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cross-grain laminate on headstock?

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 51
hi folks...
this is my first kit build so I want to keep thing as straightforward as I can, but ever since my '73 martin 12 string fell off the stand (ouch!) and split the headstock along the tuning pegs, I have been considering doing a two layer -bloodwood under and lacewood on top- laminate on the headstock of my slot head mahogany 000 project. I wasn't planning on binding the headstock, but thought a chamfer around the outside to expose the laminate layers could be attractive, and would match the laminate showing when I chamfer the string slots.
anyway.. here is the question, I'm assuming a cross grain orientation for the middle layer would add strength.. is this a correct assumption?

Also, is there going to be any problems cosmetically or structurally by placing the middle laminate cross grain (end grain showing on the chamfer for example) or even the thickness of two laminate layers on the face of the headstock ( shouldn't affect the tuners as the mount into the sides noth the top of the headstock i'm thinking.
by the way, the martin 12 break glued up clean and with a light scraping is nearly invisible.. not a john hall job but good enough for me as I've had this since I was a kid and the "value" is not an issue as I will never ever sell it

Jul 08, 10 | 7:15 am
Running Dog

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 103
Why would a cross grain laminate add strength?

The pull on the headstock is almost entirely lengthwise. Headstocks always (OK, almost always) break at their narrowest point, splitting along the grain. If you are concerned about strength, make the headstock with the grain parallel to the face and scarf it onto the neck shaft. Or you can laminate a backplate to the back (tension side) of the headstock. But having a thin veneer with the grain running crosswise to the pull doesn't seem to me to add anything except perhaps an interesting texture to the edges.

Jul 08, 10 | 8:58 am

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 50
maybe 'strength' was the wrong term... what I was thinking was that it would better resist splitting along the grain if I had a layer laminated with the grain perpendicular to the headstock and top laminate like plywood.

Jul 08, 10 | 9:28 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Sure, putting one layer of your wood cross grain will add strength and stability (that is why plywood is made that way) but most headstocks break at the truss rod recess (a good reason to do a sound hole adjuster) and most break because they were dropped or otherwise not treated well - seems like the best solution there is to keep it in its case.

I like to laminate a very thin (0.010 or so) contrasting layer between the neck and headplate - particularly on slotheads - but it is there for appearance, not strength. And as RD said, a scarfed joint is much stronger than a traditional one piece carved neck (and it uses a lot less wood).

btw - if you plan to stain anything (like the hog neck) do it before you add your laminates - it if very hard to keep from staining them also.

Jul 08, 10 | 11:00 am

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 50
thanks... my original reason to do a two layer faceplate laminate was mostly cosmetic... to match a bloodwood/maple binding and lacewood rosette. I didn't get the idea to place it cross grain until after mishap with my martin D18-12.
it was indeed out of the case.. on a stand... and I was standing in the same room when it fell off the stand onto the concrete floor in my basement.
I live in an old house and funny things happen here.. usually light switches turning themselves on or off... but this event was truly destructive and pi**ed me off.
now it stays in the case and my guitar stands all have the elastic bungee thin around the neck support.
Anyway thanks for your reply..doesn't sound like a lot to be gained by orienting a middle layer cross grain, and i do believe it will be easier to work the headstock chamfers if the grain is running the same direction

Jul 08, 10 | 12:45 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554

Typically when laminating, I run all grains the same direction. Wood shrinks much differently along the grain than across the grain. If the wood used for the cross grain lamination is so thick that it could shrink or swell a fair amount, the lamination could actually cause a split or conversely, the underlying wood could cause the lamination to split. Notice that the grain in the neck block and tail block run the same direction as the sides. This is for a reason: so the sides and blocks swell and contract somewhat consistently so as to not induce a crack in the rims. Granted woods react differently to humidity and mahogany is one of the most stable. Given your laminations will be quite thin and also fairly small, I doubt you would have any problem. However, if you glue the crack properly, you should end up with a joint stronger than the wood itself. I think I'd still run the grain all the same direction.


Jul 08, 10 | 12:53 pm

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 50
thanks ken.. running the laminate cross grain is starting to sound like the wrong thing to do. appreciate the help and the explanations from all

Jul 09, 10 | 10:03 am

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