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Link Posted: 7/31/2012 9:52:12 PM EST
I ordered a martin style truss rod, prs scale radiused fretboard, dots, and side inserts today :)
Link Posted: 8/2/2012 9:46:46 PM EST
box from stewmac today!

Anybody tried the graphtech tusq nuts?  I'm wondering if that is worth the extra cash.

Link Posted: 8/2/2012 9:49:11 PM EST
[Last Edit: cmjohnson] [#3]
I use Tusq nuts exclusively.  Nothing is better.
So far, looking good!
I should point out, though, that the Martin style truss rod is really intended for shorter acoustic guitar necks.  If I were you I would change over

to the Stew-Mac biflex truss rod, which requires only a narrow 7/16" depth straight slot for installation, and is intended for use in electric guitar necks.

The Martin style rod, if installed for top adjustment on an electric guitar, requires too much wood to be removed from the nut area, which is already

the thinnest and weakest point on the neck.   I seriously suggest you reconsider.   That's really the wrong truss rod for this application.
Personally, I use the Stew-Mac traditional Gibson style single action truss rod kit.  I'm used to it.  But I intend to start using their bidirectional

rod with my very next build.
I'm ready to glue my neck in on my new build now.  The frets are in and the neck angle and height has been carefully adjusted.

Link Posted: 8/4/2012 3:10:07 PM EST
I did some work on the neck today.

truss rod is installed, I need to drill the access hole still.  I also did some rough material removal on the back of the neck with my router stand.  I used some slice planes in the 3D model that I have of the guitar to determine where to cut and how deep.  I took a bit much out in one area but I designed the neck fairly thick so it is fine.

Here's the router stand that I made:

And here's the jig setup for the trussrod slot.

Link Posted: 8/6/2012 8:57:26 PM EST
cut the sides of the fretboard today and drilled holes for the dots.  I'll have to take pictures tomorrow.  I left the fretboard a bit proud so I'll sand it down to match
Link Posted: 8/6/2012 9:25:18 PM EST
I do the reverse.   I made precisely sized fingerboard templates out of plexiglas,  with the edges cut dead straight on a jointer, and then

use double sided tape to secure the fingerboard blank to the template, and use the router table and laminate trimmer bit to make the fingerboard

a perfect match to the template.   I adjust the neck to fit the perfectly sized and shaped fingerboard,  not the other way around.   I do this

because I demand that the fingerboard edges have to be perfectly straight.

I have the option of using the laminate trimmer bit to match up most of the neck sides to the fingerboard, too, depending on how I choose

to construct the neck.
Link Posted: 8/7/2012 3:50:20 PM EST
Very interesting thread sir. Been following this for a little while now. Thank you for taking the time to spell this out along the way. Learning quite a bit about something I had no idea about. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.
Link Posted: 8/7/2012 10:04:21 PM EST
got the dots in the face of the fretboard and also made up a jig to drill the side inlay holes.  The glue on the jig is drying.  I've also glued up some thin material that I have left over from the walnut to use for the control cover and the truss rod cover.  I took a bit too much material out of the neck when roughing it so I'll be gluing in some thin pieces before I finish shaping it.  better to put it in now instead of later on when it is tougher to blend in.

Here's where it needs touch up.  I might be able to take off enough while shaping it but I don't want it to force me to make the neck too thin.

Link Posted: 8/9/2012 9:45:35 PM EST
some more progres:

I made some filler pieces out of scrap walnut.  I used some masking tape on the neck to make a template with an x-acto knife then ran the dremel on the patch pieces to shape them to fit.  It seems to have worked nicely.  we will see once I get it sanded down.  There are a couple of small chunks to fill in yet though.  I don't think that those will show up in the final shape but I want to patch it now instead of later on when it's harder to blend in.

Link Posted: 8/13/2012 9:54:26 PM EST
Tag for updates.

I've been busy, too.

Link Posted: 8/14/2012 10:01:33 PM EST
thanks for stealing my thunder!!!!  I highly doubt the top on mine will come out looking quite that gorgeous!

I glued the fretboard on and sanded it down to match the neck.  also traced out the profile for the carve on the body.  need to cut the binding channel out before I start carving.
 I'll be doing a bit of body touch up and sanding around the outside of the body first though.

