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Winter 2017 Build Off - First scratch build: walnut, maple and purpleheart sandwich

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by I-Am-The-Slime, Dec 24, 2016.

  1. EDIT: I'm very pleased to join the Winter 2017 Build Off! I technically started this work two days prematurely, perhaps keep that in mind when voting? (If I ever get that far!) But also keep this in mind: This will be my first build from scratch, so pretty much everything will be a challenge :rolleyes:

    Alright folks, the time has come. I'm ready (I think) to do this!

    Not much previous building experience, this is basically it:
    Hackjob; adding a padauk top
    (I'll update that thread soon, too)

    I'll be documenting the work in real time this go 'round, hoping (but not really expecting ;)) to make fewer mistakes. Kinda doing this on the fly, no fully concrete plans yet, just a general idea of where I want to go.

    Multilaminate neck and body, made of 1/4" and 1/2" boards of walnut, maple and purpleheart. 47" and 35" length, 4.5", 5.5" and 6.5" widths. I was planning to get a twin build out of this (fretted and fretless perhaps?). I think I should be okay on lumber for two bodies, but, now that I've started ripping, I'm not sure there's enough room for two necks... more on that later.

    Here's a shot of all the boards in approximate guitar order.
    It's going to be neckthroughish :smug:
    Can you see it taking shape already?
    Sorry, I'm afraid grainy cell phone pix are the best I can do for now.

    Got the boards this week from KenCraft (Toledo, OH), unseen off ebay, $230 incl shipping. Being inexperienced, I'm not really sure how reasonable of a deal that is, but I don't think I overpaid. They had nice customer service on combined shipping.

    Lucked out with a bookmatched pair of walnut boards!
    I'll think about how to configure the tops with these.

    There is some nice flame on the 1/4" maple neck stringers (hard to see in the pic).
    I hope it will show in the final product.

    I ordered 1/42" walnut and maple veneers (2 each) from Volpe Woodworks (Louisville, KY) off ebay, ~$30. Beautiful flame on the maple!
    Got an extra sheet of (I wanna say mahogany or cherry or no clue?) veneer :)

    I'll post more on the first sawdust that fell over the last couple of days, next time!

    Thanks for watching, TB LC rocks! :bassist:

    Of course, any comments, advice, jokes are welcome!
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
    Chris_Toot, Scoops and rojo412 like this.
  2. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Awesome! Sounds like this thread should be retitled "Winter 2017 Build Off - First scratch build: walnut, maple and purpleheart sandwich" :D :D
    charlie monroe likes this.
  3. OK @Beej, you got me, pending approval, I did start two days early :D:D

    no guarantees on making the deadline :bag::nailbiting:
  4. First update

    I started on the neck, here's the plan, outside to middle
    1/4" PH - M/? veneers - 1/2" M - 1/4" W - M/W veneers - 1/4" M - 1/4" PH
    (PH=purpleheart, M=maple, W=walnut, ?=unidentified bonus veneer)
    The outside 1/4" PH & M/? veneers only go up the neck halfway, since it will be tapered.

    My widest neck board was 4.5", so I started ripping 2.25" wide stringers with the aim of gluing it all together and then cutting the whole sandwich in half to end up with two 1" thick blanks.
    I intend to use mostly hand tools BTW, although I did just get an 8" drill press :D


    Here they all are, lined up, with the veneers

    First thing I didn't account for: sawn lumber will move (I knew that :banghead:)
    The 1/4" boards are OK but the 1/2" maple looks like it warped about 1/2" along its length. That messes with my already minimal wiggle room. I should have gone with wider stringers. Gluing them under stress to straighten them out and hoping that the other boards will keep them in place seems like a bad idea. I expect to see more warping effects after the intended split to give the two blanks. I may just have to settle for getting one neck out of this, I don't know...

    Questions. In your experience, how thin can a neck blank be and still have enough room with which to work? (I plan on adding layers underneath at the body end to make it neckthrough(ish))
    Will I need CF beam reinforcement? I hadn't considered it. I thought laminate necks are supposed to be more stable, but that may well depend on who's gluing them up! :D
    Oh, and can someone name that unidentified veneer?

    Thanks for following along :thumbsup:
  5. GKon, moonshinegtrs and Gilmourisgod like this.
  6. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    Soooooo excellent... :)
    I-Am-The-Slime likes this.
  7. More "progress"

    I started gluing up neck laminates. Thought I'd start with just a couple at a time,
    1/4" walnut - maple/walnut veneers - 1/4" maple
    As you can see, it was a little messy. Felt as if I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. I used a 2x8 wrapped in newspaper as a base, and all my clamps. No caul on top, :bored: we'll call that F-up number 1 :meh:

    Yup, the glue up sucked, gaps all over the place :sour: Here's some of the worst of it after removal from the clamps and planing the next day.
    Nice view of the flame in the maple btw

    But we're not gonna give up that easy! Time to reach for the trusty clothes iron :D

    With wet folded tissue paper, a vice, and clamps, I was able to steam and squeeze the gaps back together. Here's a before and after close-up

    Rookie mistake that took up extra time to fix :thumbsdown: I hope it will hold up, they seem stably stuck together now. I expect I may have some glue lines to fill once the neck(s) is/are in final shape. I went back and forth throughout the day to fix a few gaps at a time and meanwhile assembled Neck Gluing Caul Mk1

    I trued up the 2x8 and an added 2x4 with a jointer plane I refurbished.
    I prefer shavings over dust :laugh: It was also a nice work out, I need to work on my posture though, I'm feeling it in my back today! What a mess

    Finally, I put the Mk1 caul to the test today. 1/4" walnut - maple/walnut veneers - 1/4" maple - 1/4" purpleheart
    Much calmer operation this time. I hope it's going to solve the issue, we'll see tomorrow...

