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Hi all, this is may very first post so sorry if i am in the wrong part of the website and sorry for my poor english I have just done 5 different guitars Fully handmade, This time I would like to create the fingerboard with cnc (5way) . Since I'm not able to draw the project, I wonder if anyone is so kind to draw the following fingerboard for me: (I'm sure I will learn to use cad design programs but I have this compelling project that I would like to finish as soon as possible) 7 strings - gibson scale 24.75" - 24 frets - 20 of radius - the nut width 1 7/8" Please Help Me! thanks
To truly step up your guitar-building game, every last bit of fundamental geometry needs to be perfect. Every time. You need 100% control. The fingerboard is what most people find the hardest to nail; a badly-radiused fingerboard translates errors through to the fretwork. This then requires additional metal being removed during levelling and a poor end product. Without the right tools it can be a slow and difficult job. Precision radiusing beams are the easiest and quickest way of sanding your fingerboard into perfect form. Simply stick a length of coarse (80-100 grit) adhesive sandpaper (or using double-sided tape for normal sandpaper) to the bottom, scribble over the board with a pencil and work on removing all of the pencil marks evenly and radiusing the board symmetrically. Once dialled in, sequentially replace the paper towards finer (up to 600 and beyond) grits till the board is perfect. A fingerboard can easily be completed in less than half an hour without hard work. As of writing, the last fingerboard I radiused yielded fretwork that only had one fret in need of specific levelling work. The acceleration in workflow saves the busy workshop luthier time and money whilst giving the home enthusiast shop-quality results. The width of the beams (70mm) is ideal for single-handed use. This easily manages 6-string and 7-string guitars plus 4-string basses. Wider fingerboards require only a little more attention, producing results as perfect as their narrower counterparts. In comparison to other radiusing beams available online, the G&W tool has a nice level of fit and finish. The ends are deburred to remove sharp edges left from machining operations, plus the surfaces are an appealing but simple satin with the G&W logo and radius in large clear type. The "grippiness" of the hand shaping is excellent (a couple of strips of hockey tape in the recess work great) with the weight of the beam ideal for keeping it true in use. G&W stock the most common radii (7-1/4", 9-1/2", 10", 12", 16") in both long (450mm/18") and short (200mm/just under 8") lengths with a discount for a full sets of all 5. Even including the cost of worldwide shipping, the price is still lower than the equivalent tool from Stewart-MacDonald. For European-based buyers, the price is simply a steal. Also stocked are shorter wood radius beams which are ideal for fret levelling, knocking down areas of inlay work to the level of the fingerboard or even as fret clamping cauls. That's a lot of beam for your buck - 21 fret, 25,5" scale board for reference G&W's comprehensive range of guitar and bass building tools, templates and essentials has developed them into an excellent one-stop shop for European-based luthiers. Their competitive pricing easily saves a significant amount of money or simply gets you more quality equipment for your budget. Precision radiusing beams are simple but essential tools often skipped over due to their formerly high purchase cost; G&W have broken this rule, allowing luthiers at all levels affordable access to shop-grade tooling. G&W - Guitar and Woods Luthier Supplies
First you need a nice piece of wood, wide enough to fit the widest part of your neck. The thickness can vary but I usually take a piece of 20mm thick. I usually use fretboard woods of 6mm. Step 1: The most important thing to begin with is shaving the surfaces of the piece of wood to get perfectly flat surfaces. Now shave the sides of the wood to get perfect 90° degree edge. This is important if you’re going to use the sides as a guide for a router. Step 2: Draw a line on the sides of the wood under the angle you want for your headstock I usually take 13° like a Gibson. Now cut the wood in two pieces on this line and do this as straight as possible. Step 3: Align the two pieces like the picture below so you can shave the tilted surface of both pieces. If you do it like this you can save time by shaving both pieces at the same time. Shave downward with the grain! Step 4: If both surfaces are perfectly flat, then glue the pieces together like the pictures below. The more you move the little piece, the thicker or thinner your headstock gets. I like my headstocks pretty thick for the stiffness, so I make them 16 to 17mm. Shave the excess wood off the headstock. Step 5: Now you can saw or rasp the shape of your neck out of the big piece. You