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How do you make necks ?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by BassBilodeau, Mar 22, 2009.


  1. BassBilodeau

    BassBilodeau

    Apr 2, 2007
    Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada
    Builder of Bilodeau Basses
    Ok, I made 8 basses so far and I made my neck the following steps:

    1. Plane a 3/4" thick board wide enough
    2. Cut the angled head and glue it
    3. Route the trussrod channel
    4. Glue the fingerboard (no radius, flat fingerboard)
    5. Trim the back of the neck of about 1/8 at nut making a light angle at the back of the neck (using safe-t-planer)
    6. Frets slots using my table saw
    7. Cut the neck edges (taper) with my bandsaw
    8. Glue headstock "ears" and headplate
    9. Cut the headstock shape and drill tuner holes
    10. Carve the back of the neck with rasp and spokeshave
    11. Radius the fingerboard with concave sanding bloc (by hand)

    That's pretty much it. The only problem I see is the fingerboard radiusing. It is done by hand, it take a while and it is hard to get a straight finish the first time, I have to place a long ruler (1M) and check for high spots to make everything straight. I can not afford a Grizzly radiusing machine and most radiusing jig I saw using a router used before gluing the fingerboard on the neck. By having a radiused board, I can not trim the back of the neck because i need a flat surface.

    Anyway, any suggestion? ideas? how do you work?

    Thanks for sharing!
    :confused:
     
  2. Mudfuzz

    Mudfuzz

    Apr 3, 2004
    OlyWA...
    I do mine pretty much the same except I only rasp out the neck shape at the nut and heel then I use a spokeshave and block plane that I chopped down to under 3" for the rest of the neck, also I normally drill the tuner holes last, in less it is a classical guitar which I finish all the headstock work and the slots in the heal for the guitar's sides before shape the back and heal.
     
  3. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Lineā„¢ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    My workflow's somewhat different, yet somewhat the same

    - select and rough-cut neck shaft blank
    - thickness sand blank leaving 1/64" extra thick
    - route trussrod and graphite stiffening bar channels (remember extra thickness!)
    - drill tuner holes
    - epoxy stiffening bars and let cure
    - thickness sand level top surface to remove last 1/64" and all epoxy spills
    - drill trussrod adjustment tunnel in heel

    - thickness sand fretboard blank
    - cut fret slots
    - cut nut slot

    - install trussrod
    - attach fretboard
    - trim neck outline at bandsaw, detail with routing template
    - thickness headstock
    - radius fretboard on beltsander utilizing swing jig
    - carve rear contour
    - round over fretboard edge
    - install frets
    - detail frets (level, ends, etc ...)

    - sand
    - prime/seal
    - apply 1st finish coat, level finish on headstock
    - apply decal
    - complete application of neck finish
    - let cure
    - level and buff

    unless I'm forgetting something, that's pretty much it for me

    all the best,

    R
     
  4. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    I do my necks way different. mostly because i do the trussrod differently. ( i use a gibson style rod, but put it in different)

    -plane neck blank to 3/4
    -cut headstock angle
    -route truss rod slot (straight)
    -install truss rod (glue a filler strip above it)
    -taper neck on planer (not cut the sides, my necks are thinner at the nut (9/16) and thicker at the 24th fret (11/16) this is what makes the trussrod work.
    -cut fret slots
    -glue fret board on
    -taper sides
    -glue on headstock
    -glue on heel block (tapered so there is a neck angle
    -clean up rough edges on joiner (gotta be real careful here)
    -glue on HS ears
    -cut out headstock shape
    -add front veneer
    -add back veneer
    -drill tuner holes
    -carve w/ surform/rasp/60 grit
    -sand up to 220
    -finish with danish oil
    -level fretboard
    -radius fretboard
    -install frets
    -clean fret ends (because i level the FB really well i usually dont have to level the frets after, if i see anything though i fix it)

    some steps are different if im doing a set neck but thats basically it.
     
  5. BassBilodeau

    BassBilodeau

    Apr 2, 2007
    Sherbrooke, Qc, Canada
    Builder of Bilodeau Basses
    Very interesting, how do you radius your fretboards?
     
  6. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    I do it by hand with the LMII 16inch radius block. I would rather use the stew mac aluminum one but its a bit expensive.
     
