5 piece neck thru, maple cocobolo and padauk, precision bass build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Asax, May 31, 2018.

  1. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    I always wanted to build a bass. I was able to score some nice cocobolo, maple, and padauk so the build is on.
    First job was to print out some templates, glue them to MDF, and cut them out while my wood pile acclimated to my shop
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
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  2. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    I started by cross cutting then ripping two 3/8 strips of paduk from this massive board

    the rough strips were jointed on a home made router fence jointer
    The rough blanks were then brought down to 1/4 with the stewmac safe t planer.
    I then cut the maple laminates. The two outer ones are 7/8. and the central one is 3/4.
    These are the laminates all layed out before planing to thickness.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2018
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  3. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    I decided to build a clamping jig before attempting such a large glue up. The three risers elevate the neck blank up, so that the clamps hit right in the middle


    Here is the jig in action:

    While the glue was drying I made another jig. This jig holds the rough neck while it is passed under the saf-t-planer. The upper and lower thumbscrews allow the piece to be tilted until the unevenly glued laminates are vertical.


    After the laminates were planed even and parallel the blank was still not perfectly square.
    I shimmed up the high side with strips of business cards taped to the bottom, reset the screws and ran the blank through a few more times. then flipped it over for a few more passes.
    I'll let the blank settle for a while before I cut the neck profile.
  4. I-Am-The-Slime


    Jan 8, 2010
    SW VA
    Shweet! :thumbsup: Show us the coco :D
  5. GMC


    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    When I started making basses some 20 years ago, Cocobolo was very common (although exotic) and freely available. These days, I've not seem much of it around and certainly not to the figuring that I once saw. I have 2 book matched body laminates left for a specific project. Once it's gone...it's gone.


    Dec 12, 2013
    I just cut up some cocobolo I've been saving for years. Ended up with 2 inch thick bookmatches. Here's half of one.
    I still have 1 2" x 9" x 37" piece that is a bit prettier. Forgive the packing tape
    GMC likes this.
  7. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    I resawed the cocobolo and started to lay out the outline of the wings alongside my new neck blank
    I'm thinking of an Alembic style hippie sandwich of
    cocobolo/maple+padauk veneers/maple core/padauk+maple veneer/cocobolo
    I did a similar layout on my first guitar build ever:

    While the neck settles in I'll bandsaw the padauk and maple veneers. I Just got the safe t planer so we will see how that goes...
  8. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    The body wings will be cocobolo over maple with thin padauk and maple veneers between them.
    I started by flattening the rough padauk board with the safe t planer, then jointed an edge at the router table. A resaw fence on the bandsaw guided a 0.20" slice. The rough edge of the big board was re flattened on the drill press planer before each new veneer was cut off. Each veneer was then brought down to almost 1/8" with the planer. The feshly cut veneers must be kept stacked with stickers between them, and a weight on top. I once had an entire stack cup and twist beyond repair because they sat on my bench overnight.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
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  9. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    The maple veneers cupped as soon as they came off of the bandsaw. They didn't do so well with the safe t planer. I left them oversized in a stack with a weight on top and stickers in between. I'll probably double stick tape them to a piece of plywood and then plane them down to 1/8 after they sit for a few days.
  10. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    Bringing the maple veneer to final thickness:
    I put a layer of blue masking tape onto a flat piece of plywood and a layer on the the cupped veneers.
    I then put a bead of super glue on the tape to fix the veneer to the plywood.
    I learned this trick from crimson guitars on youtube. Great trick, the masking tape cleans up much better than double sided tape, and is way cheaper.

    I then used the safety planer to bring the maple to about 0.10" tearout and roughness from the planer was then sanded out using a piece of adhesive sandpaper stuck onto a 3"x36" piece of marble that that a local shop donated to me from their scrap pile. The veneer was separated from the plywood by sliding a big metal putty knife between the tape and plywood. I'll keep the veneers stacked with stickers and a weight on top until I have time to glue up the wings.

    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
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  11. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    All the work so far had blunted my safe t planer cutters. I rotated them around to use the second edge. I may try to resharpen them before shelling out another $30 + shipping for a new set of cutters.
  12. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    This is going to be special, I can tell already.
  13. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Very nice work you do. How are you liking the saf t planer? I've never used one, but have always been interested in trying one out. Also, I really like your router jointer, I've never thought of using a router table for jointing. I've got two of them in my shop, and just the other day I was wishing I had a jointer. :thumbsdown:
  14. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    The safe t planer works really well. I used to use a router sled for thickness planing, the safetplaner is much quicker to set up and use. I just wish that the cutters were carbide so thay would last longer. The jointer fencce for the router table consists of a solid fence made ofe mdf with two sliding half fences bolted on to it. The left fence is offset by plastic shims sold by rockler. The fence assembly is set so that the left fence aligns with the edge of the 2 inch router bit. The board being jointed rides on the right fence into the cutter and lands on the
    I am really liking the safety planer. I just disassembled it and scrubbed off the resinous buildup with soap and a green sponge, then touched up the edges with a tapered 4000 grit slipstone. I then used it to plane down the maple cores from 1 inch to 5/8ths. Got a gluable surface.
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  15. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    Gluing up the wings:
    This is a preview of the wings, I would prefer thicker pieces of cocobolo, but it was hard to find the two pieces I got.

    I did the gluing in stages, first a piece of padauk onto both sides of the maple, then after drying and cleaning it up, another glue up with the maple veneer over the padauk. I'll hold off the cocobolo until the very end.

    I would have used more clamps if I had them!

    I did the trimming freehand with an oscillating spindle sander. Its not worth risking router tearout even though i have templates and bearing bits. Here is is one core minus the outer layers of cocobolo:

    I'll glue on the cocobolo after cutting a control cavity cover from the bottom skin, and planning for weight relief holes and contour cuts.
  16. NKBassman

    NKBassman Lvl 10 Nerd Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2009
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada
    Following for exotic P bass goodness
  17. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    After getting the first three layers of the wings glued up I decided to joint the straight part that meets the neck. This surface will help align the remaining layers during subsequent glue ups. I used double stick tape, a straight edge, and a bearing bit on the router table.[​IMG]

    I then flattened the cores and the cocobolo for a good glue line. I used adhesive 80 grit sandpaper from a roll stuck to a ceramic tile sample from the home depot.
    Put on some netflix and sanded until all of the pencil lines disappeared. I would really like a drum sander, but this is just a hobby, not my day job. (dentist by day)
  18. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    I finally rough cut and flattened the cocobolo. Clamped it all together to look for gaps along the way.

    I'm now stuck at an impass. I want to rout some weight relief in the upper wing but need to plan for arm rest and belly contours first so I don't sand into any holes. I also need to route a control cavity in the lower and cut an access cover out of the the bottom skin of the lower wing. First I need to plan the electronics though. I'm thinking PJ pickups 2 vol 2 tone and a threeway selector with side mounted jack. I welcome all suggestions.

    this is the access cavity on my first guitar build:
  19. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    If you made a volute for the guitar neck, can I see it?

    That's a nice Jerry axe :thumbsup:

    edit: Who is kidding who? I'm up for several gratuitous pics of the guitar
  20. Asax


    Apr 26, 2018
    I built a slight volute here are the drawings and some build pics.

    I can't take a good side shot anymore since I gave it to my brother inlaw who is a huge Jerry fan.
    View attachment 3050819
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