Saturday, July 19, 2008

About a billion degrees.....

That is what my shop feels like this week. The temps have been in the 90's with humidity to match this week and with my shop being on the second floor of a non-heated/non-air conditioned barn, well you can imagine how hot it is up there. Needless to say I didn't spent very much time working on the guitar. I did have one evening where we had some cloud cover and rain so I got up there while it was bearable to get the binding and perfling channels routed out. I went up today to make the tail graft but soon realized that I don't have any pieces of Koa left big enough to make the graft with. I have a back and side set but I am not going to cut into those just for this small piece of wood. I debated on using a piece of Ziricote which would match the rosette and headplate, but decided against it as there is just too big of a contrast in color for my liking. Actually, I was looking for an excuse to get out of the sauna I call a shop so in a warped kind of way, I was a little happy that I didn't have the piece of wood! Yeah, I know there is lots of work to be done on the neck but I'll just pretend that I forgot about that. :)

So, I am going to run up to Woodcraft one day next week to see if I can buy a piece that I can cut to size. I would order it online but I hate to pay the shipping costs for such a small piece of wood. Here are some pictures of the body after the routing and the neck as it sits now.

Here is the neck after a bit more shaping. There still is quite a bit to do but it is getting close to the final shape.

The binding and perfling channels. The top routing went very well.

The back went okay but I had a few mishaps with my router. This was the first time I used my hand held router for this. It worked well but I accidentally bumped a couple of spots with the bit. These are two of them Both are a lot smaller than the picture makes them look. They should be easily repaired after the binding is installed.

I had one more bump at the waist. Again, it is smaller than it looks in the picture. I had the camera very close so it would show.

The back all routed ready for cleanup.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's starting to look like a neck.....

I spent the last few sessions working on the neck. When I last posted, the fingerboard was still rectangular shaped and slotted. I laid out the taper so the nut end was 1 3/4" and the 12th fret was 2 1/4". I used my router jig to hold the fingerboard solidly which also gives a straight edge for the roller on the bit to ride on. I have used this on all of my guitars and it works beautifully. Once the board was tapered I used my 16" radius block to give the fingerboard the top radius it needs.

I then turned my attention to the neck blank. I first used the same router jig to taper the neck to match the fingerboard. I used a template I made for my 12 fret 000 to shape the peghead on my router table. After that was shaped, I drilled the tuner holes. I do this first because I don't want the holes to chip out inside the slots of the slot head. I laid out the slots and used a 1/2" forsner bit to rough out the bulk of the wood for the slots. I drilled almost all of the way through, then flipped it and drilled back the other way to eliminate any tear out. I chiseled and filed the slots to almost the final size. I am trying to decide how I want to do the ends of the slots. My last time with a slot head, I put corner notches in the tops of the slots, and square ramps at the bottom. I like the look but it took a lot of work to get it done. I have also changed my corner notches since then, so the square notches won't match now. So, I need to figure out what I want to do with them.

Then I rough cut the heel end with my band saw. I used my drill press with a sanding drum and rough shaped the neck and heel. I still have a lot of work to do on it but I wanted to get the bulk of the wood off. That is where I finished up today. If I get some time tomorrow, I will spend it on bindings and perflings.

Just a note, I forgot to take my camera up with me one day so there are some pictures missing such as me shaping the peghead.

Okay, I can see I have the pictures out of order again. I just started using the new bulk picture uploader and I haven't figured out the correct order thing yet. Please bear with me, I will get it! Anyways, here is the neck heel after rough sanding.

The heel after I rough cut the cheeks with my band saw. This is simply to remove wood bulk, it isn't supposed to look pretty.

The neck as I left it.

Here is the fingerboard with the taper layout lines. They are hard to see, but they are there.

The fingerboard after tapering and radiusing. Also the peghead has been shaped.

Here you can see the tuner holes have been drilled prior to cutting the slots.

Here is the peghead with the slots drilled. You can see that I stopped just short of going all the way through, well except for that first hole!

A bit of file and chisel work to get the edges straight.

Here is the tenon that I cut several days ago. I never posted the picture.

This is the peghead right after I removed the clamps from the veneer. It is a piece of Zirocote. I had to laminate it on crooked so the two stripes would end up running parallel with the neck.

This is the jig I use to taper the fingerboard and neck. The bearing of the router bit rides along the edge of the jig and flush cuts the fingerboard. All that is needed is to line up the two ends of the taper to the edge of the jig and everything else works automatically.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A couple of days of catching up.....

I have spent some time in the shop working on the guitar, but I haven't had a lot of time to update the blog afterwords so this post will cover a couple of different sessions.

