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'58 Explorer - 1st build


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On 9/21/2021 at 7:39 AM, nakedzen said:

I always position the workpiece and my hands so that catching is minimized as a risk, plus I wear heavy gloves. I've worked as a sheet metal worker in power plants, and many times having that small extra bit of protection has saved my hands.

I've seen a lot of talk over the years about using gloves around power tools as a huge no no, i.e. the thing will sick your hand into the blade/bit/what ever. I did however notice that on the CMT bit case, there is a picture of gloves, indicating that you should use gloves when routing. Now I'm just confused, I would love it if someone could inform me about when and when not to use gloves :)

On 9/21/2021 at 8:15 AM, Bizman62 said:

Reducing the size by a hair isn't unusual, we all do it for most every build!

Oh, great then! :)

On 9/21/2021 at 4:57 PM, mistermikev said:

second - I can't help but notice the cutout in your template.... I'm going to assume you will be making a secret stash spot for aviator sunglasses?  (right next to the diamond there)

Can you really build a guitar without a stash spot for aviator sunglasses? :') 

On 9/21/2021 at 4:57 PM, mistermikev said:

third - whenever I see little knots or imperfections I think: "well no one will ever look at this and think it's veneer"!  It's those little imperfections I love because they prevent something from looking fake... to me anyway.  

I like that train of thought, at least I'm going to try to think like that instead of letting it bug me :D

On 9/22/2021 at 5:21 AM, Drak said:

Reading your posts, I'm getting the vibe that you're under the impression the router is supposed to do all the work for you. That if your route job is done well enough, you won't need to sand the edges, or you shouldn't have to sand the edges, that the edge the router leaves behind is a fully finished edge.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the way you talk about this leads me to believe you think edge-sanding is not needed if the routing is done correctly.

For example, the tearout you had that you corrected with by sanding the template and re-routing it clean...this is a clue to me that you're under the impression that if you 'do it right', ...there's no need to sand the edges. As I would have just taken care of that in the edge-sanding stage, everybody gets a little tearout here and there, that's pretty normal.

I can understand why you'd come to that conclusion, but I fully realize I will have to sand the edges (although I must admit did not expect to spend hours on it). The reason for cleaning up the tearouts with the router was that I don't have a belt sander, I do have a spindle sander (using my drill press) but I made the the spindle thing myself with a hole saw, and it's not as straight/consistent as I would want it so I wanted to avoid using it if possible. I do have a random orbital sander but it was just easier and "safer" for me to use the router.

My plan was to just use a flat sanding block on the flat and convex edges and maybe use the spindle sander for the concave ones. I've bought 120, 180, 240, 360 grit sandpaper to start with. Any suggestions for sanding the edges would be most welcome,

On 9/22/2021 at 5:21 AM, Drak said:

Putting some slight bevels on it to accentuate the edges would be most attractive and isn't that hard with all the long straight edges you have to work with, that makes beveling pretty easy as opposed to leaving it ' straight-up block' style.

I had been thinking about slight bevels, I think I would prefer slightly beveled edges over 'straight-up block'. What would be the preferred method of adding slight bevels, keeping in mind that I would prefer it taking longer over accidentally taking to much in one spot and either having the bevel be uneven or having to make it larger everywhere than I would prefer.

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40 minutes ago, asgeirogm said:

I've seen a lot of talk over the years about using gloves around power tools as a huge no no,

If you're operating a lathe or drill press then obviously don't use gloves. Or long sleeves. Or long hair. :D 

With a router or angle grinder personally I feel safer since it's rotating fast enough so the gloves get torn first as a warning sign before you cut yourself. I couldn't find a definite answer though, so YMMV.

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2 hours ago, asgeirogm said:

What would be the preferred method of adding slight bevels, keeping in mind that I would prefer it taking longer over accidentally taking to much in one spot and either having the bevel be uneven or having to make it larger everywhere than I would prefer.

A fellow at our course is quite nitpicky regarding bevels. He simply makes a jig that both keeps the angle right and prevents from going too far.

kuva.png.3f3052820f3c0bce90d1a0f631e1bd5f.png

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4 hours ago, asgeirogm said:

I've seen a lot of talk over the years about using gloves around power tools as a huge no no

I think it comes down to personal preference, and at the end of the day, common sense. I use a plunge router extensively, and my hands are on the opposite side of the machine to the bit - if something goes wrong enough for that bit to come into contact with my fingers, I doubt the gloves are going to help me out. But, heaps of people are more comfortable with them on. Side note: I regularly use chain hoists at work for flying truss, and while gloves help keep chain grease off my hands, I prefer going naked-handed. And my rings come off at the start of a shift, and whenever working with power tools. If you ever want a horror story about rings, send me a PM, I won't say it here...

