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PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 6:52 pm 
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Just checking in to keep this train rolling (or rather getting it moving again from a long standstill). I wonder what is the record for the project that took the longest...

I have made some progress that hasn't been posted here yet. I have a closed box, a dovetail mortise, a neck blank, scarf joint and heel block done. I'll have to post some pics and a recap.

A question has arisen: where do you usually put the trussrod in relation to the length of the neck? Does it start around the first fret? I see a lot of different ways out there.


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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 9:18 am 
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 8:03 am
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Location: Chestertown Maryland
The first project I started the year we were married in 1971 was a large free-standing cabinet about 4-1/2 feet tall with 4 drawers and 2 doors under. Nothing but pretty clear oiled pine. I got it done but for the drawers and put in in my shop using the drawer area for shelves. 2 years ago, 2017, my youngest daughter got married and said she would like to have it, so I made the drawers and gave it to her. I am sure this is not the record, but 46 years is not nuthin'. Remember Notre Dame cathedral took 200 years.

Ed


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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 1:51 pm 
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Talladam wrote:
A question has arisen: where do you usually put the trussrod in relation to the length of the neck? Does it start around the first fret? I see a lot of different ways out there.


I've honestly not really noticed where the truss rod hits as far as fret number. Just make sure that the widened end, where the allen wrench fits, which is about the last ~ 3/4-1", extends beyond the dovetail/bolt-on tenon.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:41 pm 
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Just wanted to get this updated to where I am at the moment. I glued the back on without incident. I removed the overhang with a flush trim router bit, which I was nervous of but went fine. I actually have 1/32" or so still hanging over. I'm not sure why this is, it may be because I had tape on the sides to prevent the bearing from marking up my sides. The rest should be taken off by the router bit for the binding. I actually have a friend who is going to let me use his binding jig, so I'm a bit relieved that I don't have to build one. I probably will someday, but maybe I'll learn something about it from how he built his.

I am also partway through the neck. I started with a piece of poplar to get the hang of the neck construction. I found dimensioning the neck blank with a hand plane quite tricky. I figure if anything needs to be square and straight it is the neck, so I took my time. I did a scarf joint on the poplar blank first. I considered many ways to do this with the tools I have, but in the end I just set my bandsaw up and cut it freehand. I put a 1/2" 3TPI blade on it awhile ago and it really made the thing work nicely. The scarf joint on the poplar blank ended up with a bit of a visible glue joint when all was clamped together, so when the time came to repeat it with the mahogany blank I spent alot of time making sure that the surfaces mated perfectly. It's very easy to create a high spot in the middle of a surface, then when gluing one side of the joint looks super tight. In the case of the scarf joint, the other side was clamped down to a straight board thus the slightly crappy joint. I did a better job on the mahogany blank and am happy with the joint.

At this point I took out the chunk of mahogany for the neck heel (one solid block) and realized it had cracked. Upon investigating, it seemed like the crack extended a ways into the block so I had to get a new piece of Mahogany. I don't know if the piece was poorly dried when I received it or if it was a victim of my dry house. I bought a new piece that was 1" thick and decided to make a stacked heel. Unfortunately this piece is a slightly different shade than the original blank so I'll either have to live with the color difference or do some staining. Making sure all the little pieces of the stacked heel fit together to avoid a gappy joint was trickier than expected and I spent a good bit of time planing and using a flat sanding board before I was satisfied. The joints were all great until I realized I had glued the block to the very end of the neck blank without considering that the blank was over length! After stepping back for awhile I realized the curve of the heel wouldn't work the way the block was so I cut the block off with the bandsaw, replaned both surfaces and glued them back together. Still looks nice and tight. I'll post a few pics here and do another update in awhile.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:44 pm 
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A bit more progress has been made. I've actually spent quite a bit of time working on the guitar, but mostly on the neck so it is hard to see the progress. Part of the issue is that I have been building a poplar 'practice neck' at the same time as the good mahogany one. It really has been a good idea, there were a couple times where I was really happy that I started with the Poplar neck. On the other hand it is a bit frustrating when you do a great job on a practice neck and then have to go back and try to do the same thing again! Makes you wonder if you got lucky the first time.

First I measured three times and cut the neck to length. This had to be at an angle to match the angle of the top to the sides. This is where I was happy to have done the practice neck, I got the angle backwards. Used the wrong leg of my bevel guage. I cut the poplar neck with the bandsaw, but it didn't really cut as nice as I wanted. Maybe the blade is getting dull? I've been having good luck with my carcass saw lately so I cut a really nice knife line all the way around the mahogany neck and took a chance. It turned out fine. I left an extra bit of length so I planed it to perfection with a sharp block plane. Took quite awhile to get everything flat and at the correct angle (twice, I did both necks). Still with a tiny bit extra length (for neck set sanding) I scribed the shoulders of the dovetail. At this point I got out a few chunks of scrap pine and cut three dovetail tenons for practise. I even went as far as to 'set' them into the mortise a bit just to make sure the whole thing was going to work. I did a final practice on the poplar neck and then took the plunge on the real neck. I had cut knife walls for everything (this seems to help me a ton) and it all came out nicely. It did take a bit of chisel work to make everything even afterwards.

