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tools you guys can't live without


westhemann
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one thing i have noticed is that alot of people (like me) are unaware of specialized tools which make certain jobs alot easier and which might make the difference between a good instrument and a fine instrument

i guess what i am ineptly getting at is ..could some of you guys who do this for a living help us hobbyists out by listing the tools that you consider indespensible for the way you work?...for example...the fret slot cleaner scott told me about in the solid body section to help clean out excess glue

i mean...what do you guys think that every one who wants to build the best instrument possible should have....

alot of guys ask what is the minimum amount of tools needed...well i want the maximum amount of hand tools and power tools...not including cnc machines and super high end stuff

am i making sense?

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I'm just a hobbiest, but a more 'industrial' sized hobbiest I guess. I REALLY love the drum of a belt sander for shaping necks, whether it's my 4X36 bench top or my new 6X99 edge sander. I found my heals looked blocky with a spoke shave. The drum of a belt sander also carves those belly contours and willrough out an arched top for me. I also find those sanders useful for radiusing fingerboards, particularly the edge sander because of it's 37" platen. I think a larger sized bandsaw, like the Delta 14" w\ riser, (which I may be getting REALLY soon!) is a must. Depending on the type of finishes you want to do, you need a compressor, the bigger the better. Not really sure what kind of gun is best, I just have a touch-up gun. A floor model drillpress also helps for side mounted jacks.

Hope this helps a little.

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I have one piece that I use over and over and switch it from tool to tool but mainly use it with my Dremels and thats a foot switch to turn them on and off.

Really handy little gimmick and it saves a ton of frustration turning them on and off by hand.

Oh yeah, I got one of those and I take it for granted. I've had the same one for 18 years. I don't baby it either. Sometimes it's sitting upside down, with the rubber part facing up and I step on it anyway. Never clean it or blow the dust off or out of it (don't even know if some dust can get it).

I got a wood wheel roller. Something I don't see others using. Got it from my uncle, otherwise would probably not have one. I use it to roll out sandpaper that I stick to sanding blocks, especially for fret-work. Makes the sandpaper get as tight to the block as possible.

If you read most of my post, you know I'm a precision straight-edge fanatic, and I don't need to go into anymore detail about that. Just have to say if others don't have one, I can't understand why the hell not. Not just one, all kinds. Depend on the notched one real bad now.

I use feeler gauges so much, I wear the thinnest ones out.

Rectangle needle file with one thin side ground smooth. For shaping the fret-ends. can get those little burrs off the fret-ends, but you have to do it with no tape, etc on the sides of the frets.

I could go on, but most of you have probably lost interest after my first paragraph :D

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I use my laser quite a bit. It's one of those laser/level things but I never use the level portion. It's great for finding center lines after routing truss rod channels, ... when the line is lost. I usually mount it up pretty high so the line shines down over multiple level objects (the line will shine across the body, up onto the fretboard, down onto the angled peghead, ...). Using a straight edge wouldn't work too well with all of the up's/down's if you know what I mean. I use it all of the time to line up my neck before screwing it in.

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Good topic!

I got spoiled from my "Quick Grip" clamps. When you're trying to set up a guide for the router on a table top there is nothing like being able to cinch things up with one hand while holding the piece steady.

I have a few lab tools that I picked up from my school days, like small thin blade stainless spatulas. Great for fine prying work and packing filler, epoxy etc.

I use a small syringe (minus the needle) for squirting glue under loose bracing in acoustic guitars. Thats about the only way to deliver glue effectively and accurately in those hard to reach places.

Those little wood carving kits with all the different shaped blades are invaluable.

I also have a kit with small screwdrivers (all kinds of bits) and pliers/wirecutters.

I could go on but on a final note I would like to add that flat, round and halfmoon rasps are the most effective tools for the final rough-in of all my neck and body curves.

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I love my dremel. MMMMMM. Also, i dig my 5-in-1, you probably don't know what it is, but it's a carpenters handtools thats a scraper, a roller brush cleaner. and three other things in one. I use the scraper side to pry, and cleaning out fretslots and stuff.

Oh yeah, and my jig saw. screw band saws, I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE MY JIGSAW!!!!!!!I use it to cut headstock shapes, the neck shape, it would work for bodies. I just have this intense bond wioth my jig saw. I can cut perfectly straight lines, or follow a line (curved even) perfectly with this puppy.

Yep yep.

John

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New little gem arrived today; the StewMac nut slot spacing tool. Trying to find fault with it, but can't. I had done that one math formula to get equal spacing on the slots on my strat. did that 3 years ago, I guess ? I know it took me quite a while to do all that math, and double check. I line this Stewmac rule up to it and it's dead on. Could have done that nut job so much faster if I'd have had this cool little guy. So, now it's certainly a tool I wouldn't do without.

The leveler that I just built (in my crappy 'glass breaking' thread) is another new 'must have' for me. I call him 'The Great Equalizer'

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how do you make sure your neck is on straight with teh laser

Set it behind the guitar and shine it down the center line of the body. Position the neck until it's center line matches up, clamp it, and then mark the holes to be drilled.

The reason the laser works better for me than a straight edge is that the laser line will go up over the neck/fretboard and up across the nut and back down onto the peghead. A straight edge can't do that - you'd have to place it at the highest point (probably the nut) and eye-ball the lower parts making it inaccurate. There area other things you can do other than eye-balling it but still none of the options are better than a perfectly straight laser line that does it all for you (in my opinion).

Does that make sense or did I just confuse you more?

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I love my dremel. MMMMMM. Also, i dig my 5-in-1, you probably don't know what it is, but it's a carpenters handtools thats a scraper, a roller brush cleaner. and three other things in one. I use the scraper side to pry, and cleaning out fretslots and stuff.

Oh yeah, and my jig saw. screw band saws, I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE MY JIGSAW!!!!!!!I use it to cut headstock shapes, the neck shape, it would work for bodies. I just have this intense bond wioth my jig saw. I can cut perfectly straight lines, or follow a line (curved even) perfectly with this puppy.

Yep yep.

John

What jigsaw you got man?

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Probably have to say the carving duplicator I built is my favorite weapon right now, I'd hate to go back to carving tops again. Just finish one guitar and then you can duplicate as many as you need. Also, my neck jig I just finished will more than likely be top of the list after I get better at using it... lol Right now, I'm just an amatuer neck jig operator..

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i like my jigsaw too. they are great for cutting MDF templates. infact, i think i use too many templates. i have about 12 for one guitar.

full body

2 x wings

head

fret board

neck thru

truss rod channel

humbucker

4 x electronics

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Sugar - for when you just can't get that glue/paint gunk off your hands. Sugar and washing up liquid with a little bit of hot water. No tool box should be without it (or you could just look in the kitchen :D )

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This may sound silly, but I can't believe how much I'm using razor blades lately. I use them for everything. I use them to level finishes just before wetsanding, scraping binding, shaping necks, flattening finish repairs before wetsanding, and much more. I'm so comfortable with them now. I've always used them, but lately, I reach for it more and more. And you just get a big dispenser of 100 or so and they're always ready and sharp. They're usually pretty straight, too. So I use them to "cross-check" shaping all the time. Sanding a contour can fool you. Then you scrape into it with the blade at a 45 degree angle and you'll notice some high spots. Then you come in at the opposite 45, and clean it up. I was just carving a mahogany neck (deep set neck) and the grain around the heel was so hard to get smooth. It's like, when you transition from one "ring" to the next, its soft, then hard, then soft again. Both round and flat files were still leaving the hard part raised. The blade was the answer.

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