 

4 hours ago, asgeirogm said:

I made the the spindle thing myself with a hole saw, and it's not as straight/consistent as I would want it

I made one of these too! Here's a tip - get your uneven hole saw plugs all rigged up in the drill press, then get a true and square piece of timber with some sandpaper attached, and move it into the spinning hole saw spindle sander bit. You'll sand down the spindle bit and end up with something true in rotation.

Do one better than me, though, and smooth off the thread on the bolt to get a better grip and avoid damaging your chuck.

IMG20210924001848.thumb.jpg.24620d0c3cefb30fb21f2deea6612a32.jpg

 

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I don't use gloves for operating hand tools as I need that tactile feedback and control. A glove won't do much to stop a whizzing router bit, and wearing gloves often reduces your feel for a tool's stability and how close it is to riding out of that safe zone.

My relationship with plunge routers changed when I tried using a fixed-base router. The tippiness of the tool was way lower, and my control for retaining the machine around grabby cuts far higher. If I can avoid using one, I do. Big plunge routers are a liability until you add a large base for higher stability....factory bases are rarely large enough, but serve to make the tool look more marketable!

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The only power tool I use gloves with is the chainsaw. I also often use them with hand tools like an axe or a spade but not always. As @Prostheta said, tactile feedback is important. Back in the day gloves were a must when chopping firewood, nowadays not so much as I've learned to "feel" to avoid splinters digging into my fingers rather than having a clumsy thick piece of cowhide as protection.

After having read the above and giving it a thought I came to the conclusion that the chainsaw actually is the only woodworking tool that is built to fit gloves in the handles! And the lawn mower, the vibration tends to create blisters. Handheld routers, power planers, hand drills and most other electric tools all are fitted for bare hands, even the hedge trimmer despite the hawthorn thorns being quite stingy. Then again my hands are pretty large, size 9.5 or 10.

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7 hours ago, asgeirogm said:

My plan was to just use a flat sanding block on the flat and convex edges and maybe use the spindle sander for the concave ones. I've bought 120, 180, 240, 360 grit sandpaper to start with. Any suggestions for sanding the edges would be most welcome,

I think you've got it, definitely a flat sanding block for all the straight flats. Once you attack the edges with some grade of paper and your hand, it will become very obvious to you very quickly if you need to back up a grit or so. 220 is a good place to jump in and see how things progress. You really want to jump off of the power equipment at this stage and start understanding the power of your hands and fingers and how they transmit information to your brain. Your hands and fingers will speak to you, you come to 'trust' them, and you'll 'know' when everything is 'done', they will let you know.

If you decide to do some beveling, you'll want to do your edge-sanding first, as any imperfections will get mirrored into the bevels, then once the beveling is done, you'll go back again and hand sand sides and bevels to 'blend' them together into a very sweet and smooth seamless transition. But that final sanding post-beveling shouldn't take long as you've already fine-tuned the sides with a preliminary hand-sanding session already.

I generally stop at 220 for a finished edge, but it just depends on what you want to achieve, you can keep going to 320 and even 400 if you want smaller pores and a glassier edge that looks more like the router left it.

Whatever you decide, if I were doing that, after all shaping was completed, I would use the same piece of sandpaper to do the final sanding. I.e., if I stopped at 320, I would use the 320 grit first on a flat block and go over the front, then back, then bevels, then take that paper off the block and transfer it to a sponge block to do the final passes over the sides/bevels. The very final sanding pass uses the same piece of paper all the way around the houses, then its ready for finish stages.

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5 hours ago, Bizman62 said:

A fellow at our course is quite nitpicky regarding bevels. He simply makes a jig that both keeps the angle right and prevents from going too far.

kuva.png.3f3052820f3c0bce90d1a0f631e1bd5f.png

Just remembered that he also may use a similar jig for the sides, a guiding rail sliding on either the top or the bottom. And the sanding will take forever and a day but it has that meditative twist so it's good for mental health.

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On 9/11/2021 at 4:53 AM, asgeirogm said:

He told me the species of the mahogany but I cannot for the life of me remember what he said, the guy told me it is "extinct", meaning it is probably actually endangered, but what ever. If someone has ideas, I would love to hear them

I would have guessed Cuban at this point...probably because I have a table my uncle built in high school shop back in the 50's and that is Cuban and it is no longer available on the market. I used to have a desk with a lot of the same wood but let it get away before I started building guitars.

