Ex-Nihilo's 2nd LP Build

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by ExNihilo, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    It is time to start publishing my 2nd LP build. My first build was going to be my last, but by the time I was done, I wanted a flame top instead of a plain top.

    This will be my last LP replica build and it is for me. If I were to build one for any of you, I would have to put a different name on the headstock.

    I will begin by showing you some of the parts that are going into this guitar.



    1. RS Guitarworks Premium Vintage Electronics

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    2. Pigtail Music Studs and Bushings

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    3. Sheptone Tribute set Pickups

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    4. Historic Makeovers Inlay Set (These have not yet arrived)

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    5. Honduras Mahogany Body and Neck Blank

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    6. Eastern Maple Carved Top

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    7. Hide Glue

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    I also got a set of templates from Bartlett Woodworking (same place as the carved maple top). These template make the build very easy and fool proof. Like the maple top, these templates are extremely accurate and fit the Catto plan perfectly.

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    To use the templates requires a router plate that will except pattern bushings. The templates are set up to take a 5/8" pattern bushing with a 3/8" router bit. I did not want to spend all the money getting a new plate and bushings so I got a 3/8" router bit and put a 5/8" bearing on it. It worked fantastic.

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    The only real departure for this guitar is the fretboard and truss rod. The fret board is Indian Rosewood. I bought two and chose the one that looks most Brazilianish. I am also going to stain it. For the truss rod I went with the two way hot rod from Stewart Mac. I really debated this in my mind, but thought, "This is it... this is your ultimate guitar, do you really want a wood crusher in the neck or a two way?" I went with the two way.

    Sincerely, xn
     
  2. DRF

    DRF Senior Member

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  3. rockappalla

    rockappalla Senior Member

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    I'm sure this is gonna turn out killer!
     
  4. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    I'll start this build with the body.

    I hand selected the Honduras Mahogany at Exotics Woods in Burlington Ontario. There were nine excellent blocks to choose from and I was given the option of going back to the "incoming stock" room and select a rough board. I narrowed my selection down to three. All were obviously from the same board ( I could line them all up together). Though all of the original H. Mahogany blanks were lightweight, these three were exceptional. My final selection was based on grain placement which you will see later. The board measuring 14" X 18" only weighed 8.1 lbs!

    The first step is to trace out the body with template #1 and cut out the basic shape of the body. I cut about 1/4" away from the final shape line. You can do this with a bandsaw or a jig saw (if you cut very slowly).

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    There are two options for taking the rough cut down to the final shape: (1) Use the template and router the edges, or (2) use the spindle sander. Both have adavantages and disadvantages. I chose to use the spindle sander.

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    Now that the shape is complete, it's time to hand sand the edge of the body. What you want to do at this point is basically do your final sanding of the body sides. You do not want to feel any bumpiness/waviness under your hand as you sweep your hand over the edges of your body.

    This is one of the many great advantages of building a LP using a precarved top from Eastern Maple Carved Tops. It really streamlines the build process. Before I have even completed the body I know that I don't have to worry about that dreaded "final sanding" of the body sides.
     
  5. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    Next, I route all of the control cavities. The templates work perfectly and exactly match the Catto plan.

    Here you see the first two routes. Notice that I did not route the cavities all the way through. This is more accurate to the original late 50s Les Pauls. The switch cavity is 40 mm deep and there is 1.5 mm of witness Mahogany left in the control cavity. When I route the control cavity to match the angle of the top you should be able to see a transition from Mahogany to Maple.

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  6. single cut 54

    single cut 54 V.I.P. Member

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    The maple from Tom looks fantastic.
     
  7. V!N

    V!N Senior Member

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    Yes ! :dude: I've been looking forward to the thread on your next build. This will also be the first build where we get to see the top designed by Magnus and carved by Tom in action.

    Mark my words, this thread is going to be awesome. :) Good luck Nihilo ! :dude:
     
  8. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    I continue by routing the recesses for the cover plates and the rounded bottom edge.

    To build this guitar I made a simple jig for my router. It enables me to easily route the edges of the body.

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    Using the jig, I routed the bottom edge. This is why it was necessary to have the final sanding completed before this step.

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    A 3/16" rounded corner bit was used for the bottom edge.

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    As you can see from the following pictures, the bit used in the jig made a very accurate cut.

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    The next step is to glue the maple top to the body.
     
  9. Ole'Lefty

    Ole'Lefty Premium Member

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    Were the templates done custom for you- does Tom sell them to order? Even though I managed to get GBT corrected, I would prefer templates like yours.ole'lefty
     
  10. Fletch

    Fletch V.I.P. Member

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    Doesn't the control cavity go all the way through? All the ones I've ever seen you could see maple on the floor.

    fletch
     
  11. alk-3

    alk-3 MLP Sponsor

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    here is the witness line Scott refers too. Evidence that the cavity routs are at the very least finished after the maple is attached.

