Woodworking Talk banner

1 - 20 of 110 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
A couple of months ago I dove into making a Stratocaster-type guitar. And I've learned a lot since then. Here's a few pics of the progress:


I took a 1/4" body template that I bought, made a 3/4" template and cut a body our from 8/4 figured sapele.


I then took a to-scale drawing of a '62 style neck and made a 1/4" template out of that. I also made templates for the back of neck shape at the 1st and 12th frets.


I made sure the neck template fit the pocket in the template.


After taking a piece of pine construction lumber and shaping a trial neck, I decided to use figured cherry to make the real neck. I had already made up a template with a piece of 4/4 QS maple.


I made a jig to take a fret template for cutting the fret slots. I used a blade specifically designed for cutting the slots.


After attempting to sand the radius into the fretboard, I decided to make a jig/sled to route the 12" radius. As long as you take small bites and take your time, it works great.


Next was to drill for the fret dots. I found I had purchased 5/16" diameter dots when I thought I had bought 1/4" dia. They won't work.


Rather than spend $125 on a fret bender, I made one. It does the job. The bottom rollers are from a screen door.


You get absolutely nothing when buying most guitar parts. So you have to wait until they arrive and figure it out yourself. These are Schaller tuners and require a stepped bit. Problem is they also require reaming the large hole to fully seat. (see above) You can't get the reamer all the way into the large hole because the smaller hole stops it. I had to scrape the inside of the hole to get the tuner to fully seat.


Right now I'm working on finishing the body. I made a "rotisserie" from some 2x6 lumber and a conduit bender handle. That way I can get all around the guitar without having to set it down.

Today I'll be again working on the finish and getting the body ready for lacquer. I have to finish assembling a neck (I decided on a curly maple neck instead) and then shape it. The head and foot of the neck will be gloss lacquer. The back of the neck will be satin lacquer. And the fretboard (either ebony or cocobolo) will have a coating of fretboard finishing oil on it.

Still lots to do! :smile:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Dude that fret bender is genius - your homemade tools are really smart - as a guitar player and super newb to woodworking, I'm subscribing to this thread for inspiration
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,445 Posts
Looks great so far. I really admire your willingness to do the neck yourself...I was too skeered! I also like the fret bender....very ingenious. :thumbsup:

After all this effort, I hope you're looking into some good aftermarket pickups, and not the run of the mill pup kits from a $100 knock off guitar. It really makes a big difference in how the guitar sounds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Nice work. I've done way to many, both acoustic and electric. Even got a few into celebrity tour buses. Don't do them anymore but If you have any questions I'd be glad to share any tips or tricks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
After all this effort, I hope you're looking into some good aftermarket pickups, and not the run of the mill pup kits from a $100 knock off guitar. It really makes a big difference in how the guitar sounds.
I've got two sets of pups right now. One is a set of Seymour Duncan Everything Axe and the other is taken from a Gilmour Black Strat build and has a Seymour Duncan SSL-5 Custom Staggered Bridge Pickup, Fender Custom Shop Custom '69 Middle Pickup and a Fender Custom Shop Fat '50s Neck Pickup. This guitar will get the latter.

As a woodworker, I'm finding I can't my love for a particular wood grain override tried and true woods used for particular parts of the guitar. The cherry neck is an example of that. It may have been beautiful, but it was an impractical choice for something that needs to be thin, sturdy and hold up under a lot of handling. I also made up some jatoba and cherry fretboards that most likely never be part of any guitar I build.

But it's all a learning experience and more fun than I have ever had woodworking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I started playing around with applying the shellac sealer. As I had applied alcohol-based dye, I wasn't surprised to see some of the dye come up with the shellac. I was prepared for that and had already tinted the shellac with dye.




The pictures show yellow that I don't see under normal room lighting. Maybe it will be different in a sunlit room.

In order to get some idea which fretboard I'll be using, I put on the pickguard assembly, jack plate and trem and took pictures of each of the three fretboard woods I felt were good candidates - ebony, cocobolo and maple.

None of the fretboards have any finish on them. All will be darker and richer in color. Here at home, ebony has been voted off the island. ;)

I'm still in a quandary about how I'm going to spray the lacquer. Mother Nature isn't cooperating but it is January in Chicago, so I'm not expecting much help for a while. In the meantime, I got back to the neck...

The lack of any kind of reliable drawings really challenges anyone going into this. The vintage tuners are pretty straightforward, so long as you get them properly aligned. The German made tuners (Schaller and Fender American) are a bit trickier. They have alignment posts on the back instead of screws mounted on the back.

