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steve1556

First ever build, 60's Strat

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Just been in the garage and gave the test inlays a very quick sand with 80 grit. Both methods came out surprisingly well, going to try it again in the next few days but making the cut out for the inlays neater around the edges. The inlay that I put super glue in first then the powder sanded a lot easier then the other two which had the powder in first then the super glue. I'm pretty sure the dark spots on the middle one is where the black powder got onto it.

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I'm back! Finally finding some more time for the building and really enjoying it.

Managed to get out in the garage twice this week after doing early shifts, the first time was to radius the fret board. However, the board is wider then my radius block, so I tried several ways of sanding the edge down without too much luck, and realised that it would take me far too long to do. I roughly marked out where the excess needed to be taken off, and clamped the board to a neck blank and set to it with the router.

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The next day I managed to drill the pilot holes for the tuners and thin out the head stock. I guessed about how much wood to leave after the nut before it drops to go thinner because I don't have a Strat to compare it against. I realised afterwards that I've got the Jim Root Tele that I could have compared it to, taken measurements from, etc, but I'll have to make do with what I've done now. I used the headztock template to mark out where the holes for the tuners will be, then roughly marked out where the centre of each hole is. I used a 3mm drill bit for the pilot hole, then marked out the area that I wanted to thin down. I set the neck between two neck blanks and set to work with the router. I was about to do one last pass, but something told me to Google the headstock thickness before I did, and it's a good job as the thickness is dead on 15mm now.

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Hoping to get the radius done on the fret board tomorrow, it's mostly all set up, I've stuck the fret board down between two neck blanks, and stuck some 80 grit paper to the radius block ready. I've measured the one on the Jim Root Tele, it's roughly 5mm at the thickest point and 3mm at the thinnest. My fret board is currently at 6mm so it should work out perfectly. What grades would be recommended to do the radius with, and the finer sanding of it.

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1 hour ago, steve1556 said:

What grades would be recommended to do the radius with, and the finer sanding of it.

Start low (60-80 grit) to get the radius going, work your way up through the grits (120, 180, 240, 320, 400) once the radius is on the board. Go beyond if you're after a super smooth, semi-reflective finish.

Use firm, even pressure and take care to not skew the block as you pass it up and down the fret board. It's easy to accidentally change the radius or sand one edge lower than the other if you're not paying attention.

Once you're past 400 grit, you can stop using the radius block. Your chances of removing too much timber and altering the radius are pretty slim with the super fine grits, so there's no need for the block.

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Also, full long passes end to end. Don't scrub. The abrasive should have equal contact across all parts of the board. Sounds difficult, but it's just keeping technique orderly.

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The other thing I did last time was add a couple of sacraficial blocks of the same thickness either end of the fretboard to allow a little overrun - previously I was finding I was tending to 'dig in' at the end of my sanding stroke, resulting in the first few or last few frets ending up lower than the rest.  Mind you, that might just be me and my poor technique....

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13 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

The other thing I did last time was add a couple of sacraficial blocks of the same thickness either end of the fretboard to allow a little overrun - previously I was finding I was tending to 'dig in' at the end of my sanding stroke, resulting in the first few or last few frets ending up lower than the rest.  Mind you, that might just be me and my poor technique....

Adding sacrificial/service material goes a long way. Same thing applies to sanding flat surfaces as sanders will eat over an edge easily. Providing support keeps everything nice and true.

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I've seen some people clamp a couple of guide fences either side of the fret board being sanded, spaced just far enough apart to sit the radius block in between. The rails guide the block up and down while preventing the possibility of accidentally skewing the block to one side.

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On 3/11/2017 at 8:44 AM, Andyjr1515 said:

The other thing I did last time was add a couple of sacraficial blocks of the same thickness either end of the fretboard to allow a little overrun - previously I was finding I was tending to 'dig in' at the end of my sanding stroke, resulting in the first few or last few frets ending up lower than the rest.  Mind you, that might just be me and my poor technique....

That's a common problem when sanding a fretboard which already has the taper, as there's less surface to sand in the first frets. That's why some people radius the fretboard before shaping it. But yeah, not going too far helps to minimize the effect.

