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Freeman Keller

Home made Les Paul

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That looked like a scary cut. I'm at the same stage and debating wether or not to use templates or just throw caution to the wind and do it free hand.

 

I also commend you on planing the neck angle by hand.

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IMG_0645.jpg

That looked like a scary cut. I'm at the same stage and debating wether or not to use templates or just throw caution to the wind and do it free hand.


I also commend you on planing the neck angle by hand.

 

I've got a carve top going & am making templates so I can do it freehand & monitor where I'm at at all times.

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IMG_0645.jpg

That looked like a scary cut. I'm at the same stage and debating wether or not to use templates or just throw caution to the wind and do it free hand.


I also commend you on planing the neck angle by hand.

 

In the archives at MIMF there is a set of "contours" taken off an actual Les Paul ( think I have the file and could e-mail it). It is a little crude but would be helpful if you wanted to duplicate the exact LP curvature. However it would be a bitch to try to route to each of those lines - my system was pretty mickey mouse as you can see from the photos and I only routed two contours.

 

The other thing is that most plans have the cross sections of the body (and neck). Make a copy of the drawing (Kinkos), cut out each of the cross section (the outside portion) and glue it to a piece of wood. Cut this out on a bandsaw and you've got perfect body templates.

 

I say that, but I didn't do it. It was very easy to just work the three levels with my little planes and smooth it with 60 grit sand paper.

 

Of course you could alway build a router follower or a CNC or buy the top precarved - but think you would miss a lot of fun.

 

As far as planing the upper bout - you want a relatively flat surface as 4 degrees but it doesn't have to be perfect. You can see in one picture that I'm not quite parallel with the protractor, I'll keep planing until that is touching the whole length. The router template should be perfectly flat on top - that sets the bottom and sides of the neck pocket which is the reference for your tenon. The top will stand a few thou higher than the neck and after the neck is glued in place I'll bring it down flat - that insures that there is no drop off like you often see on acoustics. I glued the fretboard on the neck after the neck was set - I know many people glue it on before but that would make working in this area a lot more difficult. The final shaping of the upper bout was done after the neck was in place. You'll see all of this when I get there.

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I've got a carve top going & am making templates so I can do it freehand & monitor where I'm at at all times.

 

I know that you have done this a lot more than I have, but I think that at least the recurve should be done with a router. You want it exactly the same depth all the way around - both for symetry and because your binding needs to cover the join. Either routing from the top or with a table would work as long as you make some kind of follower that rides on the side. The recurve is approximately 1 inch or a little less and appears to be flat.

 

As I said above, the SM plans have cross sections down the center line and three across the body - it would be very easy to make templates (and in retrospect I should have)

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I had a nice piece of mahogany neck material and some veneers that I thought might look good on the headstock. I don't like hand mitering fretboards - if you get one fret off by even a few thousands it can't be used. Besides, this is a weird radius that I didn't have a sanding block for, so I bought a fretboard from StewMac along with one of their double acting "hot rod" truss rods.

 

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I like a scarfed headstock joint - it is strong and saves wood

 

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and a stacked heel block

 

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Once the neck blank is glued up there are a couple of operations that have to be done while it still has parallel square sides. Routing the truss rod channel is one (the blue tape is to tell me when to stop - that marks the end of the channel)

 

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One thing I really like about the hot rod truss rod is the small size of the adjuster, that means a minimum cavity needs to be routed - as you all know this is a weak area on Gibsons

 

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The other thing that needs to be done with parallel sides is cut the tenon. It can be roughed on the band saw, leaving it just a hair oversized. At this time the neck heel is also marked at 86 degrees to match the top.

 

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Cut with my Gents saw

 

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and the band saw. I cleaned it up with chisels to fit the pocket.

 

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Lets finish roughing the neck tonight. I've made all the parallel cuts on the band saw so I can now start with angles and curves. First the waste on the side of the neck (leaving the headstock full width)

 

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The basic method of making a curved neck is a lot of flat facets. Starting at the head and heel

 

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You make flat cuts with planes and spokeshaves

 

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The another flat cut

 

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Until you can start rounding it off

 

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I undercut the sides of the neck heel and do a little "flossing" to fit it to the body

 

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Cut out the basic headstock shape (I made a router template but apparently didn't take any pictures). Anyway, here is the rougly shaped neck and body - starting to look a bit like a guitar

 

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Holy crap. Awesomeness. PLEASE continue. If you end up building your own tube amp from scratch after this, though, I'm going to have to sell all my tools and take up macrame or something. Not that there is anything wrong with macrame.

 

You are one hell of a brave man taking that hot piece of hog to your belt sander. I have a similar belt sander in my little man cave. Very useful, but also a treacherous little bastard that doesn't care much for symmetry unless it is being watched very carefully. Also, it has a hell of an appetite for my thumbs.

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Sweet. You make this look easy but that is a lot of work great job so far

 

Yeah, pretty much this. Beautiful work, and a tip of the cap to your skill and experience.:wave:

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Holy crap. Awesomeness. PLEASE continue. If you end up building your own tube amp from scratch after this, though, I'm going to have to sell all my tools and take up macrame or something. Not that there is anything wrong with macrame.


 

Thinking about that, Knock. I don't own an amp so either my wife needs to give me a vintage Fender for Christmas or I'll have to make my own. Any good books on vintage tube amps?