Link Posted: 8/14/2012 10:15:29 PM EST
[Last Edit: cmjohnson] [#12]
Your work is nice and clean.  I make a royal mess and figure it'll clean up as I get into further stages.

I really mean that.   Where you lay out grid lines and contour lines and do contour cuts to those lines,  I just put on my welding gloves and

face shield,  pick up the insane evil chainsaw disc on a grinder,  and let it rip.   I just cut, hack, grind, and sand until it looks and feels right,

and I'm really not kidding about that.   All carving and shaping work is done totally freehand.   The precision stuff, the cavities, pickup routes,

and neck joint are done with precision tools and careful measuring,  but my working style is totally based on how it feels and looks rather than

on measurements.   It's all carving,  essentially.  Using power tools.
It's going well.
Link Posted: 8/14/2012 10:28:20 PM EST
It helps having a seat of solidworks that I can use to model things out and plan it out.
Link Posted: 8/14/2012 10:30:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: cmjohnson] [#14]
If I had that, I'd probably use it, too.  

All I have is an old edition of Autocad 2000i and Autocad Mechanical Desktop, neither of which I know very much about as of this point.
I'm planning to start up a guitar building business soon.  With a CNC vertical mill for roughing out bodies and necks.   I've even got the mill picked out,

and I think Mastercam is in my future, but the license seats are very pricey.  I will not enjoy writing that check.  

Link Posted: 8/17/2012 9:31:37 PM EST
Here are the new pieces for the cap.

Not bad for a $15 piece of maple at home depot!

I'm thinking this would be a gorgeous piece of wood had it not been flatsawn!
Link Posted: 8/17/2012 10:37:19 PM EST
[Last Edit: cmjohnson] [#16]
Based on the look, that's Eastern rock maple.  Really hard, tough stuff.  Trying to carve it with hand tools can break your heart.  Carving it with

power tools is definitely preferred but be careful to use sharp tools and not let anything get hot, as the sugars in the wood tend to burn and you

end up with deep burn marks that are very time consuming to sand out.

It makes awesome necks.  Really great flame in rock maple is very rare but it can be incredible when you do find it.   The classic late 50s Les Paul

Standards mostly used flamed rock maple tops instead of the western maple that's what most really intensely figured tops are these days.
The softer maples (Bigleaf and Red are most commonly used) are a lot more forgiving, softer, carve easily, don't burn as easily or as deep when

you use a disc sander, and I personally don't recommend them for necks.   They make a pretty neck but it's just not as rigid.

Link Posted: 8/18/2012 8:13:04 AM EST
yeah, it's probably the same as what I used on the LP and the carve on that wasn't too bad.  I'm going to set up a stop on my vertical router stand so that It's a bit easier to do the carve.  Then I used a sanding disk last time with an angle grinder to get it to shape, just light grinding or else it would burn like you said.
Link Posted: 8/19/2012 5:41:05 PM EST

Here's a couple of shots,

New cap glued together:

bye bye aspen top!  last view...

another view of it glued up

so sad... yet so exciting!
Link Posted: 8/22/2012 9:55:06 PM EST
Here's some updated pictures.  I cut the cap to rough shape and did some sanding on the body to prep it for gluing up.  going to open up the control cavity some yet

Link Posted: 8/26/2012 1:48:07 PM EST
a few more pictures with the cap glued on.  Have to router out the neck pocket from the cap along with pickup pockets, knob relief, binding groove, rough carve, final carve.... oh fun!

The control cavity is blue because I did a test finish with blue food coloring on the back side of the cap...
Link Posted: 8/26/2012 5:12:02 PM EST
Food coloring?   Odds are it won't be lightfast and will fade when exposed to sunlight.

I know you're trying to build this guitar at a low total cost, but man, dyes are cheap!  Feibing's leather dyes are only like six bucks a bottle,

and Stewart-Macdonald's dyes aren't much more than that!  

Use dyes that are meant for the job and won't fade out the first time the sun rises and the guitar's case is open.  

You'll be glad you did.

Link Posted: 8/26/2012 10:31:58 PM EST
[Last Edit: MachGT] [#22]
I'm not using food coloring on the final, I just wanted to see how it took the dye.

