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Freeman Keller

Home made Les Paul

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First, an introduction. My name is Freeman and I don't own an electric guitar. I've been playing acoustics for fourty years or so and have built a few, but until lately I've never owned or hardly even played an electric. But that is changing


Second, are build threads OK here? If so I'd like to share my progress - I've posted some acoustic builds at that forum and they've been pretty popular. If this stuff is boring or not appropriate or something, let me know and I'll stop.


Next, it all started last summer when my son was visiting. He brought a couple of guitars along, including his candy apple Epi and a little amp. Plugged it in and handed it to me - I played a few of my usual thing - Dust in the Wind, Freight Train, Candy Man - they sounded pretty good but the string are sure light. My son said "dad, you should build one of those".


A few days later a package arrived




Then another.




Thought the red wood might make a nice cutting board, the grain on the light stuff wasn't very straight and I thought about throwing it away. Oh, well, I traced the plans on the red wood and cut it out




Clamped the cut off onto my belt sander so I could true up the body






And drilled some holes




Last steps for the red wood was a little work with the router








I'm going to put this away for a while and see if anyone want me to continue.

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While your comments may have been tongue-in-cheek, as they say, yes, some here may say build threads are amongst the most valued threads, and some beautiful work has been done and documented here.


See FlyWithV's build threads - or Meandi's work, which you, as a frequenter of HCAG, very well may be familiar with. Also SDShirtman has been posting some very fine work. Linus had a nice build going. In the past, Atrox, AJCoholic, and GuitarNoobie put together some fantastic work and documented it here. Also check out the In The Shop thread if you have not already.


For what you're doing I cannot recommend GuitarNoobie and FlyWithV's threads highly enough - they should be an enjoyable read. Ah, but apologies for the lengthy digression.


Anyway, I would love to see the ongoing documentation of your build, and thank you very much for posting the work you have done already.:thu: Oh, and mighty fine wood you have acquired as well...

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OK, thanks. I've got a few more pictures and lots of questions, probably most of them pretty dumb.


No such thing as a dumb question, only dumb answers.


Looking good so far, keep the pics coming.

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If it were me I'd chamber the hell out of that mahogany before the cap went on. Pearly Gates style


Yea I know it wouldn't be a Les Paul that way but hell...I can BUY a Les Paul.


Like this but I'd probably not have that channel for the pickup select wires...I'd just run them around the back of the tailpiece. You'd get "long tenon" sustain more that way.



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OK, with all this support, lets see what happens. Even tho that maple had really crooked grain I figured (no pun, eh?) that I'd better use it. I could always paint it red or something. Normally with an acoustic I use my big smoothing plane to "shoot" the edges for joining but I wasn't comfortable with something this thick, so I took it to my local cabinet shop and ran in thru the jointer (as any of you builders know, TAS is even worse that GAS - "honey, can I have a jointer for Christmas?"). While there I also ran the pieces thru their thickness sander (I don't dare ask for one of those too).


Brought them home and glued the two pieces together, trying to line up all those little squiggly lines (really sorry about the funky lighting in the picture, my photography is even worse than my building)




Cut out the shape from the drawing leaving a little overhang. Then, having routed all the channels and holes shown on the drawing into the back, I smeared glue all over it




and stuck the maple piece on




Lets let the glue dry until tomorrow, I'll post some more then.

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Subscribed! I'm planning to do an LP build next year. It will be my first one. This is already a great resource. Thanks!

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Thanki you all for your wonderful enthusiastic comments and support. What I'll try to do is post a few pictures each day of one stage of the build - that way we can talk about it but it won't become so unwieldy that we can't navigate thru it.


After the glue was dry on the top to body I trimmed the overhang back with a flush cut router bit and filleted the back with a round off bit. I used both in my new router table which I bought just for this project (told you TAS was bad). Unfortunately I don't seem to have any pictures of those operations, but they are really pretty simple.


In retrospect what I did next is probably out of sequence. What I think I should have done was to first drill and route the pickup cavities, then do the 4 degree angle of the upper bout for the neck and then route the neck pocket. The reason I say that is that at this point the top and upper bout would have been nice and flat to stick the templates on - you'll see what I mean as we go on.


Instead I jumped right into carving the top. First step was to make two cuts with the router - one at the final depth of the edge (the recurve) and the other a "contour" on the carved portion of the top. I made a little back stop for the edge of the body on the router table, tyrapped the dust collection hose (my shop vac) and set the bit to the depth I wanted




Again, no good pictures of actually doing it (my hands were pretty full) but when it was done it looked like this




Carving between those three datum points with a variety of planes and chisel






(I love that little plane on the right - it is from Grizzly and I use it all the time)




Once again, I'm very sorry about the lighting on those pics. Here is measuring the angle for the neck (4 degrees)




Planing it flat




and laying out the center line, neck pocket and pickups




Seems like a reasonable place to quit for the night, more tomorrow.

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Well, lets make some holes in the top. In the last session we shaped the top and layed out the location of the neck and the pups.




I made a simple little template for the neck pocket out of MDF. Usually I would have just used double sticky tape to hold it in place but there wasn't enough surface area so it took a couple of clamps and a screw




Drilled out as much material as I could - the blue tape is a crude depth gauge




Routed out what was left




Checking the depth, I want the pocket just a hair deeper than the tenon will be




Moving on to the neck pickup, this is a commercial template from StewMac




and the bridge pickup cavity (like the neck I removed as much as I could with a Forstner bit first) Also notice that I've got a clamp on it - there just wasn't enough flat area to trust double sticky tape




When it was done it looked like so (thats an oops from the Forstner bit, I told you the depth gauge was crude)



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This is extraordinarily fascinating. I've taken on some big jobs, but this is out of my scope of ability. It's really inspiring. Thank you for posting such great pics...I look forward to following your progress.

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Dang, sometimes I wish I owned a woodshop. I'll just have to live vicariously thru your thread.

Don't mind me, carry on, you're doing fine.


My "woodshop" looks amazingly like a garage.




My dream (nightmare to my wife) is to actually build a shop off the garage, I want better control of temperature and humidity and more room for TOOLs

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I tried to make a guitar once about 20 years back in high school. I recall starting off with a strat sized blank and ending up with something the size just under a steinberger, lol. I can appreciate your skill.

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