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Making a new body for my SUB

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rojo412, Feb 4, 2016.


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  1. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Though I really love the bass, my Status-necked Musicman SUB is pretty blah looking. So I decided I want to make a new body for it. I'm pretty new to most "major work" like this, but I like to learn by doing. So this is my journal of the process...

    I stripped the body of parts:

    IMG_2321.
    Taped around the edge for the bearing of the router to ride along:

    IMG_2323.JPG
    And attached a piece of 1/4" MDF to the back, using the neck mount holes, some screws, and a piece of tape to hold the back in place. I then rough cut it with the band saw.

    IMG_2325.
    I took it to my home made router table and duplicated the shape, as well as routed out the battery cavity. And VOILA!

    IMG_2329.
    With the basic template made, I used it to cut the "bottom" with 1/2" MDF. This way, I could screw it up if I had to and not damage my body. Plus, the 1/4" is like a "sketch pad" in this process.

    IMG_2330.JPG

    IMG_2331.JPG

    So with that done, I routed the neck pocket, control cavity, and pickup rout by sandwiching the SUB body between the templates and used the router to trace everything with the 3/8" pattern bit.

    IMG_2334.JPG
    And I test fit the parts to make sure all was jiving.

    IMG_2336.JPG
    So now, I just had to make the "top" template. And from what I saw online, people who made those allowed for the neck pocket area to be a larger surface and didn't cut the "horns", so the router had a nice surface to use. I decided to follow that as well...

    IMG_2337.JPG

    IMG_2338.JPG

    So now I have a template to cut the general shape, the neck pocket, the pickup cavity, battery cavity, and control cavity. I even added the holes for the bridge inserts, but I may just do the bridge close to the end to ensure damn-near perfect placement.

    All I need is a body blank!
    Well, that and a 1/2" roundover bit, possibly a spindle sander to do forearm/belly cuts... and I have to learn how to finish it as well. But this is a fun start to the project, that's for sure.
     
    Duder, Barbaric.Eric, Tbone76 and 9 others like this.
  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    You got some damn nice templates now for future projects. Nice work
     
    Duder, bassestkkm and rojo412 like this.
  3. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    Nice templates!!
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  4. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Very well done, you are a natural. The same attention to detail will get you through the whole project.
     
    blindrabbit and rojo412 like this.
  5. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Thanks for the kind words, that truly makes me feel better about this project. Like I said, I'm kinda new to all of this. But for some reason, I got the bug really bad to do this and I just started working on it.

    So in preparation for this, I do have some questions:
    I was planning on getting the body wood from Allparts. Has anyone used their blanks and how were they?
    Are most body blanks properly cured and dried well or should I "bake it" to get it drier? I saw John_K do that in a Stingray build he did.
    Most likely, I want this to be an ash bass. Is there a particular sealer that's recommended for ash if doing a clear finish?
     
    Elpieroriggs likes this.
  6. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I bought one body blank from Allparts years ago, I didn't have any way to measure moisture content, but it didn't seem to shrink any. Shop around, lots of body blanks on eBay too. I got a gorgeous one piece mahogany blank for $50 on clearance. I don't think your Dremel setup will have the horsepower for a round over bit. That's a lot of wood to hog off even on 1/2" round over. Even a cheap used or Harbor Freight router built into a similar table will cover anything you are likely to need for this or other guitar work. I have an ancient Craftsman fixed base router I just leave in the router table. I think I paid $20 for it at a yard sale, still works like champ.
    Get a couple decent quality straight and bearing guided pattern bits for the router, but don't cheap out on the bits, been there/done that. A little money well spent on bits goes a long way. The MLCS and Freud bits are good, also CMT Orange. I think Home Depot carries Freud.
     
  7. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I have a Porter Cable router, actually. It's got the juice, I have no doubt about that... it flung a couple pickguard template efforts across the room like I was at a skeet shooting range! So yeah, my biggest issue with it is properly orienting the cuts and watching out for when it catches the grain wrong.

    Yesterday, I ended up moving it around so much, I was actually wishing for another one. If I had this one in the table and a smaller one for doing pickup cavities and whatnot, it would have been ideal.

    With an upcoming vacation, I have the luxury of time for shopping for bodies. The reason that the Allparts one is attractive is the price, I have an account with them, so it's a lot less than advertised. But I'd love to find some even cheaper, if only for the practice build. I may actually just make a pine copy first to make sure I'm on the right track. That's less than $10 at Home Depot.
     
  8. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I would imagine that an Allparts body blank would be excessively expensive. I would look at ebay or even Warmoth or something like that to save some money.
     
