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How to handle slightly warped fingerboard blank

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by roberthabraken, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. I have a Macassar Ebony fingerboard blank that is slightly warped at the end. I say slightly because it's not completely bent, but it's very noticeable. Planing is already done by the wood supplier and it's thicknessed to 7 mm already, so planing it again is not possible. It's in my shop now for almost two months, stored stickered, so considering the thickness of the blank, it should be stable by now.

    The problem is that if I want to saw the fret slots or do the inlays, it needs to sit flat on the table, which is rather difficult this way. So my idea was to glue the blank to the neck first and then saw the fret slots, route for the inlays, inlay the position markers, bind it and sand in the radius.

    Two questions:
    1. Would this be an okay working order? I always see (and that's how I've done it on my first build too) people prepare the fb first, before glueing it on the neck.
    2. What about the possibility that the very dense ebony causes the softer flamed maple neck to bend, transfering the curve it has to the neck? I wouldn't want that to happen..

    Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!
  2. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    I would attach it to rigid MDF (3/4 or more) and use you slotting blade on the arm saw.
  3. Thanks, that's a good option, besides the fact that I don't have an arm saw, I could still attach it to a thick MDF core while slotting it.

    I just went over to the shop and had a look again: the better part of the fingerboard is nice and flat. At about 1/3 from the end it starts to 'warp'... one corner comes up 0.5 mm, the other one 3 mm. On the same side.

    You can press it back in shape very easily, not much pressure needed. Also it's larger than what I need, so I can attach it to MDF before continuing with the other steps. Maybe this thread isn't very useful after all.. or necessary :bag:

    But I still would like to know what you guys do with such slightly warped timber! It seems almost no wood stays completely flat or arrives completely flat, from what I've seen (not much though, but still different suppliers, seasons and types of wood).
  4. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Banned

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    I try to cancel the stresses in the overall build. Fingerboards are tougher because you would need to find a neck with the same distortion.

    You could add the warped section to a body that is a single cutaway to prevent any appreciable effect.
  5. Good point. I'm going to slice off half of the warped section (outer part), what's remaining will be less distorted and that side I will use at the body side, so the neck is at its thickest and supported by the body.
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Funny, when I read the first post, I was all ready to report how much nice wood I've tossed or set aside for other projects due to problems like that, but mike's got a point there and that plan sounds quite reasonable. Suddenly I'm reflecting on how much lumber I've "wasted" over the years compared to you guys...
  7. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    I'm glad this questions was posted. I have two fingerboards with a bit of a twist as well that I was wondering what to do with. I think Mikeys suggestion of putting the twisted portion over the body where the neck is much more rigid is a great suggestion.

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