I have a bottle of dark walnut transtint that I'll use to pop the figure and then I'm using an amber dye for the cap.  The back and walnut will just be clear coated natural color.
Link Posted: 8/30/2012 9:55:10 PM EST
got the binding channel about done.  had to re-set the table for some other sections and ran out of time to work on it.  Here are some pictures:

Link Posted: 9/2/2012 3:48:50 PM EST
I cut out the pickup pockets today along with the neck opening in the cap.  touched up the binding channel too

Link Posted: 9/6/2012 7:53:15 PM EST
here's the guitar with the top shaved down to rough final height :)

got the carve profile lines marked.  the carve won't be as deep as I'd like but I don't want the action to get too high.

Link Posted: 9/6/2012 10:13:28 PM EST
and the rough cutting with the router is done..

Link Posted: 9/8/2012 7:58:12 AM EST
I had some fun with the angle grinder and 60 grit sanding flap wheel...

The walnut sands much easier then the maple...
Link Posted: 9/8/2012 3:41:13 PM EST
Looking good so far.   Go bigger on the waist carve.  You'll be glad you did.  

I've been toting around my latest to all the local shops and musicians, looking to raise awareness

and drum up some sales prospect.  It's getting rave reviews from everybody.  

Link Posted: 9/8/2012 7:47:03 PM EST
[Last Edit: MachGT] [#29]
it's a fairly thin body,

The back is about 1.4" thick after planing and the cap is 9/16" to make sure my action is not too high.  I'll have to go with a full 4 degree neck angle on a future build to get the body thicker.  This neck is closer to 3 degrees.  I'm running my binding down into the walnut just a bit to maximize my carve though.  I'm thinking of trying my hand at rosewood for binding.  I think that would look very nice instead of just the abs binding.

the belly carve will still need to be blended into the back so it will grow some, I don't want to make it too much bigger though or it will impinge on the lightening holes inside of the guitar.
Link Posted: 9/8/2012 9:01:56 PM EST
[Last Edit: cmjohnson] [#30]
That's not THAT thin a body.   A PRS Custom 22 or 24's mahogany back is 1.1 inches (actually spec'ed as 1.125 inches nominal) and a McCarty

body's mahogany back is an additional 1/4" thicker than that,  at 1 and 3/8" or 1.375 for the decimally obsessed.  They have a BIG waist

cut and it's very comfortable.    The maple top in each case is an additional 5/8 to just over 3/4 inches thick.  (0.8 inches measured.)

I personally like a thick top, shooting for 3/4 inch,  as I like the carve to be big and bold and the built-in angle you get is nice.  Action height

is not just a matter of top thickness or neck angle, but how you balance out all the factors.  I like to be sure that my range of action height is

enough that I can drop the height to zero, strings touching frets,  by lowering the bridge to the minimum possible height on its adjuster screws,

and can also achieve an action height that is uncomfortably high for anyone but a slide player.    If I have that,  it doesn't really matter

what the top thickness is or the neck angle is relative to the centerline of the body.   Height of the string path is not the same thing as action height.

Link Posted: 9/9/2012 6:43:53 AM EST
well, thinner then the last one I built anyway

I have a tendancy to throw out too many significant figures too.... the custom shops around here just "love" me for that
Link Posted: 9/9/2012 9:41:17 PM EST
here's some rough sanding done with the 40 grit disk....

There was a bit of router tear out on the top when I cut it down to thickness so I may have to try to fill it a touch before I shave it down any more.  some of it might get covered up by the hardware too.

Link Posted: 9/11/2012 10:05:16 PM EST
I kind of liked using the scraper actually.  Not so much dust generated.  

I have the carve about to shape, have to clean up a couple of spots round the back edge, cut out the control cavity lid recess, cut out a hole for the battery, add the cutouts for the knob, drill holes...

Ok, well plenty to do yet!  Here's what it looks like with a bit of water on the maple.  you can see the figure here.  It's no 10 top by any means but I think it will be a good looking guitar.

Link Posted: 9/15/2012 9:59:18 PM EST
Here's the relief cuts for the knobs plus a bit of sanding.  the knob reliefs need to be smoothed in places yet.  a single tool in a drill press to cut those would be spiffy for sure!