    That gets us all caught up, time for a beer! :hyper:

    Concerning my previous questions, Bueller... Bueller... :help::D

    Thanks for watching :)
  8. While I'm certain you can go a bit thinner, I think the generally accepted limit (I've seen it expressed here a few times and measured the same on a Carvin neck) is 3/16" under the truss rod. I'm not exactly clear where you would be adding material, but I think you could subtract that from the overall thickness (depending on orientation and where you will add it).
  9. Thanks @Jisch

    My truss rods are still with USPS
    Amazon.com: Kmise A2642 Bass Guitar Tailpiece: Musical Instruments
    but I think they are 0.3" tall, so that should leave plenty of room if I can end up with 3/4" thick blanks.

    The idea is to make kind of a mix between set-neck and neckthrough. Adding laminates under the neck at the body end to make it as thick as the body, so that the wings can be glued on last. Hope that makes more sense :)

    I'm still pondering a neck angle and how the requirements for the thickness of the neck blanks is influenced by that (perhaps unnecessary) complication.

    What about scarf joints? Doable with 3/4"?

    Sorry, there will always be more questions :D
  10. I would still leave 3/16" behind the truss rod even if you're adding material behind the neck blank within the body, but that's me. I recall some people saying you could go thinner.

    I haven't done a scarf joint, so I can't speak to that.
  11. I lied, there's $7 shipping on the ebay rods, still...

    Second neck laminate glue up released from the caul
    Better, not perfect, but sooo much better :thumbsup:

    Moving on, adding more stringers

    Feelin' good, plan to add the last outside stringers + veneers tomorrow :)
  12. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I added cf rods to my Hossenfeffer build because I didn't want to use double truss rods. Opinions vary, I did it because the Warmouth neck I have is really stable, and they use a trussrod and two cf rods. The concern is that the neck will be TOO stiff for the trussrod to work properly. I left the 3/16" of wood Jisch describes under the rods, which effectively set my neck thickness. I don't know how mine will act under string tension yet, but now that my neck is carved, I've been able to easily dial out the tiny backbow that developed after fretting, so I'm hopeful it will work out. @brucejohnson recently weighed in on this, he doesn't use cf rods, but has come up with a cf backstrap idea. I'll see if I can find the thread. A scarf joint is generally considered stronger than not, haven't done one yet. If you have a volute and a relatively low headstock angle, I think you can get away without one, particularly in a laminated neck sandwich where the grain is alternating.

    Edit: here's the thread I mentioned on CF rods
    Neck reinforcement rods vs truss rod
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
    I-Am-The-Slime likes this.
  13. GKon

    GKon Supporting Member, Boom-Chicka-Boom

    Feb 17, 2013
    Queens, NY
    I-Am-The-Slime likes this.
  14. Thanks @Gilmourisgod

    I guess the thing I'm unsure about is how much extra wood is good to work with.
    IOW how close to final thickness should I make my neck blanks?
  15. Manton Customs

    Manton Customs UK Luthier

    Jan 31, 2014
    Shropshire, UK
    Luthier, Manton Customs
    If that 3/4" doesn't include the fingerboard you're fine. The fingerboard will add what's needed. So 3/4" is ok, as with a 1/4" fingerboard you'll end up with 1". which is quite thick if you're gluing a heel on

    I've built necks at 3/4" at the nut including the fingerboard before. These used a 3/8" deep DA rod but a slightly thinner fingerboard. I like a 1/8" minimum behind the truss rod.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  16. Frederiek


    Aug 8, 2016
    Ooo... subbed!
    I-Am-The-Slime likes this.
  17. Crusher47

    Crusher47 Tattoo'ed Freak Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2014
    Fort Worth, TX
    I-Am-The-Slime likes this.
  18. Time for another update! Where were we? Right, the neck(s). All the laminates had been glued up and have now been released from the clamps.

    Sharpened the blades on my planes

    The purpleheart is especially tough to work with. It often just wants to be planed in one direction, even with fresh blades, which makes it difficult with laminations that want opposing directions...

    Looks good, no obvious glue lines :hyper:

    OK, at this point I had about 2" thickness. We're aiming at two 3/4" blanks. Let 'r rip!

    Took a looong time (about 1 h, with breaks) but went pretty smoothly. I rushed it at the end, though, and that cost a couple tenths of an inch to correct.

    It's all cool though! We currently have two blanks, each with a trued face and at ~0.85" at the thinnest point
    I'm very pleased just to get this far! This is my first time doing anything like this. Who knew I'd get from a Luthiers-Corner addiction to watching a hundred youtube videos on refurbishing planes and finally making it rain multicolored shavings of my own?! Not to mention being part of the build off, cool to see other firsts, as well as the advanceds, and very advanceds :), I hope I can pull this off! So far, so good, I think.

    In principle, this could be brought to "final" blank thickness by careful planing, and scraping. Not that I wasn't careful this time, but I'd definitely need to be more careful. Chipout beyond the intended thickness would be very unDude, you know. :cool:

    So, as mentioned earlier, I just got a drill press (8" Wen). I also got a safe-T-planer, yikes! :nailbiting: I've manufactured a table and a fence, now to work up the nerve to try this! Some test runs are in order, and a serious clean up, tomorrow maybe, I'm beat! :laugh:
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017

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