I mentioned in an earlier post you can't buy a tapered reamer for stepped pegholes. Yesterday, I found I was wrong. I found them in the StewMac catalog. I have already made a sanding-type reamer that works OK. I had to turn a dowel on the lathe and then wrap it with PSA sandpaper. I had to guess on the taper when turning the dowel.

But the real challenge was making sure the holes for the tuner pins were in proper alignment. It's very easy to spin it off being perpendicular to the edge of the headstock and parallel to each other. I still haven't done that to my satisfaction. And yes, Stewie has a jig for that too. (Twist my arm!)

I did, however, get the drilling of the pegholes down pat.

I found the location for the top of the headstock to be butted against for drilling the first hole.


So I turned a dowel on the lathe to the exact size of the smaller diameter hole in the stepped hole and used that to set the spacing between successive holes. The hole to the left in the MDF is spaced the exact distance between the pegholes on the headstock. The arrow is where the drill bit sets.


Perfect! By moving the pin to the newly drilled hole, it's easy to drill the rest of the holes.

From there I took the neck to the bandsaw and cut just shy of the eventual 14mm thickness the headstock needs to be...


Then on to the spindle sander to take it to 14mm. (These two pics are from sample necks. These step would not normally be done until after the fretboard was glued on.)



I used turner's tape to attach the block to the neck to keep the lines of the nut parallel to the sanding drum. I also found out you need to keep all the pressure against the fence, applied at the head. I placed my hand on the tail of the neck and, without realizing it, I had pulled the head into the drum and created a gouge. :eek: You can't even touch any other part of the neck than the headstock if you don't want that to happen.

I rough-installed the tuners and they all fit snugly. I also checked string alignment (tangent off the tuner posts) and they all lined up very well with the anticipated location for each string. I'm feeling pretty confident about this part of the build.

Once we decide which fretboard to use, I'll glue it onto the neck and start shaping the back of the neck. I'm actually looking forward to this part. :smile:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Damn That is awesome. Where did you get the templates?
I got the templates for the body from Ron Kirn. You can find his templates on eBay. But the neck pocket needs to be adjusted if you plan on buying pickguards for a Strat.

I had to make the neck template. I got plans for that and a lot of other stuff at GitarreBassBau.de

You can make all the templates for a lot of different guitars from that website. Just make sure the plans are scaled 1:1 (full scale). I took the PDF files to Staples and had them make up full size plans. Then I made sure they matched the Kirn templates. That's when I found the discrepancy in the neck pocket. The plans matched the Strat-style pickguard I'm using.

The deeper I get into this project, the more I want to customize it, rather than make a clone. I'm already thinking of modifying the headstock. I guess that's what happens once you dive into something like this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
The point of no return!

This was hard for me. I've been so afraid I'd forget something that it's taken me several days to do this. But now it's done. I first applied silicone sealant in the truss rod slot (just a dab top, middle & bottom), inserted the truss rod, cleaned up the excess and let it cure overnight. This morning I checked to make sure the parts that are supposed to move actually do.

To make sure I got everything aligned correctly, I drove in two small brad nails, on at either end and on different sides of the truss rod, and cut them off. Then I filed a point on them and aligned the fretboard and pressed it down on the neck, leaving two small impressions in the fretboard.


Then it was time for the glue-up.

I placed a piece of tape over the truss rod so I wouldn't get any glue in there.


I used the radius beam for a gluing caul. And now it's done. No going back...

I'm going to shape and sand the neck before spraying lacquer on the body so I can do both at the same time. It's 1 degree today and it's going to stay in single digits for almost a week, so there will be no spraying outside. Still trying to decide how that work will get done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
530 Posts
Although you used tape to prevent getting glue on the rod, when you clamped it did you risk squeezing glue onto the rod (I assume you removed the tape prior to the clamping)?

Fascinating build thread; very very cool.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
While I did my best not to overload the joint with glue, I also didn't want it glue-starved. So there's a chance the glue worked its way into the truss channel. But I checked the operation of the truss rod and it works fine. And yes, I did remove the tape before gluing. :thumbsup:

I started the shaping just after the last post. First step was to get an approximate shape where the headstock and neck meet. I used a rasp to rough it down.


Once I had that roughed in, I took out the spokeshave. It's much faster and doesn't leave marks.


When I had the neck pretty much shaped and sanded, I looked at it and something that's been nagging me for a while came to the surface. All I've been doing is making a clone. Outside of the woods used, nothing was from my imagination. It was going to be just another copy. And that bothered me.

