Les Paul-esque Build - First one, please go easy on me ..

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by bcguitars74, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    Well, I'm just clocking on with a quick update, I haven't been stagnating - I decided to go with a different neck them I intended so I've been making myself a jig ..

    IMG_20180306_144810-1152x864.jpg

    Also while I was waiting for glue to set, I tried my hand at book matching a piece of the cut off from the cap with a veneer in mind, anyone have an opinion on whether it would look ok? I'm not sure ..

    the ambrosia maple straight off the bandsaw, looks wicked!
    IMG_20180306_160443-864x1152.jpg

    After I cleaned up the bandsaw marks :( The other spalt has totally come to the surface, there was only about .5mm in it ..
    IMG_20180306_161752-864x1152.jpg

    I also sawed up a piece of walnut but it might be a boring veneer ..
    IMG_20180305_170547-864x1152.jpg
     
  2. emoney

    emoney Senior Member

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    That's a personal choice, really. My go-to is always something less grainy on the headstock. But I've
    also used Maple, Zebrawood, Wenge, etc. And in those instances, it looked pretty good. Nothing beats
    holly, however.
     
  3. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    This is another piece, I might try and bring the spalt marks closer together and see what it looks like.

    IMG_20180306_165554-864x1152.jpg
     
  4. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    Finally, neck blank finished, truss rod slot routed, wings glued on .. can't wait to get started on the tenon :dude:

    IMG_20180308_174334-1152x864.jpg
     
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  5. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    Well I got the wings glued on, sanded back and so on and had to decide on the veneer .. I eventually went with a piece that I cut from the leftover wood from the cap. Maybe too 'busy' for some but I like it :)

    I placed the nut and fretboard on to get the position of the 16th fret as advised by @ARandall and have started the tenon cut, still not sure if the best way to cut this .. I don't want to bandsaw the bits off as it will take ages to sand the marks off so will have to route it somehow.

    IMG_20180312_231948-864x1152.jpg

    IMG_20180312_232852-1152x864.jpg


    IMG_20180313_152357-1152x864.jpg


    IMG_20180313_152839-864x1152.jpg


    IMG_20180313_155419-1152x864.jpg
     
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  6. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    I made it on to the tenon, yeehah!!

    I built myself a little routing jig for the neck, nothing fancy, and took off 1/4 mm each side at a time until the tenon was nearly there then sanded the rest until it was snug but not tight.

    IMG_20180314_143333-1152x864.jpg

    IMG_20180314_143333-1152x864.jpg

    I then did the same to the bottom of the tenon until the top was flush with the body

    IMG_20180314_152333-864x1152.jpg

    I then filed the shoulders of the tenon until I was pretty close and then used sandpaper to get closer - I just inserted the sandpaper in the joint, held the joint closed and pulled the paper through on whichever side was stopping the shoulders meeting the body; quite exciting and I thought it wasn't bad for a first go :cheers2:

    IMG_20180314_163745-864x1152.jpg

    IMG_20180314_164223-864x1152.jpg

    I clamped the bits together to get a preview ..

    IMG_20180314_164450-864x1152.jpg

    i was on a roll so I glued the fretboard while I was at it. Although the neck join is pretty much spot on at the 16th fret, I have a feeling that the fretboard is going to extend 1 to 2mm too far and therefore into the space where the pickup ring needs to go :facepalm:
    I suppose if this is an issue then I will have to gently 'thin' the binding at the end of the board, it's 1.5mm thick so a wee bit of wiggle room but not much ..
     
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  7. nuance97

    nuance97 Premium Member

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    Looks good man! :thumb:
     
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  8. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    So, a few gigs later I have time again for updates :)

    :photos:

    Apologies in advance - this post is going to be pic-heavy ...

    :photos:
    --

    I've got quite a bit further - there have been a few potentially catastrophic mistakes but the guitar is for me so it'll be fine - I'm already planning the next one though with a list of "how not to do it this time" notes. The worst ones are all power tool slip-ups :/

    - one when routing the binding channel for the headstock - my "router table" slipped somehow and the channel was cut down to over half the width of the headstock in one place so I had to carry it on all the way round.

    - and two - the orbital sander slipped and sanded too close to the lower side of the rear pickup meaning that there is a gap between the pickup ring and the body at one side. This is the one that's making me most unhappy as I can't fill or make a "feature" here. If anyone has any ideas about this I would LOVE to hear them! I can only think to try and file the pickup ring to "mould" it around the body.

    Edit: just realised I don't have a photo of this yet, I'll upload it in the next couple of days.

