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THe "What mistakes to avoid" thread


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Ditto on the MDF workability.  It's awesome stuff for templates.  You must have used old, water damaged rotting stuff.

Yes, I've noticed a number of posts from users who have good results from MDF. I found it OK for machining (it takes a router cutter and leaves a smooth finish) but when I tried to sand it it just went fuzzy and soft, and when I later tested out the template on scrap the guide bearing just sank into it.

The MDF I used was not brand new, I salvaged it - it looked and felt solid enough, but even so maybe it could have been damp. Or maybe MDF is good for many things but sanding it is a no-no? Like one of the earlier posts that said it's not a good idea to use a rasp.

Anyway, having read all these helpful posts I'll give MDF another chance - with some brand new stuff fresh out of the wood-shop!

MDF should be easy to route, cut, saw, and sand, although it can get a little 'fluffy'. I like to use it for initial templates, because it works predictably and evenly, and is just fine at handling template routing. however, if you want the template to really last, use the MDF tempate to make a master template out of quality birch ply or something similar. MDF is, ultimately, relatively disposable stuff if we're talking routing templates/high-impact situations. It's great for molds and similar. It won't hold up very well unless you finish it. And it's a Bit** to finish (drinks finish like there's no tomorrow..the radius dishes I made for my acoustic building being case in point).

The nasty, nasty thing about MDF is the carcinogenic dust, which is very fine, and gets EVERYWHERE. Evil, nasty, and something you definitely want to keep out of your lungs.

Actually, that's something that should always be mentioned:

SAFETY FIRST. This means not only smart use of power tools, hand tools, not working while tired/drunk/stoned/distracted, and clamping workpieces properly, but basic health-related safety. ANY TIME you're making dust (ie, any time you're working wood with anything but an edge tool, pretty much), you should be wearing good respiratory protection (disposable masks are often so-so), doubly if you're spraying finish. Life = great, treatment for naso-pharyngeal cancer and/or various pulmonary diseases = not so great. Eye protection and ear protection are crucial when using power tools. You're making a musical isntrment, so you want to be able to enjoy the music it makes.

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Make templates out of clear 6mm perspex and draw all the features and the centre line on the reverse so you can see through the template and see the wood.  Its also easier to work than mdf and wont cause you lung damage if you breathe in its sawdust!

OK, I am the smart arse who already suggested an alternative to MDF. MDF can cause SERIOUS damage to the Lungs, so avoid it especially in confined spaces where dust can be an issue.

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Make templates out of clear 6mm perspex and draw all the features and the centre line on the reverse so you can see through the template and see the wood.  Its also easier to work than mdf and wont cause you lung damage if you breathe in its sawdust!

OK, I am the smart arse who already suggested an alternative to MDF. MDF can cause SERIOUS damage to the Lungs, so avoid it especially in confined spaces where dust can be an issue.

While we're at it, let's clear up the fact that ALL WOOD DUST is carcinogenic, and can ultimately cause serious health damage, shall we? MDF is particularly nasty, true, but no dust, anywhere, ever, is safe. I don't have a shop, which means dust-creating activities are limited to days I can work outdoors, and even with wind in my back, I still wear a respirator.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Woh, what an amazing thread! Someone with too much spare time and no guitar to work with should categorize this all and put to the PG main page. :D

I've got one more piece of advice that I didn't find while skimming through this all -- ALWAYS buy your hardware before you rout the cavities. When you have the parts on your desk next to the soon-to-be-shredding-son-of-a-guitar, it's much easier to avoid mistakes. Also, you don't have to ask folks here on the forum questions like, "how high is the TOM bridge?"

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  • 1 month later...

For those of you with long hair...

While doing electrical work and bending over to see into cavities, either tie your hair back or make sure you know exactly where the soldering iron is!

