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First build - work in progress

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Frederiek, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    Hi everyone,

    I thought I'd share the progress of my first building project. I always love to follow projects of others and of course I'd be very interested in your opinions and advice. So here goes!

    Still half in the phase of drawing and planning, I started by redecorating my 'study room' and built a nice and sturdy workbench (rough and ready haha) from cheap wood and an old Ikea table top. I gathered most of the parts too, a beautiful Aero pickup and an Aguilar OBP1, Schaller bridge and Gotoh tuners. It will be a four string sincle cut neck through fretless, ebony fingerboard, mahogany body, maple and rosewood neck and a top of flamed walnut.




    Drawing and designing...





    Workbench upgrades...




    The first templates (some already destroyed again from my first routing efforts)




    Starting a nice pickup cover... I had a leftover cocobolo knife scale block ;)







    The top wood :)


    To be continued 8)


    ps. Forgot to say I really appreciate any kind of comments!
  2. Netjes! :thumbsup:
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 Walnut is fun! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Wow, very nice so far! I'm really excited to see this progress, keep up the good work.
  4. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Excellent - subbed! A very pretty J you have there - what is it? (another pic please!) Also, really nice to see someone else still hand draws with pencils on graph-paper. :thumbsup: I never even use the term "old school" because I derive such satisfaction using my hands to create a perfect curve/line - nothing old about that. :)
    Frederiek likes this.
  5. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    Thanks! The bass is a Squier Vintage '77, it is nice but not that nice haha ;)

    I totally agree - although I'm quite used to working with CAD/3D software, a design only comes to life when I sketch!

    What I did here (I thought it was a pretty smart idea :p ) was drawing all exact measurements like the scale, bridge/nut, imaginary fret lines and fingerboard on graph paper that I stuck to a piece of board first, and then place tracing paper over that to sketch all the less precise things like the body and headstock shape. Using multiple layers of the overlay is also pretty helpful in the process, and I could actually draw on the flip side of the paper to see how things would match (and erase things without destroying previous lines).
    wraub, SLivinghouse and JIO like this.
  6. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Queens, NY
    Looks nice! I'm sub's and looking forward to seeing your progress reports.
  7. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Nice job on the template, I found it really hard to keep smoothly flowing curves, even with a CAD drawing. Looks like you nailed it. I haven't loved singlecuts much in the past, but yours looks very graceful and well proportioned. I'm sure it took awhile to get there, but you got it, Sub'd. Good luck, looking forward to seeing this through.
  8. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    Thanks a lot! Indeed I took my time for the design, half a year has passed since I started planning. I soon found out that for every decision I made I needed to take ten other things into consideration, and I thought I'd save myself at least some frustration during the actual building as I expect there will be plenty anyways ;) My shopping list is getting shorter fast... Here is the hard rock maple for the neck, it will be a laminate with rosewood.


    Deciding on the glue (titebond vs epoxy) and whether or not to use veneer between the pieces. I was considering epoxy with a pigment but I'm scared of the pigment bleeding into the maple...
    Duder and Gilmourisgod like this.
  9. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    There have been a few threads where people had that bleeding problem with epoxy in maple, can't remember if there was any fix for it. I just use tightbond and have had no issues over the years. I think the rosewood stripes would look great.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  10. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I believe Gibson uses a Titebond product on their instruments. I recently saw exhaustive specs for a T-bird that listed what binder they used.
  11. Mooi!
  12. Crusher47

    Crusher47 Tattoo'ed Freak Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2014
    Fort Worth, TX
  13. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas :)

    Just before and right after I had some time to work on things. I started with the neck - I bought maple at length and somewhat flat and a board of walnut. I really hate wasting wood so instead of just cutting the board in half lengthwise I made two cuts. I now really want a bandsaw. Then I glued the whole thing up as well as I could... everything started to slip and slide after a short while so a little desparate (I got them undersized from what I ordered) I screwed everything together left and right. Should have done this in the first place with some proper bolts. I couldn't fully prevent misalignment, hoping for the best.


    Crappy clamps first, right up to the Mother of all Clamps (borrowed from my dad). Under those bricks in the back lies the fingerboard-to-be.




    Now tonight I took the clamps off, sawed off the ends and rasped/sanded things flush roughly. Did I mention I want a bandsaw? Well the length is good but as I was afraid of, the thickness is very near final measurements. Any hints on how to get top and back as flat as possible without having to remove a lot of material would be most welcome...

    Not bad for some good ol' manual labour right? :)

    Meanwhile I'm having a minor nervous breakdown from both my top sets warping like crazy, even though I took plenty of precautions (even with weight on top the maple bends like it's possessed).


    The weird thing: just one half of each set has issues, the other half stays flat. I wetted the concave side of the walnut and put it away under pressure, hoping for the best 2.0. I am considering trying to make the glue joint and hoping the result will be somewhat flat so I can at least plane, but I'm worried this stress will give troubles later on in the finished guitar. Not so much for the maple as it is only 5 mm thick and really light, but the walnut is thick and heavy and resilient.

