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ADFinlayson

Hi - Starting building #6

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Hi, I'm Ash, a hobby builder from Oxfordshire, UK. I've been a lurker for a little while but posted detail of previous builds on the Crimson Guitar forum. But I thought I'd start posting here 😀 I've been woodworking since Feb this year after getting hooked on videos by Ben Crowe and Paul Sellers.

Here are a couple of my previous builds:

#2 - 30 fret PRS style build - 2 piece khaya mahogany body, 1 piece neck of the same, spalted flame maple top, and headstock, gabon ebony fretboard with flamed maple binding and bar inlays, hardware is all gotoh with a PRS HFS pickup and PRS volume and coiltap. Stained with artist oil paints and finished with Crimson guitars finishing oil.

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#4 - my first commision - 25" scale LP type guitar made from wenge body and neck with a flamed sycamore top, macasar ebony fretboard with flamed maple binding and headstock. The entire upper bout round to behind bridge on this one is hollow but it still weighs in at a hefty 9lb once hardware was in. Again, PRS electronics with Holcomb alpha omega pups, schaller signum bridge and sperzel tuners. I really like the feel of a wenge neck but I wouldnt hurry to use it again for body wood. Again, oil finish but this time I used a water based dye to try and create a charcoal effect. This top had a knot in it which was a real PITA to carve, I flooded it with superglue before carving then resign afterwards, in hindsight, I should have flood the top with resign while it was still a blank.

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#5 - Another commission - currently I'm on the finishing process.  Another PRS style build, a bit of a mish-mash between a custom 24 and a mccarty style guitar as it's 24 frets and 25" scale but with a tail piece. The player has several les pauls so I tried to make it a bit more gibson with 12" radius and a slightly thicker body and deeper carve in the top.

For this one, I started with a 1 piece khaya mahogany body and a 2.5m plank of flamed maple. I used the plank to make up the top and laminated strips of it with some offcuts from #2 to make a laminated neck, in fact I used the same plank to make all of the maple on this guitar, including control cover and inlays 😀 This was my first serious attempt at cutting fretboard inlays, using some les paul plans and hand cutting them all, about 20 hours in total to get them cut and inlayed.

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Here is the new one I'm just starting on - #6 is what I was dreaming of when I first started but couldn't justify using such expensive woods on the first couple of guitars: Black limba 1 piece body and neck blank, Ziricote carve top, ziricote fretboard and headstock cap. I've got some white and gold mop blanks so I can have a go with some shell inlays as I've only worked with maple an ebony as inlay materials in previous builds. It's not going to be a les paul (that's just the sellers pencil line), it will be based on a custom 24 with a slightly greater break angle to cater for a schaller signumb bridge, then a 57/08 neck and HFS bridge pups and wired up with 1 vol, 1 tone, a 3-way switch and 2 mini toggles like my Pauls guitar. I'm considering finishing this one with a wipe on poly, I love the feel of an oiled guitar, but since I've started gigging #2, I've found that it scratches too easily, but I haven't got the space or the knowhow to take on a spray finish just yet,

So far I've roughed out the neck blank profile, but I'm going to let that sit for a while to allow for any movement. Planning to take my time on this one, in fact I will probably end build building a flying V for a friend before I finish this project.

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Hi, Ash and welcome :)

So tell me again...you started woodworking in FEBRUARY???????

And forgetting about the number - the quality of those builds is staggering for anyone's first builds - let alone being on the 6th build in 10 months!

I can see you're going to fit in nicely here! :D

Andy 

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jeez, stuggling to finish 1 build going on 4 months here, then again I've built a lot of pedals and such in that time so... yup still feel like crap about it.  good on ya.  I'm noticing a pattern in your builds!  prs fan much!!  some beauty there... specially the (what looks like) wenge one.  good work. look fwd to seeing your build threads.

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Let me add my welcome as well Ash!

As Mike and Andy mentioned, you've done some very nice work so far. There is some high level of skill on display here.

I'm looking forward to the ziricote build. I love the way that stuff looks. Keep a close eye on it during your build though. Several of us around here have learned that while it appears heavenly, it is easily possessed by evil spirits.:D

Cheers!

SR

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Welcome to pg! 

Everything is looking great for only wood working since February!

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Thanks for the kind words. Yes started in February, In 2016 we bought my late, great uncles house, he was a carpenter and is old bench and vice was still in the garage so I have a good work space. I was researching on YouTube how to build a cupboard under the stairs and stumbled across some guitar building videos, while I was at the local timber yard getting down stock for the cupboard, I picked up Sapele and thought I’d have a go. 

