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how to thin headstock down after making tilt-back

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rdhbass, Mar 12, 2006.

  1. rdhbass


    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    Hi, i just made a neck with the tilt-back design and was using 3/4" wood for the neck. Now i have a 3/4" neck and a 3/4" headstock thickness, how do i thin it down? a router? Thanks for any info, i cut my 11 degree angle and flipped the peice over like I was supposed too. I don't know whether to trim the top of the headstock or the bottom to get right thickness.
  2. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Try a thicknes planer.
  3. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    If I'm understanding this right, then you've already made a scarf-joint and therefore can't run it through a planer, eh?

    I'd probly re-cut the scarf joint and start over, REmembering to plane down the headstock piece to the correct thickness before gluing it back up!:)

    But then again, I aint been doing this that long. You could probly make some sort of 11 degree jig for the router as well.
  4. Greenman


    Dec 17, 2005
    Ontario Canada
    I thought I seen a band saw used with great success.
  5. rdhbass


    Jun 28, 2003
    Springfield, mo
    You are correct, i've already glued it up. Aint no way im starting over, since i cut the 11 degree tilt by hand! I guess I'll hollow out the middle of headstock and mount tuners through the side ala upright basses style. anyway, ive learned my lesson.
  6. Holmann


    Dec 23, 2005
    Ashland, WI
    I use my thickness sander for that, (its just a rotating drum without an auto-feed, so I can run it partially through and pull it back out). Lacking access to that, I'd rough it out on the bandsaw & clean it up with a robo sander drum in the drill press.
  7. gyancey


    Mar 25, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Wagner Saf-T-Planer!!
  8. VaantCustom


    Feb 5, 2006
    Cut the back of the headstock w/ a band saw, but you can use some of that extra thickness to create a nice volute to strengthen the headstock. I prefer it this way actually. You'll have a really strong headstock.

    I did this w/ a guitar neck once and made kind of an exaggerated volute. It looks really cool. I'll try and post a picture later today.
  9. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    No, here's what you do. Carve out the spots for the tuners. But then file/sand out their patways to the nut, leaving the thickness down the middle/side (depending on headstock arrangement). This is akin to the knob insetting that PRS does.
  10. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Thats wat I did on my latest. A steady hand on the band saw then a little time with a sanding block and it should come out fine. I actually cut mine freehand and came out pretty good, but you could set up a fence fore some extra assurance.
  11. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Palm sander on the front.
  12. Meh...

    You want not only a flat headstock of proper thickness, you also want it to intersect the plane of the neck blank so that the line where they meet (where the nut goes) is 90° across the neck. Otherwise it will look like the headstock has some twist past the nut when you sight down the neck. Almost like the neck itself is twisted.

    First I cut the rough angle on a bandsaw. Next I make myself a wedge at the proper angle with the sides planed true & flat. Then I plane the front of the headstock down on a 6"-wide jointer using the wedge as a shim (securely stuck on w/lots of double-stick tape), being very careful to run it with the grain (headstock and shim both) and apply even pressure with the push block, shaving off the minimal amount of material. Usually takes me a few tries, but eventually I can get it perfectly flat with a 90° "nut line" without removing too much material. After that, your rough nut placement is fixed by that line.

    The back of the headstock I plane down with a router, with the neck jigged up using the same shim. I also like to leave a good volute (as I don't scarf my necks) which I shape with a rasp and some randomly orbital sanding. Then I'll put a laminate on top of the headstock for strength.
  13. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Bandsaw the back or saf-t-planer are my favorites. Bandsaw might be difficult as you only want to lose 1/8", so I guess saf-t-planer is my favorite.

    Did you surface the scarf joint by hand? Whatever you used to surface the scarf joint should be doable to take the thickness down as well. A lot of people use a router fixture for this part.
  14. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    here's what I am talking about. Although this yamaha has a plastic piece on the thicker parts or make it appear inset, you would actually want to carve out the insets for the tuners. It coul come out looking classy as well.

  15. VaantCustom


    Feb 5, 2006
    This is a good way to do it. My jointer however, is about 3 feet of sandpaper glued to a piece of plywood on the flattest possible place of my garage floor. Then I'll put all my weight on the face of the headstock, and push it across the sandpaper til it's flat. I'll buy a jointer one of these days.
    But it works!
  16. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Be careful doing anything with the front. If you already have your neck blank cut to length it could cause problems. By removing material from the front you will make the headstock part longer, and the neck part shorter. Just be aware of that.
  17. Here is a simple way to do this:

    If you want to thin the headstock down and it is attached to the neck or is one piece of wood, use a spindle sander! Of course you need to have one first.

    You can attach a fence to the table and use a test piece to get the correct thickness. From there, use the fence to push the headstock into the spindle sander. Just don't push it too far or you will remove too much material from the wrist. And watch those fingers!

    This picture actually shows the neck being sized down but we did the headstock as well.


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