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3 wood challenge: Experimental

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Roaddog77, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011
    Well I'm not even finished with my Tele build and I just had to start the 3 wood challenge.

    -4 string
    -34" scale
    -Unlined Fretless
    -"Ironwood", Jatoba, Northern Ash
    -Clear oiled finish
    -Split pickup with tone and volume knob


    Ash for the body, Ironwood for the neck and Brazilian Cherry for the fretboard. That is regular Ash, Norther White, baseball bat Ash whatever you want to call it the stuff is heavy. The Ironwood is heavy. The Brazilian Cherry is heavy. I'm noticing a theme here. Hopefully I can get the wight down somehow. It's an experimental bass with experimental woods so I guess it's an experiment.


    The ironwood. It's splintery, heavy, dense and hard to work with. Should be perfect to shape into a neck :) It isn't Ipe. It's marketed as Ironwood in Washington state and it's heavy and hard to drill but it floats in water. Not very buoyant but it floats.


    All cut up and ready for laminating. I'm not putting any stripes into this due to the limitation of woods.


    All glued up.



    Brazilian Cherry, also known as Jatoba, is used for hardwood floors. Here I cut a fretboard blank from a piece of wood I salvaged off a jobsite in 2006.

    So I have no idea what I'm going to do with the body shape at the moment. I'm thinking I want to put a big horn on it due to the weight of the neck. I don't want it sliding down. Other than that I'm thinking something wild looking. Any suggestions, or inspiration is welcome.

    I already own two fretted basses and since I have a bass neck I did a fretless conversion on a while back I plan on making this an unlined fretless. No sidemarkers or anything.

    I'm hoping I can get this done by October 1st. If anything all the carpentry will be done but hardware might be waiting on funds. Even if I'm late it's still a cool project to be late on. I've attempted a guitar neck once before and failed. Luckily I have plenty of scrap Ironwood to play with. I can't wait to start shaping the neck.
  2. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011
    Hmm pictures aren't showing up. I read the FAQ. Hmmm....What a noob

    EDIT: I fixed it! I guess flickr doesn't work?
  3. Pictures working now!! good luck with this! subscribing!
  4. Subbed, this should be interesting. I've always held the belief that varieties of ironwood would make excellent necks, and thus have always wanted a neck made out of Lignum Vitae. Do you know what species your ironwood is, Roaddog?

  5. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I couldnt imagine how hard it would be to shape a lignum vitae neck. That stuff is rock hard, and its oily so glueing it could be a problem as well as cloging sand paper.
  6. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011
    Well I'm not sure about the species of ironwood. It looks a lot like Ipe. I read an article online that said that it's density can vary quite a bit. Perhaps I do have Ipe.

    Whatever it is it sure dulls blades pretty quickly. It's for a deck for a house on the Puget Sound a little ways north of Seattle. We're gluing and nailing it down with 15 gauge stainless brads to avoid having to predrill it because it's so hard. It's the first time I have worked with it and it's a pain but it looks great. Being so dense and stiff I figure it would make a great neck.
  7. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011
    Well I cut my neck piece down a bit. I measured it and compared it to a piece of eastern maple 1x6. I did some calculations:

    "Ironwood" laminated block

    38.5" x 3" x 1.825" = 210.79 in cubed, weight: 7.1 lbs

    29.69 cubic inches of wood per pound​

    Eastern Maple 1x6

    .75" x 5.825" x 61" = 266.49 in cubed weight: 8.2 lbs

    32.5 cubic inches of wood per pound​

    So unless my calculations are wrong my Ironwood is just slightly heavier than maple. Maybe 10%. This isn't the most scientific examination here in my garage but a rough experiment with random pieces of wood I've picked up.

    I'm still laying the ironwood down at the job site and there is a lot of variation in density from board to board. I'm not sure exactly what it is. My boss said the homeowner bought it and it's different from what he usually gets as Ironwood. It is really pretty, dense and stiff. It leaves a lot of splinters in your hands when it's rough and smells bad when cutting it. It's absolutely gorgeous once it's down though.

    I'm not sure exactly what species of wood I have but it should work and will only be slightly heavier than a maple neck. I'm looking forward to working on it more tomorrow. I'm going to attempt to do my best to cut it down and face it with a table saw. I don't know anyone with a jointer and the local cabinet shop didn't want to do it. I can't blame them really. It's dulling out our chop saw blades faster than any other wood I've worked with in 10 years as a carpenter :)
  8. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011

    Well I tried and tried and tried but I just couldn't get a square corner on the lamination I glued up. The table saw blade would wander. Barely but enough that I want to wait and find a way to make it better before using it so I decided to use another piece the flat way. The grain direction is comparable to several necks I've seen including one I have from Warmoth. It has a very slight crown in the middle that I put up to use for the face that I'll glue the fretboard on.

    Tomorrow I'm ordering a Spoke Nut Hot Rod truss rod and a router bit to cut the slot for it from Stew Mac and then I can attach the fretboard and start shaping and sanding. :hyper:
  9. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011
    I ordered my truss rod, router bit and some tuners for the bass. I'm waiting and I've been playing with some body shape ideas on paper but haven't been eating enough sawdust so I finished off a fretless conversion I started a while back


    This was a Squire neck I pulled off a bass. It was so warped it made the bass difficult to play. It was horrible. I figured it was garbage with the frets on it and the worst I could do is mess up a bad neck so I ripped the frets out, cut some maple and sanded it down to the thickness of the fret slots, glued it in place and sanded it down with a 14" radius sanding block from Stewmac.

    It's dead straight now. No wows, bumps or anything in it. I sanded the nut down and I'm going to file the strings pretty low.

    This neck doesn't have anything to do with the 3 wood challenge but I think I'll make two bodies during this challenge. One for the challenge and one just for this neck and then I'll have TWO fretless basses :bassist:

    If only I can learn to play them
  10. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011
    Well I think my project is going to be late. I've had some financial issues come up and won't be able to get the hardware I need. My neck hardware from Stew Mac was cancelled. I did work on the body. I just drew a basic outline of a jazz body and modified it a little. I cut it out with a jigsaw and then routed and sanded the shape freehand.


    I used my fretless neck for the pocket and routed it out. I used a 1/4" straight bit because I bent my 3/8" pattern bit. It worked pretty good except in the corners where it left little gaps.

    I'm hoping to get some more done tomorrow and Tuesday on the body. The body is thicker than normal. It's about 1.8" thick. I already have the bridge marked out where it goes. I'm going to round over the edges and do the body contours. I'm not sure exactly where and what type of pickup I'm going to use. I was thinking a split P style pickup but a friend has some different pickups I might grab from him.

    I'm thinking a cherry stain or dye treatment.
  11. Roaddog77


    Nov 11, 2011
    So sad. I haven't made any progress on this. My last job turned into a less than half time job. Luckily I found a great full time job that I started in the last week. No more construction for me. After over 200 job submissions I've finally broken into the IT world. I'm going to miss the deadline on this project but it's going to get back on track as soon as I get a couple checks under my belt.

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