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Got me a router, time to start some a 'test' build!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by kuso, May 1, 2010.

  1. kuso


    Feb 25, 2010
    Plymouth, MA
    ..aaaand I've realized I suck at this. So much that I didn't take pictures of my failure. Sigh.

    Anyways. It's the first time I've tried to make a neck, and it came out bad. Both of them. Here's my process, any suggestions would be helpful!

    I started with a piece of maple. 4.5" wide, 1" thick and 6' long. I cut it in half so I could have two tries at this.

    I used an existing 5-string neck I have for a 'template' and made some drawings on the wood based on it's dimensions. I left plenty of room for the headstock, planning on doing a straight (non-angled) head for my first try. I bandsawed the rough shape of the neck, that went alright. My bandsaw isn't amazing. Benchtop 10" delta, underpowered and old. The blade likes to bend on it no matter the adjustments I make, so it was hard to get a 'straight' line. That was my demise. I can't figure out a good way to make the edges of the neck straight. The tools I have: Bandsaw, Router 1.5 HP (and table), Skill saw, hand drills, random orbital, small hand planer and misc. hand tools (screwdrivers, etc). Not the most amazing 'shop', but it's what I got!

    Anyways. I tried sanding the edges, however they proved to be waaay too uneven to sand in any sort of timely fashion. I attempted a straight bit with the router, which worked the best, however I find it hard to control and the bit ate into the wood a little too far in places. Using the fence on the router table was disastrous. I didn't think it through very well, and the bit took a sharp turn into the wood and split it down the length. That was the end of that.

    Would taking the time to create a template and use a bearing-guided router bit work best? What methods do you use?

    Thanks for dealing with my newbishness!
  2. stevetx19


    Sep 28, 2006
    Denton, Texas

    If you just need a straight line, any straight-edge that is of suitable dimension to fit your router bearing will do. use double sided tape to place the pieces where you want and have at it, slowly taking the depth down in several passes.
  3. would clamping a couple of framing squares,or similar items to the surface as a guide work.....even if you have to do it in stages to move the guide......try it on a piece of scrap first and if you get a good result,or even use the scrap to build a template
  4. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Templates work pretty well, I hear. If your hand planer is long enough you might be able to get some use out of that, too.
  5. kuso


    Feb 25, 2010
    Plymouth, MA
    Thanks for the quick replies! I'll make up a template/find something to use. The maple I used was less than $10 at Lowes, so it wasn't a huge loss. I'm a little leery of using the router by hand, but I guess I have to do it at some point, eh?

    Unfortunately, my hand planer is quite small - I think it was aroun 12$ at home depot a year or so back. Pretty damn cheap,and I'm not the best at using it.
  6. Don't have much to add but welcome kuso. You live in my hometown... PCHS class of '81.
  7. kuso


    Feb 25, 2010
    Plymouth, MA
    I wish I had taken pictures, but alas, a description will have to do.

    Made a template this time, WOW does that help. I'll have to make more of those :)

    Anyways. When using the maple with the template and shaping it with the router, a few times the router 'grabbed' the maple and took out a nice chunk. Nice enough to ruin that for a neck at one point! Would this be because of the direction of the grain? Or my lack of skill with the router? The router bit is brand spankin new, so I don't think it would be because of a chip in the bit. I checked it, looks perfect. I was only taking off a little bit at a time as well, so it wasn't like I was trying to make it eat away at an inch thick of wood.

    This happened using the router attached to the table, for the record..
  8. HaMMerHeD

    HaMMerHeD Supporting Member

    May 20, 2005
    Norman, OK, USA
    I wonder if your router bits are as sharp as they could be, or maybe you are trying to take off too much material in a single pass. Gotta be patient at first and learn what the limitations of your router, your bits, and your skills are.

    Also, you could practice with old 2x4s or something.
  9. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    there are much cheaper woods to make shaped-firewood out of - just saying
  10. kuso


    Feb 25, 2010
    Plymouth, MA
    Yeah, I figured. I have a ton of pine 2x4s and 4x4s laying around, I'm gonna practice on them. I'm impatient :)

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