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Saturday, May 31, 2008


Here's a quick shot of the body and neck after 3 coats of plain finishing oil. The oil has really brought out the grain of the wood, and emphasised the contrast between the cherry and the piece of mahogany inset into the body around the sound holes - that's come out better than I'd hoped.

Before I started working with it, I'd not appreciated the beauty of cherry as a wood. You get some idea of the colour variation in this photo ...

Mahogany has never been one of my favourite woods, but the neck also looks a lot better with a few coats of oil on it ...

You can also see a small "nick" in the bridge pickup cavity - on the side closest to the control cavity. The pickup that I'm going to use (EMG) has a slightly different shape to the standard pickup ... but after 5mins with the chisel, it now fits into the cavity! The minor alteration won't be visible because it's all underneath the bridge piece, but it shows that you can't assume anything!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


At last, I've got on with build #2. I think the thought of fretting was working on my sub-conscious and making me delay it. I don't know why I thought it would be difficult, 'cos it was quite straightforward. The frets are all seated nicely in place and look fairly level. I'm waiting for some fret files to arrive from the US, so I can't finish the job just yet.

As you can see, all the body holes are drilled, and it's also sanded ready for finishing. I'm just going to oil this one. The "soundholes" in the body have a piece of mahogany (from the neck) inlaid around them ... so I've reversed the design by inlaying a piece of cherry into the headstock.

I'm quite pleased with the way that both of those worked out ... it could have been a horrible mess! And you may think that it is ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A lot more useful than planks of wood ...

... is a pile of body blanks and caps ready for turning into guitars!

The large plank (see below) of olive ash is now turned into 1 body blank, and - potentially - a couple of neck blanks. With some careful cutting, the smaller of the planks will yield another body blank, with some interesting colour variation.

and this is the neck blanks (or maybe 2). As you can almost see, the grain is running vertical to the larger faces - ie it's quarter sawn. Perfect for guitar necks!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is probably a little sad, but I got really excited this morning when Mr TNT delivered a large and heavy (30kgs) package, full of bits of wood. Yup, bits of wood is now enough to get me excited.

First, a couple of sets of walnut caps. These look pretty good in the photos (IMHO), but look way way better in real life, and that's before they've been oiled and finished. I think these are going to look stunning in a couple of months when they're part of a newly built guitar ...

Also in the parcel were a couple of fairly large pieces of Olive Ash - ie Ash with a greeny tinge to it. A full 2" thick, and plenty enough for a couple of guitar bodies, and may be a neck blank or two as well ... does Ash make for good necks?

Those 2" planks were originally 3" thick, so my friendly wood supplier person cut off the extra 1", and then turned that into some bookmatched pieces ... looks better-than-good to me. I do realise that I now have lots of potential caps, and less-than-lots of potential bodies, so I'm on the lookout for some more body wood!
As well as unwrapping parcels of wood, and photographing the contents, I also spent a little time preparing a template for my intended next build - a LP Junior Doublecut - and once I'd finished the template, I thought I might as well cut out the body blank prepared earlier ... that's a quilted maple cap hiding a hefty chunk of Korina underneath ...
I've been offered a set of Lace Sensor P90's - which I'm probably going to grab - to fit into this one.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finally, a little progress

It seems like I've had no time for guitar-making recently. But I did manage to get a few hours in the workshop today, so there's been a little progress.

First job was to drill the holes for, and fix in place, the (Vietnamese) mother-of-pearl fret markers. It looks a little messy where the superglue spilled out of the holes, but it dried eventually. I did have a can of glue accelerator somewhere ... but can I find it ??

And here's the re-sanded dots-in-place fretboard:

Whilst holding the neck in different positions as I was fitting the markers, I decided that it felt "chunky" - too chunky. It's not that I have small hands, but the neck felt a bit on the big side, so having already sanded it once to a reasonbly smooth finish, I decided to waste all of that work and re-shape the neck. There goes an hour or two ... but it feels better now.
And here's the body as it is - sanded to 180 grit all round, so it's getting there.

I don't like the traditional "f-hole" shape, so I've done something different. That's a piece of Sapele/Mahogany inset into the body. I'll drill the holes through to the sound cavity once I've finished sanding the rest of the body, otherwise the sound cavity will just fill up with sawdust.

Still plenty to do before I can plug this one in, but at least there's been some progress today.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Where does time go?

It seems that I've done nothing on this guitar build for ages.

That's because I really haven't done a huge amount.

I suppose that's what happens with a "hobby" ... sometimes you have time for it (or can make the time), othertimes other priorities take up the time - like "work" or making some dog agility jumps to support my wife's hobby!

Hopefully, this weekend will see guitar-making some progress.

My fretboard markers have arrived (from a Vietnamese eBayer) so I can drill and glue those in, which means I can then start on fretting the neck - which I've also been happy to put off because my level of confidence is less than high ...

I'm also starting to think about build #3, which I'm pretty sure will be a LP junior doublecut design, perhaps with a pair of P90s.

And I've been hunting out some new wood supplies. Nothing fancy, but a change from working with cherry, cherry, or cherry.

So, if all goes to the sort-of-plan that I have, I'll be posting some decent progress updates and pics over the next few days ...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Yesterday's work ...

The neck / body join looks good and tight ... although the neck is about 2mm too high. I realised that only after I'd spent 45mins getting the join as tight as I could. Next job - take 2mm off the neck pocket and check it again.

Here's the routing done - always feels like a major milestone because it means that the neck join is OK (so that I can measure exactly where the bridge needs to go), and also means that most of the "destructive" work is now also done - ie not so much more sawdust to be created from this piece of wood.
This next step is just about getting the angles right. You really need 2 pairs of eyes to check both the horizontal AND the vertical alignment as you drill.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A whole week

That's a week since my last update ... where did that week go to?

I left last week's thrilling episode with the body and cap glued and clamped together. As the photo below shows, the clamps are off, and the body and cap are fixed together successfully. There's a bit of a glue line down the centre of the cap, but I'm expected (hoping) that the line will either disappear when I sand the front down, or will disappear when I oil it, if the sanding doesn't work. Time will tell ...
One of my (expensive) acquisitions from StewMac is this sanding beam. I've fixed some 60 grit paper to the underside, and spent about 30mins sanding the fretboard ... The beam has a 12deg radius shaped into the sanding side, so this also shapes the fretboard. Takes a long time though ...
One of the scariest bits of guitar making (to me at least) is shaping the neck. Here's the start position, with some guidelines drawn on ...
And after a few minutes attacking it with a rasp, here's a rough shaped neck. As well as being one of the scariest parts of the process, it's also one of the most rewarding. After some more attention with lots of sandpaper, the neck has taken shape, and pickup it up and feeling the smooth shape of the sanded neck is definitely one of the high points of the process:
And here it is, sanded.