At this point I needed to cut out the shape of the neck (to width) and the headstock. I ended up double stick taping the neck to some thick scrap to be able to run it along the table of my bandsaw. Worked great and this part caused no issue.

I'm not sure where these pictures got to. I'll post a few more of the next steps.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2019 12:08 am 
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Ok, at this point I needed to taper the heel of the neck. I pretty much followed Cumpiano's instructions for this. He seems to have a really great section for neck shaping. The only difference is that I found that my apron plane worked better than a chisel for making a nice straight angle. This part went smooth and easy.

I started with the procedure to 'set' the neck. Here I went with the Blues Creek youtube video series. I flattened a spot on the upper bout. This actually is pretty tricky, a sanding block wants to make a convex surface. I used a plane and a sanding block alternately and eventually was happy. It's these little things that always surprise me by being way harder than they look. I had done a few tries with scrap wood and started with the poplar neck. I had cut the dovetail tenon a little on the big side, so it took a bit to even get it a decent ways into the mortise. Having learned a bit from my scrap, I concentrated on getting the shoulders to fit tight before going too much further. Setting the neck angle and centerline was actually pretty easy, and I ended up pretty happy with the whole procedure.

I did realize that I should carve the neck heel a little more on the mahogany neck before setting it. I had to shape the convex curve into the side of the heel. I couldn't figure out how to mark this nicely, but eventually figured it out. I took a 1/8" piece of MDF and sanded it with my fingerboard radius block (15") until it was evenly rounded. This I superglued to a straight piece of wood so just the curved bit stuck out. I held it up to the flat sides of the neck heel and traced the curve. Worked great. Shaping it was no problem. I tried to use a chisel according to Cumpiano but found my half round rasp worked better.

The preliminary set for the mahogany neck was quite a bit harder than the poplar neck. I think it's because the neck angle needed more adjusting. By the time the neck angle was adjusted, it was quite tricky to get the shoulders tight to the guitar. I spent three sessions trying to get this sorted, and had to glue shims to the tenon twice. On my third session things were still not going well and the gap was as big as ever. In a desperate move, I took the angle again between the top and sides of the guitar and made sure one shoulder matched perfectly. I then squared this across to the other side and again made sure the shoulder matched the bevel guage perfectly. All of the sudden, everything fit great. The neck angle was good , centerline spot on and just some tiny cracks at the shoulders. I re-did the undercut on the shoulder and very carefully 'flossed' the joint. This again is harder than it sounds and it seems just as easy to make the gap bigger as smaller. This time though, after alot of concentration I got it super tight. Everything is right where I want it except the neck is about 3/16" shorter than I wanted. I will either not worry about the 14th fret lining up or I will cut the nut slightly further back into the peghead veneer. I'm leaning towards the second; Kinkead does this in his book anyway. The whole procedure probably took 6 hours or so, but I'm happy I got it right (ish). Only thing is I should have done the binding first so I will have to be VERY careful when scraping/sanding it down in the neck area.

This is about where I am, I am working on something interesting for the heel cap, but I'll post about that later.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:47 am 
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Looking good. Figuring out how to adjust the neck angle to be correct is a major challenge when one first does it, as an adjustment of one angle (say, up/down) can affect left/right, and of course getting the joint to not have gaps where the heel meets the sides just adds to the difficulties.

If you ended up a shade short on the length, assuming the fretboard isn't slotted yet you could always just shorten the scale length so the 14th fret lines up properly. There is no great magic in 25.4". You probably already know that StewMac has a fret spacing calculator on their webisite. Just enter whatever 25.4 - 0.1875 is as the scale length.

Or if you can move the nut back enough, that will work too.

_________________
Don't believe everything you know.
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
When things are bad, try not to make them any worse, because it is quite likely they are bad enough already. - French Foreign Legion


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:59 am 
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I purchased a pre slotted board so that is set. I screwed up when I wrote 3/16" for the amount the neck is short. I meant 3/32. I'll think about my options while I address the binding. Simply following kinkead's instructions will solve it I think. Only problem is I don't have a small chisel to cut the channel for the nut.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:13 am 
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Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 8:03 am
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Location: Chestertown Maryland
Bob Dylan played a 13 fret Nick Lucas for a while. I have made 2 13 fret guitars - nothing magical about 12 or 14 - could be 13.7 frets to the body and no one would notice

Ed


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 11:29 am 
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Talladam wrote:
I purchased a pre slotted board so that is set. I screwed up when I wrote 3/16" for the amount the neck is short. I meant 3/32. I'll think about my options while I address the binding. Simply following kinkead's instructions will solve it I think. Only problem is I don't have a small chisel to cut the channel for the nut.

You don't need a channel. You can sit the nut on the board, between the fretboard and headplate veneer. They will keep the nut in place. A little drop of ca glue, between the fretboard and nut helps, and will still enable you to take the nut out should the need arise.

As for the shortness of the neck, move the fretboard up the neck. The nut can be set on the angle of the headstock, if needed. You would have to file the bottom of the nut to the angle of the headstock. See drawings.

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