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Actually, at Allparts, it'll be $65 for ash or $60 for alder... plus shipping.
    Looks like shipping is about $19 :blackeye:. If I got multiples, I could defray the cost... but I'd also have to buy a few.
    Still cheaper than a lot, but I'll be shopping around, that's for sure.
     
  10. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Porter Cables are better than my Crapsman, sorry if I sounded condescending. I'm just an advanced (arguable) amateur myself. I'm a little scared of routers, hope I stay that way. I made a full plywood mockup on my first body build to get a rough idea on balance and elbow/belly cut.
     
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    All good man! And yeah, routers are dangerous. I hope to keep all my skin in the process of using them and never take my eyes off when they are on.

    As for Dremels, I HATE using them for cutting. They have a mind of their own and seem to maniacally gouge their way into almost everything I've ever tried doing with them. The one I have now is relegated to polishing frets. I will say, they are fantastic for that.
     
  12. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Weird, I am seeing $130 for an ash blank
     
  13. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    Duder likes this.
  14. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Not if you have a pro account! And it's not hard to get one, by the way.

    Thanks for the heads up on those sites, I will check them out.
     
  15. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Yeah, I need to get an account set up with them.
     
    moonshinegtrs likes this.
  16. afa3

    afa3

    Mar 8, 2015
    Milwakuee, WI
    If you are OK with gluing up two or three pieces, check out your local hardwoods suppliers and woodworking stores. It will be cheaper, more fun, and you'll get to pick the exact wood you want. You can also do front/back combos.

    If you want one-piece blanks or highly figured/spalted wood, then mail order.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016
  17. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I have to practice that and I fear that the lack of access to planers and joiners and all that other jazz would make life kinda difficult. Well, for a true beginner at least.
    That reminds me... WHICH TITEBOND IS RECOMMENDED FOR GLUING BODY PARTS?

    Personally, I'd love to buy a plank and make it into a couple blanks. I bet it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying blanks. But I'm still not versed on the drying, planing, etc. So I feel the safe bet for this is to start with a blank.

    So in other news, I was being plagued by the fact that my top template may be hard to line up. With the extra wing material, it was seeming more difficult to make things line up at build time. I was losing sleep over it... So I did the following:

    1) I cut the bass-side wing to match the contour of the upper horn

    IMG_2343.
    2) Assembled the "corner" to line up all of the templates. When a body blank gets cut, this will assure that things are lined up. I can put baby in a corner, then clamp down for security. It's just scrap wood screwed to MDF.

    IMG_2344.

    That should hopefully make things go smoother.

    And while I was at it, I tried my hand at making a pickguard.

    IMG_2346.

    Which prompted me to put the bass back together for the moment...

    IMG_2350.
    It's not perfect and I think I have to redo the template, but it works for my current needs.
     
    handofseven likes this.
  18. PDX Rich

    PDX Rich

    Dec 19, 2014
    Portland, OR
    For future reference, you can save a ton of money on future builds by buying rough lumber for multiple necks and bodies in 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 and 8/4. Then, you can pay a per hour fee for turning that into nice S3S stock.

    Any jointing you need can be done in many different ways with the tools you already have (router, for instance).

    "Luthier blanks" are incredibly marked up!

    Fantastic template work!
     
    rojo412 likes this.
  19. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Hey, it's not too late... is there a resource I can look up to see how to do any of that?

    Oh, and oddly enough, there's a local place I was thinking of checking out that allows you to use their woodshop for anywhere from $30/hour to $120/month that has all kinds of crazy tools...
    Soulcraft Woodshop — Come Tinker, Come Learn
    I've been thinking pretty hard about joining, especially if I decide to do more of this kind of stuff.
     
    handofseven likes this.
  20. afa3

    afa3

    Mar 8, 2015
    Milwakuee, WI
    There are lots of opinions on glue, but I think most people just use regular original Titebond.

    Unless you buy wood straight from the sawmill, or mill it yourself, you shouldn't have to actually dry it. It will have been kiln dried. Some people let it acclimate to their climate/humidity, but in the midwest that's a moving target. If you buy locally, it's already as acclimated as it's going to get.

    You also should be able to find wood that's already planed, or the seller will plane for you for a little extra cost. Check out Rockler, Woodcraft, or other woodworking stores. Some lumber sellers also offer dimensional hardwoods.

    Plan on doing the joining or at least touching up the edge with a plane. You might get lucky with surfaced edges that are flat enough to glue up, but usually they need at least a little work. As PDX Rich said, you can build a jig for your router that will do this. Based on what you've done so far with your templates, I don't think you would have any problem joining and gluing up a body blank.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016

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