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Showing content with the highest reputation since 11/06/2011 in Tutorials

  1. 3 points
    This tutorial is intended as a supplemental to Chris Verhoeven's "The Comprehensive Guide To Body Template Making" article here on ProjectGuitar.com; Chris' tutorial describes techniques for taking a printed design applied to a surface (in his instance, glued to thin sheet stock) and shaping that before transferring it to thicker and more permanent material. Presented here is an alternative method of taking a design printed in real-world sizes from your CAD package to that first bit of template stock. Chris' method is simple; print out your design and glue it to the sheet stock. Most people only have access to a standard format laser printer (Letter or A4). For obvious reasons, these might seem inadequate for the task since most of the templates we need to make (such as for body outlines) tend to be far larger. One solution might be to have your plan printed at a copy house straight to the appropriate size such as ANSI C or A2 which makes things a lot easier, even if it's a more expensive option. Printing a larger design over several small sheets and manually tiling them can be done within minutes, and with a little careful planning can be equally as accurate. Applying the page(s) to your target sheet stock can present a problem; spray glue is expensive, ridiculously messy and a pain to apply paper onto. Once it sticks, it goes nowhere! Equally, water-based glues have their own difficulties with the paper rippling and distorting. Without a large press, the paper bubbles and adheres poorly. Worse, when shaping a paper-based template the edges "fluff up" and obscure the lines we're trying to shape to. An alternative is to print directly to the sheet stock, or more accurately transfer a print. By taking the glues and reliance on paper out of the question, we can produce templates that are more permanent and far less hassle to produce overall. Toner Transfer Method Laser printers work by heating a solid ink powder ("toner") on a drum, physically pressing and depositing the molten ink onto the media. The toner transfer method reverses that process by using heat to re-transfer the toner from the media to the target workpiece. Why am I using the terms "target workpiece" and "media"? Media in this case is normally printer paper. We're going to bend this a little and use something a little different in place of standard paper. Secondly, "target workpiece" is down to this method having its roots in a different technique; homebrew PCB production. In that, rather than transferring toner to a sheet of MDF, hardboard or plywood it is transferred to a plain copper PCB sheet as a "mask" before etching the circuit design. The overall concept is the same. We temporarily print our design onto paper and transfer it elsewhere using heat. You will need: Glossy junk mail (with pages that will go through your printer) Painter's tape Craft knife or blade Steel ruler Clothes iron For this demonstration, I'll be transferring a doublecut bass design to a sheet of 5mm MDF. A little preparation work on your drawing is necessary. Firstly, I made a mirrored copy of the items I wanted to appear in my plan and increased the line weights to 0,5mm (~0.02in). Secondly, I created a custom printer setting which prints darker and turned "toner saving" off. Having heavier line weights and darker printing loads more toner to the print media, making it easier to transfer toner back off and to the target. Step 1 - Mark up your stock sheet I'll be tiling four sheets of paper in a 2x2 grid. To give myself reference, I drew a line across the centre of the MDF sheet and added a small mark midway across. All of the sheets will align along their longest side to this line, with the corners coinciding at this midway mark. Step 2 - Prepare for printing I chose a mail order catalogue which is slightly smaller than A4 for the print media. The paper is semi-glossy and fairly thin. Not all paper works the same for this process, so run through these steps to get familiar with the process and try a few test pieces first. The binding is a typical hot-melt glue type, so I ran a hot clothes iron along the spine and pulled off the covers. Whilst still warm the pages were easily parted into smaller sections. The residual bits of hot glue should be trimmed off otherwise they'll happily end up on your printer drum. This is NOT a good thing. I emptied the paper drawer and reset the guides to match the paper. On my computer I added a custom paper size corresponding to the physical dimensions of this paper which were 208mm x 279mm, or a little narrower than Letter. This gives you an idea of the print settings for my chosen CAD package, TurboCAD. The "real" paper size consists of 2 rows and 2 columns (set in "Layout") of my custom-defined paper size. The virtual drawing sheet size is a breakdown of the CAD plan automatically sized to the printable area. Most importantly the print is set to 1:1 scaling along with adding in the chosen alignment marks. Step 3 - Printing Send your print job to the printer and manually load one sheet at a time. Doing this reduces the chances of the paper pickup taking several sheets at once and causing a jam. Load the paper so that the print will end up on the side that is the clearest - you need to be able to see the print to trim up to it! Check that the print hasn't wrinkled or smudged, and that the alignment marks are visible. Check that the pages line up with each other without gaps/overprint and that the dimensions of the drawing are in fact 1:1 in both width and height. Step 4 - Transferral Firstly - using your steel ruler and a blade, trim the excess margins from the pages where they mate so that they butt up to each other perfectly. Align the edge and corner of the first page to the reference marks on your sheet and tape the four corners that the page lays as flatly as possible (unlike my example *cough*). (Finnish women don't look like this) Starting from the inside corner, place the iron on its highest temperature and leave it to sit for 10-15 seconds. After this, pick up the iron and place it further away from the corner with no overlap. Repeat this for the entire page. (actually, they're not screaming under the heat so at least they seem resilient like Finnish women anyway) What we're doing here is partially bonding the page to the sheet. The toner re-melts and sticks to both the iron and the paper. The page can be left a few minutes to cool, and then we can iron the page with some pressure! The glue on your painter's tape will likely melt during the ironing; making the pages prone to sliding and smudging the toner, so refine your technique with this in mind and don't drag the paper with the iron. Making sure than the sole of the iron is clean helps a great deal. After thoroughly pressing the paper down, the toner should ideally have "left" the paper and stuck preferentially to the target, hence why we used a glossier paper than standard printer paper; the bond between the ink and the glossier surface is weaker. Carefully peel the page backwards from the far corner, examining the transfer as you do so. If areas are missing, carefully re-apply the page and re-iron, taking care not to add in any misalignment as you do so. Ideally, you should end up with something like this: Transfers are rarely perfect due to a number of reasons; the cleanliness/smoothness of the target surface, and the paper used makes a difference. Your clothes iron needs to be as hot as it can manage. Again, find out what works best. All that remains is to repeat this process for all four sheets, aligning each one with the reference marks as carefully as you are able. The toner transfer method is not perfect by any means, and is subject to tolerance. Knowing how and when tolerances creep in is essential in keeping this technique accurate enough for its purpose. The lower-left sheet has a slight misalignment; things like this need to be borne in mind if any of the items you have transferred contain critical measurements. Manually check and re-check every precise dimension and marking for suitability, and re-draw them manually if needs be. Tips Include a long scale ruler on your drawing that occupies one sheet. This can help spot any dimensioning inaccuracies. Add a regularly-sized grid. 5cm or 2" gridlines expose any misalignment or distortion. Transfer the edges of guidelines to the other side. Place your sheet against a window and mark the locations of guidelines as they transition from one sheet to the next; this helps ensure that all sheets are aligned with each other since the print is on the underside. TURN OFF THE STEAM! Clean the (cold) iron sole with acetone before and after using the iron! Most importantly, you want the transfer work to go well. Secondly, you don't want to accidentally end up with melted toner or tape glue on your dress or your wife's dress shirt. Learn which things to include and not to include on your printed plan. Comprehensive is nice, but simple is clearer. This technique is also a great way of transferring photos or designs to a workpiece. Everybody knows that a gift of a cat photo on a 2x4 serves as adequate forgiveness for returning the iron with sticky toner on the sole.
  2. 3 points
    Several commercial luminescent marker products are available. Off-the-shelf solutions (such as those from Luminlay) are available in several sizes or raw sheet, costing upward of USD$20-30 plus shipping for enough to do a full instrument. A more temporary solution exists in the form of pre-made stickers that fit over existing inlays or sheets of adhesive-backed vinyl that can be cut to whatever shape you please. For relatively little expense, it is laughably easy to make several sets of your own high intensity luminescent inlays, even making sizes and shapes not commercially available. Casting our own dots and some simple side line markers using materials that are a cinch to get ahold of produces a high quality alternative to ready-made dots. You will need: Luminescent powder Good quality two-part epoxy or casting resin HDPE sheet such as a kitchen chopping board Drill bits corresponding to the size of dot to be made Masking tape Luminescent Powder Most importantly we need luminescent (glow in the dark) powder. This is easily available from plenty of sites around the net, eBay and Amazon, etc. Strontium Aluminate (SrAl2O4) powders are the brightest and glow for the longest time, but can only produce a limited range of colours. More "difficult" colours such as red tend to be Yttrium Oxide Sulphide or Zinc Sulphide. These have lower brightnesses and glow times than Strontium Aluminate. Powders are often available in different grades of coarseness; larger grain sizes (typ. 100µm to 250µm) tend to be brighter than the finest grades (~10µm). All are equally suitable for this tutorial, plus blending colours is an option should you want to experiment. The powder used in this tutorial is 20g of an Aqua Blue at around 30-40µm grain size. 20g is more than enough to do a few full sets of fret markers. This shouldn't cost more than a few dollars/shekels. Epoxy or Casting Resin For casting, you need a common clear resin such as an epoxy or similar two-part system. I'll be using ZAP Z-Poxy 30min (PT-39) however you can easily substitute this for a different product such as West System 105, a casting resin such as Alumilite or similar cold curing resin. Have a hunt around the RC enthusiast or crafts casting suppliers and sites; they tend to have plenty of epoxies on stock plus a lot of experience in their application. Z-Poxy 30min (PT-39) was chosen out of economy and availability. Although designed as a adhering epoxy, that property is not important in this context. The Z-Poxy line also includes a Finishing Resin (PT-40) for fibreglass or carbon fibre layups, which also sets up in 30 minutes. That would also be a satisfactory alternative, however tends to be more expensive. General DIY epoxy glues for repairing things around the home (those in the two-tube syringe dispensers like Araldite, etc) are a poor substitute at best; a quality epoxy costs about the same as these consumer-grade repair glues, however they don't tend to come in the same small quantities. That said, a good epoxy has many uses around the workshop so is a good investment beyond this one job. The Z-Poxy 30min was €21,50 for 8fl oz/237ml. That's about 3-4 mouthfuls, however this is not a safe or standard method of measurement. It might seem a small quantity or a high price, but this is enough for several bags of glow powder and it'll run you a load of different jobs. The big ticks are that it dries clear, has a sufficient open time (30mins to gel, a few hours more to fully cure) and isn't finicky if you get the mix ratio slightly out. HDPE Sheet For the mould, we're going to use a cheap and commonly available kitchen chopping board made of HDPE (High Density Polyethylene). Unlike most materials, casting resins and epoxies don't adhere at all well to HDPE plus it's pretty simple to machine, making it an ideal choice. Obviously, most people don't care too much about what material their cheap plastic chopping board is made of and correspondingly, manufacturers don't go out of their way to write it all over the packaging. That said, find the triangular recycling (PIC) mark which identifies the plastic type. Any marked with a "2" in the centre will be HDPE and this might be stamped underneath the PIC. Polypropylene or LDPE can work, however HDPE is a more reliable option and more resistant to epoxies. The chopping board I used was just over 6mm thick (1/4") and cost me €4 for a large magazine-sized board. Pocket money. Whilst I don't need a mould this size, it worked out cheaper than buying the smaller one which was €1 cheaper. I just ripped it to size on the table saw and kept the spare for future use. If you want to go the whole hog, more exotic polymers such as UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) or PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene or Teflon) can be sourced from many plastics suppliers in sheet form. Generally these will be more expensive than more readily-available HDPE however their ridiculously low coefficient of friction makes them fantastic for making epoxy moulds. Ask if they have any free scraps or samples. ------ The process is relatively simple. Prepare