However after seeing the end grain and reading much more, I agree with Carl that it likely is sapele. I've never routed that stuff without a chip-out no matter which way I run the cut.

SR

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Great discussion and tips for the gloves, beveling and sanding, thanks everyone.

Slight hitch in my project plan as the FabLab I have access to want to have someone professionally set up their big woodworking machines after they were moved from an old location for safety reasons, so I can't use the jointer for flattening my neck blank nor the bandsaw for sawing out the side profile for the neck.

I have a hand plane I've borrowed from a neighbor that I will try to use to flatten the neck blank. I can't afford to screw up too badly if I want to be able to use this blank for two necks, I can only take off about 3-4 mm max. I haven't used a hand plane in 15-20 years but I've just watched a few videos on YT and I'll set the blade so that I take very little at a time, so I think it will be fine.

I've found a hand saw in a box of tools I got from my grandfather that I think might be suitable for sawing the side profile on the neck, so I think I'm back on track, just need to find some time to get cracking.

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Done some work on the neck, tried the handplane but after a very short test, I saw that either it was too blunt or not straight or something, but at least I didn't want to use that. I found someone who had a thickness planer, so I got it planed using that.

The sides of my neck blank were not straight at all, so to get a straight side to be able to use a side as a guide when routing the truss rod channel I used my flush trim router bit and used the edge of my workbench as a "template". It was fine clamping at the ends since the blank has holes in the ends, so they won't be used anyway. I took as little as possible in each pass, so this was done in 3-4 pases

eqK0oJJ.jpg

On to sawing it in the long side, splitting the blank in a way I can get two necks out of it. I wanted to avoid using a table saw as that would mean gluing the heel on the one of the blanks, and I really prefer if it's one piece, I started with hand saw with a completely wrong blade, gave up on that, bought a really long blade for my jig saw (totally not intended for hard wood, and especially not this thick), but when testing on the end, the blade always bent to the side. I could only afford about 4mm between the two neck blanks before risking ruining one of them, so for fun I tried making a guide for blade on the underside, but that didn't work well enough, as the blade dug a little into the guide.

b0ebhvu.jpg

://imgur.com/kKXtVJmIW562.jpg

So, I went back to the handsaw but switched to a different blade and that worked pretty well (although a bit slow).

J7rg5PV.jpg

EMvnCoI.jpg

HpBluI1.jpg

I was thinking I would let the neck sit for a few days and see if it moved at all. After that, the plan was to use the router sled to flatten the headstock part and route the neck to the correct thickness by laying the neck down at an angle. I was then thinking I might also do the same to do the 2 degree angle in the heel. If someone thinks any of this is a bad idea, I would love to hear about it. I can draw some high quality MS Paint diagrams if anything is unclear about what I'm going to do.

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I forgot to mention that I had planned on having a 24.75" scale and 22 frets, but I have a 25.5" scale 24 fret ebony fretboard I bought 15 years ago. Originally I didn't want to use that for this build as that would mean moving the bridge, and I didn't think that looked good. I then realized that I could just use 22 frets and lengthen the neck and then I could avoid moving the bridge that much, so that's what I'm doing

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1 hour ago, asgeirogm said:

I then realized that I could just use 22 frets and lengthen the neck and then I could avoid moving the bridge that much, so that's what I'm doing

Sometimes the solution is too obvious to see at first glance. Actually I did the same with my double cut 24 fret LP Junior without even thinking about it. Even more, I didn't even think about the "original" location, I just measured where the intonation line should be. I had to compare my LP profiled guitars to see how it is and it's really hard to see the difference. So far I've used the same body templates on three: the double cut 24 fret, a single cut 24 fret and the semi-hollow 22 fret. Measured from the bottom to the bridge they're all similar! Yet the cut in double cut is down at the 23th fret while the curve of the others start at the 19th or 20th fret respectively. And I can't tell if any of them is more neck heavy than the others.

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I need some advice, I neglected to mention before that when I was sanding the front of the body with the ROS, I must have leaned on it on one of the corners and the top is not flat:

Y2r2lIX.jpg

Looks to be about a millimeter at most here. I'm just going to pretend I didn't see that the side on that corner is not square (well it's probably square to the slope on that corner), it doesn't bother me.

zUOlIfs.jpg

JqDHnC7.jpg

 

Do I need to flatten the entire thing again or will it not be noticeable on the end product? I don't want a "glass" finish, just something that makes the grain pop and protects the surface, and for that I think something like tru-oil would be good (correct me if I'm wrong). I think that works in my favor as a "glass" finish would probably make the slope more noticeable, I'm thinking?