I started by routing out the channel for the truss rod. One nice thing about the center strips is that it makes lining up the truss rod route a lot easier. None of the tedious centerline measuring. After the mess that happened with the green twins neck, I was very careful to make sure that the bit was very tight! That didn't help much though. About half way through the cut the bit broke. Fortunately no harm was done (other than to the bit of course!) and I had a spare. I replaced the bit and finished the cut. Once that was done I marked out the tenon for cutting but before cutting it out, I drilled and installed the brass inserts for the bolts with epoxy. Once they were dry I trimmed the end dead flat and cut the tenon using my tenoning jig on my table saw. It was pretty uneventful. I also cut the curve for the heel block. Lastly I took the Koa bindings off of the bender to make sure they were okay. They all bent fine with not cracks or splits.

Today I made a small change to my plans. I originally was going to use a East Indian rosewood peg head veneer but at the last minute I changed my mind and decided to use Ziricote since that is what I used for the rosette. The fingerboard and bridge will still be rosewood. I glued the Zirocote veneer on and got it all clamped up. I then turned my sites on cutting the fingerboard fret slots. I have a jig I made for this but I had some problems with my clamp screws tearing out since the jig is made of MDF. I took a 5/8" oak dowel and cut 8 plugs 1/2" long, drilled out the base and glued the dowels in with thin CA. I sanded them flat and that gave me a nice hardwood spot to screw the clamps to. I printed out a fret scale based on 24.9" scale using Wfret. That scale was then used as a guide for cutting the slots. Once the slots were cut I had to call it quits for the day. Next up will be more neck work and possibly some binding work.

Okay, for some reason my pictures ended up out of order. I will need to figure out how that happened. Oh well. Here is the neck after routing the truss rod channel.

This is my slot cutting jig again. If you look closely, you can see where I glued in the oak dowels for the clamps. It is much more solid now. Yeah, I know the slots are already cut. You weren't supposed to notice that!

Here is the peghead veneer being glued and clamped in place. You just can't have too many clamps!

The neck end with the inserts epoxied in. You can also see the tenon layout lines.

Here are the bindings out of the bender. I bent 5 just in case one broke on me. Oh well, now I have a spare!

The neck with the truss rod in the channel. Nothing exciting.

The fingerboard after the slots being cut.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Makin' bindings and a nice surprise....

This morning before heading off to work I scooted myself up to the shop and got the second heel block glued on. I wanted to do that so when I got home tonight I could get the last block glued on. The plan worked and I have all of the blocks glued on. Since my workbench was being used as a gluing and clamping platform, I decided to see what I had for Koa bindings. Darn, only 2 pieces in my stash. I was just about to order some when I remember I still had an orphaned Koa side that was 5/32" thick. I dug it out and went to work ripping binding strips out of it. I was able to rip a dozen strips out of what I had left. I had already used about half of the piece making the neck center strips so that was the most I could get. I got them all thicknessed down to .010" so I have pieces for the body and fingerboard. I put them all together and ran them through the bender. I will check on them later to see if any of them cracked. I bent 5 just in case one goes bad.

I had an exciting thing happen today too. We had a delivery of 4 tons of wood pellets (we heat with a wood pellet stove) and was talking to one of the men that made the delivery. I found out that he has been following this blog since last summer when my wife had told him that I built guitars. He is a player and has been reading along until I took my little hiatus over the winter months. I have a few friends who follow this, but that is the first time that I have had someone I don't know tell me he has been reading along. So.... if you are reading this.... (and you know who you are!)... thanks! It is really cool knowing someone else gets some entertainment from my blog.

On to the pictures.

Here is the neck heel with all 3 blocks glued up. Everything is lined up beautifully.

A dozen koa binding strips.

It just dawned on me that I have never shown the order I put things together when I bend. First I use a stainless steel slat, then put the wood wrapped in damp Kraft paper.

Next my heating blanket. If you look you can see the light bulbs are on in the bottom half of the bender pre-heating the form.

Next another stainless steel slat.

Fire up the blanket, clamp it down slowly and cook it for about 10 minutes to harden the bend. This method has worked well for me so far.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More neck work...

With the body built less bindings and perflings, I am focusing on getting the neck made. I needed to thin the peg head and have found that using my scarf joint cutting jig to do this. I clamped the neck in so the peg head was parallel with the saw blade and adjusted it so the saw cut the right amount off of the top side. I cut it and it turned out well.