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On 10/03/2017 at 9:43 PM, curtisa said:

Start low (60-80 grit) to get the radius going, work your way up through the grits (120, 180, 240, 320, 400) once the radius is on the board. Go beyond if you're after a super smooth, semi-reflective finish.

Use firm, even pressure and take care to not skew the block as you pass it up and down the fret board. It's easy to accidentally change the radius or sand one edge lower than the other if you're not paying attention.

Once you're past 400 grit, you can stop using the radius block. Your chances of removing too much timber and altering the radius are pretty slim with the super fine grits, so there's no need for the block.

I think I've got all those grits, I need to get a long drill bit so I can drill the truss rod access so if need be I'll buy some more grits. I've trimmed the fretboard down to fit the radius block and stuck it between 2 neck blanks to prevent any twisting. I'm not sure how shiny I want the board, but I'll see what it looks like when I hit 400 grit.

On 11/03/2017 at 5:39 AM, Prostheta said:

Also, full long passes end to end. Don't scrub. The abrasive should have equal contact across all parts of the board. Sounds difficult, but it's just keeping technique orderly.

Thanks for the tip there, I was only going to take half the block off the board, but then realised after reading your comment that the middle of the board will be radiused quicker then the ends.

On 11/03/2017 at 7:44 AM, Andyjr1515 said:

The other thing I did last time was add a couple of sacraficial blocks of the same thickness either end of the fretboard to allow a little overrun - previously I was finding I was tending to 'dig in' at the end of my sanding stroke, resulting in the first few or last few frets ending up lower than the rest.  Mind you, that might just be me and my poor technique....

THat's a really good idea! I've got a new 6mm MDF board so it's the same thickness as the fretboard, so I'll stick some of that on the ends of the board.

13 hours ago, curtisa said:

I've seen some people clamp a couple of guide fences either side of the fret board being sanded, spaced just far enough apart to sit the radius block in between. The rails guide the block up and down while preventing the possibility of accidentally skewing the block to one side.

I didn't post the picture of my fretboard sanding setup that I've done as for some reason the picture didn't upload. I've slimmed down the width of the fret board so it fits the radius block, and put 2 neck blanks either side of it so the radius block will be straight the whole way through. It will prevent me from moving twisting the block and messing up the radius. Worse case scenario if I do mess it up, is that I've got a Pau Ferro fretboard blank to use (I've got it ready gor guitar number 2 so hoping I don't mess this one up so I can keep it for that).

The current setup how I left it the other day. I didn't get a chance to do any on Saturday as planned as I ended up working, and yesterday I was helping my running club give out Lucozade to the runners running the Silverstone Half Marathon (I ran it last year and it's a great one to do if you like F1), but managed to get today off so going to get the board radiused, truss rod access drilled, and possibly the fretboard glued on if I get time.

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I have used this method of sanding in a radius for years- as @curtisasaid-  "Use firm, even pressure and take care to not skew the block as you pass it up and down the fret board. It's easy to accidentally change the radius or sand one edge lower than the other if you're not paying attention"

the best way to do this is to take measurements every 20 strokes or so. I measure the thickness of the board at both ends at each corner and middle, as well as the middle of the board (edges only) to make sure I am not putting a dip in the middle or at one of the ends. You can easily apply too much pressure on the sanding block just by the way you are standing over it. Also- to @Andyjr1515 point- adding the blocks  at the end helps- or at least keeping in mind that if you stop the radius block over the end of the board (vs sanding with the complete length of the radius sanding block- you can easily (been there done it) sand a dip in the middle since the full length of the sanding block is sanding over the middle of the board- but if you stop short on the ends only a portion of the block is sanding the ends and you end up putting a dip in the middle. you do have to really watch the pressure you apply at the ends though- very easy to sand unevenly there. 

Take it slow- measure often- be mindful of the pressure you apply-and this will turn out top notch. the first board I ever did like this I screwed up as I just tried to muscle it vs being patient and taking it slow. 