This was the first build that I finished in March. I got an Ash plank off eBay for £9 that I laminated to make a 3 piece neck. This is the first build:

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It’s far from professional but I learnt a lot from it.

for some reason I can’t upload the 3rd build. I’ll try again later with a different format. 

between 5 builds and a stair cupboard I’ve also made a second workbench to help with my tool hoarding problem.

So I started out looking for a hobby, but seem to have gained an obsession 😀🍻

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Here’s the bench I made, it’s nothing fancy, just very heavy duty with ability to slide my hover etc out and stand some of my bench mounted power tools, I’ve got a pillar drill there now too and I use it as an area for carving my tops. 

I see a lot of people using power tools for carving but I find it quite therapeutic doing it with a hammer and a gouge, at least until I get a hand full of blisters.

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This was my third build. It was both a bit of an experiment and a prototype for #4. The experiment was that I was going off-template, I had templates for a 24.5" 22 fret single cut, but I wanted to build a 25" 24 fret guitar, so it involved moving then tenon out and changing the position of the pickup routes. I also wanted to play with the idea of making a guitar entirely out of Ovangkol. You will notice that the guitar never had any finish, that is because, although it sounded and felt awesome. It weighed 11.5lb 🙈 so I have since decided to strip it down, remove the neck and I'm planning to thickness the top of the body so that I can hollow it out and put a maple cap on it. I already removed the neck a few weeks ago using some water and my girlfriends hair drier (scary stuff) and I'm letting it sit for a while before attacking the body. I'm thinking about having a go at an F hole for this.

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21 hours ago, ADFinlayson said:

I find it quite therapeutic doing it with a hammer and a gouge

Man after my own heart.

SR

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I've made a bit of progress over the last few days, I wanted to take a slither off the back of the body blank as I only want 30mm of thickness under the top. 1, to not waste so much of a lovely piece and 2) I thought I'd have a go at properly matching grain up for a control cover instead of just using an offcut with the same grain direction which I've done on previous builds. I made myself a kerfing plane from some scrap oak and a cheap tenon saw from screwfix. I don't have a band saw that will do this job so had to do it by hand. It was hard work and took a couple of hours to get through it.. but there was beer on the other side.

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I got to work on the neck blank this evening, now that it's had a days to do what it wants to do, I had to take a hair off one side with the jointer plane. Then I bandsawed off the headstock angle and and planed to a consistent 11º with my no4

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Routed my truss rod cavity, used some cocktail sticks for locator pins and glued and clamp the ziricote headstock.

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I'm doing the headstock a little differently to my previous builds. Previously I have routed the truss rod channel and access before doing the headstock angle, then route the cap to match before glueing it on. This time, I've decided that I'll just drill through the to the truss cavity in the same way I would if I was building a fender style headstock, seems like less work with routers.

Another thing I've done differently is to start the headstock cap where the fretboard finishes instead of leaving a channel for the nut to sit in, I'm going to flatten down that area of angled cap to create a flat for the nut to sit on. I doubt this method is any better or any worse, just different. 

I've also rough cut the body shape out with the band saw, I figured the less widget there is on the blank the less it's likely to cup, thought I've noticed it has started to move a little bit, so has the slither I cut off. I left the body a good 5 mm over thickness but I hope it doesn't move too much or I'm in trouble. I am however, already in love with this wood 😀

Cheers
Ash

Edited by ADFinlayson

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3 hours ago, Norris said:

All credit to you for resawing that blank by hand!

Yeah. I like to a lot of things by hand, but that ain't one of them.:blink:

SR

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Not a huge amount of progress on my build, but some. I've drilled access for the truss rod and flattened the headstock cap where it meats the fretboard so there is a level spot for the nut (just needs tidying up with a scraper), routed the shaft of the neck to final shape and marked out fret slots. I've also made some ziricote binding strips for the neck by jointing the edge of the fretboard prior to cutting to length, cutting off a 2mm slither then repeating. That gives me 2 good glueing surfaces on my binding and saves on waste. Next step will be to glue the fretboard on, route it flush with the neck then route again to create a rebate for the binding. I leave fret slotting until after this point because there is a lot less wood to saw through and it only takes about 30 mins to cut the slots with my hand saw. Obviously the downside is that I can't use a mitre box to cut the slots at this point, not that I own one anyway 😀

Hopefully, if I have time tomorrow morning, I'll take my limba body down to the timber yard and get them to thickness it for me, I'd also like to get the bookmatch for the ziricote top done and glued. My last effort to joint a 2 piece top didn't turn out as well as I'd of liked, fortunately this finish is dark so the line between the top pieces isn't that obvious. On this one, I thought I'd have a go at using a router to do the main part of the jointing and a sanding beam and see if that produces better results, I definitely need more practice and jointing with hand planes though.