    Well that was a lot of text for a tiny bit of progression :) It may not look like much but this is seriously keeping me awake at night (1.30 am). Any thoughts are (really) welcome!
  14. What is the final thickness you're going for on the neck blank? I'm curious to read what others have to say because I'm having similar issues running out of wiggle room on my neck...
  15. With the top, first the warp there is not that bad, but in order to glue it up to the other half you probably need to get at least some of that out. I have had some pretty good results by wrapping the board in a wet t-shirt then using a plumber's torch to heat it up, once you get it up to temp clamp it so it's a bit past flat and let it sit in the clamp for a few days/week. I had one that warped much worse than that one and I got it pretty close to flat using that method. I still had to run it through a planer once it was glued up, but I really didn't lose much thickness. I tried doing that with an iron recently on a 1/2" thick top and it didn't work as well - much thicker piece of wood and I didn't feel like the iron got the wood hot enough.
  16. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    If you can get the worst of the warp out, I'm wondering if just gluing concave side down will kill the rest, as you'll be adding a lot of water to that side in the glue. That plus clamping the bee-jesus out of it. Harbor Freight has some decent clamps for cheap if you have one local to you. Neck blank looks good.
  17. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    The final thickness as I have it in my drawing would be 45 mm, 42 for the body (but I forgive myself if it becomes somewhat thinner) and 3 mm more to compensate for the bridge. I chose to go for the non-angled option as I was worried the angle would look ugly since it is a single cut. To me an angled neck just seems to be a more elegant solution but if this works for my first I am happy. The blank as it is now, rough, is 46 mm so I have very little room left. I think I will straighten up one side (the fingerboard side) as much as I can and then saw, leaving the body end as it is - I'm going to cut off half of that length anyways as I'll be making a scarf joint for the headstock. What are the problems you are running into?

    That torch and t-shirt trick sounds mad. I like it :D

    Interesting thought about the water in the glue on the concave side... maybe it's a good thing even to have it slightly concave... If I can get it bookmatched nicely that is, and I'd also need to route out the space for the fingerboard before gluing.

    Thanks for the comments, to be continued :)
  18. Like you, I have some concerns about milling my neck blanks to final thickness for a neck-through build.
    Winter 2017 Build Off - First scratch build: walnut, maple and purpleheart sandwich
    Unlike your full-body-thickness neck, however, I'm planning on adding extra layers at the heel of 3/4" blanks. I'm currently gluing up laminates and it looks like I'll end up with a 2" thick sandwich, which I can hopefully rip up to end up with two straight and level 3/4" blanks (hand tools). Thanks to encouraging comments from fellow TBers, I think I'll be okay... :nailbiting::)

    Succes! :thumbsup:
  19. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    After roughly sanding the neck blank I worked on it with a hand plane. I got this one last week from my father, together with some other old tools that were his (grand)father's. It needed some restoring (although not as much as the small NEW Stanley plane I just bought, which wasn't anywhere near flat) but nothing beats old hand tools :) I used to make knives so fortunately I know what to do when things need sharpening. I'm thinking of making a new blade for this plane and the small Stanley plane out of O1.




    The first magical shavings ;)


    And then a lot more. I got it pretty flat but it does have some tearouts here and there... I hope I can work around them or eventually plane them out. I didn't want to plane any thinner because I'm working with a blank that is too close to final dimensions and I'm lacking proper planing skills too. I really really miss having a long jackplane or foreplane here, put that on my wishlist. I just use a piece of MDF and the wall as some kind of shooting board.



    Best buy so far was a proper straightedge - soon you'll find that nothing is ever really flat, so annoying.


    Sawing... Released some inner tension, not so much but the blank now curves up slightly (it looks terrible in the picture but fortunately that's mostly my workbench being really uneven - it's an IKEA table top after all). I leave it like this for now as I'm expecting the fingerboard and truss rod will counter what's left of the bow after shaping, and I will cut the top part off for the scarf joint anyways. I was going for a neck and headstock from one piece but I'm glad I opted for a scarf joint because I now have a really nice piece of 'waste', maybe it's even big enough for another bass neck or in the worst case as a backup for mishaps on this one.





    Next I started working on the fingerboard. Thick piece of ebony, thickness varying with 3 mm at places, with a warp and deep sawmarks. After 3 hours of blunting and resharpening all my tools I got fed up with it. One side was now flat but to get all sides perpendicular too would cost me days. I decided to bite the bullet (I have a healthy amount of respect for power tools) and finally use the jig I made for my router. It's as easy as it gets: a sled of aluminium that precisely fits the router and two rails on a board (again there is the problem of nothing ever being really flat, but I think I reached the limit of what's possible at home). Rather than clamping and deforming the construction I simply used carpet tape to hold everything in place. This worked so well that I was afraid of nasty surprises, but none so far! Now one side is perfect and the other is nearly good, I will fine sand/scrape by hand later and leave the top side of the fingerboard a bit rough in case I need to plane it again after gluing. It needs to be radiused anyways. It is now really close to final dimensions, about 8-9 mm where I'm going for a final 7 so I hope it is enough.





    Dust. Black dust. Everywhere.


    Next thing I will do is thickness the back of the neck in this jig and sawing the scarf joint. I chose to have the joint hidden under the headstock veneer. One thing I kind of regret is that there will be no volute! Then I'll see what I can make of the walnut top that has warped all over the place, since I need a piece for the headstock and I want to route the truss rod channel with the headstock and veneer glued in place.


    Any thoughts are most welcome! I'm having concerns about literally every little thing that needs to be decided on so both constructive and as mental support ;)
    JRA, Leiria, rwkeating and 1 other person like this.
  20. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Looks like you are making great progress, nice lumber you have there! I must admit my hand tool skills are a little shabby. I inherited a few old planes, nothing special or valuable, but I only re-tuned the small block plane. What do you use as a sharpening system? I've tried sandpaper on float glass, DMT diamond stones, water stones, etc with mixed results. Still learning to sharpen my new favorite tool, a Bahco cabinet scraper.
    In theory you don't need a volute with a scarf joint, but I like how they look sculpturally. What's your headstock angle?

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