So I went to the bandsaw with a neck that is 95% complete and began cutting. :eek: I didn't take out one of the many practice pieces I had. I took the almost finished neck. It was late. I was tired. I should have walked away but I knew this was inevitable.

The newly cut headstock compared to how it started:


I liked the shape but knew I had to do something to beef up the headstock so it could take the string tension. I had been thinking how I could incorporate sapele into the headstock to tie it into the body. Now I had the opportunity. Or should I say the need? :laughing: But I first had to make templates and match the joints perfectly for profiling and glue-up.

Getting those two pieces to match perfectly was a lot of work! :sweatdrop:

I then took a piece of sapele from the same stock as the body and rough cut it on the bandsaw. Then I profiled it on the router and did a test fit.

The lines are different shapes I was experimenting with to finish off the headstock. The red pencil mark is the original shape. Nothing was working for me.

After sleeping on it, I think I just need to stick with the original shape. It fits the body and provides the necessary support for string tension. The different woods will hopefully fool the eye away from being just another clone and the sapele will tie in the maple head with the body.
 

·
Wood Snob
Joined
·
5,963 Posts
folkrock75 said:
Dude that fret bender is genius - your homemade tools are really smart - as a guitar player and super newb to woodworking, I'm subscribing to this thread for inspiration
That's dudet.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Yesterday I glued up the piece of sapele to the trimmed headstock. Once it was set, I again began the headstock shaping process. It still needs some final sanding but here is how it looks with a little mineral spirits to bring out the grain:


Even my SO, who usually only provides constructive criticism :glare:, loved it. The sapele was the right choice and I like how the contrasting colors break up the light maple color. Though I still kept the traditional '62 headstock shape, it works with the traditional body.

I did all the soldering yesterday, except the jack. I routed a small slot in the pickguard to take a switch (circled in red) I added that will activate the neck pickup, regardless of where the 5-way switch is.


I had to make a bracket to recess the switch because I couldn't justify paying $30 for a pre-made one. That was a little tricky and by the time I was done I was wondering if it would have been worth the $30. :blink:

I'm getting close to spraying the finish but Ma Nature isn't getting close to providing the weather that would enable me to spray outside. We're heading for a record -18 in the next 24 hours. Where's global warming when you need it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I kinda threw it together to see if I'm on the right track...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Time to do the fretwire...

I wanted to clip the tang back a bit so it won't show once installed. I'm going to lay some cocobolo dust in the slots on the sides and dab a drop of superglue on it to finish the edges.


I cleaned the fretwire with acetone then ran it through my homemade bender to put a radius bend on it.

In all the videos I've seen, the luthier cuts all the fret wires and lays them out or puts them in a holder that has numbers on it to correspond to which fret it is. I decided to tap the ends in on each one then take them to the press.

The black "pliers" are tang nippers.

I found a sand-filled bag in the garage my older son left from working on his '72 Mustang and used that for supporting the neck during the press-in. I started with a 7.5" radius insert, then finished with a 12" radius. The bag was iffy. You have to set the neck firmly in place but the sand still moves under pressure.


After all the fretwires were pressed in place, I took a file and went over the edges until the file just kissed the wood. Then I finished each fret with a small fret end file.

I'm thinkin' I might actually have myself a gee-tar one day.

The neck bowed back a bit but not enough to cause concern. I'm guessing the string tension will pull it back pretty easily. There's a nice .005" fall off just after the 15th fret. It's all looking pretty good so far.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
The progress on the guitar is on hold until supplies come in. But I did get the pearl side dots installed and the fret cuts filled in.


The pearl side dots required more precision than the front dots. The drill bit depth needed is so minute you have to stop drilling almost as soon as the bit hits the wood. I had to use tweezers to hold them over the hole then use another tool to push them into the hole.

I've been preparing to make a pearl inlay for the logo on the headstock but I'm just too inexperienced at the moment to tackle that for this guitar. What I wanted to do was lay the logo half way along the line of the two woods and have the top half be dark and the bottom pearl. I just don't know what material I could use for the top. I haven't found any black pearl for inlay use. So for now, I'll probably just go with a waterslide decal so I can get it together and see how it sounds.
 

·
master sawdust maker
Joined
·
437 Posts
Awesome build! for the logo you said you are looking for something dark to use in the maple head stock? have you considered using metal? something like a bronze, I would think that you could get a small sheet of an oil rubbed variety. I think it would be a good contrast between the woods and pearl as well as the light and dark.
 
1 - 20 of 110 Posts
Top