the mould. Mix up one part of your epoxy or casting resin with the glow powder. Add the second component and then pour it into the moulds. Allow it to cure, and push the finished pieces out. Let's look at each stage in more detail. Making the mould HDPE is simple to machine using woodworking tools. When drilled, HDPE tends to produce long spirals of swarf which wrap themselves around the drill bit. Whilst not a hazard, it's worth clearing the drill of this swarf every now and again. Drill speeds should be lowered to a very slow speed as HDPE starts to become soft and melty above 80°C/176°F. This can cause swarf to weld itself back to the workpiece. Routing HDPE is similar. The lowest speed possible on the router works a treat, producing small chips and a clean finish. Round dots are the most common and easiest moulds to prepare; simply drill the HDPE straight through with the appropriate size bit. I set up a simple jig on the pillar drill to cut set of 6,0mm 5,0mm and 2,5mm holes. The jig is simply a back stop made from a flat piece of scrap board which allows the holes to be cut in a neat line. Totally not necessary, however it helps speed up the work and helps make the most of the real estate around the HDPE sheet. It's worthwhile making more mould holes than you might need. Any unused epoxy can be used to cast spare dots in case any turn out faulty. The mould will be reusable dozens of times, it is a good idea to consider making ordered sets of holes corresponding to marker sizes you commonly use, or may use in future. To make some rounded side markers, a simple small diameter cutter is fitted into the router. The height is set short of cutting the entire board through. Halfway is fine and will produce a ~3mm deep mould. That said, I know this router table to be poor, and the top flexes in use. I expect just over 4mm of cut. Thankfully this router table is not mine.... Using a squared piece of scrap as a push stick makes this cut safe since it is too short to run against the fence on its own. Push with the board, keeping the workpiece pressed flush back against it and both pressed against the fence. Once the cut have been made, draw both pieces backwards steadily. Nice. Two clean rounded-end slotted moulds....and they measured about 4,5mm deep so the table was particularly bendy today.... Progressively moving the fence backwards makes a series of slots into the edge. One or perhaps two of these slots were poor cuts with slight bites into the sides ruining the straightness. I'll black those up with a permanent marker so I don't use those. Preparing the mould Clean your mould using a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol. After drying, apply masking tape to the moulds to close them off. For the side markers, create a "dam" by closing the edge up to the corner. Fold the tape underneath and burnish it to the plastic with your fingers. For the through holes, strips of tape closing the underneath is all that is needed. Again, burnish the tape securely with your fingers. Mixing the epoxy Pre-heat the resin and hardener in lukewarm water. This helps to reduce the thickness of the epoxy, allowing for easier working and fewer bubble inclusions. Wearing nitrile gloves is recommended when working resins. Epoxy resins and hardeners are sensitisers, causing rashes or other nasty things. The more you expose yourself to them, the more likely you are to have reactions. The warnings on the box are no joke. Keep a cloth and some denatured alcohol nearby to clean up any spills or accidental skin contact. In two mixing cups, measure equal amounts of resin and hardener. Follow the manufacturers instructions on measurement; some are fine by weight whilst some recommend by volume. Stick as close to the the recommended correct ratio as possible. In this case, Z-Poxy 30-min recommends a 1:1 ratio. Experience tells me that there is a little fudge factor either side of this. It's a pretty friendly product to work with. Epoxies like West System 105 (5:1 ratio) tend to be a little less forgiving. If you are planning on making a very large number of markers, consider splitting the work up into batches. Resins cure chemically, and a byproduct of this process is exothermic heat. Unfortunately, the curing process is also accelerated by heat! Mixing up large batches of curing resin can easily lead to self-sustaining thermal runaway, causing the resin to boil or even catch fire. At best the mixture starts to gel before you're finished working with it. Measure an approximately equal volume of glow powder into either the resin or the hardener. I haven't decided whether either is a better choice to mix into as of yet. Incorporate the powder using a stirring stick. The mixture will become thicker and start to fold over itself as the powder is worked in. Draw the mixture over any dry or wet residue, splitting and refolding it until completely smooth and incorporated. Scrape the sides and the bottom to ensure nothing escaped. The resulting mixture should be easy to scrape out of the container, leaving little residue. Mix this into the second component and again, incorporate fully. Scrape the sides and base of the container to remove any stubborn pockets. The clock is now ticking. For Z-Poxy 30-min the open time (not the cure time) is around 30 minutes. Since we heated the components slightly to make them more workable, this may be a little less than stated. Still, we have more than enough time to mould up several sets. Time to get to work Use a kebab skewer or similar, draw a lump of the mixture from the cup. Allow this to drizzle off the end of the stick and into the target mould. It's not too important to be super accurate. Do remember that the clock is ticking! Any under or over fills are no big deal, plus the epoxy will settle in. A few minutes later, I had all of the mould filled and excess epoxy left over. Wasteful, which is a real shame. I should have made a larger mould set, however I'll have a spooky glowing cup anyway. I'd used the stick to scrape excess over the mould and a cocktail stick to check the smallest dots didn't have bubbles. The warm epoxy flowed nicely and where it was meant to with no bubbles at all. Excellent. Finish up by taking a craft knife blade (a small rubber squeegee would be good also) to drag excess over and off the surface. I held the blade at about 45° to force excess down into the mould for a better fill. For the side markers, dragging at 45° to the direction of the markers as the blade scraped across helped prevent lifting of the epoxy out of the moulds. When the epoxy starts to set up, it likes to "grab" and try dragging itself out. Okay, everything is looking good. The epoxy felt as though it was becoming more difficult to work and the excess in the cup was feeling warm to the touch. This is a sign that the curing process has kicked into motion; exothermic heat from the chemical reaction. Time to leave it to chooch. A few hours later the epoxy was more or less done. Adding fillers like luminescent powders might effect the absolute curing time, however the Z-Poxy 30-min seems like an ultra-hard candy after three hours anyway despite this. The mould was washed in warm water and the masking tape peeled or rubbed off as it soaked. Epoxy is waterproof, so washing doesn't affect the markers. Poking out the first 6,0mm dot shows a consistent and bubble-free mould fill. This dot is more or less the full thickness of the mould; far deeper than inlays really need to be. Better than too shallow of course! The easiest method of popping dots out is placing the mould on top of a roll of masking tape or some other flat supportive surface with an empty area in the middle. Popping dots out from the top of the mould seemed more difficult than popping them out from the back. The side marker lines are a little different. Flexing the mould slightly "cracks" any adhesion between the mould and the epoxy. Persuasion with a fingernail or a flat-bladed screwdriver easily removes them. The result! One of the smallest (2,5mm) dots had a bubble, however this round saw almost a 100% yield. Time to start making collections. There'll be piles more where these came from as this used a small quantity of epoxy. The cost of these inlays is a fraction of any commercial equivalents, plus they're far thicker. After briefly charging the inlays using a lightbulb the inlays glow strongly! Daylight contains more UV which is a better option for charging luminescent inlays. My blacklight LED torch had not yet arrived in time for publication; these can be bought for a couple of dollars on eBay or wherever. Blacklight or UV LEDs and charge luminescent inlays extremely quickly and strongly! Do bear in mind the warnings about exposing your eyes to direct UV light.... Dots can be installed much the same as any other; a hole drilled to the corresponding size and glued in with a drop of cyanoacrylate glue. The epoxy dots respond well to being filed flat before sanding and polishing along with the rest of the fingerboard. The colour is a slightly-off ivory with a hint of green. UPDATE: The dots are painfully bright after brief charging with an LED blacklight pen: Remember the pot of waste epoxy? This is how it shines in daylight. Alternative methods You are not restricted to casting markers in HDPE moulds or using epoxy as a binder for the luminescent powder. The epoxy mixture works wonderfully cast directly into brass, copper or sterling silver tube to produce a metal outline for the dot. Simply wrap masking tape around the outside of the tube to keep it clean and pour epoxy directly in. Forum member Chris Verhoeven produced a fantastic video on direct casting of photo-luminescent dots. Rather than casting the markers separately, Chris fills the dot locations with luminescent glow powder and wicks cyanoacrylate glue in to lock up the powder. In addition, lacing the glow powder with Ebony dust creates a faux reconstituted stone look to the finished item. For a future tutorial, we will look at making more complex moulds for making inlays....stay tuned! ------ Thank you This tutorial was made possible due to the ongoing support of our Patreon donators. If you found this publication useful; share it and talk about it! Even better, drop a couple of bucks in the Patreon hat so we can keep raising the bar with our published content.
  3. 2 points
    Set-Up and Use of the Guitars & Woods (G&W) Fretboard Miter Box 1. Introduction The guide will cover: An overview of how the miter box is used Obtaining a square initial datum (generally needed for first use only) Mounting the unit on a bench or board Setting the blade width (generally needed for first use only, unless a different saw is subsequently used) Setting the height of cut (done for each new blank fretboard) Locking the above settings, ready for fret slotting (done for each new blank fretboard) Preparing the fretboard for use in the miter box Positioning and attaching the fretboard to the Fretscale Template Locating correctly the fretboard / template assembly into the miter box Clamping, or otherwise securing, the fretboard / template assembly in the miter box ready for sawing Indexing the fretboard / template assembly ready for the next slot to be cut Removing the slotted fretboard from the template 2. Parts   3. Overview - Principles of Operation It can sometimes be a little overwhelming diving into the detail before you are familiar with the equipment. So, as a very broad overview – and referring to the Parts photographs in Section 1, this is how it works: The miter box keeps the fretsaw blade square, perpendicular and firmly in position. The saw, when cutting, rides smoothly between eight ball bearings fitted in the Guide Bearing Brackets (3) The fretboard is secured to the Fretscale Template (9) with double-sided tape This fretboard / template assembly is placed into the miter box and the Locating Pin (2) is engaged into a slot on the Fretscale Template (10 &11) note: the G&W Miter Box is available with two different baseplate widths enabling fret slotting on wider fretboards, such as those for 8-string guitars or 6-string basses. Fret scale templates are designed primarily for use with the narrower baseplate and benefit from a shim sized to the gap created by a wider base plate. The fretboard is now in position ready for the fret slot to be cut The fretboard / template assembly is clamped, or otherwise secured, in position and sawing can start When the saw spine reaches the top bearings, the cut is complete and the spine (12) runs smoothly on the top four bearings - the saw cannot go any deeper than it has been set The fretboard clamps (or other methods of securing) are released and the fretboard / template assembly is lifted off the locating pin and slid along until the next Template Locating Slot (10) is reached and the assembly locks down over the locating pin in the next position. The fretboard is now in the correct position for the next slot to be cut A short amount of time trying out the equipment will make the above very quickly and easily understood. It is strongly recommended that you try out the miter box with some scrap wood to familiarise yourself with its operation and features before using it on a piece of fretboard wood intended for use in a guitar or bass build.   