Jump to content

Entry for September 2018's Guitar Of The Month is open!
ENTER HERE!

hittitewarrior

SHB-2 - Tele build

Recommended Posts

I've changed directions on this build so many times it feels like.  Although now I feel like I've reached the same point (from a progress perspective) where I discovered I had made the headstock too thin before.

This time, I think I did it correctly.

Quartersawn walnut, Bocote fingerboard, Ebony faceplate.

IMG_5625.thumb.JPG.00a19cdb90ce7183e2df198e15910f01.JPG

Yes, the fingerboard does not go to the end of the neck...  I think I will be able to cover this up with the pickguard, although if I can't, it will require some special figuring out...  

Has anyone ever tried black stain on Koa to deepen figure even more?  Just curious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a kick-ass fretboard. It will darken over time and end up more the brown shade of the Koa. I have not yet got my hands on any Koa so do not know for a fact how popping the grain with a black sand back would look. I would expect it to work much like it does on maple or my myrtle burl top in my electric mandolin build. (page 6)

I would recommend a deep brown or brown shade black to keep the black from making it muddy. You can always sand it back far enough to eliminate the black if you don't like it, and like always try it on scrap first.

SR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would generally not dye or stain Koa as they tend to reduce the natural chatoyancy of woods and flatten them visually....dye sandbacks pop figured woods but are a tradeoff between natural vibrancy and artificial enhancement. Kind of like adding bolt-on tits to the Mona Lisa. Koa is very porous so I'd expect it to drink dye readily which is not a good thing.

The best way to deepen the grain or figuring in darker woods is to use oil or shellac; if the wood looks spectacular with a little naphtha, that's what they deliver. A personal favourite of mine is linseed oil (raw or boiled....raw is slow and more penetrative, boiled is faster curing but thicker and builds) with either a final finish or interstitial layer of shellac. The oil maintains the wet look of the wood, the shellac provides an intermediary sealing coat compatible with most other finishes.

If this is the top:

IMG_3846.thumb.JPG.757434677dba95e142034aab4a5d41f8.JPG 

 

I would heartily recommend oil and/or shellac. Wetting the wood gives you an idea before you commit. If darkening rather than enhancement is what you want, toner coats are a better option than dye straight to the wood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

they tend to reduce the natural chatoyancy of woods and flatten them visually....dye sandbacks pop figured woods but are a tradeoff between natural vibrancy and artificial enhancement

I agree....but the method of sandback I  used on that build goes a long way towards bringing back all the natural chatoyancy of the figured woods. Doing the sandback in the earlier stages of finish sanding and then micromesh polishing all the way to 12000 before coating with oil delivered the best of both worlds in my opinion. I did use tints to darken the wood (as in a burst).

Having said that, Koa tends to be a very colorful wood, and adding any colorant directly to the wood probably puts that at risk. I would follow @Prostheta's advice and check how the wood looks under a coat of naptha or mineral spirits first.

SR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, hittitewarrior said:

Thanks!

That mandolin is GORGEOUS!  Thanks for pointing it out as an example.  I might have to try this.  

My pleasure.:)

SR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have lots of questions on the finishing side of things... Got some reading to do for sure.   @Prostheta Does the oil+shellac method require/benefit from a buffing step at the end to get a high gloss?  Or is it more of a satin finish with high figure?

On a slightly separate note, to what grit do you all typically sand the fretboard before fretting?  I've gone to 220 at this point, and think I'm getting close to fretting, but I noticed the center of the fretboard is ~.020" higher than the edges, so I was going to take one of my small clamping cauls and spot sand a little more anyway.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, ScottR said:

I agree....but the method of sandback I  used on that build goes a long way towards bringing back all the natural chatoyancy of the figured woods. Doing the sandback in the earlier stages of finish sanding and then micromesh polishing all the way to 12000 before coating with oil delivered the best of both worlds in my opinion. I did use tints to darken the wood (as in a burst).

Having said that, Koa tends to be a very colorful wood, and adding any colorant directly to the wood probably puts that at risk. I would follow @Prostheta's advice and check how the wood looks under a coat of naptha or mineral spirits first.

SR

 

I agree totally. That's just the balance that you take onboard; if you dye it, be prepared to remove most of the dye to recover the wood's natural qualities. I'm not sure whether I'd go as far as 12000 grit though! I have a load of 4000 grit Abralon pads which make Ebony look glassy though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oil tends to end up more satin-y, however you can get oil and varnish-based products or "boiled" oils like Tru-Oil which can be used to produce a gloss finish. The use oils generally enhances contrast and movement of figuring. On its own, it's a very nice finish but provides zero protection. Koa is soft, so finish hardness is something to consider.

Shellac is the basis of a French polish, and not the easiest of finishing techniques to master. You can get dewaxed shellac in a can (Zinsser is the most common brand in the US I think) but that's not what I would use personally. Shellac used as a French polish produces (eventually) a high gloss however it isn't that durable. Very repairable though. Most things stick to shellac and vice versa, meaning you can use it as a interstitial coat when using two (usually) incompatible finishes. Spraying a clear over (cured) oil might present issues that shellac can often solve.

As a finish, shellac can be buffed but generally by hand such as when you're "stretching" a bodied finish that is in the longer curing phase. Heat softens shellac, so it's best done lightly if at all.

