Physically Shaping?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Techmonkey, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. Techmonkey


    Sep 4, 2004
    Wales, UK
    My GCSE bass project has finally gone from some ideas on paper to something scarily physical... We glued the body blank pieces together, ran it through the thickness planer a few times, cut the body shape semi accurately on the bandsaw, we're routing all the cavities next and then I need to physically shape the body. But I don't have a clue where to start really! Obviously first step will be to go over the curves on the belt sander... But then I don't know what to do! I know where my contours are going to go, and on the sides of the body I'm aiming to round them... like on the sides of a Warwick bass.
    I have access to a relatively good workshop... How do you recommend I shape the body?

    I'll get pics of what I have atm ASAP.
    thanks in advance!
  2. I'd go simple for the first bass. Use a round over bit of about 1/2" radius in your router and go all around in both front and back. Then use rasps and files to shape the tummy cut and the forearm contours. You should finish sand either by hand or an orbital sander.

    good luck!
  3. Fasoldt Basses

    Fasoldt Basses

    Mar 22, 2005
    Stevens Point, WI
    Karl Thompson, Builder (Formerly Fat Karl)
    No, No, No, Ignore that last post! :D ;)
    If I were you I'd go ahead and carve the bass because doing so really makes it a work of art. You can use a spokeshave for outside curves and half-round file for inside curves. If you want to be guaranteed a good building experience, plan some carving. It's fun.:p
    Sorry Wilser - no offense buddy.;) Just opinions of course.:D
  4. Wademeister63


    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
  5. none taken, I carved my Steve Swallow turkey bass without power tools too. Use whatever technique you feel more confortable with to achieve the result you crave.
  6. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    So, technically it is possible to do a bass without power tools?
  7. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    Music has been around a lot longer than electricity.

    (I wouldnt want to do without power though.)
  8. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I'd like to hand make one, but I'm afraid that I'd never be able to plane the wood flat enough for a good join.

    Are there places that I could take blank wood to get it planed flat?


    Or could I just use a regular hand planer?
  9. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    I took some cocobolo to a local cabinet making shop to get jointed, and got a bunch of large wood 'thicknessed' by another.........some will do it for free, others will charge you an arm and a leg.

    As far as shaping, I use these two tools all the time: a full round sureform and a palm gouge. Both for real cheap, too. Just make sure you don't carve/gouge towards yourself, it hurts. I made the curves on my first bass with only these tools, and by using the butt-end of a hand belt sander.

    You can also use a 'bastard' file that is half-round on one side and flat on the other for smoothing things out. The sureform can take off a lot of wood at once, but leaves a lot left to be cleaned up.
  10. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    Here's what it looks like when one gets carried away with these tools...:eek:
  11. oh yes,I built my first bass without power tools, not because I wanted to but because the guitar school I was at made me! and I built a thru-neck (11 peice) 4 string with a curved warwick style body with a fancy top.(although I'm a carpenter buy trade so that helped abit) you would not beleive how little you can get buy with, and it's a skill worth learning you never forget it. I would use a router for the pick up and control cavitys though nothing to be gained but that much hard work.
  12. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    It must feel really fulfilling to complete a whole instrument without power tools!
    I was just watching Project Runway on the Bravo channel (laugh it up, fuzzball), and I got to thinking why someone hasn't made up a Project Luthier show, with the winner getting $100,000 to start up his/her own "line."?
    Now that I'd watch. Can you imagine a whole bunch of luthiers stuck in the same shop, working over eachother?
    O.K., back to reality.
  13. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Did you just use a hand planer to plane everything flat? Also, what did you use in place of a joiner to create a perfect end? Planer again, I'm assuming.

    This is all valuable stuff to me, because I would like to build at least one bass before I die, and living in an apartment doesn't afford me the space for Norm Abram's shop. So, building with the least amount of power tools would be highly beneficial to me.

    Thanks for all your info!
  15. I must admit it was, I done two and i still try to do as much by hand as poss.
    I've met a couple of luthiers who are real premers, that show would be great, plenty of battles about the best way to do it!!:hyper: :bassist:
  16. Scott French

    Scott French Dude Supporting Member

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    You've obviously never seen someone smash a guitar that didnt turn out right or shoot body blanks out of poor setup planer.

    The custom shop I worked at was about as interesting as any episode of American Chopper I've ever seen. Saldy they would only be able to air about 10% of the "shop talk" that goes on in there unless it was on HBO.
  17. yeah I've got a mate who builds acoustic's and he don't mind smashing em up if things don't quite go to plan!!!
    fortunatley not to often!
  18. Well, I've thrown a few tools in my time but I always regain composure before I start grabbing up the boards or blanks.

    When things go wrong - terribly, unrecoverably wrong - I just take the piece and screw it to the wall or ceiling as a warning to the other pieces of what can happen if they don't cooperate. Sort like the old Roman practice of putting the heads of their enemies on spears for other opponents to see.:D
  19. damn dude! you're just mean!
  20. Sort like the old Roman practice of putting the heads of their enemies on spears for other opponents to see.

    nice, the celts used to keep there heads in buckets of oil and get em out to show off to dinner guests, that'll stop ya moaning about the food!!!:eek: