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Ginn Guitars single cut builds

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Back in September I started 2 single cut builds. One for a client and one to keep in my office as a "test drive" model for potential future clients. 

They are 99% finished now but I thought I would post some of the build process here as I've learned so much in the past from watching other builders here and thought I might be able to spark some ideas in some other builders heads. 


First post - paduak neck. Re sawn and altered the grain direction for glue up. 3 pieces each with maple veneer between. 


After cleaning them up with a jointer and thickness planer I cut the headstock angle with my table saw jig at 13 degrees.

Some people might think the thickness of the blank is wasteful but I've never liked the aesthetics of a scarf joint and this will be 6 in line tuners, and I'm going to carve volutes. 

I also added a pic of the body shape - this is a CNC file I will use to make a template.my CNC isn't powerful enough to cut the full bodies out but is great for inlays and templates. 







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Starting on the body blanks -

Honduran mahogany sandwitched (with maple veneer between to continue the pinstripe theme) with a maple cap. 

You can also see the template being made by my CNC. 

I had some leftover mahogany from the same billet that I re-sawed for cavity control covers. Grain match won't be 100% perfect this way but it will be close. Normally I'd re saw from the same body billet but because I'm only working with 4 quarter stock I have limited thickness to take. 








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Truss rod route - I have a router table with a fence. I set fence as accurate as I can by measuring then use the headstock cut off as a practice piece to make sure my channel is perfectly centered. 

Cutting the headstock thickness - 

I have a template I trace from to get the right thickness and volute location/shape. 

After curing the shape out with a band saw, I have a spindle sander with a fence to smooth out the back of the headstock. I keep the cut offs from under the headstock for the ears. Using the same piece of wood from right under the headstock will give me a better chance of matching the grain chattoyance than with other scrap. It's extra work but pays off. I don't know how many Gibson's I've seen with ears that look totally out of place in different light. 






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To get the headstock shape I use another template from my CNC.

I drill two holes where the tuning machines will eventually be and countersink screws to hold the template in place. 

Then rough cut on bandsaw, and then run that through my router table with a template bit to finish it off. 

Headstock overlay/inlay -

This design has 3 pieces - the flame maple from the body billet (milled down with a thickness planer - I really need a thickness sander for this but don't have the space for one !), A paduak stripe and a piece of Wenge that the inlay logo will be set into. These pieces are all CNCd as well. 

The inlay itself I use a 0.0313" bit from precise bits. It's a three flute coated bit. I have some backing board I've purchased from them that I use to protect my bits. I use thin ca to glue the material to the backing board before cutting with the CNC and then use un-cure to remove the cut out pieces from the backing board. 







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well... having looked at your pictures I'm going to resolve myself to the old addage "it's not the size of your machinery"... hehe.

jeebus you have some industrail sized cnc and bandsaw!!  

lovely wood.  I'm certain it's the grain pattern playing tricks on me... but I cannot see that last one without thinking the left side veneer/laminate is tapering towards the start of the headstock. 

look fwd to seeing the 'money shots'.


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I use this Whiteside spiral cut template bit to get the body fully shaped after a rough cut on the bandsaw. 

Before glueing the top on I cut a channel joining the pickup cavities. I should have done the same to join the control cavity but forgot. D'oh. 

In order to get the top as cleanly joined as possible I close them like a book so that the edges are matched and then throw them in my vice. I also have a straight and flat piece of MDF that extends higher than the flame maple so that the side of my plane will ride perfectly 90 degrees. I then hand plane the edges to get a perfect joint. 

I use the same set up to get my fretboard edges perfectly straight and true. I will be putting flame maple binding on the fretboard so I've cut it a little short to compensate. 






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Arm contour - using a Dremel cutting halfway through the maple cap along the lines where it will be bent. Using steam and a closing caul the top is bent and glued into place.

Fretboard inlay CNC d. It's a crest of my "g" logo mirrored. Fretboard glued to the neck using the old staple trick and a stewmac aluminum radius block. Then the flame.maple binding is glued, and the neck is cut out on a bandsaw as close to the binding as I can. Afterwords I finish it off with the router table to get it flush. 








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These are getting stainless frets with the hemispherical end treatment. I followed the same process that Chris monk from Highline guitars shows in his YouTube videos using a Dremel wheel.

I'm using the summit tools from jescar to cut the frets and de tang the ends. Cuts like butter. 

I always instaly frets before Carving the neck as I find it easier, less stress on the neck, and I find they are flatter overall. (The first picture shows the frets in place but pressed yet. I use an arbor press to seat them that has been modified to take the stewmac fret press caul)

The next pic is a side dot jig. CNCd out of clear plexi. Helps me accurately get the holes drilled. 

Then I take the neck to the bandsaw for a rough shape. And finally to my favorite part which is neck carve. 

I start with the heel shape and the volute shape. I have yet another CNC jig that has the shape in 3 places to help me get consistent neck profiles. Stole that idea from stewmac. I use calipers to ensure I get the right thickness. Dragon file rasps get me the rough shape. 

Once the ends of the neck are shaped I start hogging out the inbetween, starting with chisels and moving to a spokeshave. 









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Using 3 pieces of MDF I'm able to use double side sticky tape to get the neck pocket shape cut into a bigger MDF board. I know there are better ways to do this but I'm not production building at this point so this works for me to get the tightest neck pockets I can.

Then when I route the actual neck pocket I place a piece of painters tape along the route template to make the pocket just slightly tighter. 

The resulting pocket passes the no glue test. Friction fit and gravity doesn't drop the body. 

Both of these guitars are getting evertunes so I start throwing on the templates and going through the motions. 

Necks are glued to the bodies and then the heels are carved. Last picture shows a quick mineral spirit wipe. Back plates also included in this shot which were - surprise - cut out with the CNC from the billets I re-sawed earlier. 






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Taped up the the maple and getting ready for grain fill after final sanding. 

My grain fill process is to use shellac mixed with saw dust. Because I have paduak Wenge and mahogany I need dust from all three. So I use a random.orbital on scrap to collect it and place it into measuring cups.

Once I'm happy with the fill I do a final sand to make sure I diddnt miss any holes and the a quick thin coat of shellac allover to keep the colour consistent when I switch to clear. 

Then the tape is reversed after enough dry time so I can stain the maple.

The next pics are me playing with scrap to get the colours right. I use the prs technique of staining black then sanding back, and then applying multiple layers of colour. 






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Then I hang the guitars using a bakers scaffold with poly.surrounding it as a make shift spray booth. 

I have an hvlp - Fuji spray mini mite 3 and spray Brite tone (purchased from wood essence in Saskatchewan) slightly reduced. It's a water based lacquer. 

It's easy to manipulate while spraying because I'm not spraying the neck. I will be using Tru oil later on for that. 

After 16-18 coats I let them sit for about a month to harden up. Then switch to tru-oiling the neck. Starting with thick coats sanding to try and grain fill slightly. After a couple good coats like this I sand back and start applying thinner coats that will build up. 

Once the finish is complete and dry I work on the frets. Using a straight edge and sticky back 3m gold running the entire length I hit it in line with each string using 400 grit. I also have a 12" radius block that I also use the sand paper on and sand the last 14-24 frets at an angle to achieve "fret fall off" so I can ensure I'll be able to get low enough action later on during setup. 

Then I use the stewmac diamond crowning files to get the crowns back, and then use the stewmac sanding stick and worky.way up from 300 grit all the way up to 8000. Then use a polishing wheel with metal polish on my Dremel to get the final shine. 







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Then it's time to cut buff and polish the finish. I start with 600 grit and work my way up to 3000 using abralon sanding pads. After I take it to the stewmac buffer and run it through the medium and then fine wheels I have set up. I must have been too preoccupied to get any pictures of the buffing station. I welded a sturdy base for it out of pipe cutoff scraps years ago that works wonderful. 

Then I paint all the electronics cavities with conductive shielding paint (stewmac this time but I've used the stuff from "less emf" before and also works great).

Last picture is the guitars finally assembled just missing a couple final touches like truss rod covers which I've made of Wenge to match the headstock. 

Pickups are bareknuckles. Tuning machines are hipshot locking. Volume pots are push-push for coil tapping. Luminlay side dots. Graphtech nuts. The purple guitar has a rosewood fretboard and the copper tone one has a ziricote fretboard. 

I will be getting pro shots done in February but for now these are all the pics I've got! 

Thanks for checking out this thread and I hope it helped some of the builders just starting out there! 




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  • 3 weeks later...
9 hours ago, ScottR said:

Beautiful job. Particularly notable are the headstocks and fret work.

What are the the diagonal lines on the heels? A transition from lacquer to oil?


Thank you!


That is correct. Waterbased lacquer on the body and tru oil on the neck. I've had some people comment that it would be easy enough to feather it out and blend them but I like the idea of a dead stop instead of a transition.

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks guys! Winning GOTM is very special for me. I have been on and off this forum for 15 years getting inspired and learning from the best so it feels great to be voted as GOTM especially with such incredible competition! 

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