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Help me fix my noob errors on my bass body!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by John Ruiz, Mar 17, 2005.


  1. John Ruiz

    John Ruiz

    Oct 9, 2000
    Plano, Tx
    Hey everybody! I have an odd question... I am picking my first bass project back up after stepping away from it for a while, and I have a problem (that was caused by my ignorance, and impatience in the beginning, which prompted the break to do some research! :rolleyes: ) that I'm not quite sure how to fix.

    I already have the body cut out, and the problem is that it's not perfectly flat on the front or the back face. What I mean is that if I lay the body face on a flat surface you can rock it back and forth just a little bit, maybe a 1/16th of an inch. The same applies to the back. I'm not sure how to flatten it, and make the faces parallel, since as I said, the body is already cut out, and the upper horn is only about 1.5-2 inches thick, and extends out past the body several inches. I don't think that flattening one side then planing the other would be safe.

    I am considering trying to use an old coffee table with sandpaper glued to the top to flatten one face, but then the problem is getting the other face parallel, so that I don't have any funny angles with the neck or anything. What, barring a planer, would you suggest I do to fix this? Or should I just make sure that the faces are nice and flat, and not be too concerned about whether they are parallel?

    I know I made some real noob mistakes, but I feel like this thing should be able to be recovered without too much fuss, hopefully!! I really want to finish this project, so I can move onto another one with some new lessons in what NOT to do, but also end up with a nice instrument (which, outside of this error, I think I still can)

    Sorry about the lack of pics, I don't currently have a digi cam, and I am pretty sure that pictures wouldn't help much anyhow in this case.

    Thanks alot for your input!
     
  2. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Sounds like a thickness sander would be a lot more gentle on it than the planer.
     
  3. John Ruiz

    John Ruiz

    Oct 9, 2000
    Plano, Tx
    Ahhh, a thickness sander... Hmmm... That would do the trick pretty well I imagine. Now to find a place locally that has one. I live in Dallas ,so I am SURE there's a local spot that can do this for me, I just don't know where...

    I have a lot to learn about the who's where's what's and why's of woodworking and luthiery, but I'm just starting, so I don't feel TOO bad, just humble because I am aware of my ignorance! ;) :smug:
     
  4. John, cabinet shops are a good place to start looking. Ask them if they have a "Timesaver". That's a well known term for the large, wide, commercial belt sanders you are looking for. You might also find them in mills, window and door manufacturers, and even some metal shops.

    To really make the process work for you, I would suggest determining which side is the least out of true and start with the other side. Figure out where the high point is on the face and make a shooting board (a flat board the body will ride on) that has a cut out around that high spot. This will allow the "bump" to sit below the surface of the shooting board while you sand the top surface smooth. When the one side is right, the other side will follow without problem.

    If you send me the body, I'll do it for you. It wouldn't cost you but about $10-$12 round trip shipping. Just a thought if you can't get it done locally.
     
  5. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Maryland
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    The trick is going to be to get the one true face first. You'll have to keep it from rocking while you sand it down on the coffee table.

    Personally, I would not worry about running it through the planer if it will fit and you aren't worried about tearout. People plane 1" turning squares all the time, right?

    If you're worried then seek out the Timesaver.
     
  6. John Ruiz

    John Ruiz

    Oct 9, 2000
    Plano, Tx
    Thanks alot for your replies guys, I really appreciate the help! I am going to check out who may have a timesaver locally, I think, and if I can't find one, then I may just take you up on your generous offer, Hambone. :help:

    I am a little concerned about tearout because the top that I am using is figured myrtle and seems to be somewhat prone to do so. However, you bring up a very good point about the size of the upper horn, this is all part of the stuff I hope to figure out through the process of learning the trade. Once again, I am grateful for your input!