Side question: I've bough one of these nuts, I expect I will need to work a bit on the height to get that right, as well as the sides, but will I need to do any work on the slots themselves? If yes, what are some cheap tools I can use for that?

B35WSzA.jpg

 

To end on a happy note, I couldn't resists doing a mock up of the body with the hardware. I'm quite pleased

XEgkeOX.jpg

Edited by asgeirogm
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It should be okay. For future reference, don't press down on your ROS or let it "dwell" in any one location. Let the machine do the work lightly under its own weight. When I'm panel sanding I methodically move at one speed across, down half the pad diameter, back across, etc. Then I do this up and down. It's more difficult to do with an odd shape like a guitar, however you can mentally "map" the area as you're sanding to know that everything has been covered evenly. You can always do the perimeter first (don't hang more than 25-50% of the pad over the edge) and then finish up the centre. It's an exercise in concentration and consistency.

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6 hours ago, asgeirogm said:

Do I need to flatten the entire thing again or will it not be noticeable on the end product?

Flattening is one valid option. Ignoring is another valid option. Exaggerating and duplicating it i.e. making a(n at least partially) radiused top would also be doable. Rounding the edges will also hide such a small imperfection.
On an oiled surface it won't reflect light in a revealing manner so I'm tempted to suggest ignoring. Even more so by looking at the image with the square, it makes me think that the wood has cupped rather than being a sanding issue.

6 hours ago, asgeirogm said:

will I need to do any work on the slots themselves? If yes, what are some cheap tools I can use for that?

If the nut and your build both are true to "original" dimensions there should be no need. However the nut is generic and hopefully oversize so depending on your choice of frets, strings, desired action etc. you'll most likely have to modify it to suit your preferences. You don't need fancy tools for that, small files and fine sandpaper will take you a long way. I've used a steel feeler gauge to modify my nuts, rounded the edge and roughened it with a coarse file to make it cut the bone. A piece of wet'n'dry paper folded over a thinner blade will make the slots very smooth and just of the right width. If you need to deepen the slots, remember to file the excess off the top so that the strings sink in only halfways or a hair more. Plain strings can be sunk a bit deeper (3/4 or so) as they don't grab as easily.

Whoa! I just noticed I hadn't submitted this reply! Fortunately it was still in the cache...

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On 10/10/2021 at 5:51 PM, Bizman62 said:

On an oiled surface it won't reflect light in a revealing manner so I'm tempted to suggest ignoring

I'm leaning towards ignoring, but maybe I'll end up taking a mm off, let's see. 

On 10/10/2021 at 5:51 PM, Bizman62 said:

However the nut is generic and hopefully oversize so depending on your choice of frets, strings, desired action etc. you'll most likely have to modify it to suit your preferences

It's oversize, I had expected to have to shape it on the sides and remove some from the bottom, but I hadn't realized I might have to do anything to the slots. Will I for sure have to do something to the slots if I tackle the height from the bottom? Dørs it maybe depend on my string gauge? 

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1 hour ago, asgeirogm said:

Will I for sure have to do something to the slots if I tackle the height from the bottom? Dørs it maybe depend on my string gauge? 

Instead of "for sure" I'd say "most likely". Getting the action just right from the bottom is tedious and hazardous. Just think about loosening all of your strings a dozen time, pulling the nut off, filing the bottom and putting the nut back in and tightening the action again for every string! And if one end is perfect and the other too high, filing a tiny wedge off yet keeping the bottom of the nut perfectly flat isn't easy to say the very least... There's always something positive to say about most everything. In this case, if you take too much off from the bottom you can fix it with a shim - which of course requires more or less more trimming!

If the nut is hugely oversize, I'd recommend putting it in place and stringing the guitar, then measuring the action. A flatpick is a good tool for measuring the action, simply slide it on the first fretwire under at least both of the E strings. On my guitars a 1 mm Nylon JimDunlop lifts the string while a 0.88 mm one fits snugly. If you use that method "calibrate" your  measuring picks on a known well playing guitar first! Anyhow, if your desired action is below 1 mm but your current action is over 2 mm it's safe to take the extra 1 mm off from the bottom and you should still have your action a hair too high. That's when you start filing the grooves for fine tuning the action. Compared to removing the nut it's much easier to loosen a string about a full note and slide it to the next groove out of the way when you file a couple of strokes, then slide it back for checking the action. Rinsing and repeating until you're satisfied.

