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Neck Construction Problem


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So I have an interesting problem that I ran into on my neck construction. I have heard many times about needing to glue on extra wood to the headstock area to get enough width. When I started to work on my neck I did not have my template yet so I wasn't aware that I was going to need to to this. So now I have this extra wood glued on and I have no idea how to proceed with cutting the headstock angle!

Here are the issues:

1) The wood I added was only perfectly flush on the gluing surface. Now the outer surfaces are not square to anything. Not cool as these are the surfaces that I see as needing to run against a machine table while I cut.

2) With this extra wood in the way it is impossible for me to mark the line from template for the headstock angle.

So, any ideas on how I should proceed? Do I need to make some sort of jig or does anyone have a clever technique that I could use? I would appreciate any ideas.

Thanks!

img9109largeyz9.th.jpgimg9106largeit0.th.jpgimg9122largetl7.th.jpg

(I know it's kind of hard to tell what I'm talking about with these pictures. I'll try making a CAD drawing to illustrate it better.)

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why don't you glue on some scraps of wood to the sides, so that the entire headstock is the same width, and then you'll have a flat surface to work from. You'll be cutting if off when you shape it anyway, so you could use anything.

That is an idea for sure. I would have to make the new surface flat and square to the fretboard surface. This could take quite a bit of extra time as I only get to work once a week in the wood shop.

Thanks for the input!

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>snip<

Here are the issues:

1) The wood I added was only perfectly flush on the gluing surface. Now the outer surfaces are not square to anything. Not cool as these are the surfaces that I see as needing to run against a machine table while I cut.

>snip<

So, any ideas on how I should proceed? Do I need to make some sort of jig or does anyone have a clever technique that I could use? I would appreciate any ideas.

>snip<

using a sacrificial piece of wood the length of the neck, approx. 1/16 of an inch thicker than the highest point of the offset piece added. Use double stick thin carpet tape and apply to both sides of the neck blank. Now you have a flat reference surface for the Bandsaw table as well as a surface for the template on the top side to follow. Hope that makes since?

example.jpg

MIke

Edited by MiKro
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Simple aproach, Cut the ears off. true the sides in that area back up with a plane. Then saw your neck through profile(and I would get a fair bit closer than you are now, as you have a ton of work to get that where it needs to be). After you are profiled then take your ears(make these closer to the correct size) and glue them to the sides of the headstock(I try to keep the top surface as close to dead on aligned as possible during glue up). I use the surface I attach the fretboard to as my ultimate reference for all other surfaces during cutting. Plan way ahead on neck throughs, or you will build yourself into corners like this along the way.

Peace,Rich

Ooops, looks like Setch beat me to it. :D

Edited by fryovanni
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I'd do what MiKro says, or, better, cut those ear pieces off (or heat/pry them off), mark, cut the angle, and add straight-grained ears of approximately the correct thickness for the headstock. Having a bit of straight-grained wood as opposed to angled grain will be a little stronger.

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using a sacrificial piece of wood the length of the neck, approx. 1/16 of an inch thicker than the highest point of the offset piece added. Use double stick thin carpet tape and apply to both sides of the neck blank. Now you have a flat reference surface for the Bandsaw table as well as a surface for the template on the top side to follow. Hope that makes since?

I think this makes perfect sense. I like this idea because it doesn't involve prying or cutting of the wood that I've glued. Thanks!

Personally, I'd saw off the ears, cut and rough thickness the headstock, then glue back on ears which aren't so ludicrously hefty!

I used "hefty" ears because I didn't want to try and guess where I needed to glue the wood. I planned on covering the whole area and then I was sure to have it covered. Next time I will be gluing the ears on afterwards! Thanks!

Plan way ahead on neck throughs, or you will build yourself into corners like this along the way.

I hope that I didn't make it sound like I was doing a neck through guitar! This is a PRS style glued on neck. But I agree that things need to be planned out ahead of time to avoid working around issues like this. Neck through or not! Thanks!

Having a bit of straight-grained wood as opposed to angled grain will be a little stronger.

The grain of the wood that I glued on is straight. It's grain is actually opposing the grain in the main piece just like others suggest doing to make the main neck stable. So I am pretty sure the join will be strong enough. Thanks!

I like everyones ideas and thanks for your replies! I don't feel that I need to go backwards and take another approach but rather work with the situation and keep moving forward. Not that I am going to rush this process but I only have 1 day a week for 2 hours to work on this project right now. Going back like that would be a full session spent and I don't think there is enough advantage to justify it.

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Ah, my bad. I was looking at the way you cut the wood and at a glance it looked like a neck through.

Just a quick thought for you to through in the back of your mind. Sometimes it may seem like taking a step back will cost you time, but in making the process more managable you increase your productivity and accuracy by not having to fight with work arounds. Setch, Mattia and myself offer the suggestion to remove the ears, because we are all thinking through the process from our past experiences. I know I could work with what you have, and no doubt you will work it out. After you have worked through this and run into a couple more challenges because the ears are there. Consider how it would have worked if you had taken fifteen minutes to remove the ears, and how much smoother it would have gone for you. Some things we do and the order we do them in can really make a big difference in your accuracy, and how effective you can be with the tools we commonly use. We all build differently though, so give it a go, and have fun with your project.

Peace,Rich

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The grain of the wood that I glued on is straight. It's grain is actually opposing the grain in the main piece just like others suggest doing to make the main neck stable. So I am pretty sure the join will be strong enough. Thanks!

I think Mattia means straight as in, grain oriented parallel to the head stock angle, rather than parallel to the neck shaft. This is what I do, and I feel tht having two strips on the headstock which have zero runout helps stiffness and strenght.

Rich absolutely nailed what I was thinking when I replied; removing the ears is the works of a few minutes. Working around them will add a lot of time and difficulty to your work, so in the long term a step backwards now, will save you half a mile of hard slog down the road.

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Thanks for your replies Setch, Rich and Mattia! I appreciate the time that you have both taken to think about and write your responses!

Sometimes it may seem like taking a step back will cost you time, but in making the process more managable you increase your productivity and accuracy by not having to fight with work arounds.

I think Mattia means straight as in, grain oriented parallel to the head stock angle, rather than parallel to the neck shaft. This is what I do, and I feel tht having two strips on the headstock which have zero runout helps stiffness and strenght.

I do agree that taking steps back will sometimes be the best route to take. I am a mechanical designer and have worked closely with manufacturing teams in quite a few major companies so I do understand the ins and outs of process management. That being said I again acknowledge that I am a newbie woodworker and guitar builder so I will never claim to know better than anyone else.

(Please don't take offense at this next section. I am not trying to be argumentative. I am honestly stating things as I a see them and asking if I am missing something!) :D

Am I missing part of the process that is yet to come and the difficulties that the path of not removing the ears will create? As I understand it, the downside to not removing the ears is that there is a potential lose of strength. I know that there will be tuning machine holes that will be put in this area and potentially pass through part of the join. As a mechanical designer I am assuming that wood that I glued on is just as strong as the main neck and the glue joint itself is stronger than the wood. The surfaces that were glued together both had zero runout so the join itself is perfectly flush. The grain runs in the same direction but opposes the main neck wood. When I cut the angle on the main neck wood I am automatically creating a condition where the grain no longer runs parallel to the neck shaft, so I don't see how there is a strength advantage to gluing on wood that runs parallel to the headstock angle. If I cut it with the ears glued on I at least have the grain opposing itself in the same orientation.

Are there other parts of the guitar building process that I will have to deal with where the ears being glued on now will make it more difficult? Again, I completely agree that there are times when backtracking is essential to being successful.

Thanks again! :D

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Interesting one this. I was told on here a long time ago "it's not what you do that makes things easier and better it's order in which you do them" which I have found out to my cost a few times. I think this is one of those moments.

Ideally what should have happened is the headstock angle shouldv'e been cut first, then the "ears" glued on.

If you don't want to take the ears off then I would go with Mikro's idea, doublesided sticky tape to the end of the neck making it parrallel and running it through a band saw.

I am sure Martin guitars are one piece and they cut there necks out firstlly on a band saw, then they are tiedied up later

Edited by jaycee
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Brad,

I suspect you're not used to working with wood, and are not understanding what I meant by 'runout'.

Wood is composed of long stringy fibres, which run approximately parallel to the direction of growth. Wood is very tough along these fibres, but weaker across them. Think of a log - it's hardwork to chop it into two lengths, but pretty easy to split it lengthwise with an axe.

Ideally, a piece of wood will have fibres running parallel with it's long axis - this is a board with no runout. As the grain departs further from parallel to the long axis, the more runout you get, and the weaker the wood becomes. If you cut a 1 piece blank to create a headstock angle, you get *a lot* of runout, and a very weak headstock. Running the grain of the ears parallel to the headstock makes it stronger.

Your current situation will be as strong as a 1 piece headstock, but not as strong as it could be.

However, this is a sidepoint to the real issue - which is that cutting the headstock angle with the ears attached will be much more time consuming and confer no advantages, whereas cutting them off and regluing them will save time *and* produce a stronger final product. It's analagous to missing a turning quarter of a mile from your destination, and deciding to drive 5 miles to avoid turning around. Sure, you don't have to go back the way you came, but you have to drive further, and for longer.

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Setch,

Thank you for your description of runout in relationship to wood. I thought you were referring to it in the sense of GD&T. I do understand the concept of the wood fibers running along the long axis of the board I just didn't know the terminology.

Your current situation will be as strong as a 1 piece headstock, but not as strong as it could be.

However, this is a sidepoint to the real issue - which is that cutting the headstock angle with the ears attached will be much more time consuming and confer no advantages, whereas cutting them off and regluing them will save time *and* produce a stronger final product.

So really, there are two main points that we are talking about. Strength and time.

Strength:

I am still confused as to what you are suggesting. In the first sentence you say that a one piece headstock IS strong but not as strong as it could be. Are you inferring that by gluing the ears on before cutting the angle I am going to weaken the entire headstock? Or are you trying to suggest that a scarf joint neck construction is superior to a one piece?

