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Winter Build Off 2018 - Walnut Overload

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by rojo412, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    *** EDIT: I've changed the title of this project to WALNUT OVERLOAD. I think the pics below should be able to explain why. ***

    So far, all I can say is there's a bit irony. I've been preparing for this for quite a while, but now that it's here, I feel completely unprepared. And of course, for the first 2 days of the build off, I'm scheduled at work... so all I can do is start this thread as a place holder.

    Here's some of what I'm going to be working with:

    Certainly no shortage there!

    As for design, I started drawing up some designs a little while back. My first instinct was to do a freeform shape, making it a hippie sandwich for a showy display of woods. The unfortunate coincidence of that is, it usually ends up looking too much like a Carl Thompson. I have no problem with the comparison, but that's not really my goal. So long story short, the shape is a maybe...

    The truth of this shape is, it's just a slightly modified version of last year's template. But seeing as I wanted to show off the hippie sandwich aspect, I figured something akin to this would accommodate that well.

    So anyway, it'll be 2 days before I can actually start getting a full size sketch going, as well as dimension cutting some of that walnut, but here's the basic ideas so far:

    - Walnut/maple/mahogany body wings, layered up like a deli sandwich
    - Neck through or at least deep set neck, walnut and something else, with carbon rods, tilt headstock
    - 32" scale, walnut FB
    - ABM bridge, Hipshot Tuners, handmade tailpiece (doing it so you can use 34" strings on a 32" scale)
    - 2 Status pickups under a custom wood cover, run passive vol/tone with a possible S/P switch

    More to come!
    I'm excited to get this started and look forward to watching everyone do their thing. This is my favorite time of year now.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2017
  2. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    By the way, just for some eye candy, I made some cutting boards for christmas gifts for the family...

    Maybe the walnut fans in the house will dig that. It sure got me inspired to make some bass-related sawdust.
    petch, andruca, rogerbmiller and 4 others like this.
  3. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    Wow, those cutting boards came out nice! What type of finish are you using?
    rogerbmiller and rojo412 like this.
  4. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Thanks! I used about 4 coats of Howard Cutting Board Oil and then finished it off with the beeswax/oil stuff they make.
    handofseven and mapleglo like this.
  5. those are nice! I should do that for Xmas presents!
    rojo412 likes this.
  6. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I started drawing up a 1/4 scale version on paper and the initial shape with the upper horn flourish wasn't looking... good, in my eyes. The neck being in place just knocked the look out of whack. So here's what I have so far:

    It's still a work in progress, but I think I'm on the right track. As soon as the holiday is over with, I can start making some cuts and gluing. I wish I knew how to CAD or whatever people do on computers. But this keeps me occupied and mechanical pencils are cheap, so what the hey...
    Phyzzbin, rogerbmiller, BeeTL and 4 others like this.
  7. b3e


    Sep 5, 2017
    Warsaw, Poland
    I found that drawing on paper/cardboard is quicker and gives me a better orientation in size, shape and proportions than peeking through that tiny computer screen. I like to cut out the cardboard templates later and see how the really feel on the body. Adjusting or redrawing and recutting until I get it right. That's the way I'm moving on with my Singlecuts build. You're going great, keep sketching!:))
  8. I do the same, I start with a conceptual drawing of just the body on a piece of paper, then I made a full size mock up out of cardboard and adjust as I go. Then when I start cutting wood, I make further adjustments, for comfort, balance and wood grain.
    rojo412 likes this.
  9. I-Am-The-Slime


    Jan 8, 2010
    SW VA
    That looks all kinds o' cool!
    rogerbmiller and rojo412 like this.
  10. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Usually, I use a full size paper drawing. And I still will! Parchment paper was always good for that, easy to erase and whatnot. But I'll be hornswaggled if I'm going anywhere near a grocery store today!
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Okay, no more excuses! No more holidays, no more birthdays, no plans for NYE. I finished moving 2 new (used) couches into the living room... It's time to make some mess.

    Starting with the core of this project was the best way to attack, IMO. So I did that. I got my 1/4" mahogany and 5/16" walnut body wing cores dimensioned:

    And to keep them from drifting under gluing/clamping pressure, I doweled the corners:

    Then I glued up everything. Since I don't have an awesome press setup, this is always harrowing. But I did have an epiphany! There's a keyboard stand that has been in my bass mint for ages. So I decided to set everything up on that. Using some old table saw extensions, some crap cabinet wood, and some wax paper, I made the "bread" of the clamping sandwich. Then I slathered the Titebond mayo on everything, finally clamping it like a panini press (I think I'm kinda hungry...):

    So that can dry for a solid day while I go to the daily grind tomorrow.
    And if you are a dust-o-phobe, avert your eyes... my planer doesn't have the dust collection piece, so I just shoot it into the corner, then sweep up.