Otherwise you might just lose a chunk of hair and possibly your lunch from the smell in the workshop! :D

(This one is not something you think about until it happens! :D )

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While we're at it, let's clear up the fact that ALL WOOD DUST is carcinogenic, and can ultimately cause serious health damage, shall we? MDF is particularly nasty, true, but no dust, anywhere, ever, is safe. I don't have a shop, which means dust-creating activities are limited to days I can work outdoors, and even with wind in my back, I still wear a respirator.

My kids know that if I'm wearing my respirator (and goggles and headphones) then they are to stay OUT.

Sometimes I just wear the respirator when I want to watch tv in peace.

Oh yeah, something you might not think about: I wear my respirator when I'm sweeping up too.

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Spade bits are great in a drill press for removing a vast amount of wood from contral cavities.

The small point on the end of a spade bit, is great for passing straight through the bottom of the control cavity that you are drilling and sticking straight through your 4A quilted maple. Bugger!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Recently discovered - like in the last couple of hours.

When you are looking to build a particular design make sure that you account for the number of frets on the neck and how that affects the mounting relative to the guitar body.

I've been looking at a design where the design meets the body at the 19th fret. The neck on the original design is 24 frets. I, however, picked up a 21 fret neck for a song. The problem is that there is very little area to actually mount the neck since there's so much less material to work with. :D

I'll figure something out but man... Deep breath... :D

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another mistake to avoid is map out exactly where you want your pickups to be and make sure the strings will be over the polepieces... i did not do this correctly on my first guitar (tesico e-120) and the pickguard and routing as all off so while the bridge pup was fine the neck is off so that 5 of the strings are located in between two pole pieces..

don't make that mistake.

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When cutting out a piece make sure you secure both pieces, luckily I was just taking a 1/4" template and making a 1/2" template with it and didn't realize I was fixing to cut all the way through. It fell and busted the end http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y39/Reave...ga/100_0234.jpg no big deal but it was slightly irritating.

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I have been a professional cabinetmaker for over 20 years and my best advice is to never use a dull tool.Not only is it going to ruin your project but is very dangerous. This goes for hand tools but mosyly for the big spinny ones.A dull router bit spinning at 25000 rpms will heat up and deform and could shatter.Another tip would be jigs are your friend and even though they take time to build they will save you time in the end mostly if you make another in the future.Lastly is the measuring thing.I don,t need to measure twice because I have a wood stretcher.I keep it right beside my bucket of steam and my box of skyhooks.

Everybody stay safe and keep those fingers for playing!!!

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as a someone new to the luthier game, I must say. This thread, as well as the rest of the site, has been so extremely helpful. and I thank you all. I have one thing to add

1/ wear ear protection, something that blocks A LOT of sound, if the phone rings, you don't hear it, the dog barks, you don't hear it... and this is why: Distraction is the tool of Satan.

I will say it again. DISTRACTION IS THE TOOL OF SATAN

stay focused, if your mind wanders, so will your project, if you're routing and the doorbell dings, so will your project. Stay focused, stay safe

Thanks again guys!

Michael

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  • 2 weeks later...

Always test your new Template and Pattern Router bits on scrap. Many times they will over cut beyond the bearing. then you will need to add packing tape to your templates to compensate for this.

Safety Tip: Check the lock collar and make sure the set screw is tight before using.

Recently I have found the wrong size bearings on new bits from CMT. This has happened twice now in the past 3 weeks. One was a 1/4" bit and they had a 5/16" bearing. The other 1/2" bit with a 7/16" bearing.

So check your tools before wasting that once in a lifetime piece of wood and be safe.

Mike

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  • 5 weeks later...

1. Cover all cavities when stripping the paint off unless you want to repaint the cavity.

2. Do not let paint stripper dry in the screw holes

(i learnt the hard way)

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A dull router bit spinning at 25000 rpms will heat up and deform and could shatter.

That happened to me.

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your lucky, i used a jigsaw and drill instead of a router, Big mistake.

The jisaw was going too slow and bounced back and put wholes in the body of the guitar.

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