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Newbie Builder: Truss Rod Trench Question

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by gordon5377, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. gordon5377


    Mar 15, 2009
    Hello all!

    This is my first post in the Luthier's Corner. I'm new to the whole thing of building guitars, although maybe I should clarify that I don't actually build them but more accurately assemble them. I get most of my necks and bodies from Warmoth but as I come across something I like I'll use it.

    Anyway, I am doing a P-Bass project with a body I picked up somewhere in my travels with a Warmoth 21-fret neck. The Warmoth fingerboard overhangs the heel by approx. 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch. The truss rod adjustment is in the heel of the neck and I need to cut a trench in this body. The trench needs to be no less than 1/2 inch wide and (estimating) 3/4 inch long.

    My question: what is the easiest, safest way for a newbie like me to cut the trench without totally messing up the body? Is there a Dremel tool that will work or is this something left to a professional with a vertical mill or something?

    Thanks for your feedback!
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    A job for either a router or a laminate trimmer (AKA - Small Router).

    Some folks are crazy enough to use a dremel as a router, and on truly tiny things that might even make sense to me (though I'm no fan of the crummy bearings most of them have), but here it's a router.

    The brave might go freehand, the burned-once will use a template/jig/sled to control travel and keep the router on track.

    Whether this is a job for you or someone else is pretty much your call. Practice on scrap, and keep track of your fingers, so you have as many when you stop as when you started. Anything (including a dremel) that can cut wood can cut flesh...

    You can also go old-school and use a chisel. It's a small amount you are trying to cut. Practice that on scrap too. Make sure the chisel is SHARP.
  3. Scott in Dallas

    Scott in Dallas Commercial User

    Aug 16, 2005
    Dallas, north Texas
    Builder and Owner: DJ Ash Guitars
    You could use a drill press with a forstner bit to take out most of the material and then clean the rest up with either a chisel or a router.

    You can do really good work with a sharp chisel if you have experience to do it. You could spend a few days with 2x4s until you have your technique down enough to try it.

    If you use a router, use a pattern bit and make a template. I've seen good router work that people claim is freehand, but it's so incomprehensible to me that I just refuse to believe it's possible and scream "liar" at them until they put me on ignore.
  4. hoffmant


    Jan 26, 2013
    You can spend a ton of time making a template & use a router, or you can spend like 5 minutes with a forstner bit & a sharp chisel.

    I'm kinda hand-tool biased, though. And routers scare me.

    Learning to use hand tools well is a great skill. They can be a ton faster than power tools for some jobs.
  5. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Hand tools are also a lot more portable and/or take up less space. I sort of went both directions at once ~15 years ago (CNC router and way more hand tools) and the part that made me wince retrospectively was that if I'd gone serious hand-tools 15 years before that I probably would not have had to "give up" woodworking for the time I was in college and moving around without "space for a (push sticks though large machines) woodworking shop." I (now) know a fair number of people who have creatively used the kitchen counter or coffee table and some clamps to fill in for a workbench and done some amazing work with a toolkit that's smaller than most bass cabinets...