    That's at LEAST 65% walnut.

    Thursday will be fun. Neck blank construction, full size drawings, more sawdust, and 80s alternative all day in the shop.
    Until then: beer, sleep, work, repeat.
  12. Scoops

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

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I really like this formula!
    rogerbmiller, handofseven and rojo412 like this.
  13. BeeTL

    BeeTL Commercial User

    Sep 26, 2006
    Oldsmar, FL
    Brad Lowe, Lowe Custom Guitars
    Using table saw extensions as clamping cauls is brilliant!
  14. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Well thank you, but it was definitely just something out of need. My buddy gave me an old 50s Craftsman table saw and it was basically just a work table/flat surface for the time I had it. And the extensions only served to slide down whatever wall they leaned against... until I needed to clamp body woods together. They were stiff, flat, and damn near perfectly shaped for body blank halves.

    But still, if I had my druthers, I'd do something like what Pete Skjold uses:

    Screen Shot 2017-12-27 at 12.30.59 AM.png
    It's a metal frame (custom built) with a few bottle jacks underneath that raise up the body blank parts and has an adjustable top, so you can do few or many at once. He explains it in the video and some day, I may attempt a smaller scale version... but it puts the saw extensions to shame.
    rogerbmiller, Beej and BeeTL like this.
  15. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I found my top. It was hidden in one of the big, table-sized pieces of walnut. After some planing, here's what I got:

    It's not bookmatched, but since this will have a gap between the tops, I don't care! This piece looks hot. And the grain will match the contours of the body wings well.

    IMG_4281.JPG (Not the greatest sample pic, but there's a lot of work to do still!)

    I also managed to glue up the neck blank. Since the longest pieces I had weren't quite long enough for a full-on "neck-thru", this will be a deep set neck. But it will be mounted on a tone block and not be bolt on, so I think it functions about the same. And honestly, once you rout for a pickup, is it truly neck thru?


    Or, I could always make a false "butt end" of a neck through and it would appear fully through. But I'll see how my bridge ideas go before making that call.

    Here's the full sized drawing (so far):

    That's it for today! Before the next time, I need to get a new router table. My home brew setups are not adequate for me anymore and this project basically will command it.
  16. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Really nice looking piece of walnut. Will the top be oriented like it is in your pictures? With the sweeping grain across the upper bout and that figured, burl-looking section in the center of the body?
  17. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    There will be a gap with the neck woods, pickup and bridge. So these will be on the wings. But yeah, the figure will follow the shape of the body.
    Beej and Reedt2000 like this.
  18. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Vancouver Island
    That swirly walnut top is killah...
    Reedt2000 and rojo412 like this.
  19. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    So here's what I managed to do today...

    Found my "tone block" for the body:

    Cut the accent mahogany for the wings (and this stuff rings out like CRAZY when you tap it):

    Planed the schmutz off of the neck:

    And slapped it together for the rough sketch of the overall vibe:


    And that doesn't even include the veneer yet.
    I have a lot of planning to do when it comes to placement of the wings, so I can chamber it properly. And of course, I need to figure out the plan for the headstock, but that's not terribly hard.

    This is by far the most complex build I've ever attempted. And I haven't even started with the bridge or pickup cover plans. So I'm definitely hoping to have proper time allotted for this.

    Speaking of complex, I started to do the "math" on the wood percentages. And I tell ya, it's not easy. I may need @Scoops to help me figure out the formula. There's 3 dimensions to consider, but then wood gets removed. So are we starting with the 65% as the pre-cut amount dimensional? Or is it volume? Weight?

    As I was figuring, the neck blank came out to 90% walnut in width. And if I went with the height, assuming I didn't use walnut for the board (jury's out), it's 79% in height, but that doesn't account for stringers. Of course, once I cut the taper, the walnut % drops.
    And if we're talking "neck thru", does the tone block count as body or neck?

    Maybe I'm just overthinking this. Maybe the idea of "It should be predominantly walnut to count for this event" is all I need to have in my head. Is that fair? If so, I'm cracking open a beer and not worrying.
    (if not, I'm still cracking open a beer, you can't stop me :thumbsup:)
  20. Speaking only for myself: this is a fun contest, intent is 9/10ths of the law.

    Looking great and what kind of beer? Opening a Tree House DIPA at the moment.
    rojo412 likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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