Jump to content

Shaping a neck

Recommended Posts


Firstly I would like to mention that this is the best guitar building site I have ever been to. For once I have more information that I have time to read! I am drooling over all the different finishing tutorials.

The one thing that I cant seem to find much information on, is how to shape the contuor on the back of a neck. I saw one guy use a router jig, which a though was a good idea as it is nice and accurate. And from what I gather, the fella that wrote the tut for this site carved it using a spokeshave (free handed it). I've never acctually used a spoke shave before, but does it make the job easier than it sounds. How does he get that symetry and smooth shape (is it judgement)?

Well any information would be much appreciated, as this is the only area where I am scratching my head.

Thanks in advance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The tech I learned from as far as shaping the backs of necks from boards, also used a rather large router bit. I don't quite remember the size though but I'll try to find out for you. I do remember the cost of the bit though, it was around $37 which is a little pricey then again you can use them to make several necks :D

I'm sure others will have storys to share as they discover the forum. B)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Cheers for that, I suspected the router maybe the best way to shape a neck, otherwise I don't like my chances of getting any symetry...lol.

And again this site is the best, I actually found it by following a link from www.guitarbuild.com , and havent bothered looking for anyother guitar building sites since....this site has more than I need!!!...haha it has to be said. You guys will see alot of me...lol. I only wish i could give something back, I almost feel guilty. But it's good that's it's free.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


I have been building for more than six years now. Most of my work is done traditionaly. I have tried shaping neck with a spokeshave. I wasn't all that enamoured with the tool. Maybe because the spokeshave that I have belonged to my grandfather who was a carpenter a million years ago. Possibly if I picked up a newer tool it may work better. THe way I shape necks is with a rasp. You can get these anywhere and they are cheap to purchase. You can shape the neck quite quickly with the rasp. A trick that I learned at Timeless Instruments where I learned to build was to draw a pattern on thick paper. Draw seververal radius patterns for spots along the neck. Also a new trick that I discovered through trial and error is to use a cabinet scraper to finish off the neck. It worked beautifully for me.


I am also new to this site and have found mounds of information to help me out.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

DAVE!!!!!!!!!!!! Hey dude, what's up? found this place huh? kewl, I learned all the basics from Dave and own 2 of his acoustics.

Using a rasp is how I did the neck on the acoustic I built (thanx to Dave's instruction)

Currently, the work I do is primarily inlay and finishing, but I have changed the shape of necks as well. A rasp works really good on a softer wood like mahogany, but on a harder neck like maple, I've learned the beauty of a band saw with a table you can set at angles, leaving the neck fretboard down allows you to cut various angles on the back of the neck to establish a radius made out of a bunch of small flats, once you have a rough shape (also, it is very easy to maintain symmetry using this method, you do the exact same cut on each side) then you can knock off the corners with a rasp, or good double cut file, I prefer the file as it doesn't leave the same big gouges the rasp does. Then, and I think this is the most important part, when you go after it with sandpaper, first use a block with heavy paper, like 80 or 120 grit. Work your way down to 320 grit on the block. You can then use some 400 to finish up by hand. You don't want to disregard the block, or you end up with funny bumps created by uneven pressure on the sandpaper, of course, there are areas you have to do it all by hand, such as right at the heel, and headstock of the neck, but for the most part, you can use the block.

Routered necks are possible, but you still have a lot of hand finishing to do as a router bit is not a variable radius like the back of a neck, it starts off narrow and thin and gets wider and thicker. The route bit radius is a constant, you still need to finish up by hand, it's basically a good way to remove material quickly. However, router bits that size are very expensive, and custom shaped router bits are worse. Most factory built necks are done on a CNC milling machine of some sort, one with 4 axis capability, this is a wonderful way to do it, if you have an extra $400,000 kicking around, personally, I don't hehehe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...