After a long break, I am back to the guitar making. Cannot wait to start carving a guitar body, but want to finish neck first. This time I did not have much time, just half day, but the result is good to me. Neck finally feels like… neck.
Starting with fitting a nut. Initially, I have planned to craft that from a blank, but after researching some forums I decided to go with Graphtech TUSQ. So, using saw and rasps I have made an opening between fingerboard and headstock veneer. This is not final yet – I will give it fine sanding later.
That easy step contributes to the overall look of the neck. With each minor detail, it is getting closer.
I like bound necks. The open question for me was what to use as a binding material. The traditional one is some plastic; that is what Gibson uses. But I am not making an exact replica and from the very beginning, it was decided that variations are OK. Going forward, what I am using is flamed maple. It is cut to thin (1/16″ or 2mm) strips; 1/4″ wide. And it is flamed, as I like.
It took me much time to find the router bit that can make 1/16″ rabbets. That was also a time to get palm router – this time Dewalt. Bosch was a mistake – never again. Here are the pictures – routing binding channel, test fit and routing binding on the neck.
Now, when all the channels are routed and binding is not yet glued, it is actually a time to radius the fingerboard. I have got pretty standard templates, but instead of using radiusing blocks, I have decided (with a portion of fear) to go with a hand plane. Surprisingly, it did work well. Yes, I have some tearout, but it will be really easy to fix later.
And after it is radiused, it is time to glue binding. I have used thin CA glue and accelerator. I did not expect that once you glue your fingertips to something, it is impossible to detach those from the surface. The bond between skin and flesh is not as durable as the bond formed with a CA glue. So, for some period of time, I was just stupidly staring on that bond. The only cure is a sharp hobby knife. Lesson learned.
Binding the fingerboard with a strip of wood is an easy and satisfying process. The problem appears when you proceed to the headstock. Some shapes are easy, but LP’s one is not – especially those tight radiuses of the top border. I have tried different methods – microwaving strips, using an iron, etc. I did work finally, but the result is not perfect. Someone said that little imperfections add the value to the handmade build – I am OK with that statement now.
Finally, since I had some time, I shaped the neck. I have waited for that so long. It finally looks like a neck and feels like a neck. I can finally hold it and imagine that I am playing it. What is important is that it feels great. Shinto rasp is the tool of choice.
I am happy with the result. It really feels great.
Later the same day, I wanted to refine it a little bit and tried some inlays. I am not a fan of the abalone or plastic inlays for the fret markers. Once I have seen the method used by Ben Crowe.
The idea is simple, you drill the hole and glue some brass tube in it. Then, cut the wood of choice and shape it like a pencil. Use a pencil sharpener to form it. Add glue into the brass tube and press wood into that. Cut and sand. Done. Look gorgeous to me.
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