can only make a neck volute if you used a thick piece of wood! Step 6: I like to use the truss rods with the small ends, unlike the big bullet truss rod like a 70’s Fender. Because of the small end you can keep more wood, and that is important if you want to use a top lock with screws which go through the neck. The more wood you have, the more stable the screws. In case of a top lock, I move the truss rod a bit back from the lock. From there I route a narrower channel for the truss rod adjustment tool or Allen-wrench. So just measure your rod, and route the channel out of the wood with the exact dimensions. Step 7: Place the fretboard wood over the neck wood. I always like to use a longer piece of fret board than the neck, because I’m never sure if it’s going to be a 22 or 24 fret neck. (as shown below) Drill a hole through the fret board into the neck on the exact places where the 1st and 15th fret will come. Not in the middle of course, otherwise you’ll drill into the truss rod . Make sure you have two drill bits of the same diameter as the hole you just drilled. Now glue the fretboard to the neck (don’t forget the truss rod), and keep the fretboard in place by putting the drill bits into the drilled holes. After gluing you can take them out again. I use the inner tube of a bicycle tire to wrap around the neck tightly to press the fretboard to the neck while drying, but you could use wood clamps. Step 8: Now cut out the neck and head stock shape you want. Just use a bandsaw or other shaping saw. If you want you can already drill the holes for the tuners. Step 9: Onto the slots for the frets and fretboard radius. There are lots of fret calculators on the Internet to calculate any fret distance for any neck scale. Calculate the scale you want, and draw lines on the fret board where the frets must come, and use a fret slotting saw to saw the slots. Be very careful and saw straight, or intonation will be a problem! A fret slotting saw automatically saws the right depth, so don’t worry to cut your fretboard in half. Now you can radius the top of the fret board Just choose a radius you like, for instance a fender radius is smaller than a Gibson radius. Take a piece of cardboard or plastic and draw the radius on it. Cut out the radius so you get a shape like the picture below. Now sand the fret board to match the radius on the template you just made. With different templates you can create a compound radius neck. Step 10: Last but not least, the back of the neck. Start rasping the neck on different angles from outside to centre of the neck. Look at the pictures below. For this job you can also create a template to check the radius. After rasping all the angles out of the neck, you have to smooth the edges with a metal scraper. After that use some sanding paper to finish the neck. Now the neck is ready for inlays and frets....
I decided to show you how I am going step by step on the blue shark that will go on the chimera headstock classical guitar for Dr. Douglas Fields. First things first; this is on a NON-radiused classical fretboard. That makes this one easier. It's totally flat. The board is ebony, also easy. So, this is an EASY inlay! Here is the inlay so far. This photo includes the original art, (lower right), the photocopies for cutting the pieces, the odder materials, (blue/teal plastics in this case, and black Tahitian pearl) other more regular materials include ebony, and regular mother of pearl. The inlay is already cut out and glued up together. I use 003 jewelers blades, and a normal jewelers saw as well. Nothing special there. Recently I have started to use size 1 blades, as they seem to be much more tight against the cut, and give you a more even edge cut from top to bottom. The main thing with inlay design is originality For example.... Start out like this: "I really want a killer inlaid tropical rainforest scene on a guitar, how can I make that happen?". THEN worry about materials, etc. If you're staring at a single piece of pearl in front of you and wondering what to do with it you are limiting yourself a lot! You'll notice design-wise that the shark is extremely foreshortened, it looks like it's swimming out of the fretboard. Also the top fins are cut off; he's swimming through the board. You don't need to shove or fit the whole design into a small space. The human mind will piece in what is missing as long as the main parts of the image are there. Too much and it looks off, but done correctly it adds a new dimension to the art, and looks completely unique. Some more on drawing up your inlays Make sure all your lines join each other so they can be cut out separately later like a puzzle. Any un-joined lines mean starting over. You can create free ending lines with a graver tool as your engraving skills get better. More on engraving laterI draw all my art for patterning with a drafting pencil. I use #8H lead; very hard, for drawing thin clear lines. These lines will photocopy nicely, and are good for