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How to route without router

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Johnlrc, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. Johnlrc


    Jan 7, 2016
    so I’m on my first body build(I bought the neck for this). So I’m to the point in the process of having to route out the neck and pickups. My issue is that I don’t own a router, is it possible to drill the outline and then chisel it out? Is this a terrible idea? I figure the is the most important part of the build and really don’t want to mess it up
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. Yes, it's possible. The issue will be getting the neck pocket all level. Personally, I'd hunt around my friend/family networks to see if there's someone who owns one. Or failing that, just save up and buy a cheap one. They're almost indispensable for these sorts of jobs. Once you've used one you'll see why. ;)
    MattZilla likes this.
  3. Johnlrc


    Jan 7, 2016
    Fair enough. I figured pickup wouldn’t be too bad but neck pocket would need a bit more finesse. Off to Home Depot. Thanks for the reply
  4. Try some pawn shops and used tools stores. Just check what the model you’re looking at costs new.
  5. saabfender

    saabfender Banned

    Jan 10, 2018
    It’s not like they’re expensive. You can get one from the pawn shop for like 30 bucks. You’ll be using it literally a few minutes. No chisels. This isn’t 1764.
    dan1952, MattZilla and mikewalker like this.
  6. I got my Porter Cable router for $20 in an estate sale.
  7. Check out Paul Seller's poor man's router video on youtube. I used that trick on a neck pocket and it worked really good.
  8. You could use a router plane or make a geelum. Not sure if folks in the US say "geelum",basically it's a chisel fixed to a timber block,similar idea to a spokeshave. This photo shows a very expensive router plane but will give you an idea of how it works.

    The Scots Geelum subsitutes a wooden block for the fancy handles,a chisel is angled through the block. Chisel length determines the depth and you hold the chisel in place with a screw,through the block and onto the chisel.

    Do plenty of pilot holes first to required depth in the pocket area then knock out the scrap. Take your geelum and start to clean out the pocket. The bottom of the block lies on the body and keeps your cutting edge flat. feed more chisel out till you've a flat surface. Mind you'll still need to keep the sides clean with another chisel.

    Hellfire. This is hard to explain,if it wasn't 4.30am over here I'd put a geelum together and do a short video :D
    mikewalker and T_Bone_TL like this.
  9. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    There's a simple crude version where you sharpen the rim of a drywall screw head and screw it into a wooden block, adjust cutting height with a screwdriver.
    kodiakblair likes this.
  10. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I have 6 routers, but the one I use the most is a lightweight, smaller Black and Decker I bought at a pawn shop for $15. It's light, easy to handle, and in 6 years, has never let me down. (The reason I have so many is that my Dad, who built furniture, died and I got his tools.)
  11. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    There might be a tool library near you? No need to buy something for a quick job in the first instance.
  12. Chisel is easy... BUT

    1) make sure the chisels are SHARP, and have at least a small one and some larger one.
    2) Go slow.

    Very little can go wrong if you use sharp chisels and go slow, making sure each hit is at the right place.
    Lex P. likes this.
  13. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    If you don’t have the experience with sharpening and using chisels, I wouldn’t trial and error on your bass. Even the cheapest disposable router at Harbor Freight router will do a decent job. Dremels are cheap too, and can be used as a mini router in a pinch.
  14. You could use chisels, but like someone said, itd be hard to get them just right, and level.
  15. As a mini anything really. That's what's so great about them.
    bobba66 likes this.
  16. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I’d suggest one of the mini “colt” routers too, but many of them are nearly as expensive as a full sized router, and limited to 1/4” shank bits.
    Beej and chinjazz like this.
  17. BigBear77

    BigBear77 Supporting Member

    Aug 30, 2017
    I don’t know where you’re located but if in the States You can find cheap routers at Harbor Freight, Lowe’s, or Home Depot
  18. Yes, for neck pockets you can use what Gilmourisgod suggested. These are also considered to be trim routers. Marketed to trim edge shapes on frames, etc.. Quite a few YouTube videos on using them.
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  19. Acoop


    Feb 21, 2012
    Half inch wood drill bit and a chisel. ... And you'll be remembered, not in a good way, for eternity. ... Any Home Depot style tool stores Down Under? ... Go in buy one, use it, return it and say, "I think, I'll keep looking."
  20. Smilodon

    Smilodon Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2012
    It can be done with chisels, and have been done on classical instruments for centuries. Nowadays though a good couple of chisels and sharpening stones will probably cost you more than a cheap (but usable) router. Mind you, a pattern bit may be a bit expensive as you will need a top bearing bit. You could do without, but the process to make a template is slightly more complicated. Getting a router with a template collet will help greatly here.

    If you do decide to go with hand tools, be sure to practice on scrap first. There are no jigs to help you (unless you find/make a router plane), so you have to cut very carefully and measure often. You also need your chisels to be razor sharp, and shaped properly.

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