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Poplar for a neck?


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First off, I'm a newbie to this forum and worse than a rank amateur as a guitarist. Mostly I'm a Neanderthanl woodworker (primarily use antique hand tools) and I recieved an acoustic guitar kit as a gift.

I'm not happy with choice of materials in this kit. The spruce soundboard, rosewood bridge and fretboard, I'm OK with but the neck is made of poplar. Poplar seems a pretty poor choice to me. My impressions are that it would be marginal for strength, poor for sustain, and I don't know how to finish it to hide the ugly grain. Am I wrong about that?

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No, not at all. Poplar is not a choice neck wood. For that guitar I'd recommend a mahogany neck. However if you intend to build a neck it'd help to have a bandsaw, powered hand drill or a drill press, a belt sander, and a router. I supposed it's feasable to make a neck with all hand tools, but the large amount of work it would take isn't worth it. There may be woodworkers coops in your area, or you may be able to take it to a lumber yard and have them rough cut it and route a truss channel for you.

Kirk

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Thanks for the replies.

First, the neck is cherry, not poplar :D . It was so much lighter than the sides and back (also cherry) that I mistook it. Any opinions on the suitablility of cherry?

I suppose I can expose the neck to sunlight to get it closer to the same color as the back and sides before I start finishing.

However if you intend to build a neck it'd help to have a bandsaw, powered hand drill or a drill press, a belt sander, and a router.

I have quite a few power tools and I have access to just about anything. However a project such as a guitar neck is accomplished very easily and quietly with hand tools. After all, many fine instruments were built long before power tools existed.

Thanks again for the comments. Instrument making looks like a very exciting branch of woodworking!

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I suppose I can expose the neck to sunlight to get it closer to the same color as the back and sides before I start finishing.

maple looks very similar in grain pattern and color(until the cherry gets some sun,then it darkens).......

are you guys sure sun darkens wood? maybe it's just the woods that i work with, but i always thought it was the oxidation of the cells that colours the wood over time? sunlight only affects the older non-uv protected clears doesn't it?

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I suppose I can expose the neck to sunlight to get it closer to the same color as the back and sides before I start finishing.

maple looks very similar in grain pattern and color(until the cherry gets some sun,then it darkens).......

are you guys sure sun darkens wood? maybe it's just the woods that i work with, but i always thought it was the oxidation of the cells that colours the wood over time? sunlight only affects the older non-uv protected clears doesn't it?

umm...cherry darkens over time...but i am not sure if it is the uv or oxidation....i THOUGHT it was the uv though...and not all woods...but cherry does darken

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I think the power tool that'll save the most work is definitely the router. Most everyone has a drill, so even if you don't I'm sure you know someone that does.

I have three routers, a drill press, tablesaw, scroll saw, lathe, jointer and most other power tools you'll find in a woodworking shop. I just don't use them much anymore except the lathe B). I will buy a nice band saw, mostly for resawing.

For cutting grooves I use a plow plane.

For finishing flat surfaces, I use smoothing planes. I rarely sand. A planed surface shimmers under a clear finish as the wood fibers are sliced rather than abraded.

For curved surfaces I use draw knives, spoke shaves, carving chisels and scrapers.

For inlays, I use scratch stocks.

I can listen to music or the birds as I work and I don't have to wear a face mask or respirator or worry if I'll still have all my fingers when the day is done.

Hand tools won't replace power tools totally but they can add a great new experience to your work.

Instrument making will give me an excuse (like I need one :D) to get some of those fantasic luthier tools like violin maker planes.

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Interesting use and choice of hand tools over power tools. I'd actually love to see how that's done and an example of the work.

I love hand tools also. My precision with them is a little lacking and it does take longer to use them. I'm really curious to see what you mean. 8)

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I'll document my progress with the kit. Since this is a first time, it could be interesting :D . I don't have any luthier specific tools so I'll be using some generic tools or possibly making some.

Here are some hand tool tips

1. Blades must be SHARP! Sharpening is the most important skill in hand tools.

2. Work coarse to fine. Hand tools must be very specific in their function to be efficient. Use a tool that lets you remove as much waste as you can without damage and use progressively finer tools.

3. Dedicate tools for specific tasks. For example, I have a brace with a countersink chucked in it and another brace with a magnetic bit holder. I have a wooden drawer bottom plane that is built to cut a 1/4" x 1/4" groove 1/4" from an edge. That is all it can do. When I am making drawers, I can grab this plane and groove the sides for a bottom piece without having to make any kind of adjustment.

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What about purpleheart? I always thought it was UV, because If I stack the wood, the piece on the top is much darker, and the ones underneath are almost brown in the middle.

i'll have to ask the guy at my specialty wood store, he's pretty knowledgable about this kinda stuff, but i do know my purple hear neck thru and fingerboards i've had around have gotten darker and don't see much sunlight in my basement.

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