A hint for marking a thin parallel line on materials like Tusq or bone where pencil won't stick or show: Take a sharpie and mask the area where you want the line to be drawn. Then take your caliper and adjust and tighten the screw for the desired amount to be cut off. Run the other external jaw of the caliper along the bottom edge of your nut and scrape the Sharpie stain with the tip of the other jaw.

kuva.png.9fc2f99898655f71f17a50c6fd90f5b8.png

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I do this a lot. It's worth investing in a basic non-dialled set of calipers with a locking thumbwheel for this purpose. If you have a metal vise with a right-angled end, the nut can be clamped into this (referenced at one end) and marks made off this rather than off the end of the nut material since they're a little rounded. Another method is to buy a pre-slotted nut, which sounds somewhat obvious....! For me these are perfect for instruments with a zero fret....

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Hand cut the scarf joint, came out quite crooked

3CmGFij.jpg

Wanted to see if I could skip creating a jig for routing/sanding, so I put the neck at 13 degreeshBmgTKu.jpg

Seemed to work pretty well, but I couldn't get it to be completely square despite making many minor adjustments. Ended up planing the neck and headstock together like this and then just sanding until it was square. Here I've also thicknessed the headstock part

PJenSpw.jpg

Glued the scarf joint

x8WiZFX.jpg

After clamping everything, I noticed that the headstock part had lifted a tad from the surface, so I "hammered" that down with my hands and could hear some friction crackling noise coming from where the headstock meets the anti-slip block, but didn't think anything of it. Realized a few minutes later that when I banged the headstock part back down to the surface, it was also slipping away from the joint and pushing the anti-slip block further away/dug into the block (which was the noise I heard). Note to self for future scarf joint gluing: square the end of the headstock and properly clamp the anti-slip block:

Mcf1213.jpg

Turns out the headstock slipped enough to create about a millimeter height difference from the top of the neck. Damn...

bqhnCkh.jpg

I thought I was in trouble here and was considering how best to solve this; should I plane this with the router sled or try to sand it? Then I realized I should try my new steel beam that my neighbor got me from his workplace. So I glued some 80 grit on there and let me tell you, this steel beam is my new favorite tool. A few minutes and the thing was dead flat. The beam is very long, 80 cm, which has it's benefits, but I'm thinking maybe it's not going to be so nice when leveling the frets, so I've asked my neighbor for some shorter ones as well.

g4vGCQp.jpg

Hopefully I can squeeze in some time to route the truss rod channel tomorrow, maybe even use the router sled to plane the neck profile.

I have a question: I have a slotted ebony fingerboard and I'm wondering how best to proceed with tapering the neck and the fretboard. I'm a little bit worried that if I taper the neck, then glue the fretboard and route the fretboard using the neck for the bearing, that the fretboard will chip from the slots. I would do a normal cut towards the nut on the right side and a climb cut on the left to minimize the likelihood of tearout but I'm still worried about it. The alternative would be to taper the fretboard and then use that to taper the neck, but the neck is longer than the fretboard so I would have to get a little creative. Thoughts?

Edit: Actually I just realized that since the fretboard is radiused, then I can't really work with the router on top of that. What is my best option here for tapering the neck and radiused & slotted fretboard?

Edited by asgeirogm
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The best I can come up with is creating a pin router setup, which doesn't sound bad. 

I just realized that the reason I couldn't get my scarf joint square straight from the router is probably that I hadn't planed the back of the neck so it is uneven from handsawing from both sides, so it must be that it was uneven where it was resting on the edge. I think I will try this approach again on my next build and just make sure the back of the neck is flat.

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On 10/18/2021 at 11:24 PM, asgeirogm said:

The beam is very long, 80 cm, which has it's benefits, but I'm thinking maybe it's not going to be so nice when leveling the frets,

A long beam has its benefits indeed as it doesn't cup the center of your piece. However, instead of steel I'd choose aluminium for frets as it's more lightweight. For rough work like you did with the 80 grit on the neck the steel bar sounds perfect, no need to put any weight on it, just push it back and forth and let the paper remove the material and the beam keep it level.

That said, I let a company cut a bunch of 28 cm long pieces of a 2x4 cm aluminium beam. The reason for the length is that it's the standard length of wet'n'dry paper sheets. There was some dents and nicks  but as aluminium is soft they were easily sanded level with a piece of 320 grit laid on the jointer table. They're quite nice for various jobs including fret leveling. The length is also suitable for sanding the neck as it fits nicely between the heel and the headstock. My necks used to be bumpy until I made those sanding beams.

 

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