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2 1/2 finished basses, and no workshop or tools. now what?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jordan_frerichs, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    i don't feel like going into details at the moment, but i am no longer in woodshop class at the highschool. i have 2 half finished basses (link to them in my sig.). one of them is a customer bass, so that makes it even more important that i find a way to keep working and finish them, instead of storing the projects away until i have the good tools. luckily the customer's bass has most of the major steps done, and is less complicated then mine, which is easier on me, since his is my top priority on this issue, so i would like to focus on work on that then move onto my own project. for tools i only have a router, a handheld belt sander, and some hand tools.
    Here are some things that still need to be done to his bass: transition block for the glue neck, route the body for the neck, glue the neck, chamber the body, make and glue the melted top+accents, shape the neck, contour the body by hand, carve the open-style headstock, router for music man pup (was going to have a wood cover, but that may be out of reach), drill for the bridge, and all the other little things.
    i am going to use thin walnut accents between the top and the body. i need a band saw to clean cut the melted top templates. i plan to buy a sander belt/disc because i highly enjoy carving and contouring, but spending hours on small parts is sometimes a pain, when i can do just a good on a sander. i think the tran. block will be easy enough, and the glue neck should be doable, same for the chambering. the making the top may prove difficult though. i think i might be able to use a friends drill press for the bridge.
    my bass may be more difficult. need to drill for the tuners, glue the fingerboard and fingerboard accent, taper the neck , lower the body center (its a neck through), chamber and top the body center and add a back as well, carve and glue on the wings, route for pups, drill for bridge and controls, slot the nut and bridge and finalizing work
    luckily it is not as bad off as it could be. just need to try and work around the speed bumps. to keep from going crazy, i am also trying to make an orcarina in my clay sculpting class. lol
  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    No workshop, no tools, so you reach out to your bass building community for support and then there are no responses!

    Look on the bright side here Jordan, now you have a perfectly good excuse to buy some tools. :D

    A few thoughts, are you in an apartment? Living with parents? If you have a little space available, you can probably set up shop somewhere. Otherwise, you might have to do some work in the great outdoors until a space becomes available. As far as getting tools goes, you should be able to rent some - have a home depot nearby? You could get everything absolutely ready to go, and then go rent the tools just when you need them in order to save some dough.

    I feel for you though, if you were my son, I'd absolutely let you set up shop in your room as long as you vacuumed everything up. I love my boy, but he's not nearly as ambitious as you seem to be - do your parents know how driven and competent you are? Maybe we all need to reply to this thread with our appreciation for your efforts, interest and dedication so that you could point them to and let them read! :D

    Take heart man, it will all work out in the end...
  3. Hi Jordan

    From looking at your build threads I think you should certainly keep it up.

    I started building guitars when I was in high school as well. My school had no woodshop. We had riots, drugs, and police stationed in the halls...but no woodshop.

    First tools I got were of course a router and a BAND SAW. I see you mentioned that. I think band saws are among the most versatile of tools. I set up mine so that it could use narrow sanding belts as well as blades.

    I also depended on hand planes and spokeshaves. you can actually get more accurate work with them than with large stationary power tools like jointers and planers. I still use them, even though I own a commercial shop now.

    Oh, and clamps! Lots of 'em. Some I made myself.

    I did luck out by talking my dad into buying a metal lathe with a milling attachment. I could make all sorts of fixtures, metal bridges, pickups, etc. Wouldn't need that now though. You see, back then such things were not available... at least to me. I had to make them.

    I just built a bench with construction scrap and worked outside. (I wasn't in nebraska though)

    The good bit for you is how inexpensive tools are these days. Long ago any kind of tool was super expensive...I could hardly afford them with my part time job money.

    So start shopping for a small bandsaw!!

  4. Hi Jordan, your designs are way more intricate than anything Ive tried, from my limited experience you might get by with the router for a lot of these operations. Maybe buy yourself a cordless drill, and a few gouges and a good rasp for carving.

    Working without a workspace will be a pain tho - Im also in the great outdoors, and its just really annoying dragging all the tools out then having to put them all away again. It is doable, if you and your customer dont mind taking your time, but it would be way easier if you could find a corner to set up permanently. Find / build a good bench that doesnt squeek when carving a neck.