Once that was done, I laid out the neck length and cut off the excess. I cut the scrap into three progressively longer pieces to use as a heel. Now gluing the heel block on so it stays straight is a bit of a task. The LMI glue is very slippery and the blocks want to slip and slide when pressure is put on them with clamps. Normally with a solid block it isn't a big deal as there is excess and it can all be jointed flush. With a center strip however, things get a little more tricky. I am using a stacked 3 piece heel so it gets even more tricky. I decided that it was going to be easiest to do this one piece at a time. So tonight I glued and clamped the first piece on. It was tricky as I expected it to be but I got it straight with the center strips all lined up. Tomorrow piece two will be glued on.

Here is the scarf jig being used to thin the peg head.

Here is the first of three heel blocks being glued into place.

This is the tenon side showing the center strips lined up.

Everything clamped in place with the two other pieces waiting their turn.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Got to put the molds away finally......

Today I was able to get a couple of things done. First I pulled both the neck and the body out of the various clamps and bars that were holding all of the glued pieces together so I could get a good look at my work. I am happy. The neck scarf joint turned out very nice and tight but more importantly the center strip lined up perfectly on the back of the neck. The top side isn't perfectly lined up but since that gets covered with a head plate, it isn't a problem. The body also turned out nicely. The top and back glue joints are solid and tight. I went ahead and routed the excess top and back wood off with a flush trim bit.

All along I have been thinking that I was going to use bloodwood bindings for the body and fingerboard. With the back strip of the neck being maple and koa, I have decided to use koa for the bindings. I need to check my wood stash, but I think I have enough to do this. If not, I will need to make an order.

Here is the body right out of the go bar deck and external mold.

The back side of the neck. Notice the center strip lines up perfectly at the joint line.

The top side of the neck head. You can see the center strip doesn't line up perfectly at the splice point towards the top of the picture. This doesn't really matter though as it will be covered.

The joint line.

And the other side of the joint line. Both are very tight and clean.

The body after routing the excess wood off. The sound hole looks really big but in reality the body is very small. The hole is actually a little smaller than it should be.

The back. I like this striped mahogany.

This is just for a size comparison. The guitar behind this is my OOO that I built from a stewmac plan. It is the smallest guitar I have and you can see this one is significantly smaller in both height and width.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Top glued on and neck glued.....

Well I didn't get much time last night, I forgot we had dinner plans with friends but I did get a few minutes to get the body out of the go bar deck and clean up any glue squeeze out from the back glue up. Today I did get some time and decided I wanted to get the top glued on. I did the final test fit and noticed that it looked like the top had a large radius bow to it. I grabbed my radius board to check and found that the top had a 15' neck to tail radius instead of 30' that I wanted. I am not sure what I did, but somehow when I did the final sanding of the rims I must have done both edges on the 15' dish. Fortunately I noticed it before gluing the top down so I was able to re-sand the rims, and re-cut the notches so the top now has the correct 30' radius. Once that was done I glued to top to the rims. This is one of those things that seem to happen when I have too much time spent between work sessions. Mistakes happen and I forget where I left off.

I then decided that I wanted to get the neck scarf joint glued up. I built some anchor points on my work bench to hold the pieces in the correct position and glued it up. It was a little tricky trying to get the center strip lined up but given enough clamps I was able to get it all lined up without sliding. I am not sure if the top/face side is lined up perfectly as it was under cauls, but the back is straight and that is the important side as that will be seen. The other side will be covered by the fingerboard and head plate. I am still up in the air on whether or not I want to do a back plate also like I did on the SJ. I really like the look but it is a lot of work to get it to look right. I am still thinking on it. If you don't remember, this is going to be a 12 fret slot head so I am still working out the design elements of the neck.

Here is the back in the go bar deck. I forgot to take a picture of it the other night so I took the just before taking the go bars off.

The body with the back glued on. Very little squeeze out was inside. I am getting better with this part!

A shot of one of the brace notches and the glue line. They turned out pretty nice.

Here you can see the 30' radius bar against the top edge at the waist. The waist sticks up about 3/16" higher than the radius stick which caused quite a bend with the top. If I would have glued it up like this, it would have been almost impossible to get the neck alignment correct. The straight edge would have most likely been at least 1/4" above the bridge which is pretty much a lost cause. I am REALLY glad I caught this error!

This is another picture with the radius board touching the tail block and the waist. You can see that it is floating 3/16" above the neck block.

So after some sanding and re-cutting the brace notches, the radius bar sits nicely touching at the neck, waist and tail.

My label glued in just before the top glue up.

The top glued on in the go bar deck.

Lastly, the neck scarf joint glued up and clamped in place.