Are all of these necessary

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by full_bleed, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. full_bleed


    May 27, 2005
    Here's the deal guys. I've been reading everything I can and absorbing all the info I can retain on building a bass. When I read the books they talk about many tools that are rather pricey, especially if you have to buy them all at once. My first bass that I would like to build is going to by a neck-thru, 4 string, Fender aerodyne like clone. So it'll have binding around the edges but it will also have a pickguard. Now my question is with this type of build what tools can I get away with not buying and just making a something to simulate another tool? I currently only have a jigsaw, cordless drill, table saw and a small trimmers circular saw. I was planning on purchasing a router also but other than this I would really like to limit my tool buying expenses if the job can still be done the right way with the ones I already have (or will soon have).
  2. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    I would say a drill press and a router at a minimum. IMO you don't have sufficient control with a cordless drill for much of the drilling done on an instrument.

    Are there any people or places that you know of where you can go to use some of the tools you don't have?
  3. full_bleed


    May 27, 2005
    my old boss, who is kind of like my second dad, has quite a number of tools. I know he's got a lathe and bench grinder but beyond that I'm not sure what all he's got.
  4. a planer and/or thickness sander would also be a great help

    +1 on the drill press
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    A thickness planer/sander is a great help. You can alternatively order the wood from someone like Larry at Gallery Hardwoods who will mill the wood to exactly to your specs (thinkness and width wise).
  6. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I've built a great instrument with approx the power tools you mention, bleed. But for certain jobs, I had to go elsewhere. For joining and thicknessing, for example, I vivited a local joinery who helped me for a total of SEK40 ($6). Some work was done on the drill press and band saw at the neigbourhood school. But most was done in the hallway of our department, with hand tools, jig saw, cordless drill and....

    a small router, 1kW, without which I would still be working on that piece!
  7. Phil Mailloux

    Phil Mailloux

    Mar 25, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Builder: Mailloux Basses
    Most important is the router. I built two basses using only that, a 30-40 year old one-speed B&D drill, a jigsaw and for the second bass I upgraded to a cheap random-orbit sander to help out my poor arm muscles. The wood, I bought already planed and joined. The bigger cuts were done by a cabinet maker I paid $10 to do with his bandsaw.
    On the second bass I did all my cuts with a $25 jigsaw and routed the rest.
    Most shaping I did with rasps and files and router jigs.
    From what you mentioned, you've got most tools already.
  8. I built my first 2 basses with handplanes, router w/table, jigsaw and a circular saw. Plus a couple of chisels and handsaws. I had no access to Gallery Hardwoods back then, so I had to mill my own stock from big boards and I had no access at all to any of the big tools, so it was all done the old fashioned way. It's possible, but it's very time and energy consuming. A drill press is probably the best investment next to a router, and you can get a decent one for around $100.
  9. When I was planning my third instrument - a walnut/ash chambered Jazz - we were in the middle of the first "Buy-A-Wish" project with me at the center. After experiencing the "unique" results Wish got, I began thinking about my own abilities and tool set. I thought that I could build something much better and use the same or fewer tools than Wish had. As it turned out, I was dead right and that pattern continues to this day. That bass was built with a drill press, a router, a hand drill, a couple of sanders, and a cordless drill. The build came out pretty good but pointed out the need for some more tools and that was the catalyst for the thickness planer and a plunge router but they weren't totally necessary to the project.
  10. full_bleed


    May 27, 2005
    OK I now have a second question to add to this thread. I don't have much time spent with a router so I'm not familiar with which bits are crap and which are quality. What are some recomendations on good router bits?
  11. CMT, Freud and Amana are the best bits I've used. In that order.
  12. T-34

    T-34 Wanna go headless? Supporting Member

    Same as Wilser, but I prefer Amana bits to Freud a little bit.
  13. A lot of people have emphasized the importance of a drill press, but I really don't see its use besides maybe bolting on the neck? drilling in pups? I assume you guys know something that I don't :meh:
  14. Regardless of brand, I prefer to use solid carbide or carbide tipped bits for routing. These bits are sharper, stay sharper, and cut cleaner and cooler for a longer time than high speed steel (HSS). You will pay more for these in any product line but they are worth it. Both HSS and carbide can be resharpened but both will lose diameter with sharpening. With some bits, this doesn't matter but with others, losing diameter screws up their function. You'll have to decide.

    I like Onsrud, White, Freud, and DeWalt. The Freuds and DeWalts are available from Home Depot now.
  15. A drill press is one of the multi purpose machines when you use a little imagination. For instance:

    - Chuck up a sanding drum for sanding the edges of the body
    - Chuck up a fret caul for pressing in frets
    - Chuck up a hex wrench for installing threaded inserts in the neck
    - Chuck up a buffing pad and you can buff your paint finish
    - Use it to run forstner bits for removing large amounts of wood so you don't have to do it all with a router
    - Use it with a forstner bit for tuner holes.
    - Chuck up a 1/4" shaft and you can lathe turn wooden or aluminum knobs

    I'm sure there are a few more uses - maybe even some more that I've done myself and forgotten :rolleyes: :D
  16. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Like Hambone has already said, a drill press has a million and one uses. That's one of the things that I wouldn't want to get by without.

    Nateo used a drill press to finish routing out the pickup shells on one of my basses. The router had already blown one of the sides off once, so he just put a 1/4" spiral bit into the drill press and finished it off that way. The lower speed worked nicely and it all came out well.
  17. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    +1 to all that Hambone shared

    This past weekend I utilized my ShopSmith in its drill press position to route the channels for a truss rod and carbon firber bars in a neck I'm prototyping. Super easy to get things spot on due when utilizing a fence - something that would be a little difficult with a regular drill press.


    If you're adventurous and want to try something new, there's always these attachments for your drill press: shaper

    All the best,


  18. Hey Rod, what rpm were you turning for that process?
  19. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    I'm turning +/- 5000 rpm ... quite a bit slow compared to a router @ 10K+, but if I take an extra pass or two (vs using a router) to clear the .225" x 7/16" deep truss rod and .125" x .375" deep carbon fiber bar channels it leaves me with a decently clean cut. The trick is not to cut it too quickly.

    If I had a real workbench to set everything up for these channel routes I might not be using this method. Still, it works quite well given what I have available. What I'd really like to have is a simple milling machine where I could finely adjust to the exact depth and hand turn the progress along the x-axis ... dreaming, I know ...

    I'll shoot a couple close-up images on the next neck if you want to see how clean the channel is.

    All the best,


  20. So why not "make" one? :eyebrow:

    What I'm thinking of is a stationary router or one of the newer trim routers with a nice elevator mechanism. You'd probably have a great afternoon checking them all out. Anyway, a stationary router mounted over some sort of sliding channel as wide as the neck blank. The X-axis drive feed (or pull) could be a hand cranked gum rubber roller held to the top of the blank with screw type adjustment mechanism. Set the depth, plunge the bit, then crank the roller until the cut is at the right length. If you want to put it on a carriage just use a set of small sealed bearings in 1/4" aluminum track as the rollers.

    I got a million of 'em...wait till you see the "scarf machine" I'm making now!


    It would be very easy to accomplish all you want to do by turning the router upside down in a router table with one of those very nice elevator inserts. All adjustments from the top and no need for cranking - just manual feed.