    Good luck!
  5. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    we have a garage/workshop, but i need to clean it up. its filled with all our old couches. i have a few gouges, chisels, and rasps, and love them! i spent five hours last sunday carving a special arm contour (the ones that cup inward, instead of just slope back) using a flush cut saw, gouges, and chisels, and a radio. I took a few pics, and will make a tutorial on it.
  6. One option, if there is a wood shop, cabinet maker, etc. in your area, go to the owner and tell him your situation and offer to work around his shop cleaning up in trade for the use of the shop after hours. You can also learn from the experience there.
  7. Hey, then youre good to go! :D

    Good stuff! I should be starting the body carving in the next few weeks so I'd welcome any insight.
  8. These things are great to hold necks, etc for carving with a spokeshave. Easy to make. It's called a shaving horse. The more carving resistance you get the tighter it holds. And the spokeshave has the advantage over a rasp in that being a plane-like tool, it wants to make straight or smoothly curved cuts. No lumps and bumps.

    I made this one from white oak. I use it outside on a nice day!


  9. JayM


    Apr 4, 2007
    Virginia, USA
    Check nearby community centers, community colleges, etc. Many of those institutions have a wood shop that you can use for a nominal fee. There's a community center 5 minutes from my house with a full wood shop. It costs about $5 dollars to use it all day and you don't have to clean up! Also search online for local woodworking or carving / craft clubs. Going to a meeting or 2 could hook you up with an army of folks with tools to lend. Check ads and cards posted on the bulletin board at your local craft / art store - there may be ads there for woodworking clubs. A custom furniture or commercial wood shop is also a possbility, as Rocky suggested. Some of these guys might be interested enough in musical instruments to let you use their shop just to see what you're doing.
  10. That is beautiful! Need *relicing* though. :D
  11. Well, I do everything with a jigsaw, router and hand tools. So I think it's definitely possible! I thinks a little longer and you have to make the right jigs for the job, but since your builds are half done, I think it wouldn't be much of a problem.

    You've got some bad luck lately, don't you? With the workshop accidents and all that..
  12. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
  13. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    thanx for the college idea! thought i would try the local downtown shops. i might be considered a liability because i am only 16 though.
  14. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    okay, you have offically caught my interest. exactly how does that thing work?
  15. Hey man, hope you get this worked out. Your build threads look pretty sweet. I'd love to see the finished product. I'm hoping to start a build this summer, but finding a shop for it might present a problem to me as well.
  16. Bleh! I was out mixing up a batch of sea foam green nitro.

    The best way to describe the shavehorse is with some links.

    Mine are a little fancy, because I use them at shows. Draws a crowd! Others are made from scrap 2x4s or even logs.




    The shavehorse holds the work as you can see in the photos.

    The drawknife is a double handled blade that takes off a lot of wood roughly.

    The spokeshave is a double handled short plane that has much more control and makes smooth curves and straight lines.

    Amazingly these things are as fast or faster than most power tools. With a lot more control. Martin guitar used them to shape necks till the mid 90's when they went cnc. I also have large cnc machines, but would rather be sitting on the shavehorse than writing code! I last used mine to carve contours on a p bass type body.

    Here's one neat thing...using a temporary fingerboard you can carve a neck shape that your customer likes and can try out as you're making it! It's that fast. Of course there is some fine sanding later, but the tendency of the spokeshave to make smooth non-lumpy slices allows you to get a basic neck contour in minutes.

    And... it's great if someone asks you to make a bunch of sharp pointy stick things...

  17. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    I hear ya on losing shop access in the middle of a customer build - it happened to me when we sold our house early last year. it's only been the past month that I've had access to a private garage again

    I took the time off to refine my designs and get a couple of them replicated into CAD. for one design series I've even gone so far as to have the body design programmed into gcode (CNC) for when the day comes that I again open the bass building doors (it's getting really close now :hyper:)

    don't fret it ... shop space will come along again when the timing is right

    all the best,

  18. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
    I gotta know, what did you do to make the shop teacher mad?
  19. jordan_frerichs


    Jan 20, 2008
    a long time ago, like 5 years, he coached baseball, and he was one of those coaches that only did it to make sure his son got all the good spots. i, not being good at baseball, was always the benchwarmer, and he had a yelling/swearing problem that parents kept getting angry about, and on the final game he finally got kicked off the field. since he gave me so much crap, at the end of the game, i told him he deserved it, and got what was coming, not knowing he would be a teacher of mine. something tells me he holds a grudge:scowl:.

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