. I quickly learned my first lesson:
    [​IMG]

    The chuck need to be tightened properly... :oops:

    The knob came loose and got jammed in the chuck. Luckily the mill bit didn't break, but it did chew up the knob pretty damn quick. :eek: The good part is that this is the knob with the least nice grain, so it's not a huge loss since I made one spare knob. I also figured out that it's best to start at the center and mill outwards.

    Here is my setup:
    [​IMG]
    I'm just done milling the recess for the nuts. I did one knob first, then continued on the rest. I figured out later that my way of doing this was all wrong. What I should have done is to set up the scales to zero at the outer part of the nut recess, then mill all the knobs. After all that is milled I can set the mill to the correct diameter for the pot shafts and then mill all of them with the same setup.

    ..Which bring us to the second Stupid Mistake™:
    [​IMG]
    See that middle knob? The start of that center hole is too big. I had milled one hole and figured that it was ever so slightly too large, so I just moved the table a bit to make the hole smaller. Or so I though... Turns out I moved it the wrong way. :rollno:

    It's not critical though. Most of the hole is correct.

    All the knobs milled:
    [​IMG]
    You can see the mistake on the knob to the right.


    And then on to the last Stupid Mistake™:
    [​IMG]
    I overestimated the strength of wood and forgot to account for the recess under the knob.

    Drilling the holed went fine, but when cutting the treads for the set screw the thin wood cracked. It doesn't hold a screw at all now. :meh:

    So, I now have two options.

    1: Make new knobs. If I do I'll cut the entire knob on the mill instead of using the plug cutter. It turns out that the plug cutters doesn't cut completely straight. (I think my drill press is causing trouble again...)

    I could simply glue some wenge and bloodwood on wooden dowels and mill the entire thing in one go.

    2: Make brass inserts for the knobs I have. This was actually my original idea. I could make some 10mm brass slugs that I just glue in the knobs and then mill out the same pattern as I have already done. Brass does hold screws better than wood so it will be a more solid solution.

    As of now I'm leaning towards the second option. (Even though I may have to order some more brass round bars.)


    So, today's session haven't been very successful, but it have been educational. :smug:
  7. MrArose13

    MrArose13 Gold Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Owner/Luthier:RoseBud basses & Guitars LLC
    I want a mill. .:p.

    my $.02 go with the brass inserts.

    lookn good, I want to see more. :bag:
  8. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    Thanks :)

    Ask and thy shall receive! ;)


    First of all, a new shipment of wood arrived!
    [​IMG]
    Sorry about the bad picture... That's two 1/4" boards of bloodwood, a stack of bloodwood veneer, a stack of rosewood veneer (I couldn't find wenge veneer. Should be ok as only the edge of it will be visible) and an ebony fretboard blank.

    The ebony piece LMII sent me have to be the nicest piece of ebony I have ever seen. :) It's more or less completely black which will be perfect as I'm planning on doing some inlay with bloodwood.

    I also got some other bits and bobs. Among those were two CF rods. I now realize that the imperial measurement system confused me a bit. I ordered two 1/4" x 3/8" rods. They were much thicker than I had pictured. :oops: It doesn't matter much, though. The neck have enough space for them. The neck may be a tad stiff, but the truss rod is dual action anyway.



    Ok, let's continue on the story of knobs:

    I did go for the brass insert option. First I had to mill out the center of the knobs:
    [​IMG]

    Then cut some brass slugs.
    [​IMG]
    ...that are too long... :oops: It was getting late.

    Glued in place with some slow setting epoxy:
    [​IMG]
    The hole for the set screw was taped off to prevent any glue from seeping out. It wasn't necessary, but better safe than sorry.

    And milled out 6mm center holes:
    [​IMG]
    The observant of you may notice than this picture was actually taken later in the process. I forgot to take a picture just after the holes were milled.

    I also had some drift on Z-axis when milling one knob. Nothing that will be visible, though.


    I then screwed the knobs to a 6mm brass shaft and stuck it in the mill:
    [​IMG]
    First the knobs were rounded by taking of about 1mm around the circumference of the knob to make them perfectly centered and smooth. I then milled the round over on the top edge.

    Like this:
    [​IMG]
    After this the knobs were screwed to a shaft in my drill press where they got a final sanding before they got a coat of Tru-Oil followed by some grain filler and two more coats of Tru-Oil.

    They now look like this:
    [​IMG]
    I had to take a picture in a better lit place to try to bring out the nice color of the bloodwood.

    I didn't make the wenge completely smooth by filling the grain. The rest of the bass will get a light grain fill, but the structure in the wood will still be very much visible. That's the plan anyway. ;)


    Looking back at the process of making these knobs I realize that I have done everything backwards. If I were to do this again, this is how I would do it:

    1: Make some brass slugs and drill center holes that fit the pots. (no need to be super accurate here)
    2: make the knob blanks of square pieces of wood.
    3: drill holes in the blanks for the brass insert and glue the inserts in place.
    4: drill and tap hole for set screw
    5: stick the knob on a brass shaft and mill the outer circumference. (and do the round over)
    6: turn the knob upside-down and mill the bottom recess.
    7: sand and finish as before.