4. Setting Up the Miter Box for Use 4.1 Ensuring the miter box is squared up This will usually only need to be done once, before the first use of the miter box Loosen the Side Piece Adjustment Screws (7) with the supplied Allen key just enough to allow the side pieces to slide in their slots when pushed Place the end of the box nearest to the Locating Pin (2) upright on a flat surface: Push the two lower Side Pieces (6) downwards until they are flat and level with the end of the Base Plate (1) While holding the Side Pieces flat against the surface, tighten the six Side Piece Adjustment Screws (7) The Locating Pin side of the miter box is now squared up and you are ready for the next step of the set up 4.2 Setting the fretsaw blade width This will usually only need to be done once, before the first use of the miter box, unless a different saw is subsequently used. As supplied, the Guide Bearing Brackets (3) will be loose. If they do not move at all in their slots, ensure that the Guide Bearing Bracket Locking Screws (5) are slackened - using the supplied smaller Allen key - just sufficiently for the brackets to move Referring to step 4.1 above, you will now be pushing the two remaining loose Side Pieces (6) firmly against the fretsaw blade. Insert the fretsaw between the two sets of bearings. Push each of the loose Side Pieces (6) firmly against the saw blade and tighten the relevant Side Piece Adjustment Screws (7) This operation should be carried out with the fret saw in place; the tool has been omitted for visual clarity Ensure that the saw can move freely between the bearings. The blade will now be both square and perpendicular to the miter box base and sides   5. Using the Miter Box 5.1 Mounting the miter box to workbench or board Although it is possible to use the miter box as it is, it is strongly recommended that the box is securely screwed to the workbench or a flat plank or board using the screw holes (8) provided in the base plate Tip - The miter box can be mounted either way round. Mount it so that the main cutting force of the saw blade is pulling the fretboard and template into the side containing the Locating Pin (2). For a pull blade, that will be having the Locating Pin nearest to you and for a push blade having the Locating Pin away from you: 5.2 Mounting the fretboard blank onto the Scale Template Please Note that the following guidelines assume a rectangular fretboard blank. For a tapered blank, refer also to the Section 7 covering some variations Ensure that one side of the fretboard has a flat and square edge. This will be the side that lines up with the Fret Scale Template (9) Tip – If the Fret Scale Template (9) is attached with the scale length showing at the back, it will be easier to ensure that the correct scale length of the two options is being used: Before adding any double sided tape, lay the Fret Scale Template (9) in the mitre box and engage Locating Pin (2) into the nut-end slot in the template. Lay the fretboard blank onto the Fretscale Template(6) and position the fretboard so that the saw position will be at the required distance from the end of the fretboard. Note the position: Using three or four narrow strips of double sided tape, stick the fretboard blank onto the Fret Scale Template (9) in position and taking care the straight edge of the fretboard is lined up exactly with the Fret Scale Template edge: 5.3 Setting Cut Depth There are a number of methods for doing this. This is one method: Raise the Guide Bearing Brackets (3) using the Adjustment Screws (4) Place the fretboard/template assembly into the miter box and put the saw into the bearing guides, inserting it from the side but taking care not to pass the cutting teeth through the small gap between the bearings. Rest the spine of the saw on the top four bearings: Use the Height Adjustment Screws (4) to lower the blade until it is just touching the fretboard. Ensure that both bearings each side of the fretsaw spine are at the same height. Lift the fretsaw clear of the fretboard and remove it. Remove also the fretboard /template assembly. Using a steel rule or vernier, lower each of the four bearing brackets by the depth of cut required: Reinsert saw - ensuring that the bearings are in contact with the saw blade - and tighten the eight Guide Bearing Bracket Locking Screws (5) with the supplied Allen key to clamp the brackets in place. Do not overtighten! Tip – with slight sidewards pressure against the blade, first tighten the brackets on the left, then push each of the right-hand brackets up to the saw blade and tighten those. This should ensure all four bearings one each side are making contact with the blade Ensure that the saw blade runs freely, that there are no gaps between the blade and the four pairs of bearings. You are now ready to start slotting! 5.4 Clamping and Slotting Remove the saw blade and lift the fretboard / template assembly into place. ENSURE THAT THE EDGE OF THE FRETBOARD / TEMPLATE IS TIGHT AGAINST THE SIDE PIECES (6) AND THAT THE LOCATING PIN IS ENGAGED IN THE TEMPLATE SLOT It is strongly recommended that the fretboard is either clamped - or held tight against the side pieces with some scrap wooden wedge strip - so that the fretboard does not move during cutting: Carefully insert the sawblade and cut the slot until the fret saw's spine is running freely on the top bearings Remove the sawblade, unclamp and lift the fretboard / template assembly a little to disengage the Location Pin Slide the fretboard / template assembly along until the next slot on the template drops over the locating pin Check again that the edge of the fretboard and template are firmly butted up to the side pieces of the miter box Re-clamp or wedge, re-insert sawblade and cut the next slot. When finished, use a thin long knife, thin cabinet scraper or kitchen spatula to gently separate the fretboard from the template. Do not try to pull it off – a slotted fretboard is liable to break! 6. Is this all too much? Fear Not! The above guidance is necessarily detailed. With a decent familiarity of what you are doing and a knowledge of the important steps – which this guide seeks to help you with - the reality is that it should take : Less than ½ hour to do the initial squaring up and setting up – this will not normally need doing again Less than ¼ hour to attach the fretboard to the template and set the cutting height ½ hour to cut 24 accurate fret slots 7. And finally, some variations The fretboard does not have to be rectangular – it could be tapered. The template will still need to closely butt up to the locating pin and miter sides. Here, however, it is even more important to find a way of securely clamping the fretboard to the template to prevent movement while the fretboard is being sawn. The optional wide Base Plate (1) that can be used for wider fretboards. With good clamping, the wide variant can be used for any fretboard. The photographs in this guide are using the wider Base Plate.
  4. 2 points
    It is difficult to construct an electric guitar without reaching for the router. Control and pickup cavities, neck pockets and tremolo recesses are all operations that require the use of this versatile tool, and all of these examples are made much easier and safer by the use of a template and an inverted pattern bit to guide the router around the intended cut. One routing pattern that can be difficult to execute accurately is for a Floyd Rose Original tremolo, particularly the recessed version whereby the arm can be raised or lowered above and below its equilibrium point. The following article describes a system that lends itself well to performing this difficult routing operation by the use of a master indexing plate on to which a number of different templates can be attached to create the complex routing pattern. The system can be adapted for other patterns as well such as pickup cavities or other tremolo systems. The System Referring to the PDF plans attached to the bottom of this post, the Floyd Rose routing templates are based around a master indexing plate (Sheet 1). The centre of the plate has a 120mm x 100mm window which can accept a matching template insert. Near the perimeter of the plate are mounting holes for installing further templates which may be overlaid on top of the indexer to provide extra tool height for shallow cutting operations which would otherwise cause the router bearing to ride higher than the template. The templates used in this example have been created from clear Perspex, but MDF can also be used. Perspex however has the advantage that it is possible to see through the template to help position it against reference guidelines drawn on the body to ensure perfect alignment. Sheet 2 shows the insert that is installed within the window of the indexer and contains the guides for drilling the tremolo post holes and the penetration for the trem sustain block. Sheet 3 details the overlay template that is attached on top of the indexer for routing the cavity for the bridge plate of the Floyd Rose. With the end stop shown on Sheet 4 fitted to the overlay template, the extra depth required for the fine tuners at the rear of the bridge can also be routed. Sheet 5 describes the template for routing the rear of the body for installing the springs. Constructing the templates Begin with the indexer. After cutting the perimeter of the plate mark the centreline and intonation reference lines as shown on the diagram as squarely as possible. If using Perspex scribe these lines on the underside of the template. Having these lines under the template assists with lining up the location of the template on the guitar body. The window cut-out in the index plate can be created using a coping saw to rough out the cut, followed by a router guided by temporary fences to ensure straight, square edges. Note that the indexer can be as large as you like, so long as it remains easy to attach to your guitar. Cut and shape the outline of the insert plate and check the fit in the indexer window. The insert plate needs to be a snug fit with no slop while remaining easily removable. With the insert fitted to the indexer mark the cut-outs and drill locations detailed on sheet 2. Performing the marking of the insert while fitted to the indexer ensures the locations of the cut-outs remain square and true relative to the centreline scribed on the indexer. Remove the insert and complete the cut-outs as carefully as possible. Move on to the overlay template. Again, use the centreline on the indexer as a reference to aid in aligning the two when marking the locations of the cut-outs in the overlay template. With the templates constructed as shown in the plans the front edge of the overlay needs to be on the same alignment as the front edge of the indexer. If you chose to make the indexer wider ensure that you maintain the same horizontal positioning of the overlay template so that the resultant rout is at the correct location. The four 4mm holes should be drilled while the two pates are clamped together so that they remain in perfect alignment. These holes are used to lock the two plates together while routing. Removable pins or screws should be installed to align together them when routing provided that they do not protrude, and either damage the surface of the guitar body or hinder the movement of the router. The removable end stop can be constructed using two strips of material laminated together to make the required step profile. Two screw holes should be bored through the overlay template into the end stop to allow the two components to be secured together when performing the routing operation. The final template, the spring cavity rout can be created separately to the indexer. Mark or scribe the dashed line shown on the drawing as perpendicular as possible to the centreline. Tools required for using the templates Plunge router with adjustable depth stop Drill press with adjustable depth stop 1/2" diameter inverted pattern router bit with bearing, length 19mm 1/2" diameter inverted pattern router bit with bearing, length 32mm 3/8" diameter inverted pattern router bit with bearing, length 19mm 10mm brad point drill bit Optional - Forstner bits for removing excess timber prior to routing Clamps Using the templates 1. At this stage you should have a guitar body ready to be routed to accept the Floyd Rose bridge. A centreline should be marked on the body along with an intonation reference line drawn at right angles across the full width of the body at your chosen scale length. In the following example a scrap piece of pine has been used to rout the bridge cavity. No intonation line has been marked, but your actual build will require this to ensure the Floyd Rose is installed at the correct distance from the nut. 2. Align the index plate with the centreline and intonation reference line drawn on the body and clamp it securely. Test-manoeuvre your router around the indexer to ensure your clamps do not interfere at the extremities of the window in the plate and adjust if required. Alternatively you can use double-sided stick tape provided it is of good quality and doesn't allow too much lateral movement of the templates once adhered. Fit the insert plate into the window and using the two 10mm template holes as a guide bore the trem post holes using a 10mm brad point bit to a depth of 10mm or so. The exact depth at this stage isn't critical. Were just establishing the location of the post holes to start with. 3. A Forstner bit can be used to remove some of the waste within the 24mm x 76mm cut-out of the insert template to a depth of approx. 25mm to minimise wear on the router bit. Using the 1/2 diameter, 32mm long inverted pattern bit rout this template to a depth of 29mm. 4. The insert plate can now be removed from the indexer and the overlay plate installed over the top. Again, use the Forstner bit to remove some of the waste to a depth of 5mm. Use the 3/8 diameter, 19mm long inverted pattern bit and rout the whole area to a depth of 6mm. 5. Creating the rear well that allows the bridge to be pulled backwards when raising the trem arm requires routing a secondary depth at the back of the cavity of an additional 6mm. This is achieved by fitting the small stop bar to the overlay template that reduces the router lateral travel by 16mm. Run the router within the template to a depth of 12mm below the face of the guitar body. 6. The indexer and templates can now be removed from the body. Using a drill press bore all the way through the body down through the bottom of the sustain block rout. The exact location and size of this hole isn't critical, just as long as it is as close to the front edge of the rout as possible. Where the drill exits the body at the rear, mark a line perpendicular to the centre of the body that touches the tangent of this drill hole. This line should now align with the front edge of the sustain block rout and is used for locating the final template for routing the spring cavity. 7. Fit and clamp the fourth template, aligning it with the centre and sustain bock reference lines on the back of the body. Assuming your body is a typical Strat thickness (45mm or so), rout this template to a depth of 16mm using the 1/2 diameter 19mm long inverted pattern bit. If your body is a different thickness this will change how deep this rout must be. The rout needs to be deep enough to allow clearance for the springs and sustain block, but not so deep that you risk punching through the underside of the pickup routs. Ideally this depth should be [thickness of body] - 29mm. 8. An additional depth to the rear edge of the spring cavity is required to allow clearance for the sustain block to swing backwards when the trem arm is depressed. This depth is again dependent on the thickness of your body but should be [thickness of body] - 15mm. For a typical Strat this will result in a cutting depth of 30mm. The resultant rout will leave a small 3mm ledge of timber that is visible when viewing back through the sustain block cavity. Use the 1/2 diameter, 32mm long inverted pattern bit to complete this cut. Take care not to run the bit into the forward edge of the sustain block rout. A temporary fence may be clamped to the work piece to prevent the router being accidentally moved into the front wall of the sustain block rout. 9. The last step is to bore the final depth of the trem bushing holes. Remove the last template and flip the body over. Measure the length of your trem bushings and set your drill press depth stop to this value. Using a 10mm brad point bit on the drill press bore down the two 10mm holes that were established in step 2. Once the holes have been drilled the bushings can be pressed into the guitar. They should go in with firm hand pressure. An alternate method is to use a drill press with a short piece of dowel in the chuck to press the bushings in. Be careful when applying pressure however, as the small amount of supporting wood behind the bushing holes is fragile and can be easily split if the bushings require excessive force to be pressed in. 10. Test fit the bridge and check to see if there is sufficient clearance to allow the bridge to swing up and down without binding on any of the routs. Adapting the system Because the routing templates can be removed from the master indexer the user has the ability to create other template inserts and overlays for different routing tasks. Any shape that can fit within the dimensions of the 120mm x 100mm window has the potential to be made into a template for repetitive or complex routing operations. Pickup cavities, battery box cavities, Kahler and Wilkinson tremolos are some examples. ------ DOWNLOADABLE TEMPLATE SHEET FILES FR Routing Templates.pdf
