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Neck Building Tool List


avengers63
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I have a full wood shop with all major power tools. I also have a Dremel with the major accessories, such as the router base, as well as the cutoff, polishing, and sanding wheels.

What is the bare minimum I'd need in tools to make a neck. I''d use the tutorials on the home page to make a bevel file & a fret bender. Unless someone has some jaws they don't want, I'd be getting a fret hammer. The Dremel can cut the frets to length and trim the ends once they're in place, as well as route for the inlays. Aside from a long enough leveling beam and a radius block, what else would I need?

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A rasp and a spokeshave is handy for shaping the back of the neck. Router and various bits for the truss rod. Drill for the holes. A set of files or something similar for the nut. Fret saw if you're making your own fretboards (I'd say go preslotted though, lots easier). Really it sounds like you should have everything or almost everything.

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I am really glad you are considering building your necks John, because you thoroughly cover your builds and process and I´m sure it would be very educational. I wish I was able to getinto building, and if I ever do, I would very much like to get into building the necks as well.

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A scraper comes in handy, and some sanding belts which should be cut to make one long piece so you can sand the back of the neck shoeshine fashion.

Don't be worried about using a rasp for the initial profileing, it is very easy to control the amount that needs to be taken off, and it cleans up very easilly. I wish I had used it on the first neck I did.

Edited by jaycee
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I am really glad you are considering building your necks John, because you thoroughly cover your builds and process and I´m sure it would be very educational.

+1

FWIW - I'm also beginning to build my own necks and I just picked up a levelling bar from a local, small engineering shop for a tenner. If you have a similar shop or an iron monger (whatever you call a shop that sells metal stuff) near you go and ask them for an offcut of stainless steel or aliminum square tube. I got a 10" and a 24" piece, took them to my modest little shop and put them on the glass/sandpaper leveling board for two minutes and I'm willing to bet they are truer than the $68.46 model you can get from StuMac.

Cheers

Buter

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If you consider tools used building the fretboard and fretting as well, I built my last one with:

Jointer

Planer

Band saw

Half of an old credit card (glue spreader) :D

Lots o' clamps

Router

Rasps

Spokeshave

Drill press

Router fretboard radius jig

Oscillating spindle/belt sander

Random orbit sander

16" long, 12"-radius sanding block

Fret cutter

Fret press arbor and caul

Fret bender

Fret end dressing stick (strip-of-sandpaper-on-a-stick)

Fret leveling file

6" Fretboard leveler

6" Fingerboard leveler (this is great for taking the sides of the fretboard down to flush w/ the neck, also for taking inlay down to level with the fretboard)

Double edge fret file

Fret end dressing file

Nut slot file

.023" kerf Dozuki saw (for fret slots)

Fret saw miter box & 25" template

...that said, you don't need all that stuff. In fact, you're probably better off starting to build one without all the convenience tools -- you'll find soon enough which ones of those are worth it to you to buy.

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So let's look at it as a checklist:

HAVE

Jointer

Planer

Band saw

Half of an old credit card (glue spreader)

Lots o' clamps

Router

Rasps - I have a microplane rasp

Drill press

Oscillating spindle/belt sander

Random orbit sander

Fret cutter - Dremel

Nut slot file - torch tip cleaners

DON'T HAVE

Fret press arbor and caul

Fret bender

Fret end dressing stick (strip-of-sandpaper-on-a-stick)

Fret leveling file

6" Fretboard leveler

6" Fingerboard leveler (this is great for taking the sides of the fretboard down to flush w/ the neck, also for taking inlay down to level with the fretboard)

Double edge fret file

Fret end dressing file

.023" kerf Dozuki saw (for fret slots)

Spokeshave

Router fretboard radius jig

Fret saw miter box & 25" template

16" long, 12"-radius sanding block

So of the items I DON'T have, which ones are essential?

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DON'T HAVE

Fret press arbor and caul

Fret bender

Fret end dressing stick (strip-of-sandpaper-on-a-stick)

Fret leveling file

6" Fretboard leveler

6" Fingerboard leveler (this is great for taking the sides of the fretboard down to flush w/ the neck, also for taking inlay down to level with the fretboard)

Double edge fret file

Fret end dressing file

.023" kerf Dozuki saw (for fret slots)

Spokeshave

Router fretboard radius jig

Fret saw miter box & 25" template

16" long, 12"-radius sanding block

So of the items I DON'T have, which ones are essential?

Fret press arbor and caul -- not essential

Fret bender -- need something to do this job... the one I used was a DIY version (I have a "real" one now, but the old one was adequate)

Fret end dressing stick -- not essential

Fret leveling file -- not essential, but need something that will do this job

6" Fretboard leveler -- not essential

6" Fingerboard leveler -- not essential, but if I were to buy just one non-essential tool on this list, this would probably be the one

Double edge fret file -- need something to do this job... some sort of file, and I really like this one

Fret end dressing file -- need something to do this job, some sort of file... and this one is nice because there's a rounded edge that won't mar the fretboard

.023" kerf Dozuki saw (for fret slots) -- unless you're going to get a preslotted board, you need a fret saw. I used Stew-Mac's saw first, but it didn't cut well for me. This one is 10 times better, IMO.

Spokeshave -- not strictly speaking essential, but I would not build a neck without one. You could do it with just rasps though.

Router fretboard radius jig -- not essential, you can do the whole job with a (preferably 16" long) radius sanding block

Fret saw miter box & 25" template -- not essential, but it makes life a lot easier. You could cobble something together on your own that would serve as a miter box.

