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Hidden knot in maple...

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BassBilodeau, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. BassBilodeau


    Apr 2, 2007
    Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada
    Builder of Bilodeau Basses
    I have just encountered a problem while working on a neck and I though it worth sharing. Before I go any further, I just want to say that the solutions I'm giving here is what I think it was the best for my project. I don't have answers for everyone. Secondly, I did a few tricks on my table saw that should not be tried by any unexperienced wood worker. In other words: "Kids don't try this at home!"

    So! I am currently working on a really nice bass for the last year. That's right, a year long build. I was working on the headstock lately. I use a three main piece kind of headstock: center and two pieces on each sides. So I cut the maple to have what I need, glue them on each sides. Then I prepared a 24 pieces thin layer to use on top, and it's been glued. I drill the tuner holes and I cut the headstock shape.

    Now things got bad... I discovered a really, really "nice" surprise from mother nature: hidden anomaly in maple. Because I made both sides from the same board, well, the problem is on both sides. Pictures!

    What can I do about this? I just can't leave these bad false knot or whatever nature did there. It took me a while to think about a solution and I came to conclusion that there is only one solution: cut the headstock and start over.

    Because the neck use an angled neck and I started to radius the fingerboard, well the only flat part of the neck is the headstock. My main tool is a table saw so I manage to build a rig so I can clamp the neck on and use my table saw to cut the headstock sides. Pictures!

    Side A:

    Side B:

    Side B (close up):

    As you can see, I cut each sides of the headstock. The first side was done with the table saw fence on the right of the blade which is standard. The second cut was done with the fence on the other side of the blade. On Side B pictures, the neck is in reverse, I cut the headstock first. I flip the rig for the picture only. This is where I realized I wasn't a lefty. But don't worry, I still have all my fingers (thank God).

    Finally here is what it looks like:

    Skinny head:

    The new headstock sides are still under clamps right now so i'll continue this thread later this week...

    By the way, I am using a 80teeths Freud blade on my table saw. It takes longer to cut, but the finish is so smooth, I can glue it right away.

    There will be more pictures this week with, hopefully the final result.

    Thanks for reading my bad english!:smug:
  2. Cerb


    Sep 27, 2004
    It looks like a bug hole with some mineral stains. I dig it and probably would have left it, but obviously you and many others wouldn't. Another thing that can be done is to route in and around it in a natural pattern and fill it with powdered turquoise or another brightly colored stone. A lot of bowl and pen turners do this and I know a few people here, including myself, have done it with basses.

    Of course, if you wanted that clean maple look, nothing beats what you have done. Wood filler would have looked horrible, and I'm not sure what else would have gotten your desired effect.
  3. scottyd

    scottyd Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2006
    Waco Tx
    Builder/owner Redeemer Basses
  4. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Nice jig and nice fix.
  5. eleonn


    Aug 24, 2006
    Lima - Perú
    I like how the purpleheart laminate runs with no taper all the long of the neck.
  6. LedBelli Bass

    LedBelli Bass Fine, Handmade Custom Bass Guitars

    Dec 25, 2008
    Pasco, WA
    Well done!
  7. It's spalted now....
  8. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Another method I used once is to take a pattern router bit, replace the bearing with something slightly smaller, and use it as a very shallow, tall rabbit bit around the entire perimeter of the headstock under the headstock faceplate. You can then use a couple layers of veneer as "binding", but under the faceplate hiding the bark inclusion.
  9. BassBilodeau


    Apr 2, 2007
    Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada
    Builder of Bilodeau Basses
    I work full time as a web programmer, so it took me a while to fix the headstock problem. I finally finished it...

    After the headstock sides were removed, I prepared new sides and glue them.

    I now have half tuner key holes. I must redrill them but there is a high risk of alignment problem... So I clamped a pre-drilled board on top of the headstock to use it as a guide.

    And I got that:

    Then I recut the headstock shape and sanded the edges a bit:

    Voilà! The new headstock is colourful but it matched the body of the bass...

    By the way, there are no purple heart on this bass. I used: flame maple, ebony, bloodwood, morado, cocobolo, black walnut and indian rosewood. The bass will be finished hopefully within a month. It's going well so far!

    Thanks for reading!
  10. ^what he said.


    We actually LIKE that kind of stuff here, and in that specific case it was totally non-structural and wouldn't have affected a thing.

    Leave it, that's my call.

    That said, what you did was pretty cool too, so hat's off!

  11. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    gorgeous, but i have to say i prefered it with just the maple. i dont know why, it just appealed more to me i guess.
  12. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Looks like your repair worked. Like others, I would have left the inclusion alone if it were my bass; otherwise, I'd probably reshape the headstock slightly with a spokeshave to remove the undesirable portion and no one would ever know the difference.
  13. BassBilodeau


    Apr 2, 2007
    Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada
    Builder of Bilodeau Basses
    Thanks for your comments everyone!
  14. mrtn400


    Dec 6, 2008
    Carmichael, CA
    It looks like you took a small piece of everything and glued it all together.

    But it looks cool. :)
  15. BassBilodeau


    Apr 2, 2007
    Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada
    Builder of Bilodeau Basses
    You should see the body of this bass...
  16. Yes I think we should! Show it to us!!!! :hyper:
  17. T2W


    Feb 24, 2007
    Montreal, Canada.
  18. pilotjones


    Nov 8, 2001
    Oh yeah, that bass!

    I couldn't imagine that bass not having a complex headstock like this.
  19. BassBilodeau


    Apr 2, 2007
    Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada
    Builder of Bilodeau Basses
    No problem there Mario!

    Here is a recent picture of it:

    It's just before the new headstock.
  20. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    Wow! [​IMG]


    ...but it was a tone knot!

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