  5. 2 points
    This is the first of an occasional series of tutorials covering tips and techniques for those of us who have limited facilities for building and finishing guitars and basses but nevertheless still wish to produce results that are fit for purpose and perfectly respectable - even when pitched against those produced in fully-equipped guitar building shops. This first tutorial covers wipe-on varnishing. Overview Gloss finishing of a guitar or bass can be daunting for the Bedroom Builder with visions of spray booths, compressors, burnishing wheels and high degrees of skill. With the wipe-on approach, a perfectly acceptable result can be achieved with the minimum of equipment and facilities. What does this tutorial cover? This tutorial aims to: explain the process of wipe-on varnishing detail some tips and techniques to produce a perfectly acceptable finish with the minimum of equipment and facilities explain the important differences between this and a spray finish (especially nitro) and particularly relating to the final stages and polishing This tutorial does not: claim to be the best or only way of producing a non-sprayed finish claim that this method of finish can compete with a professionally sprayed commercial-standard finish. It can, however, produce surprisingly good results that would bear close examination before revealing its humble origins. represent necessarily the quickest way of finishing. Its aim is to produce an acceptable finish when faced with limited resources What types of finishes can the wipe-on technique be applied to? Most standard finishes can be varnished using the wipe-on technique, including: Natural wood finish: Stained wood finish: Solid painted finish: Facilities and Equipment Do I need a workshop? No. Wipe-on varnishing can be done in any convenient room or facility, providing that: there is adequate ventilation there are no naked flames or other high-temperature sources in the immediate vicinity no major sources of air-born dust are present These are general precautions, but please always ensure that you read and follow the specific guidelines relating to the specific varnish or thinners you are using. What equipment do I need? The specific varnish illustrated is standard household polyurethane clear varnish, thinned with standard household decorators’ mineral spirits (white spirits). Other varnishes can be applied using the wipe-on technique, although some experimentation may be needed to optimise the proportions of varnish to thinners. The equipment needed is: That is: rubber gloves varnish (in this case clear polyurethane gloss varnish) compatible thinners (in this case white spririts) a mixing/storage jar soft micro-fibre cloths for the application of the thinned varnish. The ones I use are low cost, budget hardware-store cloths and they work just fine. Other conventional lint-free cloths may be suitable, although ‘lint-free’ often isn't! Micro-fibre cloths – in my experience – generally are. Additionally, and optionally, I use an additional type of microfiber cloth to remove any dust from the surfaces prior to varnishing. I use the type that are sold as window-cleaning cloths and find these much better than many commercial ‘tack rags’ that sometimes leave sticky deposits...and sometimes even leave bits. Process What stage of the finishing process is this tutorial starting at? For illustrative purposes, it will be assumed that it is a guitar or bass body that is being varnished and that it is ready for varnishing. It is therefore assumed that the guitar body: has been finish sanded-down to final pre-varnish levels where applicable, any stains/dyes or paint coats have been applied optionally, in the case of natural wood or stained finishes, a sealer has been applied to reduce excessive absorption of the initial varnish coats. What are the main stages in the wipe-on varnishing process? Preparing the body and thinning the varnish Wiping on layers of varnish and periodic ‘flattening’ the hardened varnish with abrasive paper Final flattening and finishing coats Hardening period and final polishing Stage 1 - Preparing the body and thinning the varnish As explained above, this tutorial assumes that the body has been sanded down to a grit level ready to start varnishing. In normal circumstances, grit fineness up to P600 should be more than sufficient. Finish the final sanding ‘with the grain’ to avoid any cross-hatching. Dust control is critical for wipe-on. Points to note are: for approaching the first hour after application, dust landing on the surface will tend to stick it is all too easy to allow dust to contaminate the cloths or the varnish Simple precautions help, such as: wipe down the surface to be varnished with a lint-free cloth dampened with water, naptha or white spirit (refer to product guidelines for suitability and precautions) if possible varnish in a room that has had air limited movement for the previous hour or so varnish from each side, middle outwards – not reaching over the freshly applied varnish short-sleeves help while varnishing. A remarkable number of fibres are shed from shirt sleeves! if at all possible, don’t varnish where cats live...that fine downy fur!!! once the surface has been varnished, tip-toe out of the room and leave it undisturbed for at least an hour micro-fibre cloths do not shed fibres. However, they can collect dust. Before use (somewhere other than the room where the varnishing is going to be applied) shake vigorously to remove any dust. Thinning the varnish is important for wipe-on. Out of the tin, varnishes tend to be too thick to work well and it is easy to be left with ridges (‘brush’ lines) in the finish. Thinning helps to avoid this. Main principles here include: wipe-on works at its best with multiple coats of thinned varnish. Thinned down, each coat will dry fast, allowing up to 3 coats a day mix the varnish and thinner in an appropriate jar (follow manufacturers guidelines relating to fumes and fire risks) for initial coats, up to 30% thinners is usually OK. The final coats (see later) can often be thinned as much as 50% Mix by gently agitating the jar. If bubbles form, let them fully disperse before using the varnish Stage 2 Wipe-on of Initial Varnish Coats Wiping on the initial coats is a straightforward process. However, the key to this process is multiple coats of very thin applications of varnish: It is best, if possible, to wipe the main applications onto a horizontal surface as the thinned varnish runs readily. It is helpful if the room where the varnish is being applied is well lit, or has a natural light window, so that the surface can be viewed obliquely periodically to ensure that no areas have been missed Wear protective gloves – latex or nitrile allow the ‘feel’ to be maintained (nitrile is more durable against solvents than latex) Dip the microfibre cloth into the varnish and gently squeeze out the excess against the side of the glass jar. Wipe a stripe of varnish in line with the grain (usually neck to bridge / bridge to neck) With a centre-joined surface, there is less chance of dust contamination if the wiping starts along the midline and each new stripe of varnish moves from the middle towards one side, and then from the middle towards the other side. If there is no centre line, the application will be more even if wiping starts from one side towards the middle and then from the middle to the other side. However, doing it this way there is more chance of dust from your arms or clothing falling onto the wet varnish because you will be leaning over wet varnish for that first stage Do not try to wipe too wide a stripe at a time – you need ideally to get from top to tail (or vice-versa) in one smooth run Recharge the cloth, squeeze out and apply the next wiped strip, overlapping by 2-3mm As you progress, check the coverage from time to time by looking from either end of the guitar at the reflection from your light source or window – any missed areas or dust buggies will be immediately obvious. If you need to redo an area due to missed or uneven coverage, do so immediately on the strip concerned while it is still fluid and always wipe along the full run from tip to toe – a wiped correction in the middle of a run will show once dry If you see a missed area in a run that you did more than a few minutes before, leave it. It will cover over at the next application but any attempt to re-wipe varnish that has already started to harden will leave wipe marks. When you get to the final edge, apply a very thin wipe to the guitar sides, all the way round. Without recharging the cloth, run round the bottom edge of the sides once more to smooth out any drips that may have formed. Tip-toe out of the room, trying to minimise any dust movement for at least the first 30 minutes! Once the varnish is dry (thinned varnish is usually dry enough for further coats after 4-5 hours), repeat the process. Every 4-5 coats, check to ensure there is not excessive rippling or ‘dust buggies’. In this shot you can see that the ripples have cumulatively increased over a few coats: If there are excessive ripples or imperfections: leave to harden overnight (as a minimum) sand the surface with 1500-2000 grit wet and dry used wet until the ripples are flattened wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth once fully dry, continue wiping on coats Stage 3 Final Stages The number of initial coats depends on preference and other factors such as the amount of flattening, the thickness of each application, the absorbency of the wood, etc.. As a guide, this bass body was ready for final flattening and final coats after around 8 coats, applied over 4 days. The final steps are important and are different to some other forms of finish application – notably nitro finishes. The main difference is that nitro layers, and some other finishes, ‘melt’ into previous applications. These finishes "dry" through the evaporation of their carrier solvents. The solvent within each subsequent layer applied re-activates the previous layer slightly, causing both to blend into one. This allows buffing up with cutting pastes or mops down through the layers to a buffed-up shine. This approach does not work with polyurethane finishes! Polyurethane applications harden chemically in addition to their carrier solvents (thinners) evaporating, and then allow well-bonded further layers to be added on top. The gloss is produced by the final layer of varnish. Hence buffing or cutting would remove that layer and expose previous layers, giving rise to dull finishes and contour lines or "witness marks" where the boundaries between successive layers can be seen. Nevertheless, the final stages of wipe-on polyurethane varnishes are straightforward and – if you are not happy first time – repeatable. The final steps are: Allow the varnish to fully dry. A week is a good representative minimum Flatten the surface with P2000 grit wet and dry paper used wet to remove any final imperfections or dust buggies Wipe clean with a damp cloth and ensure it dries fully Thin the varnish to a total of 50% thinners Charge the micro-fibre cloth, squeeze out and wipe on one very thin coat as with Stage 2 above Allow to dry overnight This final coat is usually easy to apply. However, because it is very thin, once it is dry, you may be able to see dull patches where it had been previously flattened. If not, leave it and move to the final steps! If so, apply one more final coat directly on top of the previous one. In exceptional cases, it may need a third coat. If you are not happy with the final coats, remember that the process is repeatable. Once a satisfactory finish has been achieved, there remains only the hardening and final polishing stages. Small aberrations and low levels of small dust buggies will polish out at this final stage: Leave the final coats to dry and fully harden. A representative minimum here is 2 weeks. Longer is better. Polish with a quality low-cutting auto polish. Meguiers Ultimate Compound is ideal. Remember – you do NOT want to rub through the final thin gloss layer. Apply the polish by hand with a soft cloth and polish off with a clean cloth. It is polished by hand so that there is no possibility of generating enough heat to cut through that final gloss layer! At this stage, you should be able to take a photo of yourself in the reflection!