getting extremely close tight cuts. The thicker the pattern lines, the more off your cutting can end up and the more gaps between pieces you will have in your inlay. These are hard to hide, so just prevent them with a good pattern and good cutting to begin with.When photocopying you can shrink the pattern a little, making the lines thinner.Make about 15 or so photocopies of your original, and use these to piece out your inlay materials. More on materials and thickness I do not use any backing. I glue the pieces together with thin cyanoacrylate glue. I am most interested in the surface color of my materials. I will glue everything FACE down so that the surface of the inlay is completely even. It doesn't matter if the back is a little uneven. When fitting, I rout to the deepest piece, and use dust or something to life the other part of the inlay up. The glue will fill in the back. This preserves your surface colors. Just make sure the inlay sits flush to the surface in the rout pocket. Any shell sticking up will get sanded down, and your color patterns may change or even go away. This becomes a little more tricky on radiused fingerboards, but it can be done. More on that later. Filing is for the areas where you didn't cut as accurately as you SHOULD have. Don't PLAN on doing it, and if you're going to make mistakes then cut outside the line, so you don't have to throw out the piece. The goal is to cut away the lines, leaving a completely tight fit, each piece having it's half of the original line shaved off, totally tight. You will gain those skills as you go. For a complete beginner some filing is going to happen. It happens to me in almost every piece (total piece that is, not each piece of shell). Most are tight from the start. Pierced pieces almost always need at least a little something filed off. Next is positioning Find the place where the inlay is going to go and glue it down temporarily with some contact cement. NOT CA or epoxy as those are too strong! You want to use something that you can release with acetone. Put a drop on the bottom, position your inlay and let it dry in place for a few hours at least. If you don't let it dry you will mess up your scribing, and have to start over again, and that can be a real pain. Don't rush it, do it right, be patient, and fight the urge to touch anything. That's the hard part! Just let it sit until it dries. Once the inlay is dry I use an exacto #11 blade and go around the inlay perimeter, scribing out the pattern. I then carefully lift off the piece and go over the scribed lines again with the blade, deepening the cuts. This isn't really necessary, but I like to make sure I have a clear pattern to rout to. I then clean off any residual glue on the inlay and the board with acetone. This keeps everything clean, otherwise your depth and height of your inlay pieces could be thrown off by the glue residue. I rout using a Foredom flex shaft tool. Basically a fancy Dremel. I use The Stew-Mac downcut carbide bits in decreasing size as I get nearer to the edge of the rout pattern. I normally end at the 1/32" size. These bits are great, last a long time, and cut extremely clean. No pictures of routing, sorry. You guys know how to rout though, right? So, we have scribed around the inlay, removed it, cleaned everything off with acetone, and rubbed white chalk over the lines to highlight them as a routing pattern. We then got our depth and routed to as perfect a fit as possible. Check your depth with a scrap piece of the shell that is the thinnest in your inlay, to make sure the depth is where you want it to be. Remember it's easier to rout deeper, raising an inlay takes a little practice as the glues in most cases shrink, so you have far less control over that. After the rout is done, and everything fits nice, fill the hole with your glue. If its epoxy make sure you mixed correctly, and add some to the hole, then add the inlay, then add more over the top. Make sure every seam and open area is filled with glue. If using CA, use the thinnest you can find, fill some in the hole, place in the inlay. In darker woods like ebony, take some ebony dust and pack dust fill the edges between the rout and the inlay with the dust. It will seep in making the edge look almost flawless after leveling, and it keeps the extremely thin glue under control from running all over as you add glue. The thin glues are about the same viscosity as water, so be careful with them. It's easy to get it all over, AND it's superglue. Wear a mask and eye protection as well for any of the woodworking steps. Superglue can cause a reaction almost like getting the flu. Trust me it is extremely lame. I work the glue with a mask AND a fan going. The ebony dust trick works nice in ebony and dark woods, however it does not for almost any other woods. Train yourself to be patient and rout tight and clean. That is the real key to good inlay- good design, interesting use of materials, tight cuts, and clean routs. At this