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hittitewarrior

SHB-2 - Tele build

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Many ways to skin a cat.

My preference is to level after neck is shaped (any movement the neck may undergo due to removal of material required to shape the neck will have occurred by then, so levelling will be as per the final neck shape/material volume remaining).

Re, pinning fretboard prioir to gluing - I do it prior to fretting. Line up the fretboard on the neck, drive a couple of skinny nails (1.25mm brads, maybe pre-drill the holes too to prevent splitting) through a fret slot at the far ends of the fretboard and into the neck but leave the heads proud a few mm, remove fretboard from neck, apply glue, re-align nails with divots created in neck and clamp. When the glue is dry, just withdraw the nails from the fretslots using some pliers. The installed frets will then cover up the minor holes left behind.

I suspect I pinched the above method from RAD too (who hasn't pinched an idea from RAD around these parts? :rolleyes:)

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I hate that phrase, especially since my lovely Siberian cat (Spit) is curled up in his favourite cardboard box from Uraltone next to the desktop machine. :happy:

My personal take on the ordering is based on convenience and the individual strictures of the build. If the fingerboard needs an ultra-clean glueline I'll do it prior to radiusing so I can use a flat caul both over the fingerboard and under the neck to get optimum distributed clamping pressure. This limits the methods available to me for radiusing of course. As @curtisa states, any internal tensions in the neck wood will be released during and after carving. Since I slowed down my build rate and time between each step, I found that this happens to me far less. The same when it comes to water added into the wood from glueing the fingerboard on. Wood will do what it wants to do, and allowing it time to play out means less juggling sand trying to work it whilst it does that. That water is of no consequence if you leave the neck a few days to a week. Some people lose their shit over it for no good reason.

I think that it's just a case of weighing up the pros and cons, then seeing how they affect your build steps before choosing the best for you. Most of them don't end up backing you into a difficult corner, especially if you put the thought in.

I pin my fingerboards as well, however I choose how to do it differently every time. The fingerboard just about to go onto a dry run build uses pins set into the glueing face of the neck as points. Equally, pins set through fret slots or in inlay pockets are just as good but I'm not a big inlay person.

Hey Andrew, have you noticed a strong parallel between RAD and Kemp? Very very by the numbers work, and I'm sure they're both equally as inspiring to the people who follow (or find) their threads.

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I glue my fretboard onto the neck blank flat and before either have been cut to final width. I use small brads outside the live area of the fretboard to pin it into place for glue up. These then get cut away with the scrap when the neck is trimmed to final (nearly final) width.

SR

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12 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Hey Andrew, have you noticed a strong parallel between RAD and Kemp? Very very by the numbers work, and I'm sure they're both equally as inspiring to the people who follow (or find) their threads.

No doubt. RADs builds and his documentation of the process were what kickstarted my interest in this expensive hobby. I suspect without them I would've just made a few partscasters and be done with it.

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Thank you all for the insight!

I spent the evening trying to get fretboard #2 flat... not sure what was going on but I was really struggling.  One end got oversanded, and then once I got the rest of the board down to approximately the same thickness, the edges were consistently a hair lower than the center (It's an 18" sanding beam, and I tried all sorts of techniques... both hands in the middle, one hand on either end, lots of pressure, little pressure etc.)...  I finally stopped with both ends just a little low, and then tweaked the truss rod to make it flat, which seemed to work.  One corner is still a litttttle off, but I'm going to see what I get.  All these router radius jigs are making me jealous! ... let alone CNC.  I'm sure it doesn't remove all issues like this, but it's gootttta be easier.  LOL.  Oh well, it's part of the fun I guess.

Here's where they are.  (It's always fun to rub a little mineral spirits on, and take a gander at the end of the night).

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The one on the left will be for my friend.  The one on the right is still intended for me.  I've got some interesting ideas for the pickguard work still, and I decided I need to bind the body, so that one will be more of a learning experience.

As I've mentioned before I'm cheap, and as everyone can tell... I'm learning.., so the main portion of the body is poplar.  I've been trying to decide what to do when I finish the poplar.  I was not a huge fan of how the finish came out on the first build I did... lots to learn to make it better.  But in general, I wasn't a huge fan of the poplar.  The polyurethane wipeon finish I did yellowed with age, and made the green/yellow tint of poplar too... something... not sure what to call it.  It's still the first guitar I did, so I won't call it ugly, but it's approaching that adjective.

Anyways,  I think I may stain it black, and then sand it back.  I ran a quick trial using Minwax Jacobean stain.

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I think I like it better.  The green gets hidden a little more, and it kinda looks like a poor man's black limba.  I think if I actually do it, I will use a true "ebony" stain.  Curious people's thoughts, or if anyone has done this before on poplar.

