25. November 2011 · Comments Off on Fingerboard part 1 · Categories: Guitar Builds

For the fingerboard, we used a pre-slotted, pre-radiused fretboard. This makes the job a lot easier and saves plenty of time. This fingerboard came ready for 24 frets so we will need to remove the extra fingerboard length for this guitar. Cut the fretboard at the 23rd slot and sand to the final length. Make sure you account for your binding thickness.

Fretboard with extra length removedWe are next going to taper the fingerboard. Sorry I forgot to take picture of these steps. I will try my best to explain the procedure. First I marked the center of the fingerboard and then proceeded to mark the 43mm width at the nut and 58mm width at the body end. Make sure you again account for the binding thickness. On a table saw, we cut a scrape board (used a piece of mdf) to about 12″ wide. After cutting the board do no move the table saw fence. Using double side tape, tape the fingerboard to the scrape board lining up the 43mm and 58mm marks. After running the fingerboard through the table saw you will have one side of the fingerboard tapered. Repeat this process on the other side.

Fretboard taperedFor the next step I like to use painters tape protect the wood and mark where the inlay marks will go. After taping the position of the inlays you should double check inlay position against a guitar. Many guitar builders have accidentally put inlays on the incorrect fret position.

Fretboard ready for inlay installationLay each inlay into position and trace the inlay with a x-acto knife.

Tracing inlays positionRemove the inlays and go over the trace with the knife again to deepen mark. This will help the fingerboard from chipping when you’re routing the inlay pockets.

Fretboard ready for routing of inlay cavitiesTo route the inlay pocket I used a dremel with a router base and small endmill. This dremel router isn’t the best and requires a lot work to keep centered. We would recommend an upgraded to the dremel router base. The fingerboard was installed on a piece of MDF and clamped into place with acrylic plastic strips. The acrylic strips acted as a straight edge for the router base to run against. With some patients everything came out ok.

Router bit used to route inlay cavitiesInlay cavity routedInlay cavity routed Here is a close-up picture of the fingerboard with the inlays installed. Any gaps will be filled will be filled with Testors plastic cement and fine rosewood sanding dust.

View of inlays before glueingWe will continue working on the fingerboard in the next blog entry which will include gluing in the inlays, fretting and binding the fingerboard.

14. November 2011 · Comments Off on New Fret Polishing Rubber Erasers! · Categories: Tools

We offer this new easy and fast fret polishing tools. These don’t have the problem of steel wool. Erase the small scratches or polish the dirty frets. Because of their softness, the rubber fits to the fret arch perfectly and won’t deform the fret. Also the soft rubber keeps the fingerboard damage to a minimum (still need tape protection if the eraser will rub the fingerboard). They are easy to cut with a knife for easy shaping or hard to reach areas. Come in three different grits 180/400 grit set (1 of each size) or a 1000 grit set(2 pieces).

   Fret polishing erasersFret polishing erasersBefore polishingBefore and After polishing

14. November 2011 · Comments Off on The maple top · Categories: Guitar Builds

We didn’t use a book matched maple set for this top. I found two boards that look very similar and glued them together with Titebond wood glue. After joining we planed the top to a 5/8″ thickness. Trace the body outline from the template to the maple board. You will be using the center seam as your center line throughout this build so make sure it accurate. Rough cut the maple using a bandsaw and leave about 1/8″ at the outer edge. You will be trimming the extra with a router once the top is glued to the mahogany body.

Maple top rough cut from bandsawTrace the pickup routes onto the maple top using one of the templates. Drill two pilot holes in the pickup pocket to help you when gluing the maple top to the body. Carefully clamp the top to the body to dry fit without glue. Once everything is lined up, screw two drywall screws into predrilled holes.

Test fit of maple to mahogonyRemove the screws and separate the two pieces. Tape the edge of the mahogany body to protect it from glue squeeze out. I used hide glue but you can also use titebond to join the two pieces. When working with hide glue you need to work quickly. Make sure you plan out the steps ahead of time and have everything within easy reach. Spread on the glue to the top and body and leave about 1/4″ of space around the wire channel and controls cavities. Spread a nice even coat that isn’t to thick. Join the two pieces and line up the center lines. Screw the two drywall screws. These will help things from shifting during assembly. Start clamping and make sure to keep checking the center line. I end up using most of the clamps I own. Don’t forget to get clamps into the center area.

Maple top being glued to bodyAfter the glue has dried overnight you can remove the clamps. Flush trim the top to body with a router. Finish the sides by using an oscillating spindle sander for the inside curves and a block sand for the outer curve. Spend a lot of time to ensure a smooth surface. Use your hand and a good light source.

Maple top routed to backAnother picture of maple top routed to backNext I drill small pilot holes for the volume/tone controls, and toggle switch. One thing I should have done was drill the pilot holes for the tailpiece. Doing this now while the surface is flat is a lot easier than when you already have the carved top.

Body already for top carveOur next update we will take a break from the body and work on the fingerboard.

07. November 2011 · Comments Off on Control Cavities, Wire channel, and back roundover. · Categories: Guitar Builds

We will start by mounting the control cavity template to the back of the guitar using double side tape. Make sure and using the center lines drawn earlier to help with alignment of the template. We will use a forstner bit to remove most of the material before using the router to finish the job. To make a vintage looking bottom do not go all the way through. Leave about 5/16″ of material at the bottom of the cavity. You will use the router to get the final depth of the bottom. If go to deep with the forstner bit, the bottom will be littered with the center marks from the bit.

Hogging out material After removing majority of the material with the forstner bit you will use the router with a top bearing pattern bit. Do not try to remove all the material in one pass. Go down about 1/4″-1/2″ at a time and go slow. Leave about 1/16″ at the bottom of the control cavity and 1/8″ at the bottom of the switch cavity for the vintage look.

Attach the control cavity cover template using double side tape. Using a top bearing pattern bit, route the control cavity recesses. Check your control cavity thickness and go to a depth of the cover plus about 1/32″ to account for the paint thickness. You don’t want your control cavity to sit above the finish. Test fit the covers.

Backplate test fitMount the wire channel template to the front of the guitar using a screw in the pickup cavity area. Route the wire channel to a depth of 1/2″.

Wire channel routedHere are two pictures of the back, you can see the wire channel entering the control cavity.

Finished control cavityCloseup of control cavityPut a 3/16″ radius bit, with the bottom bearing, on the router. Route the roundover on the back edge all the way around the guitar.

Back with roundover doneAt this point I would want to weight the guitar body. A good weight for a blank at this stage of the build is less than 5 lbs. This one came in at 4 lbs 13 oz. Perfect. If it weighted more that 5 lbs I would consider either drilling large holes (swiss cheese) or chambering the body. There is many pictures online on how Gibson did this to the Les Paul to keep the weight down on the guitars.

Next we will start on the maple top.