  6. 2 points
    I'm impatient usually. A proper hemi-semi fretwork detailing takes 2-3 times as long as this method, but hey! Practice makes perfect, and if you are willing to spend that extra time then it's always worth it, and very satisfying So here's my hackjob tutorial. You will need: Enough fretwire to do a fretThe correct profile crowning file for that fretwireA small fine flat-faced file (no technical names here)Abrasive foam pads (I use 180 grit and 240 grit)Good lighting (and a white paper work surface)Also useful: Good lightingClean work areaMicromesh pads (grades up to 2400 preferably)Fret tang nipperGood lightingFirst step is to identify the end of the fretwire. This can usually be found by following your wire until you find the end. You should have two. As you can see, this end is raw from having been snipped from the previous fret. If you're nipping your tangs back, now is the time to do so. Use your flat file to finish the raw end of the fret, flat. Apologies for the poor picture. If this is the second end of the fret, then you really should be offering up the fret to the slot to make sure there isn't any overhang. Or you've cut it short perhaps, silly. That'll teach you to work from the highest (longest) frets down the fingerboard just in case. Using the crowning file, run the wire down the teeth to create a semi-circular end profile. I hold the wire almost perpendicular to the file, and 45° to either the left or the right. This takes off the right angle from either side of the ends. You might think it's more logical to run it along the centre to create a fully rounded end in one pass, but this isn't so. The file is likely to go off-centre, and you'll end up installing this fret lower on the board after you've rectified the error! ...and this is what you're aiming to create at this stage. A nicely rounded end profile. You can fine-tune this with the file using a rolling motion around the profile. The next step is to repeat the filing with the crowning file, but holding the fret at 45° between perpendicular and parallel to the crown of the fret. Rolling the wire cuts this round profile across the wire. I use one or two light strokes at a time constantly checking the progress. Repeating this at various angles between perpendicular and towards the crown creates a smooth hemispherical shape. The cut of the filing should be kept within the first 90° of the hemisphere you are working towards on the end. Where the "semi" profile cut in the previous step ends (full 180° arc) is the limit of where we're shaping. With a little practice (lop the end off, start again....cheap to practice!) you will end up with this. It really isn't difficult as long as you have an understanding of what you're trying to achieve, and the time to practice it. I got to this point of ability after doing something like ten fret ends of practice. The reflected light makes it look like there is a sharp corner....there isn't! I "prove" the shape by drawing the wire down an abrasive pad a couple of times. This smooths the fret end, and shows any inconsistencies in the shaping. If the profile passes inspection at 180 grit, I polish the fret end up by drawing down a 240 grit pad a few times. Again, any inconsistencies should show. If they do then sort them out with the file or start again and put this fret elsewhere on the board! Yoink. It is worth noting that your pre-radiusing and bevelling of the fret slots will affect the look of hemisemi fretting A LOT. If your wire is heavily pre-radiused (12" pre going into a 20" board) then you'll find it horrendously difficult to gauge the final fret length before installation, as it'll widen as the wire's radius flattens out in the slot. If you didn't remember/know/care to bevel your slots and/or the wires radius wasn't small enough then the fret end won't sit flush with the edge of the fingerboard no matter how much you hammer it. I aim to have around 1mm-2mm grace in the centre of the fret above the slot when offering the wire up. Hope this helps, and I'd love to see more people doing this. It's just patience, practice and making sure you have extra wire on hand. If you're unhappy with a particular fret, do another one! It's all good practice. Cheers. Oh yes - after installation, I polish up the frets with sanding pads of progressively finer grit up to a 2400 grit Micromesh pad and finally metal polish like Brasso. This is what it being aimed for: Also - if it helps - here is a graphical illustration of the steps of the filing process. Raw cut wire End profile 45° bevel added Two more bevels added halfway Polished and rounded
  7. 1 point
    "Vintage style" truss rods are highly effective whether they are configured as a bending rod or simply as a compression rod. In spite of many alternative designs working around their shortcomings, the original is still often regarded as the best by many builders. Whilst I won't be weighing in on that lengthy debate, from practical standpoint "simple, inexpensive and effective" are worth the cost of entry alone. This article was written to be a suitable blend of comprehensiveness and brevity....if you remain unsure about certain areas, leave comments below or ask over in the forums. Overview Tools/Materials Truss rod configurations Tapping And Threading Metal like a PRO Peening rod ends Making a toothed slug anchor Making a flat bar anchor Making a barrel anchor ------ Tools/Materials The basic tools and materials for fabricating these rods are available from more or less any hardware store, with alternatives simple to find online. We'll need the following tools: Peening hammer Hacksaw HSS taps, dies and wrenches (M6, 10/32) Drill suitable for steel (see notes for size) Metalworking flat file (bastard or second cut) Materials: Mild steel or stainless steel rod (6mm, 3/16") Washers to suit above (thicker is better) Brass nut A little lubricating grease (Teflon, pref.) Cutting fluid/grease (eg. Tap Magic) Optional materials: Steel flat bar 10-12mm or 3/8"-1/2" diameter aluminium/steel rod M6 or 3/16" threaded barrel nut ------ Truss Rod Configurations The basic principle behind a single-acting compression rod is one end is fitted with (or formed into) an anchor of some sort to embed it into the neck and prevent the rod rotating. The other end is threaded with an adjustment nut and bearing washer. Typical compression rod: Rod Anchors The far end of a compression rod can be anchored in several different ways. The only requirements are that the anchoring prevents the rod rotating in place and that it cannot be drawn out towards the adjustment nut. The simplest method is to use a readily-available component such as a barrel nut. These are used in flat-pack furniture and a standard hardware store item and consist of a short length of metal rod, cross-drilled and threaded. Simply cut a thread onto the end of your rod, screw the barrel nut all the way on and peen over the exposed rod end to secure it permanently. These cost a buck/Euro/shekel for a handful at the DIY store, or a couple of dollars for a single one from Stewmac. Some pre-fabricated rods have these brazed onto the end of the rod to better suit mass manufacture. Like most things these are simple to make, however drilling crosswise through a cylinder can present a challenge. Similar to barrel nuts, a flat piece of threaded plate or bar can be used in the exact same manner. This style of anchor is extensively found in Gibson instruments. The flat bar can be anything from a few threads thick (3mm, 1/8") to a larger block. A design found in vintage heel-adjust Fender necks is the toothed slug. Like barrel nuts, a short length of metal rod is drilled, threaded and peened securely onto the end. In this case, the drilling is end to end as opposed to crosswise. Most Fender slugs have a milled outer surface and rely on the friction in-place to prevent them rotating. Many Fender truss rod repairs or repros "upgrade" the slug so that the bearing face has a set of teeth ground or filed into the face. These bite into the leading face of the wood, preventing the slug from rotating. These rods are generally inserted from the headstock end adjustment end first through an angled hole, down the length of the neck to the adjustment nut access hole before being sealed up with a Walnut plug. Less commonly found in a solidbody electric instrument's necks are formed rods. Rather than having a dedicated anchor, the end of the rod is bent into an L-shape or other form that both anchors and renders the rod immobile. This requires the rod to be heated with a propane torch (or induction coil) and bent on a mandrel, hammered over the edge of an anvil, etc. ....a particularly notable example of a formed-end compression truss rod is Brian May's famous Red Special guitar, built by his father and himself at the back end of the 1960s. Here it can seen how the truss rod was formed into a loop which secured itself around the single neck mounting bolt. Very unique! ------ Tapping And Threading Metal like a PRO To make pretty much any truss rod, it's necessary to master the skill of creating threads in metal. Mostly this is for the adjuster side of the rod, however in the majority of cases this is also how we fit the anchor prior to securing it. The most common question at this point is, "can't I just use threaded rod off the shelf instead?". Like anything, the short answer is "you can do whatever you want". In fact, threaded rod is probably the cheapest way to make a truss rod without need of buying any tools since all the work is done for you. The better answer is, "you shouldn't". Threaded rod is far weaker and more flexible than the equivalent diameter of full steel rod. Securing the anchor becomes more difficult. Less importantly the threading binds in the rod channel. Even though compression rods do not move significantly in use, one that does not bind is more desirable than one that fights against its normal function. For what it's worth - especially on such a permanent fixture in a neck - doing it correctly with the right materials from the outset is a better idea, especially since it's not a difficult proposition. What are taps and dies? Taps are similar to a twist drill bit. They have a spiral cutter with lengthwise flutes for ejecting waste. Unlike drill bits, a tap progressively cuts a threaded path around the inner surface of a pre-drilled hole. The taps we will be using are driven by hand rather than by machine. Powered tapping tools can be found pretty easily, however they are a magnitude of cost more than simple hand tapping tools. Dies are the opposite of a tap; they cut a thread around the outside of a specifically-sized rod or cylinder. A typical die looks like a large hexagonal nut or short cylinder of metal with various cutouts and sets of teeth in the centre. Again, for our purposes they will be the hand-cranked versions. Taps and dies for hand cutting threads are fitted into small two-handed tap wrenches and die stocks. The cutter fits into the appropriate wrench/stock, is tightened up and you're good to go. Save yourself money by spending a little more Cheap import tap and die sets are falling off the shelves in supermarkets, big box stores or discount outlets and it's pretty tempting to view them as some form of investment to your tooling armoury. Don't. All of the truss rods we'll be making in this (and subsequent) articles end up using one or two sizes at the most; 10/32, or M6. Normally, there is only one of these in larger sets (or at least, only one starting tap) meaning that once they crap out (and cheap ones have a habit of that) you're left with a load of sizes you won't need for truss rods. Cheap taps snap, cheap dies crack and spit teeth. Usually halfway through your first job.... Instead of "investing" in a full set of crappy taps and dies, do yourself a favour and only buy the size(s) you need and buy high quality HSS (high speed steel) from the outset. Granted, these may cost a few shekels more than an entire set of crap, however the difference in the end product is significant. High quality tools are far less likely break (unless abused) and they cut cleaner, stronger, smoother-running threads with less effort. That and they generally end up cheaper over the long run. Bite the bullet and go for the best you can lay your hands on. HSS taps/dies are much harder than carbon steel equivalents (such as those currently sold by Stewmac) which dull far quicker. The quickest test for hardness is to run a metal file over the corner of the die; HSS should hardly mark whereas carbon steel simply chowders up with little effort. Going the carbon steel route means you'll end up having to buy new taps/dies before they pay for themselves; meanwhile, good HSS tooling will continue to produce excellent results. 60pc Harbor Freight set. $40 an you might only end up using 1/10th of them, and those might crap out anyway. Mostly, the expensive versions of dies and taps look just the same as cheaper versions. Don't let this fool you! Use a bit of Google-fu to check out what quality the brands you have to hand are. Generally European is a reliable choice, plus some domestic US makers. Anything Asian is a crapshoot, but do your homework. Price is not always an indicator, however cheap always tends to be a reliable one. Choosing the right stock dimensions and appropriate tools If you're using Metric you should stick to coarse thread pitch to match common Metric truss rod nuts. For M6 the coarse pitch is 1mm from thread to thread, or "M6/1.0mm". Imperial-size truss rods and nuts are most commonly found in 10/32 UNF ("UNified Fine thread") on 3/16" rod; 32 denoting the number of threads per inch. You have the option of cutting coarse 10/24 UNC ("UNified Coarse thread") or M6 0.5mm/0.75mm threads instead, however you'll likely have to make your own adjustment nut since they are not standard. Physically, fine threads are stronger, require less torque to adjust and allow finer control over adjustments. The downsize is that they are more prone to seizing and cross-threading than coarse. The best course of action is to decide on what adjustment nut you're wanting first and select the rest of the specifications based off that. For the purposes of the examples in the article, I decided to go for heavier Metric rod stock (M6) and use a standard coarse thread pitch. The adjustment nuts I had on stock were 10/32 UNF brass, drilled out to 5.0mm and re-tapped to M6/1.0mm. Taps come in many variations, for the various arcana of metalworking end uses. The type we want to be aiming for is a "taper" tap (also called a "starting" tap). These have a gradual starting taper which makes it far easier to locate the tool properly and start a straight-running thread with little effort. Safety Metal swarf generated during metalworking operations can be hot, sharp and should be swept safely using a brush; don't sweep them by hand....if you thought wood splinters were bad, try removing an oily steel splinter or handling a sliced finger! Do NOT use compressed air to clear debris, and be wary when applying oil from pressurised cans such as WD40. During drilling operations, withdraw the bit periodically to allows any trapped or loaded swarf to clear from the cut. Pecking produces smaller chips which are easier to clear than long swarf which collects around the cutter. Remember that brush! Safety glasses are imperative. It only takes one occasion of forgetfulness.... Cutting an internal thread - drilling the starter hole This is a two-stage process. Firstly, a hole of a diameter appropriate for the tap is drilled through the material to be threaded. For M6/1.0mm, this is a simple 5.0mm bit. Other sizes require different specific drill diameters: 10/24 UNC - #25/0.1495" 10/32 UNF - #21 /0.1590" M5/0.8mm - 4.20mm M5/0.5mm - 4.05mm M6/0.5mm - 5.50mm M6/0.75mm - 5.25mm M6/1.0mm - 5.00mm Drilling can be done using either a pillar drill or hand drill. The workpiece MUST be secured in a milling vice, bench vice or other strong workholding fixture away from fingers! Lower the speed on your drill as slow as it will manage. This exchanges speed for torque; crucial for metalwork. For a hand drill, a low "screwdriver" speed is sufficient. In metalwork, drill bits like to wander when starting even more than they do in wood. Establishing a starting location using a centre punch is critical, otherwise the drill will happily deflect and randomly choose it's own starting point. In the sizes required for truss rods, buying the short drill bits and chucking well into the drill collet helps prevent excessive wandering. The ideal tool for starting a hole accurately from a pillar drill is the centre drill bit. Once established, the correct size bit opens out the hole perfectly. For hand drills, a good eye and well-punched starting mark is key. Cheap but effective set of HSS centre drills. Centre punching steel rod prior to drilling. Small, but this makes all the difference. Steel flat bar punched for drilling. Starting slowly to establish the location. Easy work. All that remains is to cut this off the stock and tap it out. The same process applies to pillar drilling - allow the bit to find the punched centre. Lube me up Scotty! Materials such as steel and brass are