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I got the router radiusing jig from G&W a few weeks back, and I can say that it's absolutely excellent for "normal" instruments with a single radius. I've also had problems with technique when sanding in radii. I think it's easy to have a pressure imbalance and end up scrubbing a corner or leaving unwanted falloff at either end.

Rather than dyeing a light wood straight to black, try using several sandback passes with a dark brown. Black is very stark and easily looks unnatural and/or blotchy. Alternatively if the wood is open-grained, a grain fill can add in a more natural-looking contrast without a lot of work being required. I have a white Oak Tele which is being grain-filled black and oiled, plus a Zebrano singlecut with a black grain fill, dark brown dye and clear. They look a lot more "in keeping" than simply obliterating a light colour with an extreme contrast. In my experience, that large colour change rarely looks satisfactory enough. Test test test!

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17 hours ago, Prostheta said:

I have a white Oak Tele which is being grain-filled black and oiled, plus a Zebrano singlecut with a black grain fill, dark brown dye and clear. They look a lot more "in keeping" than simply obliterating a light colour with an extreme contrast. In my experience, that large colour change rarely looks satisfactory enough. Test test test!

Good tips! I'd love to see pics of your examples.  I'll try a couple more coats/sandback of the Minwax Jacobean (which really is a more dark brown) and see how it builds.  Also, is poplar open grained enough that I should use wood filler?  I know Koa is, so I will be getting some at some point during this build.., and I learned last time that walnut is as well...

 

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I believe that Poplar is quite closed-grained. As such I think you're more likely to encounter blotchiness with it. No grain filler required, however it might pick up a few tight pores and create some interest in the wood. Not as dramatic as say, Oak or Ash.

I don't know if you're really going to get much use out of sanding back that Minwax oil stain. Maybe several light hand-rubbed coats would be more useful? We don't have that over here so it's difficult to say. Poplar will likely be pretty uniform (short of any blotching) in takeup but again, test it a bit and see what you can see.

FWIW, this is black grain filler over white Oak with a subsequent coat of Osmo PolyX oil. The filler stays in the pores and also darkens the surface if you don't sand it off completely. I like the "old Oak" look of this, which is in keeping with how my friend wants his Tele to look.

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Time for a quick update.  Been spending some decent time working on this, with relatively few snafus (at least that I've noticed!!!).

Got the neck carved, tuner holes drilled.  Took a first pass at sanding to try to get most of the rough marks out, and routed the neck pocket, pickup holes, and binding channel.  I need to make a couple of templates on the laser cutter for the last two routes, and for the control cover, and some pickguard ideas I have.  Neck screws are on order and in the mail, so I'm thinking I will be mounting the neck shortly.

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Getting excited.  I guess I'm going to have to start thinking about the nut and finishing the fret job....

Thinking ahead... do you guys typically string up and play it before starting a finish?  I think I would highly value checking I don't have string action, or other issues early...

 

Edited by hittitewarrior
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8 hours ago, hittitewarrior said:

Thinking ahead... do you guys typically string up and play it before starting a finish?

I think most of us do. I don't usually do a full assembly, but I do locate everything and use straight edges and the like to verify that it all lines up and has the correct amount of play for intonation.

SR

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On 1/24/2018 at 10:07 AM, Prostheta said:

 

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:

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.

Earlier in the thread, we were discussing the merits of oil as an option for the koa.  The back of the guitar is poplar, and intend to use dye on it.  Can I use oil on the poplar with dye?  Do I need to use the shellac to seal it at any point, or can I just stain first, and then Tru-Oil the poplar at the same time I Tru-Oil the koa?

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As long as your finish doesn't re-mobilise the dye (test on scrap, wipe with oil on a white cloth or paper towel) then you should be fine. A lot of people have done oil over dye and it looks great when done well. Bear in mind that oils will add varying degrees of yellow/amber over the colour of the dye.

You can seal the dye with shellac, however the same thing applies; the alcohol in the shellac will likely interfere with the dye if it's rubbed on. I'm having this issue with Nina's SG which is being finished with alcohol-based dyes and a French polish finish. Not impossible to achieve, however the alcohol in the French polish likes to pull the dye back out. If you're shooting it, then it's less of a problem.

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1 minute ago, ScottR said:

You can stain first and Oil it all at the same time.

SR

That's the shorter answer. You posted this whilst I was writing Scott....again! haha

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Awesome.  Thanks guys.

I'm not so concerned about the durability of the back, but if I wanted to add some scratch resistance, what would you recommend on the koa top?  That might be in conflict with the idea of oil finish, but I figured I'd ask.