Time:

I am still failing to see why this is driving 5 miles out of my way to avoid turning around. What I see is that I take a bit of time (no longer than removing the ears) to make it possible to work with this condition. Please tell me what I am missing in regards to all this time that I will waste if I use this method!

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You can do this either way, and I am sure you can make it work. I am not sure how you are going to go about a couple tasks, and the tools and method you use may be different than ones I would use. That could make the difference and maybe you won't lose a bit of time or effectiveness. Maybe you could describe how and what tools you will be using to do a few steps in the process.

1. Cutting the top surface of the angled headstock.

2. Cutting the back of the headstock and thicknessing properly.

3. Cutting the profile of the neck (I would normally get within about 1/8" ruff), and then shaping.

4. Ruff shaping the neck itself(not the profile but the top, I usually cut within 1/16" or closer)

5, Do you plan to use a router to refine the shape(again top, not profile)?

How you do these things may be different than me, so I really don't know how problematic the ears would be. This is why I say go for it, and just keep it in the back of your mind.

Peace,Rich

P.S. Regarding the glue joint strength. You are correct about the assumed strength of a glue joint if it is done well and achives a good bond. Most glues have the potential to well exceed the strength of glue. However, if the joint is not prepaired correctly, contaminants(such as oils, dust or what have you) are present, humidity or temp is not in a proper range, possibly high degree of end grain is part of the joint, clamping pressure is not correct for the type of glue and wood and so on. You will diminish that optimal strength(which again, generally glue has more potential than it needs to be stronger than the wood), and may at a point become weaker than the surrounding wood. Destructive testing can show how much glue lets go and how much wood lets go. I am not saying to destroy anything, but the testing clearly shows these factors play into the strength, and you can't always count on higher strength in the glue joint than the surrounding wood. This is why we are so careful with our preperation(especially freshly surfacing before attempting to glue), monitor conditions, make sure we have good clamping and so on.

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To clarify what I said:

a one piece neck with sawn headstock is as strong as a your current plan. The glue lines will not add or remove strength to any measureable degree.

A 1 piece neck with ears that have no runout is stiffer, and possibly stronger.

A scarf jointed headstock is stronger and stiffer than either of the other options.

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To clarify what I said:

a one piece neck with sawn headstock is as strong as a your current plan. The glue lines will not add or remove strength to any measureable degree.

A 1 piece neck with ears that have no runout is stiffer, and possibly stronger.

A scarf jointed headstock is stronger and stiffer than either of the other options.

If I may add a comment from my very limited experience I would like to say that the reinforcement aspect would probably the least of my concerns.

If you decide to keep the ears and go for the proposed solution of adding wood at the sides of the neck you'll have to deal with a much wider piece for cutting the profile on the saw. It's going to be like 10-15cm wide. It's a lot more convenient to work with a narrower piece of wood, like the original blank without the ears.

Just remember that you already had problems with the verticality of the cut when you shaped your body. Cutting such a wide piece of wood might be very problematic in the end.

My vote goes to removing the ears and work confortably with the original blank and your template. Then add the ears with the grain orientation of your choice at a later stage.

When the solution to a problem is potentially more problems, then maybe it's not a solution after all.

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Hey everyone! I haven't meant to ignore your latest posts in this topic but I've been a bit tied up this past week. My wife and I have just had our first baby so I have not had ANY time for anything else!

(Her name is Ariana and she was born October 30th. She is the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen!)

img9156tn2.th.jpg

Anyway, I'll be looking over the latest posts soon and deciding which way I am going to proceed. I hope to be doing more work on Wednesday but if I can't decide what to do on the neck I'll just work on the body some more. :D

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Hey everyone! I haven't meant to ignore your latest posts in this topic but I've been a bit tied up this past week. My wife and I have just had our first baby so I have not had ANY time for anything else!

(Her name is Ariana and she was born October 30th. She is the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen!)

img9156tn2.th.jpg

Anyway, I'll be looking over the latest posts soon and deciding which way I am going to proceed. I hope to be doing more work on Wednesday but if I can't decide what to do on the neck I'll just work on the body some more. :D

Congrats DAD!!!!!!

mk

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Hey everyone! I haven't meant to ignore your latest posts in this topic but I've been a bit tied up this past week. My wife and I have just had our first baby so I have not had ANY time for anything else!

(Her name is Ariana and she was born October 30th. She is the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen!)

img9156tn2.th.jpg

Anyway, I'll be looking over the latest posts soon and deciding which way I am going to proceed. I hope to be doing more work on Wednesday but if I can't decide what to do on the neck I'll just work on the body some more. :D

Congratulations !!!!

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Thanks MiKro and Blackdog!

Well, I think that I am just going to keep working on the body for now. I've been so busy with the new baby that I have not had any time to really consider how to proceed on the neck. Rather than doing anything in haste I'll just stick to the process that I am sure about!

Congratulations and that's a good idea. how does the saying go "work in haste, repent at leisure" something like that

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