I've found that spot sanding a fingerboard is difficult to do using short radiusing blocks. Do you have a long straightedge? Proving the radius down the length in the direction of the strings is usually better than localised sanding. I've been in situations with fingerboards before where it became a real whack-a-mole.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used an 18" radius beam to get it to where it is now, but the ends (1st fret, 21st fret) vs. the middle is where I'm seeing the subtle height difference.  

I'm wary of using the 18" beam again, for fear of sanding the ends down much more.

Thanks for the info on the finish

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, hittitewarrior said:

I used an 18" radius beam to get it to where it is now, but the ends (1st fret, 21st fret) vs. the middle is where I'm seeing the subtle height difference.  

I'm wary of using the 18" beam again, for fear of sanding the ends down much more.

Thanks for the info on the finish

It occurred to me that I hadn't checked the levelness of the fretboard since gluing it down... It appears quite level with the exception of the highest 3 frets at the low E side.  Here it did get sanded a little lower (.020"), but I don't think it is enough to warrant sanding the whole board down more.  I'd be afraid of playing "whack a mole"  

What's the typical highest grit used on the fretboard before fretting?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, hittitewarrior said:

What's the typical highest grit used on the fretboard before fretting?

I'd bet typical is 320 - 600. It is a matter of personal taste. I like mine to be super high gloss and polish all the way through the micromesh grits ending at 12000. @Prostheta just stated he likes to go up to 4000 with Abralon pads which sounds like it yields a similar degree of polish (read glass).

SR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, for me, it goes for both. I polish the wood and polish the finish. Most would say this is overkill, but I think it adds to the chatoyancy of the wood.

SR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not 100% sure, however I suspect that you're taking the technique beyond abrasion polishing through to burnishing Scott. I know you do wood turning on occasional, so I presume that you're familiar with burnishing a workpiece using its own sawdust. That plastic deformation of surface fibres can make chatoyancy on some woods go through the roof. I've been rolling this around my head for a couple of days, and I can't see an obvious answer to whether it's still abrasion or into the realm of burnishing. Any ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With micromesh, I believe it is a bit of both. It is tough to use that to burnish because the abrasive is loaded in a cushioned surface. Fresh sheets for sure start out polishing, and as they load up some burnishing does occur. But I do try to unload it as often as possible. Before discovering micromesh, I used to use wet and dry paper up to 2000 grit dry, which definitely loaded quickly and became a burnishing operation, and you are correct that it does supercharge the chatoyancy of some woods. I don't think it gets the same gloss level perhaps....but I haven't actually tested that.

SR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I don't have a fret bender yet...  I bought stuff to make the DIY design I've seen floating around here. And then I got to thinking... I have access to a 3D printer... and I'd rather not have to dial in the radius and create waste as a result.  Could I just 3D print a fret bender designed for a 10" radius...  So here is the design. I haven't printed it yet, and I obviously had to leave the channels a little oversized to allow for different kinds of fret wire (crown height/tang height), but I'm going to give this a shot.  Obviously, I could still end up with scrap, and no ability to adjust anything, but if it works, it is quite simple... Anyone else tried this kind of approach?

 

2018-01-29_23-56-21.jpg

2018-01-29_23-56-57.jpg

 

Edit: I added a straightener JIC...

2018-01-30_0-21-21.jpg.7c255d81c14ad6aa8457653c853dbbee.jpg

 

Edited by hittitewarrior

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting idea. I guess it would work, although how do you 'encourage' the straight fret wire into the curved form without the cut edges of the wire snagging on the curve as the initial section goes through? Likewise, you'd need to consider the same issue when passing a pre-curved fretwire through the straightener form.

FWIW, I just made my fret bender out of three nylon sliding door rollers from the hardware store. Same basic principle as the Stewmac one without paying their prices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tried the 3D printed part... can't say if it works or not cause the printer crashed in the middle of the job... made the biggest mess I've ever seen on a 3D printer and ended up needing to have parts replaced on the printer....

So @curtisa I followed suit and made the more traditional diy fret bender.

Cut frets, and used the drill press to press the frets in.  I think I cut trimmed a little too much of the tang off, so I wicked CA into the ends and left it clamped up overnight.  Hopefully it will be fine.  

IMG_5668.thumb.JPG.e7025a4fb34493bf727d877acaf554b7.JPGIMG_5669.thumb.JPG.77a6eb8541b91c947556998f056a913b.JPG

IMG_5672.thumb.JPG.2d0b9b4c823a8202caca7957cda13274.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

How much did you remove?

I am afraid to answer in case you tell me too much BUT I tried to limit it to the space betwen the "teeth" on the tang.  So approx .125" on each side.  Maybe a little more if I got heavy handed, but probably not more than .130

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can someone point me to the favorite(s) fretboard mounting (curious how people "pin" the fretboard) and fretting examples/tutorials?

I did some searching and found this thread and some comments by RAD part way down the page.

Now I'm wondering if I rushed into fretting... since it is already fretted, do you wait til after shaping for fret leveling?

I'm building a second guitar in parallel as a gift for my brother in law whom I grew up with, and just glued the fretboard on to his, so I may change my approach based on RADs comments in the above thread, and input from whomever chimes in.

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×