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Thinking about that, Knock. I don't own an amp so either my wife needs to give me a vintage Fender for Christmas or I'll have to make my own. Any good books on vintage tube amps?

 

Oh, man... :facepalm: Forgot I am talking to an engineering type. Of course you're going to have a whack at it. If you decide to go the route of mere mortals, though, I love my Blues Junior...

 

http://www.amazon.com/Guitar-Amplifier-Handbook-Understanding-Amplifiers/dp/087930863X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321035894&sr=8-1

 

http://www.amazon.com/Design-Construction-Tube-Guitar-Amplifiers/dp/0615291805/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321035971&sr=1-6

 

http://www.amazon.com/Tube-Amp-Book-Revised-Hardcover/dp/0879307676/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1321036027&sr=1-7

 

http://www.mojotone.com/

 

http://www.tubesandmore.com/

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You're making fast progress on this.

 

You mentioned that you like the hot rod truss because of how thin it is at 7/16ths. If you like that you'd love the allied luthery truss at 3/8th deep. That and its 1/4" wide so you can use a standard router bit.

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You're making fast progress on this.


You mentioned that you like the hot rod truss because of how thin it is at 7/16ths. If you like that you'd love the allied luthery truss at 3/8th deep. That and its 1/4" wide so you can use a standard router bit.

 

There is a bit of a time warp - I didn't want to start the thread until I knew there was a reasonable chance of sucess.

 

I've only built two guitars with the adjuster at the headstock - both Gibson copies. I considered bringing it into the neck pickup cavity - would be a bit of a hassle to adjust but most of my guitars have only needed the t/r tweaked every few years. I've used the hot rod on several of my builds - I really like a double acting rod and all I had to do for the adjuster was shift the router fence a 1/16 or so when I was doing the channel

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OP this is amazing! Your skill is very admirable. I never knew until recently that guitar necks are chiseled by hand, always thought a machine did it.

 

Back before there were machines they were all done by hand. Commercial manufacturers use cnc milling machines, not just for necks but bodies, acoustic bridge, usually inlay - which is fine, you get identically the same thing every time. I kind of enjoy the carving aspect, however I've got to admit the buggered up my first neck pretty badly (is was so chunky that I ended up stripping the finish off and taking a spoke shave to the completed guitar).

 

Its kind of ironic, I work in a fabrication shop where I have access to cnc mills, turning centers (fancy lathes) and a cnc laser cutter. I often use them to make templates, but never to cut the wood. There is just a real pleasure in working with a sharp chisel or plane and a block of beautiful wood.

 

As luthier Frank Ford said, "before I let that cnc drive me down I'll die with a chisel in my hand, Lord Lord..."

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Someone at another forum asked what I was going to do with the headstock. I know Gibsons are traditionally some sort of light wood (holly?) that is painted black. Frankly that kind of offends me - I love the look of wood and grain and usually I try to tie the headstock in with the rest of the guitar. Most of the time I try to match the body wood or maybe the top if it is something like koa. I considered three things here - maple to match the top, mahogany to match the back or rosewood to tie with the fretboard. Decided to go with the rose, that would give a dark color in keeping with the Gibson theme

 

I've also kind of standardized on inlaying my initials in the headstock - just the K if there isn't much room or and F and K if there is a little more real estate. I like to buy my pearl pre cut from Andy DePaule, that way the letters are all the same. At the same time I bought the fretboard markers - plane old squares of pearl. The letters are five bucks each, the fretboard was 40 total

 

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First lets put the markers in the fretboard. I laid out the positions working from diagonal corners of both the board and the pearl - located the centers of both and marked the perimeter with both an Axacto knife and pencil

 

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Using a small bit on a Dremel in a router base I removed the wood, cleaning up edges and corners with a chisel

 

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I glue the pearl in place with epoxy mixed with a little bit of rosewood dust, that will fill any small gaps. The pearl is flush in the center and stands a little proud at the edges because of the fretboard radius

 

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Clamp it down with waxed paper under the caul

 

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and when the epoxy sets, sand the pearl back with a radiused sanding block

 

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Lets do one more thing to the fretboard and bind it. There are two ways to bind a board - after it is fretted with the binding over the ends of the frets (thats the Gibson way) and before fretting - the ends of the frets are on top of the binding. Thats the way I like to do it so we'll put the binding on now. There are several glues used with plastic binding - Duco and WeldOn are two popular ones, some people use CA and you can also desolve binding in acetone. I'm using Duco here, it slightly softens the plastic

 

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What I have done there is clamp two pieces of wood to the bench at the angle of the fretboard, glue the binding on and slip it into the Vee. A little down force and it tightly clamps the plastic to the wood.

 

OK, lets put this away until tomorrow when we'll work on the headstock

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Tomorrow is here, so lets finish with the headstock. Drilled out the access hole for the truss rod adjuster and glued the rosewood veneer on the neck

 

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Drilled the tuner holes at this time - I did that at work where I have a drill press ("honey, can I.....")

 

I stick the pearl letters on the rosewood with double sticky tape, scribe around them with an Axacto knife and color the wood with a pencil just like the fretboard inlay. Route out the cavity with my little Dremel

 

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Test fit the inlay. Lately I've been cutting the F and K apart and interlacing them

 

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Same trick with epoxy with a little rosewood dust, look like hell when its done, but the idea is to fill any little gap with the mixture

 

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Looks a lot better when its been scraped back

 

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