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router jig for neck pocket?


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I have an adjustable speed drill press, and it gets pretty fast. No where near the speed of an overhead router, but for small tasks like this I go to the press. First, you cut your neck pocket without the angle with your router, and to fairly accurate depth at the rear of the cavity. Then, I build up the appropriate angle to the underside of the body. I'll cut appropriately sized shims, or build up the neck side with one main shim across the whole body, perpendicular to the neck. You need a pretty big table for this. I built a big table for mine, you can also put a piece of plywood or something else that is flat. So when you place the body flat on the table, its actually resting at the neck angle you want to install. Then you use a pattern cutting bit to re-cut the bottom of the pocket while tracing the inside of the cavity. If you don't have a pattern cutting bit, that's okay, because the reduced speed of the press means that even a 1/4" straight bit will likely coast along the neck pocket wall. You are taking so little off the bottom that the pressure to move the body is so light.

On an existing guitar where I need the bridge or saddles to sit higher, you can calculate the angle crudely by making your "shim" roughly twice that of the desired elevation. Then cut the angle so that you come out even with the back of the pocket but cut the angle going forward. In other words, if you use a 1/8" shim across the neck pocket area to lift it up, the strings will need to be raised 1/16" at the bridge.

If you have a curvy body that won't sit well on the table, then you can make a mini frame for it to sit on. I have cut angles into most of the factory bolt on guitars in my collection. Even if I don't want the bridge to sit differently, I do it because I want the neck to sit deeper. So I can seat the neck an extra 1/8" into the body, and still have the same bridge location.

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Dan Erlewine has a trick he uses for the Stew-Mac neck router template to do just this.

You take a small diameter wooden dowel rod and glue it to the center of the router template, thus creating a miniature 'see-saw' effect, the template will rock back and forth on the centered dowel as if it was a see-saw. When you find the angle you want, you make a little shim to hold it in that position and presto! angled template. You can make an 'average' sized shim and just slide it further forward or back to do the same thing.

Personally, I would make a template out of some 3/8" Hardrock Maple, or Indian Rosewood, something very hard and stable, not prone to any warping. The plexiglass template from Stew-Mac has a slight tendency to bend, or 'give' if you wind up really bearing down on it, but I'm still using the original one I bought over 8 years ago. :D

As much as I want to make one out of a hardwood, I like the ability to use the clear plexiglass to help me line the template up to the centerline of the guitar, a most important option.

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