relatively poor conductors of heat, and require plenty of cooling lubricant be used during drilling and tapping operations. Heat generated from friction within the cut can prematurely dull a cutter and/or change the physical properties of the workpiece. Aluminium however, conducts heat wonderfully and can be used with a simple light machine oil lubricant (WD40, 3-In-1, etc). Tap Magic or other readily-available fluids works well for all of these. For drilling, I prefer lighter cutting fluids to prevent huge lumps of grease and chips collecting and hindering work visibility. Light fluids evaporate and take heat from the cut however you need to apply them more often. For tapping, heavier grease seems to work better for me. Work Hardening Like all materials that can be subject to plastic deformation (including wood) drilling metal carries the problem of work hardening. It is crucial that a sharp well-lubricated drill bit is used and that heat is kept to a minimum through use of coolant when required. A dull bit causes metal that should be otherwise cut and removed to be displaced instead. This compression in the walls of the cut changes the materials's physical properties from being ductile and easier to cut into a harder and more brittle form that is not. Hard brittle work-hardened drill holes are far harder to work with when tapping and easily lead to snapped taps or fragile ragged threads. Cutting an internal thread - tapping a thread Now that we have our drilled workpiece, we can move right on to tapping. For this, the appropriate tap (in this case, M6/1.0mm) needs to be fitted into a tapping wrench. These can be found in a number of "styles", however the most common is a small vice mechanism in one handle with square jaws in the centre. Start by secure the workpiece vertically in a vice and apply a generous amount of cutting grease. Carefully align the tap so that it is as parallel to the drilled hole as possible. A starter tap is more forgiving of slight misalignments. Starting a tap can be made easier by adding a light chamfer to the hole, however at these sizes I have never found it to be a necessity. Slowly rotate the tap clockwise with downward pressure until you feel it bite. This should take less than half a turn. Allow the tap to bite enough that it holds itself in place; inspect that the tap is still parallel, otherwise back it out slightly, re-align and re-advance it until it bites again. Once started, turn the tap handle one half revolution maintaining control to keep the tap running parallel. Slow and steady wins the day. Taps are an entirely enclosed operation, resulting in debris gathering up in the flutes of the tap. It is best practice to "break the chip" regularly by reversing the direction of the tap until the swarf is broken off into a chip. Chips travel along the flutes away from the cut whilst swarf grows longer, gathering around the cut and clogging the tap. Depending on the geometry of your specific tap, this may be simply a case of making a quarter or a half turn backwards until you feel the swarf chip up. Generally you should not advance the tap more than a full revolution before reversing it to break the chip. If at any point during the tapping you encounter significant resistance, withdraw the tap fully, brush debris from the flutes and apply fresh cutting fluid. Clogging, fighting the tap or initial misalignment are the most common sources of broken taps. Do not spray pressurised cutting fluid into the hole. This results in shredded metal flying out at great speed! Continue with the forwards-backwards tapping process until you run full threads through the entire length. Here, you can see that I ran the tap through until just before it bottomed out. This "chases" the thread, resulting in a clean and smooth product. Withdraw the tap and clean it up! The same process applies for cutting threads in thinner materials such as flat bar stock. The primary difference is that they are far less forgiving of misaligned starting. Whilst this doesn't affect the quality or operation of the end product, it looks crappy and in very thin stock can lose you valuable "good" threads. Here, I am using a cheap bargain-box tap wrench: Fairly simple and quick, however don't be tempted to neglect chip breaking. A bit of scrap steel costs far less than a new tap. Cutting an external thread - preparing the stock The process is relatively similar to cutting an internal thread with a tap. The important difference is that the end of the rod always needs chamfering for the threading to start reliably. Thankfully, there's a nice cheat in store. Chuck up one end of your rod into a cordless hand drill and chamfer the ends on a file clamped into a vice! That's pretty much all there is to it.... Cutting an external thread - "cutting the external threads" Apply a good amount of cutting grease. Starting a straight external thread with a die is a little more difficult than an internal thread with a starting tap. The chamfering helps, as does moving one or both hands towards the centre of the handle. This affords greater initial control to ensure flat circular movement. A little patience and practice pays off, so by all means spend time working on scrap pieces of bar to get technique down. Once established, continue the same revolution/partial counter revolution to break chips. Looking from the top, the curls of swarf coming off the rod are visible. One quarter turn back is sufficient to break and eject them. Continue threading until the required length is achieved. If you need to remove the die to test an anchor for size, spin it off and check. Be careful when re-fitting the die not to start at an angle and ruin the work by cutting a cross thread! Check your work for cleanliness and consistency. Oil in the threads seem to make this one look less than straight....checking with an M6 nut showed it to be acceptable. ------ Peening Rod Ends Peening is the process of altering the properties of metal through deformation. In the context of truss rods, peening is used to expand the exposed thread end protruding from an anchor threaded all the way on to the rod to permanently prevent it from rotating and withdrawing backwards off the rod. Purchased rods tend to have brazed or welded anchor simply as it is cheaper for mass production. If you have experience and the equipment to braze/weld small parts, this is definitely an option. Good peening produces as adequate a result as welding or brazing. It is possible to use a thread locking compound (such as Loctite red) in conjunction with peening; realistically it offers no advantages as a properly-secured anchor should have no room to rotate anyway. The best tool for the job is a ball-peen hammer. Any hard-faced hammer can be made to serve the same function, however ball-peen hammers are smooth-faced and made of hardened high carbon steel; ideal for metal-to-metal contact. Rough faces encourage chipping and splintering, whilst softer hammer heads become damaged with use and end up with the same issues. 16oz Harbor Freight ball peen hammer. Small and light; will do the job happily. Peening is a process of many light hits around the exposed rod. Each hit gradually mushrooms out the exposed threaded end, eventually locking the anchor in place. The deformed surface can then be tapped around the face to produce a smoother consistent look (just to make you feel good). Heavy hits easily ruin the work through too much force, leading to splits and chips. First, the exposed thread end needs to either be cut or partially ground back. 2-4 thread's worth is adequate. In this instance, I measured the length of threading being cut to avoid this step. The rod should be clamped in the vice with the anchor held directly above the vice jaws; these photos were taken out of the vice for visual clarity. Taps using the flat face of the hammer around the edge of the rod at a slight angle flatten the surface and compress the material. The hammer should only contact a small area at any one time rather than landing flat and hitting a larger one. Use the ball if this is too difficult. Peened metal becomes much harder and more brittle through this process, leaving it more liable to chipping (you are wearing safety glasses, aren't you?). Attempting to peen a large amount of metal will lead to splitting and fragmenting. Here we can see the surface has compressed downwards and outwards. The anchor is already firmly locked in place. This took around 30-40 light taps. All that remains is to slowly work the mushroomed surface into a consistent rounded face using the ball. This took about as much work as the previous step. It looks great! Well done you. ------ Making a toothed slug anchor First, we need to cut a reasonable length of metal rod to form the slug. I made a longer length, however you can use any length from as little as 1/4" or 6mm quite easily. Longer slugs are more difficult to tap (and the tool may not be able to cut a thread all the way through) whilst a shorter slug can have less purchase on the rod from shorter threading length. Checking for the maximum effective tapping depth; about 3/4 of what is exposed from the vice jaws. A hacksaw makes quick work of mild steel....quicker if you use a fresher blade! I like to tidy up bits of metal when I'm working on them, especially sharp edges and burrs. Chuck up the slug into a hand drill, and clean up the face on a hand file. Be careful that the drill doesn't run away with you! ....then add a light 45° chamfer to knock off the sharp edge.... Rejoice and repeat! The next step is to centre punch the slug to provide a good drill starting location. Only hit the punch once with the hammer and relocate it if you need to punch it again. They rebound out of location with each strike. The next step can be done either using a hand drill (which can be difficult to keep perpendicular) or on a pillar drill. A little wandering off-centre is no major disaster, so use what you have and worry less. These are so cheap to fabricate that you have plenty of opportunity to practice. Remember to use a good cutting fluid/grease for this operation. I used only a little thin spray lube directly on the drill bit to make photography clearer. The hole required needs to be 5,0mm, however the bit I have is long and a little flexible. To ensure the hole was straight, I drilled a 3.0mm starter hole using a short stub bit. Once drilled through, open out the hole with the correct diameter drill bit. Okay. Load her back up into the vice and chuck up a drill bit of a larger diameter than the slug. Peck drill the end until the inside meets the outer chamfer. This will do nicely. Clamp the slug into the vice and using a hammer and small cold chisel, make four marks at 45° intervals across the centre. These only need to be deep enough to act as locating marks for the file.... With a three-sided (60°) metal file, open out the marks into grooves. I find it easier to make one at a time, angling the file slightly. Cutting both at one time seems more prone to slipping. Once grooves are properly established, filing can be done across pairs of grooves. Deepen them until they form sharp teeth at the outer edges. This threaded slug then just needed to be tapped to finish it up. Drill out the slug to the correct size for tapping. Start the thread - this shot certainly wasn't straight! Tapping completed. Mating rod end, 2-4 threads longer than the slug when fully threaded on. End of the rod peened over securely. The completed toothed slug. Part of my research into different approaches on making a Fender-style "slug" truss rod came up with an excellent video by Bill Scheltema. His methods are more or less in line with my own and those of other people who make this type of rod, and various points he raised certainly improve my personal approach to making this style of rod anchor. Bill's a great guy and worth spending time with what he shares. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISLBSjgMMig ------ Making a flat bar anchor The simplest method of making a flat anchor is a large threaded rectangular washer such as those for roofing, etc! They're a little "less than standard" hardware from the store, however with a bit of hunting you can pick up a bag for pocket change. For those of us without luck on our side, they're not difficult to fabricate from plain steel bar. I picked up several feet of 20mm x 3mm bar for a few Euros; enough to do dozens of truss rods if I wanted to. The same process applies as previous examples; the rod is threaded enough so that the anchor fits tight with a few turns of thread left for peening over. We need to get that thread in there first of course.... I showed you how to drill flat bar in the bench vice, so let's see one on the pillar drill. As always, measure, mark and centre punch your location. The hole is slightly further in from the edge than it needs to be, however this is no problem since it is easily filed down to size later. I definitely prefer thicker cutting grease to liquid spray oil for tapping. It just doesn't stick around long enough to be useful....it does allow for clearer photos though.... Time to cut the anchor off the stock.... A bit of filing and she'll turn out a beaut. Prepare the rod end for threading by adding a chamfer.... This die and stock are far better than the cheap ones I have. Night and day difference all around. Not quite enough thread yet. Hmm. That looks like too much now.... A little less would have been better. This does however provide a good visual reference on what is too much versus too little. Support the anchor down in the vice jaws.... This is exactly what happens when you try and peen too much material; it mushrooms out and splinters from its brittleness. The large amount of peening blows has also caused the anchor to deform slightly. This doesn't mean the anchor will not work, it's just not going to win any beauty contests. I filed a little material off the end and re-peened it. For the sake of too many threads, this took twice as long as it should have done. Not perfect by any means, but as secure as it needs to be. I'd have preferred a larger rounded end, but testing this in the vice showed it to be locked tightly. I think I'll remake it anyway since I don't like feeling defeated. ------ Making a barrel anchor Barrel nuts are the easiest parts to find off the shelf. So much so, it is simpler just to buy a handful rather than making them. The primary difficulty with making a barrel nut is the cross drilling; it is extremely difficult and time-consuming to do unless you have a pillar drill and mill vice. Beyond that, the majority of the steps are identical to that of making a toothed slug anchor; cut to length, dress the ends and chamfer with a file, drill and tap. Here I have an aluminium barrel nut I bought for next to nothing. Despite being a softer metal, it is more than adequate for the task. The threading and peening are what provide the overall working strength. The receiving end of the rod has been threaded..... That looks like it's getting towards being a too much thread exposed for peening. It should be okay since barrel nuts peen over around the cylinder more than flat stock. 2-3 threads above the highest point is good. Barrel snugged against the vice jaws: thread starting to flatten and mushroom out. ....this is the problem with anchors that don't locate firmly in the vice! The barrel tries to rotate with hammer impacts. Perhaps this would be a good case for a thread locker or a little CA glue in the thread. Perseverance pays off. A perfectly-peened rod end. ------ Finishing up Once you've completed the anchor end, the rod simply needs threading at the adjuster end for your nut and washer of choice. The exact length of threading available to the adjuster is based on the amount of adjustment you perceive the rod to require, the length of your nut and washer, plus a couple of other design-specific values. Generally I add about an inch extra beyond where the adjuster nut would sit with the rod entirely relaxed. An inch and a half is gravy. This rod might benefit from a little extra threading. The finished item; a flat anchor truss rod. This simply needs a bearing washer (I've got some half moon washers on order at the time of writing) and for the adjustment nut to be lubricated with a little Teflon grease. A completed pair of rods. ------ Conclusion Choosing the type and exact dimensions of your truss rod is never a one-size-fits-all job, however truss rods are not difficult to fabricate if your needs are unique or specific. We need to know how to select the style of rod and derive its measurements from the instrument design. Where are the anchors and bearing points best located? How do I work in the truss rod as part of my overall building process? We'll save these answers for next time. If you have any comments or would like clarification on any points raised in this tutorial then nip over to the forums or ask in the comments below. ------ Thank you This tutorial was made possible due to the ongoing support of our Patreon donators. If you found this publication useful; share it and talk about it! Even better, drop a couple of bucks in the Patreon hat so we can keep raising the bar with our published content.