16" long, 12"-radius sanding block -- I'd say essential. Substitute your radius of choice.

And a good flat-edge.

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SHOPPING LIST:

fret hammer

fret bender - going home-made

beveling file - going home-made

Fret leveling file

6" Fingerboard leveler

Double edge fret file - purpose?

Fret end dressing file - for smoothing out the ends after beveling?

Spokeshave

radius sanding block

Through using a planer, wouldn't the Fingerboard Leveler become redundant, especially when combined with a long radius block?

I've been repeatedly re-reading Hyssock's section on necks/fretting. He mentioned a one-use took that you can't do without - some kind of file to put a crown back on after leveling. Was that on the list under a different name?

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I use a sanding sponge for

smoothing out the ends after beveling?

Don't need to level the frets if the board and seating jobs are done right.Believe me...none of the necks you have ever bought have had it done.

that means you won't need a crowning file...I never use mine.

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I use a sanding sponge for

smoothing out the ends after beveling?

Don't need to level the frets if the board and seating jobs are done right.Believe me...none of the necks you have ever bought have had it done.

that means you won't need a crowning file...I never use mine.

Hyssock assured the reader that getting the frets in perfectly level is a virtual impossibility, so leveling is an absolute necessity, and therefore so is re-crowning.

I think I'll take him at his word.

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You can get crowning files at stewmac...ego has nothing to do with it.Sounds like maybe you are guilty of your own ego issues.

I did not mean the word "expert" to insult you.Only to point out that I would have liked to help you with my experience...which you DID ask me for personally.

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Yay! We got a new Lee Valley store in town, opens sometime next week. I'll look forward to buying some curved spokeshave blades. Hopefully, just the blades that will fit in my current holders. I already own a couple and the straight blades have taken a wee bit of a beating.

Fretwork can be tricky but I agree with Wes. You CAN lay a perfect fret job without having to flatten out perfectly good frets and then recrown, sounds sort of redundant, don't you think? The name of the game is getting it right the first time. Just cuz the guy (Mel Hiscock) writes a book and then makes a TON of money off this (and other) websites, yes I happen to own a copy as well, does not mean his way is the only way. If you are careful throughout the process you can get away with not having to level and crown, done it many times. The object is to make sure your playing field is right (level and properly radiused) to begin with, your frets and slots are properly prepped, ie. the right sizes, frets overbent uniformly etc. AND your technique is consistent throughout the process. This also means constantly monitoring your progress with straightedge, eyeball or whatever you are good at. No egos involved, just plain experience and ...did someone say common sense??!! :D

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WES:

This is the exact same way you "joke" with folks here. Considering we've bantered in a similar way before, I thought your shoulders were broad enough to have it handed back to you in the same way you hand it out. If you want to take offense at someone trying to joke with you like you do with others, I can't stop you.

I wasn't trying to insult you either. As I've said before, text-only communication has a LOT that's left out. I'll apologize for your receiving it wrong, but not for attempting to joke with you. MANY times, despite knowing that you're only trying to joke, I initially take your words as a personal attack. I stop and think about it for a minute, then give you the benefit of the doubt. I would appreciate the same courtesy.

As for Hyssock, as I said in the thread I'm no expert on anything - he is. Folks here treat Hyssock's book like it's the guitar-making bible, so going directly against what he made specific effort to spell out doesn't seem like a good idea for a beginner. Maybe some of you CAN get the frets in perfectly level. If you can, great! You also have a ton of experience with it. I DON'T. Considering that fretting scares the sh1t out of me, when there's a difference of opinion I'd rather listen to the one everyone here considers the expert and take as few chances as I can.

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i just thought i would like to mention that aslong as your making yourself a router radiusing jig, dont buy the sanding blocks, you can make those too, i made all of mine and they work just as well as something you would spend $150 on great thing is if you want a new one...it costs as much as the maple your gonna make it out of

Kenny

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I read the tutorial about how to make your own radius blocks. It'd cost me a LOT more in lumber to make the jig than to buy the blocks.

What is this "router radius jig" you're talking about? I've not seen them to buy nor in a tutorial to make (unless I somehow passed right over it).

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I use end snips as fret cutters, a flat piece of wood with sandpaper double sticked to it for leveling, a radius block, crowning file (I buy a replacement one from stewmac and make my own handle), a straightedge, micro mesh paper from stewmac for polishing fretboard, used to use a brass hammer for hammering in the frets but now I press them in. For the fretpress I use a crappy spade bit, a block of maple, a nail, and a insert from stewmac for $4.50. Pm me if you want info on it.

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most of everyone's radius block jigs look like repurposd scrap wood. With the amount of bodies you've built, I would expect you to have pleanty of it! However, I'm just happy to see you're getting ready to build a neck! I wish I could join you!

I try really hard to re-purpose most of my cutoffs into something more useful, like stringers to widen out the body blank to other small woodworking items. A lot of the small, seemingly unusable pieces become "finishing stands": blocks for the piece to sit on while the finish is being brushed on & drying.

I made two sets of bookends about 6-8 weeks ago with scroll-sawn people on them. The little men were done entirely from pieces in the scrap box. I must have 50 pounds of pieces too small to be really useful but too big to throw away. Maybe a chess set will erupt from there some day.

No, my friend... were I to make a jig like that, I'd get some construction grade pine from Home Depot.

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