Guitar build diary - part II

May 26, 2016

Three piece maple and walnut neck. Dimensioned, glued up and rough cut on the band saw:

 

 

Template fixed on with screws and double sided tape, the screw holes are where the truss rod channel will be:

 

 

My router bits are like razors and cut a great finish, just as well given how much I hate sanding:

 

 

The truss rod channel is then routed out, I have a jig that forces a hand router to run on tracks leaving a nice straight slot. The channel is barely big enough to fit the truss rod, but I want to eliminate any gaps at all, air voids in a neck are a bad thing but a rattling truss rod can ruin a guitar. To avoid this I use silicone sealant, the kind you might DIY the bathroom with:

 

 This stuff perfectly fills all the gaps, and because its flexible it allows the truss rod to operate just fine. Obviously I’d only recommend this with a sealed truss rod, like the blue one in the picture above. After drying for 24 hours we’re ready for the fretboard:

 

 

Rough sawn to within 1mm of the edge, it is then lined up with its final position and small guide pins are drilled inside the fret slots. These pins are poking through the other side of the board by about 2mm and serve two functions, they make it easy to relocate the correct spot and they stop the board sliding around under clamping pressure. Lots of clamping pressure (and glue):

 

 Once this is dry the neck itself acts as a template to router trim the fretboard down to its final shape. While waiting for that, the top also needs glue, and more clamps:

 

 The blocks on either side are positioned in such a way that the two halves of the top form a peak, that can be pushed down forcing the edges together. Before getting the glue back I need to plane the edges for a perfect seam:

 

 

Provided I’ve done my job well the glue join should be near invisible. While it is drying a weight is required to hold everything down nice and flat, about 6kg of mahogany should it:

 

 

The body gets cut and routed out:

 

 Sapele is so nice to work with, I did the entire thickness of the body in only two passes, and got a finish looking like this:

 

 

The top is also rough cut ready for gluing to the body:

 

 

 

Not quite ready for that yet though. I yet have a lot of drilling and routing to do in order to swiss-cheese the body with chambers. Although I’m not going too extreme, the only areas that do need to be left solid are under the bridge, around the neck pocket, and where the strap pins go. I’ll aim to halve the weight and center the gravity a little towards the lower bout to counter balance the neck.

 

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