  8. 1 point
    Commercially-made routing templates for humbuckers are easy to find from virtually all good luthiery supply outlets these days. They're a fantastic turnkey solution for carrying out this common task. Beyond the "standard" sizes, templates for larger pickups are thin on the ground meaning that we end up making them ourselves. Standard or not, the process of making a template for any humbucker-style pickup is the same and it's not a huge leap to tweak the dimension to fit a variety of pickup sizes such as mini humbuckers, etc. Pickups fitted into pickguards or under a pickup ring don't need tailored routs; we don't see them on the finished instrument. This isn't to say that we can butcher them in, just that we only need to concentrate on their functionality and fitness for purpose over their cosmetic value. A more complex tutorial for pickup routs tailor-made to the exact dimensions and corner radii for a "showy" exposed rout and direct mounting will come later in this series. That is not to say these routs can't be executed with precision and beauty of course, but that's up to you! ----==---- Overview and Objectives This tutorial will take you through the creation of an easy but effective pickup routing template. Although the underlying method of constructing the template has been in use for decades, I expanded on it for use with a variety of modern pickup sizes and to incorporate the recessing to make it a single job rather than two. The system described is universal in that it will create routs to accept any "body with legs" style pickup with simple corner radiusing and provision for recesses for the legs/screws. Since the outline of the rout will be hidden under the pickup ring, it just needs to be functional and do the job its intended for. First we'll look at how to make the template using a standard humbucker, and finally look at how to take measurements from any pickup/pickup ring and translate them through to your own custom template system. To keep the work simple and straightforward, we'll only be using a standard 1/2" diameter bearing-guided template cutter (12mm if you're Metric!). The template uses basic materials and techniques. The ideas and approaches discussed are designed to help you take onboard transferable skills that assist you in creating custom templates for anything, even beyond pickups. Definitely a good exercise towards becoming a next level template-making ninja! A cavity straight off the router with light sanding to remove the fuzzies - perfect ----==---- What We Need Pencil Ruler/Calipers Wood glue A router and a bearing-guided template cutter (1/2" diameter, 1/2"-3/4" length or shorter) Sheet stock suitable for templating (plywood, MDF, etc) cut into strips Double-sided tape Drill bits (optional) Wooden dowels (optional) Nothing that shouldn't already be on hand in your workshop! ----==---- How The Template Works The template consists of two identical halves which can either be glued together to make a permanent single-size template or pinned together to create a variety of different widths. Each half is designed to rout both the main cavity and with the inclusion of a specifically-sized insert, the deeper leg recesses also. Mockup showing the main template assembled The template exploded, showing both halves and the dowel locating system Template with auxiliary insert for leg recessing ----==---- A Quick Look At Humbucker Routs There's no real secret or magic going on behind the pickup ring. Enough wood needs to be missing in the middle that the pickup drops right in and either side so that the pickup height adjustment screws fit. Wood needs to be left at each corner for the pickup ring mounting screws. We could simply rout the entire thing to one depth, however that's just crude and we hold ourselves to a higher standard, right? We shouldn't need to remove more wood than we have to, and this template system makes it simple so there's no reason to go medieval. The pickup cavity (dark red) is hidden by the pickup ring, but leaves plenty of wood to fix the ring to the body ----==---- Template Construction The template system we'll be making is for a standard humbucker, made using simple stacked strips of wood or sheet stock. The only tool/skill we need is to be able to rip stock into strips of specific widths and cut the ends a neat 90° (another use for a fret slotting mitre box!). How you choose to make the strips of material is up to yourself; many options are available from cutting them on a table saw to sizing them using a thickness planer/sander or even using a router thicknessing jig! The only requirement is that the cut edges are clean and glue-able, and that you can manage making them to a reasonable level of precision. The template in this tutorial was made from 15mm thick Birch plywood, ripped into long 40mm, 20mm and 10mm strips on a table saw. These were them cut down to specific smaller lengths using a fret slotting mitre box. We'll discuss how those widths were arrived at later, and it'll be more meaningful if we look at the process first.... The stock we need is: 40mm (1,58") 2x 200mm or longer (7,87") 20mm (0,79") 2x 56,5mm (2,22") 1x 64,5mm (2,54") 10mm (0,39") 4x 64,0mm (2,52") 2x 72,0mm (2,84") In actuality, the only parts which need to be of a very very specific lengths are the three components for the auxiliary recessing template (10 x 64,5mm and 20 x 72mm) since the outline of the template isn't that important; only the internal components and edges where the router bearing will be running. Template stock cutdowns The strips were cut into the various calculated lengths and cleaned up. Laying them out over a printed paper template helps check for fit and alignment, plus we know we have everything and where it is! Download Printable Paper Template here! standard humbucker template layout.pdf Laying out using a printed drawing The auxiliary template for the pickup tab recesses is the part that the rest of the template should be physically built around, so assemble and glue this up first. The paper printout helps check that everything is sized and aligned, however double-checking the ends for squareness with scrap or a ruler ensures we're not building in any inaccuracies. Apply glue to the inner part's mating surfaces and adjust/assemble everything to that by hand. Put the assembly onto a flat surface, and push everything into correct alignment and let it sit for a minute or two so the glue starts to set up. Next, apply light clamping pressure whilst it dries. The small amount of setting up time helps stop parts shifting around under clamping pressure. You did check for alignment, right? Once this is dry, clean up the part from any squeezeout. A few tiny beads as pictured is about perfect for this work. Next, snug up the main parts of the template around the auxiliary template. Repeat the same process of gluing up all four parts of each template half, using the auxiliary template for reference to avoid any gaps or misalignments. Glueup can be done one part at a time or all at once. Masking tape applied to the top/bottom helps keep the parts from sliding around! Again, check check and check again at every stage. Looking good! Once we have the two outer halves assembled and cleaned up, we can either glue them both together to form a permanent one-size template or we can add a method of fitting the halves together temporarily. The simplest method is using simple wooden dowels which have enough retention strength to hold the template together, but can easily be released to alter the jig's size by placing them in holes corresponding to different set sizes. Clamping the workpiece down and drilling a hole through from one to another gives us an exact method of setting the jig up. One clamp holds the first half down, whilst the second holds both halves together. Drilling for the 8mm locating dowel - yes, I only have three fingers because I'm a Parktown Prawn.... After the first hole is drilled, a dowel is tapped in to secure both halves. The assembly is then flipped with the dowel in place, and a second hole/dowel added to the other side. Note that I added two alignment arrows indicating the size this "setting" is designed for. This was purely to counter my own future stupidity. Your own mileage may vary. Tapping in the locating dowel The finished adjustable template system should look something like this when complete. The dowels are removable for when different size settings need adding in. All that's left is to test fit a humbucker and pickup ring! The pickup has a little room to move in the cavity, allowing for angled pickup rings, finish, etc. The pickup ring completely covers the gap and the mounting screwholes have plenty of wood under them ----==---- The Template System In Use The main template can either be mounted using double-stick tape (about an inch square in each corner) or clamped either side. Positioning holes drilled through from the rear help position the template on the centre and cross lines. If the template is adjustable, each position will need its own specific centreline positioning hole....remember to mark them up meaningfully! The first step is to rout the leg/tab recesses to depth either side by fitting the auxiliary template. It should be snug in the centre; if not, use a piece of double-stick tape underneath or a piece of masking tape over the top to secure it. Bridge position humbucker rout on my Lancaster superstrat design The cutter used has a length of 15mm (around 5/8") which is perfect for this size template. Anything longer than the template is thick, and you soon find that the initial cut is going to be tough and unpredictable. You don't want the cutter trying to jump around before the bearing is even in the template, as that results in a dead template..... A 1/2" length 1/2" long cutter is perfect for this work. Mine is 12mm diameter, however that only means that the corner radii will be slightly tighter. Absolutely no problem since this is a hidden rout. After the initial cut, the radiused corners left by the cutter become apparent. After the recess has been taken to the full depth, the auxiliary template can be removed and flipped to do the other side. Perfect. That was about a minute's worth of work! We can now remove the auxiliary template and start work on routing the main cavity. Two passes and the target depth was achieved. Time to remove the template.... Aside from a little scorching and minor fuzzies, the rout is more or less good to go with no more work other than the cable drilling. A test fit is a good idea. Perfect. The actual pickup ring will be taller than this one so we have more than enough breathing room with the depths selected. ----==---- Calculating Your Own Dimensions Taking the basic idea of how this system works, we can extend it out to any width humbucker or even pickups of completely different sizes. ....For A 7-String Pickup For an adjustable style template, we don't even need to make a new auxiliary insert for wider pickups such as a 7-string. We simply make an appropriately-sized shim to open out the template a bit more. Typically 7-string rings tend to be 10mm wider than their 6-string equivalents - give or take 0,5mm - which means we only need to make a 10mm wide shim. Cutting a shim from a stick of 10mm template stock in a fret slotting mitre box.... It's worth checking your pickup ring for its total width; this setup with a 10mm shim would expand the internal pickup cavity from 72mm to 82mm and the recesses from 87mm to 97mm. The 7-string pickup ring I have on hand is 99mm wide, so it would work with that one but you should confirm from your own measurements before committing to the wood! ....For The Entire Template Fundamentally, the sizes of the routs and your template should be designed from the pickup ring backwards. This is the only part that physically mounts to the body and covers the rout itself, so as long as the ring can be mounted, hides the rout and the pickup fits then it does the job. In theory the rout could be as large as you want it to be but ideally we should work the maximum sizes down to something more suited to the pickup itself. Removing only as much wood as is needed instead of as much as we can. We'd prefer to keep as much wood as possible, right? So let's look at a typical pickup ring and we'll see how I arrived at the dimensions of the basic template: Yep. Typical humbucker ring dimensions. Working backwards from this, we have about this much area that we can rout before we run into issues with the pickup mounting ring screws: Absolute maximum cavity area It's a pretty big chunk of wood to be dialling out of your guitar, especially when you compare it to a typical pickup: More than enough room to swing a humbucker If you want to alter your own template sizes to make a cavity that big, that's fine, overkill or not. The recesses either side should be narrow enough that the wood where the pickup ring mounting screws sit have enough strength left. The pickup ring measures 36,8mm/1,45" screw to screw. Bringing in the recesses at least 5mm from the centre of each screw location point is what I'd call a good minimum. This would make the recesses 26,8mm wide. For simplicity's sake, you'd round that down to 1" or 25mm. Simpler sizes makes cutting stock easier to manage. The same applies to the screws either side; their spacing is 81mm/3,19" giving us a reasonable maximum of 71mm/2,8"....calling that 70mm or 2-3/4" makes sense. The width of the pickup ring at 44,5mm rounds down nicely to 40mm or 1-5/8". Humbuckers are usually anything from 36-38mm in width. Unless you're working with a pickup with HUGE tabs (I've see some), the side recesses really don't have to be an inch wide. I mean, you could still stick with this value if you want, but most tabs are half inch at the most. 20mm allows for the corner radius of the cutter and means that the outer parts can be 10mm wide. Very very nice easy numbers! A recess width of 15mm centred on the main cavity's sides satisfies my internal need for symmetry, and brings the total width of the cavity up to 72 + 7,5 + 7,5 = 87mm. Fine for an 88,7mm wide ring. Drawing this out - a 72mm x 40mm