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Crusader

My ES-137 project

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When I bought a body blank for a Les Paul I wanted to get a bit more out of it and this is the story in pictures. Hope its interesting or even helpful although I probably use some unorthodox methods

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Edited by Crusader
put space between photos
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This gives copyrighting guitar bodies some perspective! What's an LP other than an offcut, the inside of a hollowbody ES-137?

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On 9/13/2019 at 4:33 PM, ADFinlayson said:

Beautiful work, that binding jig you're using, can you explain how it worked, more photos? I could do with something similar.

Thank you and sure no worries, I actually have photos!

I remove the base plate of the router and secure it to the setup from underneath with longer screws but same thread

(At this stage I did not have the length of wood going through underneath to set the depth)

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For binding I simply use the router bit from StewMac which has a bearing guide

 

When I'm shaping the top I start with a router bit with a bearing

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...then change over to one that doesn't have a bearing. I have a length of wood underneath that slides in and out in lieu of a bearing

Also I have a block of wood which is the shape of the Cap to adjust the height of the router and the depth.

THE CAP IS NOT THIS SHAPE ALL THE WAY ROUND THE GUITAR, only the base. When I get to the waist I follow lines drawn in felt pen

 See the length of dark wood on the right? (Jarrah) That goes right through underneath the jig and is held by a clamp, see next photo

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Here you can see the whole setup again showing the Jarrah length held by the clamp on RH side

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I hope that explains everything about the overhead router setup

cheers!

Edited by Crusader
More explanation

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On 9/13/2019 at 11:06 PM, ScottR said:

Stellar work, and I really like your documentation of the timeline.

SR

Cheers that means a lot to me as I have seen your work which I admire very much. I will never get as good as you when spraying lacquer that's for sure!

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The little bit of progress today. I was going to route for fretboard binding first but I decided to do the profile as I usually do at this stage, it shouldn't cause any issues. I use a 7/8" router bit (~22.2mm) which matches an R9 "round" profile. It just requires a little sanding and its done. Blending into the headstock is enough rasping and filing for me

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I started the body binding in the cutout and it all seemed okay...

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But when I put the neck in place it revealed something I over-looked. The neck is a millimetre or so less in width after shaping the fretboard. This is where order of procedure is important!

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Hopefully that's just a dry fitting. If so, simply make the cutout a little wider. You'll have to reroute that bit of binding channel but I suppose that's one of the smallest issues.

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Yes a small issue once I decide it has to be done. After sanding the body level with the neck the binding was so thin you could see through it. "Do it again" is my middle name! And oh yes it is a dry fitting

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2 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

Nicely done and I suppose your fist will fit better as well!

Thanks ... LOL

Well a few more photos and details. First I will back-track a bit. The first time I did a Trussrod I copied off a Fender and I was really keen on having a one-piece maple neck. But now I'm not so keen on maple because it just seems to dominate the tone so much

I've done a skunk stripe down the back of the neck a couple of times even though I have a fretboard glued on. It is a really good way of doing a trussrod because it works even without the filler-piece, and there's no timber removed from under the fretboard. However I don't like the look of it when its not necessary and it presents a problem if I want to use stain. Using clear lacquer no problem

I have had a couple of problems doing the Trussrod the way Gibson do it because the filler-piece actually takes the force of the Trussrod and needs to be glued in correctly. One time I came back to the shed and air inside the channel had expanded and pushed the filler-piece out in the middle. What I need is some hollow 3/16 rod

I was nearly going to do a Fender style trussrod with a skunk stripe but decided that aesthetics is more important with this one and any problems I've had before doing Gibson style I will iron them out

Here's my Trussrod jig. One side is for doing Fender type and the other is for Gibson style

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Here is the other sider for doing a Gibson style trussrod. I hold it in with carefully place short screws where I know the timber will be removed

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With my 3rd Les Paul Copy the Trussrod came out a bit low so I did some careful planning

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With much time spent carefully planning the trussrod route it was set up like this

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And it bore good results so far

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For the filler piece I have this piece of wood with the curve and just router the maple to shape

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And I have my filler piece. In previous builds I routered the edge with the 3/16 round bit so the trussrod groove was circular but on this one I decided that's going overboard

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To avoid mishaps this time I put the filler piece in dry and ran a line along the edge so I know where its supposed to be. Glad I did this because the timber bowed out like before and I just pushed it back to the line. I still don't know if its going to work until its all strung up but I'm confident it will be okay

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Will post more later....So many photos!

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So you already have made two types of a single action truss rod. How about the third version used by (if memory serves me right) G&L? For those who don't know, the neck is split or made of two pieces of unequal thickness. The truss rod channel is carved on the thicker half after which the pieces are glued together. With a strip of masking tape there will not be any glue in the cavity. It also allows for testing the friction of the cavity before gluing.

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I have no idea where I got that pink pencil from...