The only thing I can think of at this point that is going to let the build down, is that the headstock cap is not sawn the same way as the fretboard or top, I was unable to find anything exactly the same, however the headstock cap figure is consistent with what both the side of the freboard binding and the end of the top will look like so I'm hoping it will all tie in..  

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Bit more progress, glued my fretboard on last night, trimmed excess and routed flush with the neck. Nothing about my clamping is elegant. Also this morning I routed the fretboard with a rebate bit to make a 1.5mm channel for the binding strips.

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Also this morning, I took the limba body down to the timber yard so they could thickness it for me, with specific instructions to joint the back then remove thickness from the front. The theory being that the grain structure on that back stays as close as possible to that of the 15mm slither I cut off last week.

When I got back I jointed and glued the top. I said I was going to try using a router to do the jointing, but having looked at bookmatched, the supplier must have run the top over a jointer before bookmatching because the joint was pretty good, so I ran over the joints with the no7 and got it pretty much perfect with little effort, when I held it up to the light I wasnt able to see anything through the joint so I thought I'd just crack on and glue it up. I expect given how dark the top is, that even if the joint wasnt perfect, it wouldnt be as visible as a bad joint on something like maple or ash.

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I'm hoping to get the top roughed out and fretslots cut over the rest of the weekend 😀

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Need some help... 

After saying that I had a good joint on my top, I have found that the body has cupped since being thickness and the joint on the top has opened up slightly - only ever so slightly and the cupping is also very slight (fraction of a mm if that). I was thinking that I could fill any opening in the top with dust and wood glue to hide it, as the wood is so dark and I'm not going to stain it, this seams plausible, but I'm worried about the potential of further cupping. 

The joint between the top and body is good all round (see pics) but instead of the top holding the body, it seems that the body is pulling the top apart 😢

Any advice on how to proceed welcome!

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That is an awesome wood combination. I did tell you that ziricote often becomes possessed by evil spirits (demons). I see they did not wait long to take over your piece. I think you can get away with the glue and dust thing on that piece of wood. Also, it you are going to carve it, the carve will likely take at least part of it down below the gap.

A word of caution when it comes finishing time. Ziricote will soak up oil and darken to the point that all the variations and striping will become difficult to see. Lacquer does not do that, and there may be other finishes that do not darken as well. Be sure to test on scrap, lest you lose everything that makes ziricote look so cool.

SR

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Good advice thanks, It's not the Ziricote that's causing me trouble it's the limba that's on the move and my main point of concern.

Re finish, I noticed exactly what you describe when I was cleaning the top down with mineral spirits, it went almost black. I was planning to use a wipe-on gloss polly on this one, which I will definitely be testing on some offcuts first.

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Ah. I cannot see that from the pix. The split will not be quite as easy to hide, but you will probably still get away with it. Carving will help. If it bugs you severely, you can inlay a center stripe over the top of it.

I meant to ask, what kind of dog do you have? Dogs rock!

SR

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The split is tiny, but it's there, I think I can get away with dust and glue, providing the body doesn't cup anymore. I think I've got no choice but to just go with it.

That's Dylan the dog, he's a Working Cocker, though the's never done a days work in his life, unless you count eating my offcuts. He's also a known photo-bomber.

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Something about exotic offcuts that dogs can't seem to get enough of. My own dogs have been known to bomb a photo or two themselves.

SR

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17 hours ago, ADFinlayson said:

The split is tiny, but it's there, I think I can get away with dust and glue, providing the body doesn't cup anymore. I think I've got no choice but to just go with it.

I think this is right.

Certainly a dust and glue (for dark woods I would use epoxy - wood glue, even full of dust, often dries light) will hide the gap which, as @ScottR says, may well be carved away. 

Then keep a close eye on it.  If there is no more splitting, it is unlikely to be a problem.  However, if it is still moving and splits more, then I think you might have a problem - either with the glue or the wood or both.  I worked on an old bass a few years ago that had pulled itself apart and was still moving - 20 years after it was built!

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