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I guess that it might be feasible - if radiusing block were wide enough/fretboard narrow enough - to place two guide boards either side with an even-level rebate, so that once the sanding beam bottoms out on the rebate the board is consistent. This would mean having aluminium available either side also.

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So, a little update, I spent hours sanding, sanding and more sanding today. Nothing seemed to go to plan at all. I tried to use double sided tape to hold the fretboard down. It didn't work and created a hell of a mess to remove it, and worse is that I used the same double sided tape to put the sandpaper onto the radius block. I had to use a lot of acetone to remove all that crap off of it, so I'm currently back to the masking tape and super glue trick.. The sanding didn't go to plan today, I started off with 80 grit, then 60 grit, then 40 grit and it's still going really slowly. Towards the end it started going a bit quicker as I was changing the sand paper a lot more regularly, even though it still felt rather rough on my hand. I'm using a metal radius block and now using gardening gloves with it as my hands became very sore (may just be a case of needing to man up though).

This is what nearly 5 hours of sanding looks like (minus the time taken to remove double sided tape, etc). Tomorrow I'm hoping to get the sanding finished off, at least to the point where its fully carved, but if I can get up to 400 grit that will be a bonus. Going to be up earlyish tomorrow and straight out there. I've highlighted the middle bit with a pencil (more for me to see the progress more easily). Also, the guy that planes the wood for me said that bubinga is stupidly hard and makes great flooring, maybe that's a reason why it's taking me so long. The grain is really starting to show now and it already looks great, can't wait to see when it's all finished.

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12 minutes ago, steve1556 said:

. The sanding didn't go to plan today, I started off with 80 grit, then 60 grit, then 40 grit and it's still going really slowly.

Is this a misprint or did you go to coarser grits to try to get something to happen?

It shouldn't take 5 ours to radius a fretboard by hand....and then I see your board is bubinga. I've said this more than once: I've sanded harder woods than bubinga, but I've never sanded a wood harder to sand than bubinga. That is some tough stuff. You do want to have a care about how coarse of grit you go with though. Once you get it radiused, you will need to sand those coarse scratches out. And I've sanded harder woods than bubinga, but......

SR

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20 hours ago, Prostheta said:

I guess that it might be feasible - if radiusing block were wide enough/fretboard narrow enough - to place two guide boards either side with an even-level rebate, so that once the sanding beam bottoms out on the rebate the board is consistent. This would mean having aluminium available either side also.

I saw one guy use a setup like this once, I think he constructed it out of plexi - the sanding block would go between rails, but the rails also had stuff at the bottom so that at some stage the block would just slide on that. If set-up properly, such a jig is pretty much fool-proof.

I never had the patience to  try to construct something like this though

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On 13/03/2017 at 8:14 PM, ScottR said:

Is this a misprint or did you go to coarser grits to try to get something to happen?

It shouldn't take 5 ours to radius a fretboard by hand....and then I see your board is bubinga. I've said this more than once: I've sanded harder woods than bubinga, but I've never sanded a wood harder to sand than bubinga. That is some tough stuff. You do want to have a care about how coarse of grit you go with though. Once you get it radiused, you will need to sand those coarse scratches out. And I've sanded harder woods than bubinga, but......

SR

Unfortunately, no, it's not a misprint. I went to the coarser grits as the 80 grit didn't seem to be doing anything! Although the near finished board looks stunning, grain wise, I don't think I'll ever be doing a bubinga board again!

Good news, today went a bit smoother! Managed to get up to 300 grit on the board, I'm going to get the 12th fret inlay done before going to 400 grit and maybe higher. 

Went on a bit of a shopping trip today, had to buy a new mask as I found a small amount of mould in my current one (I think it's where when I take the mask off I then put it straight into the plastic storage bag while there is still moisture in it). Also bought some very long drill bits, and 300 and 400 grit sand paper. Later, I decided to buy a small hoover to help with clearing up the sanding dust. When I was clearing up the wood chippings from the router with a dustpan and brush it was fine, but with the dust from the sanding it just ending up chucking most of it up in the air.