point your inlay should look like crap. Clamp the inlay down. Epoxy doesn't shrink, and the inlay needs to sit as flush with the rout as possible. You'll notice the two different glues in this picture. I use the green Duco cement to hold inlay to the wood for scribing, and the red 3M glue for piecing out the pattern on my materials. Many people use CA for patterning, but CA won't hold paper well to gold or black pearl, and it lifts off easily while cutting patterns. That is a sure fire way to screw up your pattern during cutting, and you will have to re-cut the piece. The 3M glue is one part, and dries fast. It's a little gelatinous, so make sure your pattern sits FLAT on the material. Raised pattern means a mis-shaped piece. It sticks to every pearl and stone and metal I know. I really like it. After 24 hours you can start to level the inlay down. I don't care how long the package says it takes the glue to cure, or how much of a hurry you're in because your so excited about the piece. You want your work to be around for years, so why not take the proper time making it? Let the glue fully cure. Otherwise you may be sanding wet glue. Using a flat bottom solid wood block (any other will possibly have flex to it, sanding unevenly- a no-no on musical instruments- especially fretboards) start at 80 grit, and work your way down to 120, then 220, then 400 grit papers. I start using 120 about when there is still glue all around the inlay, but the inlay itself is becoming visible. I go to 220 grit when the glue is almost gone, but there is still enough to see the glue clearly. When the glue is almost wisp thin, but still there, I go to 400. I use them all dry except for when leveling plastics. If I have plastics in an inlay, like the shark here, I'll go to 220 dry, then finish off with 400 wet, (or with oil) and then even go to 600 to buff out the plastics. Some may need higher grits. About this stage in the photo I would still be at 120, but not for long. Just until I see the glue going away enough to make the inlay seem flat. You can switch to higher grits sooner to be safe, it just means a little more sanding time. If you go too far down on a fretboard kiss the board good-bye, especially if you can't re-radius it out. THAT is why I never support sanding an inlay going fret by fret. After it's level you may need to go back and pick out any bubbles, etc.. the glue formed while it was drying. I like to use the #1 blade, and dig them out until the white dust is gone, and fill them with the CA. It fills clear and fully. If it's in ebony, and you can't get out the bubble or the white dust out all the way, I have a little trick- clean out the bubble as much as possible- take some black India ink and fill the bubble with that, then seal that with the CA. Of course it only works in ebony, but its fast, cleaner than filling with ebony dust. Re-sand the new glue down again starting at 220. If you're happy with the inlay you can stop at this point, and you should be pretty proud. I am almost never happy with it at this stage, so I break out my graver tool to add all those details you can't get with cuts. The graver is the silver one with my technical pencil on top. Most people use a handle on it as well, but recently I have been having a better time without the handle. I feel like I have more control without it. Gravers are used for engraving, and I am FAR FAR from an expert on that. I am learning as I go on engraving, but I can tell you far less people hand engrave these days than do inlay. I wish I knew of a good tutorial on it, but I don't. Gun engravers can teach you how to engrave, but they are few and far between as well. What little I know basically is this. Draw out your pattern on the material you want to engrave on with the pencil, or pen if you're good enough to control the ink. When using pearl try to choose the most pattern free/plain MOP you can find. High figure pearl with blur the lines with the pattern, and it fractures out easier. After you draw out your pattern, gently (one wrong scratch means you just ruined all your previous work- not fun on a 75 hour inlay... - No I'm NOT kidding- you can't fill an incorrect deep graver scratch. You can only SAND it out) and gently scratch away at your pattern going deep with the graver each time. You will make a little "track" for your graver to follow as you go, but the key I have found so far is relatively low pressure, and smooth tracking. Stop after each pass, and replace the cut. Fill your cuts with either colored wax paste or inks. Remember, the engraving will wear with play, so keep your highest engraved areas toward the more non-used regions of the fingerboard if that's where the inlay is going. Proper engraving takes hours. It's a separate art to inlay, with rules and skills all it's own. Take your time and don't rush it. Some engraving artists' engraved pieces took years. Here is one last complete parting shot with engraving you can see the details make the piece.