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How to Keep Body Sides Perpendicular to Face

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by The Ryantist, Aug 17, 2017.


  1. I'll be starting my first body build probably this fall, and I've been doing lots of reading for tips. One thing I haven't seen yet is how to keep the sides of the body perpendicular to the front and back. I don't have a spindle sander or a band saw, but I do have a jigsaw and a router. So here's my plan:
    1. Make an MDF template with the jig saw, and that will have relatively perpendicular edges if I keep the base of the jigsaw firmly on the MDF while cutting.
    2. Rough cut the body with the jigsaw, maybe 1/4" or 1/2" too big
    3. Use the router to trace the template, and hopefully that will keep the router bit perpendicular to the body. If my router bit is reasonably sharp then I'd only need to hand sand the edges starting with 120 grit so I won't take off too much material.
    I think I know someone with a router table. Perhaps step 3 would be much easier to keep the router perpendicular if it's on a table with the template on the bottom. Any thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    One thing that will help is to make a larger base plate for your router. I've made up many, many special purpose router base plates to work with different router operations and fixtures. My favorite for this type of cut, body perimeters, is about a 12" long oval. The router is at one end and there's a big vertical round handle at the other end. It's real nice for keeping the router stable and flat with the top, which keeps it square with the edge. Make your own from MDF or plywood.
     
    reverendrally and bvdrummer like this.
  3. I'm starting to learn that woodworking is 99% making jigs and 1% cutting your workpiece. ;)
     
  4. Jon Clegg

    Jon Clegg Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2015
    Northern Virginia
    But once you make the jigs for you first build, your next build will be a piece-o-cake:thumbsup:
     
  5. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Well, it isn't quite that much, but....I may spend 2 or 3 hours making up a special fixture to do a particular difficult cut. Once I've made that fixture, the cut on an instrument takes 10 minutes, and it's accurate and consistent. Put that fixture on the shelf with all the others and any time I need to make that cut, it takes 10 minutes.

    If I hadn't made the fixture, doing that cut freehand might take an hour each time, and there's a high risk each time of screwing it up. Which wastes more hours going back and doing it over.

    Tooling and fixtures are an investment. I have many fixtures which are now 20+ years old, which I still regularly use. Some I've used on every single one of the 90 Scroll Basses I've built so far. A few I've used on roughly 1200 instrument necks I've made for clients over the years. Fixtures almost always eventually pay off in time savings.
     
    reverendrally and bvdrummer like this.

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