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Current position with the board, sanded up to 300 grit.

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What's causing the build up of hard lumps of saw dust on the sand paper? I can pick them off with the stanley knife, and they happen even after 10 strokes with the radius block on a board that has just had all the saw dust hoovered off of it.

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Not sure how much I'll be able to get done tomorrow as I've got a fair bit of stuff to do as I'm back to work the day after. I am hoping to get the 12th fret inlay template sorted, I want the lines from the picture to be solid and ideally printed onto a transparent film so I can cut the different sections out for templates. I quite like the inlay powders that I got from Crimson Guitars, and I want to practice a few more times with them before committing to it, and I've also ordered some metal inlay powder to see if that's any easier to use (just waiting for it to turn up though).

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The clumps of sawdust are caused by the resins in your wood. All woods have some and some types have quite a lot. High end sandpapers can usually go longer without corning up. I usually keep a scrub brush handy and run the sanding block over it just before those start to build up. Then blow the paper off with compressed air. 

Looks like you should also recut your fret slots about now. Any little raggedness left behind from that can get cleaned up with your finish sanding.

SR

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On 15/03/2017 at 1:33 PM, ScottR said:

The clumps of sawdust are caused by the resins in your wood. All woods have some and some types have quite a lot. High end sandpapers can usually go longer without corning up. I usually keep a scrub brush handy and run the sanding block over it just before those start to build up. Then blow the paper off with compressed air. 

Looks like you should also recut your fret slots about now. Any little raggedness left behind from that can get cleaned up with your finish sanding.

SR

Ah thanks for the explanation. I won't worry too much about the clumps then and just clean the sand paper more often.

My next stage like you say, is to recut the fret slots. I was hoping to have done it yesterday, but the CD player in my car has stopped reading discs so I spent the afternoon trying to sort that. Long story short, my local car audio place wanted a ridiculous amount to fix it, but an old work mate does car audio repairs and can do it for me much cheaper. But it took me 2 hours to get the radio out, note the model number, then stick it all back together again.

I'll be getting the fret slots recut over the weekend, and on Monday I'll be chasing up about the 12th fret logo design so I can start cutting that out. That's where I'm at now, I've got a week off work from Monday so hoping to get a fair amount done next week, but I am rather worried on how I'm going to get the neck pocket cut out, and to work out the depth I need to make the pocket.

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This isn't an update, but more of a plea for help. I've approached a local design company who gave me a verbal quote of £25 to redraw a picture someone had drawn for me for my 12th fret inlay in a Vector format and to print it out on a clear sheet. However, when I got the official quote a few days later, it was £60 plus VAT, so I'm a bit reluctant to use them. I've got a very limited amount of experience with CorelDRAW so I've downloaded a trial version of it, but I'm wondering if anyone has any experience in it to trace the picture out. The picture is made of multiple pencil strokes, so I'm trying to copy it but having a bit of difficulty and was wondering if anyone had any experience in doing it. If I can get it created in vector format, the plan it to either print it out on paper with some guide markers or to fire up the laser cutter and cut it out of either OHP film (that I use for solder paste stencils) or 3mm acrylic.

Also, if you were putting it on a guitar, would you have one wing on the 13th fret and the other on the 11th fret, or have it big enough to span over the 11-13th frets?

Here is the picture that I'm trying to work with.

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I'm happy to do CAD work for ProjectGuitar.com members, however this week I am rammed with 14hr days....eight at work and the rest at my degree observed project work. Got to build a bloody table. Ergh.

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If all you want is a vectorised version of the wings and don't mind waiting a couple of days, I could do that for you.

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I'd happily make the vectors for you. I'm not in the studio for a couple of days but if you still need it I'll do it. 

As for placement I think I'd have it oriented same as the neck, with the wing tips pointed toward the pickups. 

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The power of community is forthcoming! :thumb:

Remember to re-draw your fret positions instead of relying on the existing lines to keep you perpendicular to the centreline. I can't remember if you used a mitre slotting box or not? By hand is perfectly fine too, but keeping them accurate takes a little more eyeballing.

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