But here's something that might be interesting, going back to the days before digital cameras. I believe this is the "Test Neck" I made to determine the curve of the trussrod. I whacked a few 54g strings on this thing and tightened them up to the point that I was worried the tuning pegs might snap...then laid it on its side on the breakfast bar in the kitchen and traced the curve onto an A3 sheet of paper

Didn't take that many photos in those days but maybe there's one taken at the scene of the crime that just hasn't been scanned yet. Of course I had no idea if the design would work but I made a guitar and had no issues with it and have made several more since then and now I don't even think about it

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Getting back to the ES-137 (I probably shouldn't call it that because it has little in common other than the shape) I had an issue with the jig I use for the tenon. I had a big issue when I did the LPC3 and it came down to the fact that the big saw doesn't cut square. But any how here are the jigs I use for the tenon. You will notice that I router EVERYTHING

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I had some extra length with this neck so I decided to make the end connect to the underside of the top

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Now I scribe the neck to the body

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And yet another jig. (Notice the little messages I write to myself for when I get old and forgetful)...

.....hang on, I'm already there!

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I use a Trimmer for this task

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I made a new jig for the shape of the neck...and I have just realised I do not have a photo of it being used!

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Smoothing the neck face

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Glue the Head veneer and Fretboard

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Shape the sides

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The story so far

It was really annoying about the veneer being short although I may not need the length but if I do I will make a feature out of it. I want this headstock to be something like the Gibson Citation which is a bit longer than a LP or ES

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Shaping the profile. Notice the little worm hole under about the first fret. Very annoying, I was hoping it would get cut out

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The profile closely matches an R9 straight off the router

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Drilling for Trussrod washer

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I have a 1/2 inch washer going into a 12.5mm hole. So it needed reducing but I got there

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Skipping a lot of steps but the result is this. A cross between Gibson and Fender ideas

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Now I get to use some hand tools

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The other thing I've done in the meantime is the binding on the body and I'm quite happy with the resultsIMG_4274.thumb.jpg.a547d1fb81e5ac2117b4171024185c12.jpg

 

 

And that's it so far, I hope everyone enjoys the pictures

cheers!

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1 hour ago, Bizman62 said:

So you already have made two types of a single action truss rod. How about the third version used by (if memory serves me right) G&L? For those who don't know, the neck is split or made of two pieces of unequal thickness. The truss rod channel is carved on the thicker half after which the pieces are glued together. With a strip of masking tape there will not be any glue in the cavity. It also allows for testing the friction of the cavity before gluing.

"Unequal thickness" this is interesting I will have to Google it up!

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Have some progress recently. I finished carving the top out and have glued the neck on

However I'm a bit concerned, there's a couple of areas about 2 inches in diameter which are only about 1.5mm deep. Is that too thin?

i mentioned it to my father and he goes "Well add a bit back on" LOL and I thought "that's not a bad idea"

Anyone got thoughts or suggestions about this?

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I think you should be fine - You know where those thin spots are and can therefore be careful, especially when installing frets. I suppose you could add some bracing if you're worried, but acoustic tops are also very thin and delicate too.

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1.5 mm... That's pretty thin, even for an acoustic top that'd be thin.

If you have access to 0.55 mm hardwood veneer, cross-laminating pieces of it to the thinnest areas and sanding the edges of the patches might not be a bad idea. After all, the acoustic sound properties aren't the primary goal here, durability is of more importance.

When you glue the patches, put a piece of packaging foam against the veneer to apply a uniform pressure. Making matching gluing blocks to follow the curves would be overkill so simply carve them to the ballpark and use the foam for fine tuning. The better you can make the shapes match the thinner the foam, however some 3 mm would be the minimum thickness I'd use.

Edited by Bizman62

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Yes thanks for those suggestions. I have already been thinking the same things. After some investigating the thin areas are where the F-holes are going to be and I can foresee cracks and splitting

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You can also use fabric to strengthen the f-hole area. Laminate a piece of relatively loose woven plain weave fabric on the underside before cutting the holes. After having cut the holes, slant the underside of the hole so the fibres can't be seen and the top seems to be much thinner than what it actually is. If the top is so thin it makes you worried, a veneer would be more substantial. Or you can use both.

Like so:

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I really appreciate the suggestions however I have gone ahead and cut the F-holes out already. But I can still do the veneering and my idea is to make some out of off-cuts of the top. I decided it would be better to do the veneer after if I still want to

I did the F-holes on another guitar with a jig and a router but this one I used hand tools

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Its only on one F-hole at one end that the top is quite thin. Now I know what I am dealing with

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I used a Rat tail file to rough-out the other hole, but I don't want to use that on the thin area

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That's thin!

You may have already done all the filing but here's a hint anyway: File with down strokes towards the center of the edge until you've reached the line. Then do the same from inside out. Finally level the edge.

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"That's thin!" - Yes I had too much confidence in my measuring method, combined with impatience once again

Your filing technique - Yes good idea, I do that sometimes but didn't think of it for f-holes. I haven't finished them off yet and I'm going to be very cautious with the thin one. I might just use sand-paper

As mentioned before I still might glue in a veneer. The reason I didn't is because the area is not flat. Now that the f-holes are cut I think it is less of an issue. One other thing - I am contemplating binding the f-holes

And here's something to read, the guy's opening line. It expresses my experience perfectly

http://bobsarchtop.blogspot.com/2012/02/cutting-f-holes.html

Edited by Crusader

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