# Aaron Noguer's fingerboard carving essay

Discussion in 'Electric Upright Basses (EUB's) [DB]' started by Mudfuzz, Jun 2, 2005.

1. ### Mudfuzz

Apr 3, 2004
OlyWA...
As requested here is how I layout and carve a fingerboard.
I originally wrote this for someone that was atempting to use a stationary belt sander with a radiusing jig for guitar fret boards and not having a good time about it. So here it is.

If anyone finds any holes in this: pick away. : )

Use Hand Planes! And having a book on double bass and/or violin building would be very helpful.

The process for a compound or continuous fingerboard radius is the same. I was able to make a finger board [FB] easily because it is the same process as building a mast or boom for a sailboat, which I had done in school. I used a continuous radius on my bass.

80 mm is too wide, youll never be able to bow the thing. Standard radiuses range from 66 mm - 72 mm.

Layout is the most important aspect of building anything. Work everything out before hand, then cut. The fingerboard is one of the most, if not the most critical part of an instrument. Take your time and keep it straight until you have to dress the board. You should go over every step before you start.

The centerline is the most important thing there is, everything should line up with the centerline.

Templates:

You have to look at a FB as part of a cone [or a cylinder if you use a continuous radius]; you have two circles - one at each end - and you connect them. For a compound radius you have to know what the radius is at the Nut AND at the End of the FB . To lay out the radiuses so you can transfer them to the ends of the FB, you make templates.

To make a template:

1. Start with a square; use the diameter of the circle as the width of the square.
2. Draw two lines dividing the square into four equal squares.
3. Draw your circle [with a compass] in the middle of the square.
4. Decide how thick you want your FB, then measure down from the top of the square, and draw a line horizontally across.
5. Cut out the circle
6. Cut across using the line measuring the thickness of your FB. Then trim the sides of the template to the final width.
7. Do this for each end.

FB prep:

1. Plane FB to your desired thickness and length. MAKE SURE IT IS STRAIGHT, and make sure the ends are square.
2. Draw a centerline, on both sides.
4. Place a template on the end of the FB, line up the centerline on the template with the
centerline on the FB; trace the template onto the end of the FB.
5. Do the same on the other end.

Layout: You will need a bevel gage and a straightedge for this.

Bevel 1 & 2:
1. Set the bevel gage to 22.5 degrees.
2. Take your bevel gage and place it on top of the FB at the nut end with the arm of the bevel gage against the end of the fingerboard.
3. Line the bevel gage arm against the outline of the template. It should be covering the majority of the wood outside of your outline.
4. Draw a line against the bevel arm.
5. Flip the bevel gage around and repeat this step drawing the line on the other side.

Bevel 3 & 4:
1. Set you bevel gage arm at 11.25 degrees.
2. Take your bevel gage and place it on top of the FB at the nut end of the FB with the arm of the bevel gage against the end of the board.
3. Line the bevel gage arm against the outline of the template. It should be covering up the left over free space near the top of the of your outline.
4. Draw a line against the bevel arm.
5. Flip the Bevel gage around, and do this on the other side of the same end.

Bevel 5 & 6:
1. Set the bevel gage arm at 33.75 degrees.
2. Take your bevel gage and place it on top of the FB at the nut end with the arm of the bevel gage against the end of the board.
3. Line the bevel gage arm against the outline of the template. It should be covering the wood at the edge of your outline.
4. Draw a line against the bevel arm.
5. Flip the bevel gage around and repeat this step drawing the line on the other side.

Repeat all these steps on the other FB end.

Carving:

Now take a 36-48 straightedge and connect the points of the bevel lines (1 & 2) from end to end, on the top and on the side of your FB.

Now plane down [checking occasionally with a straightedge, both along the length and width of the bevel] until you almost reach the lines. Do this on both sides.

Next do the same thing with bevels 3 & 4 and with bevels 5 & 6.

Then plane down the remaining wood outside your outlines, taking small shavings until your FB is completely rounded and straight.

And finally clean up with a scraper or sand smooth using a long block with finer and finer grits of paper.

I hope this helps HUMBUCK2
Cheers, Aaron N

2. ### bassteban

Aug 12, 2004
Northern California
The start of a very good book, perhaps?

3. ### 59jazzInfinite Rider on the Big DogmaSupporting Member

Wow! that is one fine piece of info Aaron! Thank you so much...I have been building 34" scale fretless boards for some time now, either flat or 16" radius; I always wondered how an upright board was cut. Thanks again.
Steve Thompson / H2

4. ### Ambitionist

Jan 11, 2017
Is there any way you could also go over how to make the neck for an EUB as well?
Thanks, awesome stuff.

5. ### mikeGJSupporting Member

Jun 7, 2007
Grand Junction, CO