Edit: It looks like I could use a oil based wipe on Poly over Tru-Oil?  I would think with the colors of koa, a slight yellowing of poly would not be so noticeable.

Edited by hittitewarrior

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Koa can be pretty soft, but isn't that much different to genuine Mahoganies. Some polymerised oils can set up a reasonable finish of themselves, but they're not durable as such. Moreso than a penetrating oil. Oil/varnish mixes can provide more protection, however the further you go down that road (next step being say, wipe-on poly) the more distance you're putting between yourself and the wood. You can't easily have a "real wood" feel finish without trading its durability off.

I guess it also depends on what you term by durability as wear and tear can come in many forms from scuffing to scratching, denting, etc. What kind of abuse are you willing to put up with? I mean, the guitar. Not on a personal level. :lol:

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Also, I guess repairability is a good mention. Some finishes are better at being maintained than others. Acid cat poly might be tough as hell, but doesn't like taking repairs without leaving witness marks. Shellac is "lightly durable" but super easy to maintain since it can be reflowed and bonds to itself invisibly.

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Hmm - a good question.  I put up with a decent amount of personal abuse in terms of scratching, denting... kids, cat...  Oh wait...  Lol.

As far as the guitar... if I sand it up to 1000 grit or higher, I wouldn't want an errant pick, or an unintentional brush against something to scratch... I'm not particularly hard on a guitar, but my only real reference point is the hard finishes that come on standard Ibanez guitars.

I think I will go with Tru-Oil + topcoat of Shellac per your suggestion.  I like the napthat/mineral spirits look, and the cost/complexity of that finish seems appropriate for this build too.  

Would you still use clear grain filler if using this finishing method?

Edited by hittitewarrior
  • Haha 1

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Ibanez in general use some sort of catalysed urethane or polyester. Once damaged, it isn't really possible to effect an invisible repair because fills or repairs mechanically bond rather than chemically bond through reflow/recure. It is however ridiculously durable compared to other finishes like nitro, building oils, etc.

If shellac is the final finish (I say "reasonably durable") over Tru-Oil you'd probably get about as much durability as Tru-Oil on its own in everything but the thickness. As such, you might as well go 100% Tru-Oil. It's also pretty repairable. Shellac over Tru-Oil isn't something people really do, however I can't see why it wouldn't work. Tru-Oil will stabilise the immediate surface of the Koa whilst shellac would build a shine and easily-repairable finish.

Tru-Oil can be used to produce its own grain fill. @ScottR is experimenting with a hybrid pumice/Tru-Oil method on one of his builds, which is more akin to a proper French polishing technique. In general you'd use sandpaper to rub in the first coats of oil after the flood coat, which raises a light slurry. That packs into the pores so it self-fills.

Clear as mud yet?

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I definitely appreciate all the explanations... it's definitely clearer than when I started thanks to you guys! 

@ScottR is the pumice from the sandpaper? or are you adding some sort of pumice to the oil prior to adding to the surface?

How many coats of Tru-Oil would you use? and I am assuming application method is just wipe on.

I have a scrap piece of koa that I think is large enough for a pickguard.  I think I'll try to give this a shot, and see what it looks like.

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I don't like pre-empting Scott on this one, however I love the subject. Pumice is in powder form and was used prior to the invention of modern abrasive papers. Mostly for this purpose we'd use the finest (4A or something, Scott?). In the context of French polishing, the pumice is dusted onto the workpiece using a "pounce bag" and then worked over the surface with a shellac rubber. The pumice abrades the surface fibres, whilst the rubber works the subsequent dust into the pores and adds a small amount of shellac (like, a half or one pound cut....pretty thin) to bind it up. The pumice goes transparent and also works into the pores. What Scott is doing is like a oil slurry fill with pumice rather than just sandpaper and using the oil as a lubricant/binder.

The way I have always added Tru-Oil over Mahogany-type woods in the past was to do a "flood coat" which is to give the wood as much oil as it wants to literally soak the piece. Once that has achieved sufficient penetration, I pour and wipe off excess and let it dry. The piece needs checking regularly as oil will bleed from the pores as gravity and expansion (oil takes on oxygen as it polymerises, so it pushes itself out) and wiping as required. After that, I do slurry filling and final bodying until I'm happy.

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If you get enough people talking about Tru-Oil, you find a wealth of differing opinion on "how best" to use it. For the most part, it's such a flexible product that few methods are incorrect and most have value in different contexts. I love the look it offers Sapele and chatoyant porous woods....on Koa it should be sublime. I look forward to seeing your test pieces!

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