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  12. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    As I indicated earlier, the maple top is from Eastern Maple Carved Tops. I have had the privilege to get to know Tom Bartlett over the past few months. I have come to know a man with a great deal of integrity. I have been to his shop several times and have personally witnessed the effort he takes to ensure that every item that leaves his shop is perfect. Let me repeat that -PERFECT! Tom is an absolute perfectionist when it comes to Les Pauls. He has spent the past five years in research making sure he knows about every last splinter that goes into making one.

    The precarved tops from Bartletts are stunning. I would not even THINK of making a LP without one. They are harvested from the same region as the original late 50s Les Pauls and have a perfect hide glue join. Note the flame and mineral streaks.

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    The other thing that is nice about these tops is that they are complete. The neck angle and pickup plane are dead on.

    Now, having said all this, if you are planning on doing your own carve, I would suggest that you carve the maple separately from the mahogany. I now have experience with both methods and can tell you that it is easier building a body this way, and there is also less risk involved.

    For gluing the top I wondered about using hide glue. (perhaps you saw my thread on that question) I decided to use yellow glue. It allows you more time to clamp. Also, if the neck ever needs to be removed, the top wont be effected as the neck joint is heated.

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  13. x_archangel_x

    x_archangel_x Senior Member

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    ...::drools::...

    I'm loving the bottom edge routing. That looks fantastic.
     
  14. Fletch

    Fletch V.I.P. Member

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    These all look like a maple floor, check it out...
     

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  15. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    Now it is time to route the binding channel. Using the router jig and bearing bits this was another easy and fool proof task.

    The first thing that needs to be done is to clean up the edge of the top. The precarved tops are made roughly to the size of of the final body shape giving you just the right amount of room to work with. A flush bearing router bit nicely cleans up the edge of the body.

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    With the sides flush and cleaned up, I route the binding channel. I use a 1/2" bit with a 3/8" bottom bearing bit. This gives me a perfect 1/16" channel.

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    I begin by routing the highest point of the inner horn. I simply rout straight across at the highest point. Here you can see what I mean by looking at this close up under my jig. Can you see where my router blade will hit?

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    The bearing insures that there will be no mistakes. (unlike the very difficult Stewart Mac dremmel tool.... stay away from that thing). Here is the cut. The dark line is just oil from the bit bearing. I like to make sure my bearings are always spinning nicely.

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    Now, I simply lower the bit level for the rest of the body and route the channel. By always routing away from high points (viz. where the body is widest) you will not have any tear outs.

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    Here you see the channel complete.

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    Finishing off the inner horn is easily done with a razor.

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  16. landsharkey

    landsharkey Senior Member

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    On these templates are all the outer perimeters are 1/16" undersize and the inner routes (i.e. control cavity) are 1/16" larger to accomodate a bushing/bearing, correct?
    I didn't see these offered at Eastern Maple Guitar Tops Using a bushing with a spiral bit would be ideal for me - being able to take several passes. And you could do a rough outline first with a larger bushing (or adding layers of tape to the 5/8).

    What grade top did you select?
     
  17. ExNihilo

    ExNihilo Senior Member

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    The next step is to glue the binding in. As I have said on another occasion, I use chopped up pieces of binding dissolved in acetone for my glue. It is very fast, does not require taping, and eliminates all seams.

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    The first part that I glue is the tip of the horn. I start by pre-bending the binding.

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    Then I glue this section. Simply hold it in place a few minutes for the glue to dry.

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    Then, I glue the rest of the inner horn, and then move around the rest of the body. The squeeze out you see is a good thing. That is dissolved binding filling the channel perfectly.

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    Once the binding is glued, I go back and sand it to clean it up.

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    Notice the Mahogany grain in the upper photo of the back of the body. This is the reason why I selected this piece of mahogany. Do you see how the rings are centered? I think that looks really beautiful. And though it maybe silly, I like to think that this will improve the sound of the guitar as the vibrations travel evenly through the body and around the maple top.
     
    The Wedge likes this.
  18. ojedad23

    ojedad23 the oj guy Premium Member

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    Wow awesome top
     
  19. alk-3

    alk-3 MLP Sponsor

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    in the last two photos you posted you can see in the bottom left hand corner of the cavities there is mahogany shadow. This isn't always present, but the routs were always done after the maple was attached. It's the only way to get the rout to be on an angle to match the top carve so the pots stick through the top evenly. There are often examples that may appear to be (at first glance) routed before the maple was attached, but I promise it is not so.
    The rout was done in two distinct steps, one to make the cavity itself, and the next step to make the bottom angled to match the carved top, this second step also leaves tooling marks on the top edge of the cavity.

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  20. alk-3

    alk-3 MLP Sponsor

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    The templates are made to use exactly that, a 5/8" bushing, and a 1/2" or 3/8" bit (depending on what your routing, the pickup routs use a 3/8" bit to get the corner radius's correct). all the templates are made with these offsets acounted for. the outer perimeter however is not meant to be used with a bishing, but instead just a flush trim bit with a bearing.

    These are not currently offered to the general public, but if enough people want them, I can make up a run of them for those interested. Price is $100 plus actual shipping. Just send me an email or a PM indicating you want some, and i'll put you on the list. If i get enough interest i'll consider doing them up.
    Sorry for the off topic Scott :)
     
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