central cavity and two 20mm x 15mm recesses (with 1/4" radii from the cutter) works out neatly. A wider/longer main body rout allows pickups with sharper corners to fit There's no substitute for taking a ruler and a pair of calipers to your pickup ring and pickup, then drawing it out after calculating your values in the same way. ....And Applying Them Let's use this to develop a template for a hypothetical mini humbucker: Now this should be relatively straightforward, however the radius of our cutters might mean the recesses have to be a little wider to allow for the tab corners. Let's have a look at the ring.... The pickup ring mounting screw locations are spaced 85mm x 25mm, so we can safely make the recesses 15mm wide to allow 5mm either side of the screws. Similarly, the maximum width of the main cavity can be 75mm. We'll be generous with the pickup cavity width, and let's call that a round 30mm. We'll call the tab recesses 15mm x 15mm. Let's see how those figures stacks up. Okay, that would definitely work as-is. Like the example with the humbucker, it might be able to be made smaller. Let's add in the cutter radius and see what happens.... Okay. The smaller size of this mini humbucker means that we need to cut a bit oversize because of the cutter's radius, otherwise things like the pickup corners and the tabs would clash with the rout. You could even make the case that the tab recesses could be drilled with a Forstner bit instead of being routed....! So this is how we could plan this out as a template set; pretty simple once you think it through! ----==---- Conclusion Making templates is about working ideas and methods into your personal trick bag. An extensible template that can be used in more than one situation is a powerful and productive thing to invent, otherwise we'd be making a new template for every last thing every single time. Routs that end up being hidden give us a bit more flexibility to bend dimensions in our favour to make the template simpler, or to streamline the rout itself. A system like this turns a humbucker rout into a three-minute job, sweat-free, making it worth its weight in gold to the busy luthier. ----==---- www.patreon.com/ProjectGuitar If you enjoyed and benefited from this article. become a Patron of ProjectGuitar.com and help us actively continue bring you even more articles, tutorials and product reviews like this, week-in week-out. We appreciate your feedback in the comments section, and we hope you enjoyed this tutorial as much as we did compiling it! This tutorial was made possible by ProjectGuitar.com's Patrons sirspens a2k Chris G KnightroExpress Stavromulabeta Andyjr1515 sdshirtman djobson101 ScottR Buter curtisa Prostheta 10pizza verhoevenc VanKirk rhoads56 Chip
  9. 1 point
    A recent addition to the ProjectGuitar.com workshop was a new mitre slotting box from Guitars and Woods (G&W). Like any tool, integrating a fret slotting box into your workshop and usage methods benefits from a few tweaks. Straight out of the box, it is a useful and powerful tool (read our review here!). What more can we do to it? The base of the box is pre-drilled and countersunk to accept three screws or bolts so that you can affix it to your work surface or a larger baseboard. I opted to go for the second approach. The mitre box itself is just over 105mm/4" wide (I went for the wider base version) and 305mm/12" in width, which is shorter than most fingerboards. I drew up a rough sketch for the ideas I wanted to have. This was all very "back of a beermat" sketching.... Most dimensions were for reference or brainstorming purposes only.... I wanted the mitre box to sit in the centre of a wider board between a pair of risers which sit flush with the level of the base, thereby extending out the area underneath the fingerboard and/or template. The risers extend behind the mitre box so that a pair of toggle clamps can be added for securing workpieces firmly. One aspect of this "design" is very specific to my own working area. Specifically, that thing sticking out of the bottom.... My main "heavy" work area is a French Roubo style bench weighing several hundred kilos. It will go nowhere even if you put your weight behind it! Part of the Roubo design is a large "leg" vice sitting flush against a front leg: Several of my more permanent working jigs (such as my router thicknessing jig) have a flange of wood fitted to the underside which I can clamp up in the leg vise, providing an extremely stable working area. Not everybody has one of these, however if you do then this type of mounting for work jigs is invaluable. Bench mounting flange detail The jig ended up being made on a base measuring 800mm x 150mm (about 31,5" x 6"). The outer risers (10mm thickness) were cut 150mm wide also, with equal lengths so that the box sits in the centre of the jig. Detail of the flush-level extensions either side of the box An added feature was three magnets glued into a free area of the jig. These retain the two Allen keys used to perform adjustments and settings on the mitre box. These are simply shallow recesses drilled and neodymium magnets superglued in. Epoxy might have been a better idea, but being a small job I opted for CA. Personally, I hate rummaging through piles of Allen keys looking for one that "might fit". Invariably you get the wrong side of the Metric/Imperial fence and round out the head of the screw you're trying to work. Your day then takes a turn for the worse and the job just doesn't get done in a hurry.... Toggle clamps set either side of the box provide strong hands-free workpiece retention: Bessey or Destaco clamps are great, but pretty costly. You can also score more or less the same kind of thing from any one of the many Chinese sellers on eBay for a tenth of the price. However you go about this, there's no need to go for massive clamps like the ones used to hold Drumpf's rug down. Clamped down, the workpiece isn't going to go anywhere.... Finally, the extension boards were marked with lines used to ensure that boards can be lined up perpendicular according to the centreline. Extremely important when working with non-squared pieces without templates: Construction Your own mitre slotting box might be different to mine, especially if you go for a narrow 3" base or buy it from a different supplier to G&W. I opted for an 800mm (~31,5") length with 50mm (2") additional width on top of the box width of 105,5mm (just over 4"). The extensions were simply glued and clamped in place with the mitre box in situ. After these dried, the box's mounting locations were marked onto the main board. I pre-drilled these straight through using a drill larger than the screw thread diameter; these go through to the mounting flange underneath, so tightening them cinches everything together. If you're not using a mounting flange, use a smaller pilot hole of course so the box is secured to the base. Finally, the flange was drilled with pilot holes, glue added and the whole lot screwed together. Mitre Box - 305mm x 105,5mm x (10mm base) Baseboard - 800mm x 150mm x 16mm Extensions - 245mm x 150mm x 10mm
  10. 1 point
    "Hi to everybody! I've made a custom headless guitar. It's a very compact guitar but it's about 2cm wider than a Stratocaster at its widest point. The result is that it does not fit in a standard Stratocaster case. I bought a Jaguar hardcase but it's exaggeratedly long for my guitar. I've made a compact, travel friendly guitar and I have to use an enormous case. I was quite disappointed so I decided to build my own case. I decided to document the entire process in order to make a tutorial that will be useful to those who want to challenge themselves in the construction of their own case. Everything was made in my garage: all you need are a saw, rivets, riveter and a drill. I bought aluminum parts for the instrument case from Thomann.de and the plywood from a local bricolage store - they've even cut it from my specs. This is the wood cut: I used PVA to glue the parts. (editor's note: ensure that the joints are perfect to ensure good adhesion in butt joints like these) Some clamps. To avoid using too many clamps I used some screws to fix the gluing. (editor's note: these are pretty much essential!) Repeated it for each side (I used some spacers to keep the glued sides straight). Next the upper side.... Both completed halves.... Matching test.... Aluminium edge protection extrusions.... Cut to measure.... Now the closing profiles, cut to measure.... Detail of the 45° corner mitring.... Matching closure test.... Locations for the butterfly latches marked and cut. I used synthetic leather material to cover the case.... ....glued with more PVA Fitting test.... The aluminium edge profiles were drilled to fasten them with rivets. When you use rivets in wood you have to secure them with washers otherwise you will crack the wood! More aluminium cut for the corners.... Butterfly latch temporarily positioned for drilling rivets holes. Rivets inserted.... Butterfly latch mounted. Hinges.... Handle.... Testing the lid.... Rear.... Front.... Interior.... Detail of the lid mechanism. I used foam for the interior. I bought a 1m² of sound-absorbing foam which I cut for the lid. For the lower part of the case I sent the guitar profile's CAD plan to a specialised company which cut out the shape in the foam to spec. You can compare the dimensions of all of the cases. From left to right: My own custom case, Music Man, Jaguar. This is the final result. Very satisfied with it!
  11. 1 point
    This tutorial is an update on the original by @Brian - all credit goes to him! I bought a cheap Alder body from eBay for a great price, however I wanted to fit a hardtail bridge instead of a vintage six-screw tremolo like it was set up for. The patient whilst I was sanding off the original finish and bad veneer: The plan of action is to rout out the tremolo cavities into accurately-sized rectangles and fit matching pieces of Alder without any gaps. Firstly, I located some Alder with roughly the same grain ring orientation as the body itself. The body is two-piece so I went for the closest match as was reasonable: I decided to do the rear rout first. Using an accurate drawing tools I outlined the rout with a rectangle measuring 135mm x 85mm. This needs to go at least 23mm deep. The first job is to size up the infill wood to those dimensions. I took a piece of Alder longer than the cavity and sized it to 85mm x 25mm before cutting it to length on the table saw. Ensuring that the cuts are clean and square is essential. The next step is to make a negative routing template. You can do this one of two ways. One is to make a temporary template out of four pieces of MDF/plywood, however these can often be a little difficult to attach to the guitar. Double-sided tape works nicely. The second option is to make the temporary template as before and screw these to a second sheet of MDF/ply to make a more secure and easier-to-mount template. Your choice! To make the temporary template, (say) 1/2" MDF or plywood sheet to the same width as the infill (85mm). Next, crosscut this into two pieces on a table saw. Next cut two strips of MDF/ply about three times as long as the infill. Just make sure these have a clean long edge each. To make a more permanent template, place the infill into the middle of the big MDF/ply sheet. Surround it with the four pieces of MDF/ply we've just cut like this: If they all fit snugly around the infill, apply tape or screw the pieces in place. I air-nailed them. You can now remove the infill. Use a drill and Forstner bit to remove the majority of the centre of the template and finish it off with a bearing-guided router bit. I did this on a table router, however you can do this with a hand-router also. Apart from the rounded corners (this is no problem) the negative template should be a perfect fit for the infill. Place the template over the guitar body and tape or clamp it securely in place. Using several light passes, cut the body until you reach the desired depth (23mm). Checking that the infill fits.... Excellent. Now the template can be removed and the corners squared up using a sharp chisel. This small discrepancy was unexpected, however not difficult to remedy. Phew....maybe I didn't use enough air nails.... Carefully check the infill for fit....don't force it in because you need to be able to remove it! Check that it fits flush from the other side: I relieved the inner corners of the infill, simply to ensure it sits as flush as possible when clamping. Hydrostatic pressure from the glue sometimes prevent perfect seating. This relief gives glue chance to escape around the piece. How much truth is in this? No idea, but prevention is better than trying to cure it after the fact. Fit the infill and scribe a line around the perimeter.... Cut or sand the excess off. It's easier to do it at this stage than it is when it's glued in the guitar. Great. Now we're ready to get that block glued in! Because the fit is tight from the outset, you really don't need to go crazy with the glue. Each mating surface needs to be wetted. Clamp the infill in using a caul: Wipe up excess squeezeout with a damp cloth. The finished infill after handplaning and sanding flush. The next step is to do the same process to the other side. Mark up where the infill needs to be. I used another piece of that same 85mm wide Alder for this infill also. Check how deeply we need to go (13mm). Then mark out the infill. Since we're working with the same width of infill, we can re-use the existing template. All we have to do is to make an infill for the template to reduce the length (100mm x 85mm). Using the same process as before, set up the template and rout to depth: Et voilà. The seams around the infills may not be perfect and certain will show themselves over time if you just paint over them. This is how Brian makes this work: Using a Dremel tool, trace a small channel around the seams of each infill. Mix up some good quality non-shrinking epoxy wood filler. Fill out the channels and allow to cure. Sand back flush with the body, now you're ready to fit the hardtail!
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