  7. CptanPanic

    CptanPanic

    Dec 31, 2008
    So a question, I haven't made a neck yet, but why can't you do all the work on the headstock before you glue it to neck? Such as thin it to 1/2", cut out shape, and drill tuners? This is assuming you do the scarf joint under the fretboard.
     
  8. ironrat

    ironrat

    Sep 24, 2008
    sry to hijack but this bilodeau bass has looks to die for:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. I don't do the scarf under the fretboard - I do it within the headstock so you don't see the joint (laminated front & back).

    -thickness neck blank to hair over final thickness
    -rout CF channels (1/4" bit, router table & fence)
    -cut the scarf & plane flat, thickness the small piece
    -epoxy in CF bars, cure, thickness sand to level
    -rout truss rod channel (same method as CF channels)
    -cut taper *just* outside the line, rout to MDF neck taper template
    -rough out the back contour (7/8" roundover bit on overhead router)
    -glue scarf joint, clean up & thickness headstock, glue on laminates
    -drill holes for tuners

    -thickness & square fretboard blank
    -rout the radius (special router bits)
    -slot, paying attention to slot depth at the taper
    -cut a taper *just* outside the outer string paths, plane edges flat (1 ultra-thin pass on jointer is usually enough), deepening slots by hand if needed
    -glue on wood binding (either offcuts from the taper, or other contrasting wood) - I don't want to see the slots on the edge of the board
    -rough-cut the final taper, rout to same neck taper template used for the neck
    -fret the board off the neck (undercut tangs, glue with Titebond), flex out the backbow (which is minor for a bound board)

    -glue fretted board to neck (epoxy)
    -final shaping of back contour (sanding by hand)
    -finish sanding & finishing
     
  10. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Connecticut
    It's Soooo worth it. I have zero patience/skill for radiusing and leveling, and this just does all the work.
     
  11. tdogg

    tdogg

    Jan 17, 2001
    Brooklyn Park, MN
    do you guys all make your neck blanks at 3/4" ? just curious. how about the rough fingerboards? 3/8"?
     
  12. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Connecticut
    I've done 9 now. I've tried a few different ways. I imagine I'll keep trying different things.

    1. Plane a 3/4" thick board wide enough
    2. Route the truss rod channel
    3. Cut the angled head and glue it
    4. Cut the neck edges (taper) with my bandsaw
    5. Smooth bandsaw edges on Jointer/fine tune the taper with Jointer
    6. Frets slots using my radial arm saw
    7. Glue the fingerboard (no radius, flat fingerboard)
    8. trim fingerboard to fit neck with bandsaw. Smooth with router table and flush bit.
    9. Glue headstock "ears"
    10. Cut the headstock shape
    11. glue face plate
    12. Carve the back of the neck with rasp and spokeshave
    13. ease headstock joint angle with rasp and add back veneer
    14. drill tuner holes
    15. Radius the fingerboard with concave sanding bloc (by hand)
     
  13. Stone Age

    Stone Age

    Apr 13, 2008
    Connecticut
    The stewmac ebony boards I've used come at 1/4". The rosewood blanks I made were just a little over that.
     
  14. My last 4-string neck was 0.77" at #1 graduating to 0.87" at #12 - total thickness including fretboard. 3-piece laminated rock maple, LMI dual action truss rod, pair of CF bars. Plays fast!
     
  15. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
     
  16. bigTbass

    bigTbass

    Nov 17, 2008
    PA
    I have a somewhat different approach. I don't think it is "better" but it makes use of what tools I have (a good router) and doesn't require a bandsaw.

    I am almost done with my first build, after I'm done I will know how good my first neck is. The build is for a 5 piece neckthrough design.

    First I make a template of the side profile of the neck, as if you had the bass on with a strap and were looking down at the top of it. It has a rectangular section for the neckthrough body and an angled section that is the profile of the headstock.

    I make up the center three lams of the neck, rough cutting them so that they are slightly larger than the template then glue them together.

    I then nail the template to the center lams and flush cut with the router.

    Next I add a thicker piece of wood to one side of the neck center and flush cut with the router and repeat the same with the other side of the neck. I had to two more small pieces for width on the headstock, that part is seven pieces wide.

    I taper my fingergoard then glue it down to the neck. Then use the router to trim the neck to match the fingerboard. Then radius the board.

    Add body wings and it starts to look like a bass.
     
  17. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    So how and when do you folks deal with the nut?

    ...or should this be a separate thread?
     

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