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sawdust aficionado
1,343 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There were number of firsts on these builds; some good, some not good, one that made me physically ill and nearly caused me to walk away from everything. It was this board that started it all.

Now for the voices in my head as I proceed….

That amazing figure and just the right thickness…

…to make two book matched tops. Yes, build two at the same time! That's a great idea!

You've got some thick cherry on hand. That will make for nice backs.

Glue up the blanks…

…then glue the tops to the backs.

Yeeessss…..yeeesss….using wood dowel alignment pins kept them perfectly centered. Sooo pretty.

We musn't forget the neck. No, no, no….some special maple for them. These are special guitars, so pretty.

Ebony fingerboards of course. Only the finest wood for these builds. Yesss….so pretty…..

Follow the plan, follow the plan. Musn't deviate from the plan!

Sooo pretty….

The backside is a bit thick. Thin is in…time to lose a little weight….

Follow the plan….

Use the self-centering, spring loaded marking pin to locate the string-thru holes and mounting holes.

Drill through the two outermost holes, flip to the back and then use dividers to perfectly space the remaining holes.

With mallet and blade, shape the control cavity. Thin shavings, only thin shavings. Musn't crush the precious….

Scrape and sand gently, precious must be smooth…soooo pretty…

Color! It is time for color! No more shall the world be….wood color.

Black, as it all began….

…be gone black so thy color may be deeper and multi-dimensional!

Oh yessss…it is the color of embers…the remnant of fire…

Protect the glow at once! Several coats of clear to make it soooo pretty…

You heavy handed sloth! You sanded through! Fix it at once!

No one will ever know….

The secret door, create the secret door using magnets…

With gouge and knife, gently carve a recess into the cover for the metal washer.

GENTLY! You irresponsible, disrespectful, mallet wielding fool! Read the grain before striking! Better yet, use a sharp tool and carve, rather than whacking at it with a spoon! IDIOT!

At least one of us had the foresight to make multiple covers. Go get the spare and shield it.

Direct mount the pickups, lest the pickup rings obscure the beautiful grain. Drill pilot holes and tap the threads, being careful to not bend the small brittle, tap.

WHAT DID I JUST SAY?!?!?!?!!! What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you even trying? This is not for you. Go back to your desk job and push buttons all day.

Oh, you want to continue? Fine, chisel out the tap, remove it using a hemostat, square up the hole and make a plug…if you can.

It's not perfect, but it's in the pickup cavity. You could make it disappear if you filled the gaps with glue and sawdust, then painted it black. But no, leave it as a reminder of your failure to listen.

Carefully assemble, wire and tune….sooo pretty. Is it worth the effort?

Yessss….yes it is worth the effort. Playing the first few chords and getting a feel for the neck. Adjusting the truss rod a bit, tuning and tweaking….playing more…yes, it is worth the effort. Finally done….

…what…..what is that bump on back of the neck? It wasn't there earlier.

No, no, no, no, no, nooo….it's the truss rod coming out the back of the neck! You shaped it too thin! FUCKHEAD! YOU ARE NOT MEANT FOR THIS! FIND ANOTHER LIFE! YOU'RE DONE!

It had been several bad weeks in a row for me and woodworking was the only thing in which I found solace. A lot of bad things went through my head at that moment. Hard to describe, but, you know it if you've been there. Suffice to say, I eventually went about fixing the neck.

There were three options from what I could figure:
1. Cut the neck off the body, make a new neck, etc.
2. Remove the fingerboard, install a traditional single-action truss rod, re-install fingerboard, re-fret, etc.
3. Remove the truss rod from the back of the neck and put in a filler strip, like fender necks.

Option 3 seemed the best, so I chiseled away the wood over the truss rod.

Chiseling into the truss rod is not a good idea.

Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have tried unthreading the truss rods from the blocks, but, no, used a saw.

I made the back strip, marked the neck to match, and chiseled a shelf.

In order for the truss rod to best counter act the bending force due to string tension, the truss rod should be curved. To accomplish this curve, two filler strips are made to the corresponding radius. The radius was determined by clamping the rod in the middle to a board and bending the ends down 3/16 of an inch, tracing the curve, then cutting the board. The board is then used as a form with adhesive backed sandpaper to shape the actual filler strip. This approach was much easier than trying to cut and shape the small filler strips.

Final thicknessing was done with a block plane.

A rectangular plug was also needed for the end of the neck where the brass block was.

Fortunately, I had some 3/16 rod on-hand, so I threaded the ends. The syringe is filled with cutting fluid which helps a lot.

Test fit of the truss rod. Better to have too much than not enough.

The bearing end of the truss rod is a square piece of steel that has been drilled and tapped, with a nut on the other side, with some red thread-lock to keep things tight. The steel will bear against the shoulder of the trench as the rod is tightened.

The truss rod was greased, filler strips installed and back strip installed and clamped.

The clamps are removed the next day….

It's not perfect, but, nothing ever is and I'm slowly learning to accept that.

Once again, done.

Thank you for reading this far! Hope you enjoyed the ride.

3,806 Posts
That is some pretty lumber. Nicely done overall and I like the workarounds you came up with for the few technical issues you had. Awesome reading for someone like me looking to get into some building.

Forum MVP
4,767 Posts
Beautiful guitars and great narrating. My heart sank for you when I got to the truss rod picture but you pulled it together in the end.

134 Posts
Shit. That's awesome. If I built a set neck guitar and the truss rod popped through like that I probably would have smashed the thing in anger. Nice work!

Mr. Negative Pants, ,
14,796 Posts
Beautiful work as always, and nice save. The depth of those Hot Rods from StewMac makes me crazy. What I wouldn't give for a thinner, welded double-action rod with the spoke wheel adjuster.

Dream Crusher
21,053 Posts
Dude, your finish work is awesome. What is your process?

Premium Member
2,996 Posts

Great save as well. Fuck ups happen - those that deal with it well are champs. Well done there.

Resident Winger Overlord
4,287 Posts
Nice work rob!

Way to stick with it man... I know that must have been frustrating to the point you just ask yourself "why the fuck do I bother"?
But you saw it thru and they're beautiful!

Ghost is coming to Boston soon, you wanna go?
Good chance for all of us to meet up for some drinks

134 Posts
^ Yeah wondering that too. On the one hand, using hand tools is the manliest way to do something. On the other hand, an 11,000 RPM spinning turbine of mass destruction is metal as fuck.
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