    This should simplify everything immensely. Live and learn, as they say. ;)


    I have also worked a bit on the new design for both the body shape and the mechanics, but are completely stuck at the moment. :meh: I'll probably be back for some help later. ;)
  9. Matt Liebenau

    Matt Liebenau

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    The mill you're using looks suspiciously like a Proxxon MF-something that's at one of the pawn shops here in town. Is that what you have and how do you like it. (not to derail the thread but I have been going back and forth on buying it)
  10. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    You'r right. It's an MF70.

    I like it very much. It does have its flaws, but works pretty well for what I'm using it for.

    Just be aware that these mills are famous for having a relatively big backlash (About 0.25mm). That can be a bit annoying at times, but there isn't much problem working around it when you get used to it.

    The play in the table itself is easily adjustable. Just don't make it too tight or you'll have problems moving the table. There is a fine balance here.

    Also, If you want to mill steel I would look elsewhere. It can handle brass nicely, but milling steel is pretty slow.

    If you get the mill for a good price I would say go for it, just make sure you know what you are buying. :)
  11. Matt Liebenau

    Matt Liebenau

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    Thanks.

    Can't wait to see what you do with the wood tuning key knobs.
  12. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom Supporting Member

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    I love watching a build in progress.

    Looking very good! Sub'd so I can follow your progress.
  13. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    Ok, so I need your help here.

    This is my current design:
    [​IMG]

    Something about the shape looks a bit off. I have been staring on the design for days and tweaked a bit here and there, but can't figure it out. It's as if something isn't balanced properly.

    One thing I don't like is that the fretboard binding and body laminate are so close to each other. They are sort of "melting together". I can't figure a better way if doing it at the moment, though. I suppose I could move the laminates out but I think that ruins the look of a continual neck beam. I may need to compromise here. :meh:

    The drawing is a bit rough at the moment, so use your imagination a bit... ;) I just needed something to illustrate.
    The design of the bridge isn't finished. I was hoping to have part of the tuning mechanism inside the body, but I just put a square there as a placeholder.

    The pickup is drawn with an oddly shaped wooden cover. I'm still undecided on what to do here.

    I will also add some inlay to the fretboard, but the final design isn't decided yet, so I have left it blank for now. (And yes, there will be frets ;) )


    This is my current plan for the laminates in case anybody is interested:
    [​IMG]



    Any input will be greatly appreciated. :)
  14. MrArose13

    MrArose13 Gold Supporting Member

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    IMO... the waist needs to come in a little more and moved back (toward the butt). Also I personally like the waist sections to be just a bit off center from one another, meaning the treble side to be back a little farther than the bass side by just a few mm.


    Not sure what your body wood is at the moment, but maybe if you flank the neck beam with some wenge, then body wood, then start with your bloodwood lay out that could give you some separation...

    Just my thoughts, looks like it's going to be cool. :bassist:
  15. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    Thanks! I'll try that. :)


    Well, my body wood and neck wood is wenge. All the brown in the drawings is wenge and the red is bloodwood.

    I do have some yellowheart, and purpleheart that I could use as a separation layer. I will have to find a way to cut thin slices from a 1,5x1,5" piece, though.

    I was planing on using as few types of wood as possible, but that seems to be more difficult than I imagined.

    Edit: i do have a piece of african blackwood. That will probably match the fretboard pretty good.

    Thanks for the input. :)
  16. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

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    To my eye, along with the waist point thing that was just mentioned, I'd say that your aspect ratio is wrong. It's too narrow for its length, or too long for its width. I don't know it I've ever seen an appealing design that didn't land close to what I'd guess is the 5:8 range.

    Also, apparent size, by the "feel," can be different from the actual numbers, depending on the shape and how the mass works. Just moving the waist alone might improve it in that respect.
  17. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

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    Interesting. :) I just measured the basses i have that I like the look of, and they are all pretty damn close to a 5:8 ratio. I guess I could simply draw a box with a 5:8 ratio and use that as a rough guide for the body shape. The body length is more or less given by the 12th fret position and the bridge position.

    I'm trying to get this bass to have a good balance. That's why the waist is moved forward. Then again, it's probably better to have neck dive since I can compensate with my arm when sitting down. When standing the waist position isn't very relevant.
  18. mrbell321

    mrbell321

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    Headless bridge with a headstock?
    Also, I like longer, narrower bodies.
  19. TheJoshinator

    TheJoshinator

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    Yeah, I don't mind the longer body, but what seems off to me is that the waists are lined up with the horns being slightly offset. Personally, I'd like to see the whole bass-side waist/horn assembly moved up toward the headstock a scosche, or maybe the lower horn/waist moved down to keep it at a 5:8 ratio. It looks like a great design otherwise, and you have NO idea how long I've been waiting to see a bloodwood/wenge bass!
  20. Bassgeer

    Bassgeer

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    Love the design do far, very interesting project. My 2 cents for what they are worth, on the design itself: I think that the horns could be spaced a bit more apart, as in, move each of them a bit further out from the sides of the neck, so the space between the neck and the horns is larger. That would make the horns section of the body a bit wider and might match the rear portion of the body better. Really excited to see where you take this!

    BTW, those knobs are amazing!

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