Link Posted: 9/16/2012 3:07:16 PM EST
A sample piece of the amber finish:

Knob reliefs:

And the control cavity cover, plus rounded the edge.

Link Posted: 9/16/2012 5:06:33 PM EST
Nice work man, I really like the wood control cavity cover,  I've never seen that.
Link Posted: 9/16/2012 6:19:16 PM EST
I've seen it on a few custom builds here and there, but it's not too common
Link Posted: 9/18/2012 10:08:07 PM EST
worked on the neck a bit tonight shaped the profile a bit more with some 40 grit on the orbital and routered out a channel for cables between the neck and bridge pickup, plus cut out a bit of material for clearance on the pickups.

the neck to body transition should end up being pretty smooth :)
Link Posted: 9/20/2012 5:47:08 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/20/2012 9:41:55 PM EST
Here are a few more pictures of the last couple day's progress, the control cavity cover is shaped now, need to thickness plane it as one corner is a bit thicker then the rest.  There's a shot of the neck joint as well.  I need to do a bit of sanding on the binding channel to smooth it out a bit and should have the pau ferro next week to cut into strips for the binding.

Link Posted: 9/22/2012 11:50:13 AM EST
tried a bit darker dye for the initial coloring of the figure on a sample piece:

Here's a shot of that neck joint:

And one of the cap for good measure:

Link Posted: 9/24/2012 9:34:59 PM EST
I am actually thinking of making my own knobs from walnut.  I have some pieces with both sapwood and heartwood that could look pretty cool all finished up as knobs I think.
Link Posted: 9/28/2012 5:52:42 PM EST
a few progress pictures...

I epoxied some inserts into the knobs and turned them down on the lathe.  Also glued some maple onto the headstock, I tried  to bookmatch it but the veneer shifted so I'm going to cut the middle out and add a miniature version of the striping on the body:

Link Posted: 9/29/2012 9:38:38 PM EST
Here's the headstock repair for my off center and crooked bookmatch.. did I mention that there was a gap?

Well I made a bigger gap!!

And filled it in with some walnut/maple/walnut to look like a mini version of the body.  I also cut the binding slot around the headstock

Here's a jig for the dremel router setup to guide the cut

Here it is after removing the clamps, some of the cork that I used to get equal pressure under the block stuck to the glue..   it sanded right off

Here's a couple with the binding slot cut:

Link Posted: 10/2/2012 9:58:09 AM EST
glued the headstock binding in and did a bit of trimming today :)

at home with a sick child, too bad I left the heat gun at work, I could work on the body binding during naptime
Link Posted: 10/2/2012 5:21:56 PM EST
Wow - this is turning out really nice. I can't wait to see how it looks when it's finished.

Link Posted: 10/4/2012 10:03:38 PM EST
Got a few progress pictures, first one is of the binding shaped, then a couple with the binding on before and after trimming.  There's definitely going to be some wood filler involved.  I need a more stretchy kind of rope for wrapping the body with the binding on to get it seated well.  It was also probably a bit thick and would have conformed to the shape of the body a bit better had it been thinner material

Link Posted: 10/12/2012 9:24:19 PM EST
I put the first (or 24th) fret in today.  I undercut the tangs on the end with a dremel so that I can fill the slots once I have them all flush.  just did one tonight to test out the process.  I'm starting at the pickup end so that if I screw one up early in the process I have some material left over and can use it towards the nut.
Link Posted: 10/12/2012 9:27:39 PM EST
Stew-Mac sells a fret tang nipper which, while not exactly the cheapest tool in the catalog, is worth its weight in gold.  If you ever plan to do even

ONE fretjob on a bound neck,  buy one.  Not kidding.  Better yet, buy both models as they are sized optimally for two different ranges of fret wire size.

Link Posted: 10/13/2012 9:55:44 PM EST
frets are all in :)

I will clamp them with my sanding block while I put some CA glue through the side holes.  That should get them close to level before I start leveling them

undercutting them with the dremel was quite easy actually.  I clamped the fret down to the table and cut in from the side with a cut off disk up to the mark that I had made.
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