    My "DIY router table" - the laminate trimmer attached to a bit of MDF- worked great for trimming the neck flush but slipped somehow on the headstock binding and made it 5 times the size :420:

    DIY router table.jpg


    I used this to trim the sides of the neck flush with the fretboard and it worked fine taking me from this:

    neck unshaped.jpg

    to this - nice and flush along the sides. I also carved the profile - rough with a rasp first then with a length of cloth-backed sandpaper to round it off. I love working with mahogany, it's so quick and easy to sand :)

    neck shaped.jpg

    After everything was smoothed off, the headstock was slightly too thin at around 13.5mm so I decided to veneer the back of it as well for extra strength - I rough the outline, bent the bottom on the iron to mould to the "volute" and then glued it on:

    veneer back rough.jpg

    glue back veneer.jpg

    Glued on ..

    back veneer 1.jpg

    And then trimmed and shaped!

    back veneer 2.jpg

    Then it was time for the headstock binding channel, as you can see there was a bit of an issue with the router bit height :(
    binding channel oh oh.jpg

    I decided to bind it with some bits of walnut to match up (sort-of) with the fingerboard so I ben some more on the iron and glued it on:

    headstock binding 1.jpg headstock binding 2.jpg

    Not quite what I was aiming for but hey ..

    headstock binding 3.jpg

    Next up was the truss rod access slot, using a drill was a bad idea :doh: but I managed to clean it up - it'll be lost under the truss rod cover anyway.

    truss rod access 1.jpg truss rod access 2.jpg
    truss rod cover.jpg

    A quick repair to the worst of the original router slips - I think it'll be OK with a dark burst:

    router repair 1.jpg router repair 2.jpg router repair 3.jpg

    Then the body binding .. this was a battle. I put it on with CA glue which I think I will avoid in the future. I spent more time separating my fingers from bits of binding and sanding away the CA lines where it ran than I did doing the actual sticking. One part hardened too quickly and left a 1mm gap in the cutaway so I melted a bunch of bits of binding in acetone, left it a couple of days and then filled the gap with the resulting gloop.

    body binding.jpg

    Scraped and sanded the binding and then glued the neck on!

    glue neck joint 2.jpg

    Next up is grain filling I think.
     
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  9. emoney

    emoney Senior Member

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    I usually leave the grain filling until the guitar is ready for finishing. Just sharing in case you were undecided.
    After the neck is set, it's a great time to go ahead and set the bridge/tailpiece, make a nut, and string
    that puppy up to make sure it's ready for finishing. Looking good so far!
     
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  10. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    Ah good call! I was indeed undecided, I'll start on that now.
     
  11. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    So here are the pickup rings gaps .. :/ I think I will sand the pickup plane until there are no gaps under the rings and then try and blend it in to the rest of the body with some sanding .. might look a bit strange though? Does anyone have any ideas?

    pickup rings gap.jpg

    Checked the bridge height - 15.5 mm so just right ..

    bridge height.jpg

    But in preparing to mark out for the bridge I noticed some centre line drift :( The pic below shows the glue line and the actual centre line as taken from the fretboard - there's about 3/32" difference at the bridge line so now I'm worried the pickups aren't going to sit correctly under the strings ..

    centre line drift.jpg
     
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  12. nuance97

    nuance97 Premium Member

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    The pickup plane doesn’t have to be perfectly flat as some here would suggest...in fact I don’t think any vintage 50s LP likely had a dead-flat pickup plane. There were variances obviously back in the day since they were hand sanded, but the absolutely flat plane is IMO a myth. The ones that look super flat in photos are more an optical illusion than they are flat.

    I wouldn’t sweat the issue if it were me. I’d just bend the rings to fit as long as you don’t think they’ll snap


    As far as your centerline issue is concerned, hopefully there’s enough wiggle room in the cavities to line the pickups up with the strings. Just wait till you string it up to drill the pilot holes for your pickup rings so you can push the pickup to one side of the cavity
     
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  13. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    Thanks nuance! I think it's also possible to get the curved-bottom pickup rings .. I wonder if they'd be any better.
     
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  14. ARandall

    ARandall Senior Member

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    No vintage burst ever used curved rings. They simply screwed flat rings down so they simply bent and conformed that way. Any pics of bursts you can see the slight gaps where the rings don't quite match the guitar top.
     
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  15. emoney

    emoney Senior Member

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    I would go so far as to even advise taping some sandpaper down on the top and sanding the
    p'up rings to match the carve. It would look better in the end.
    As to the "dead on centerline" issue, I wouldn't lose sleep over it, as you'll be the only person
    that ever sees it once finishing is complete. Just make sure it's accurate and there are no
    playing issues and carry on because quite frankly, from the pics you shared, it looks
    as if the center line of the fretboard you've extended is dead center of the pickup.
     
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  16. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    Ah that's a great idea thanks! I'll finish the top sanding and then do the pickup rings just like that.
     
  17. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    Made myself a little template to drill the control holes as well .. sits in the control cavity very nicely :)

    IMG_20180403_165359-1382x1037.jpg

    IMG_20180403_165528-1037x1382.jpg
     
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  18. pshupe

    pshupe Senior Member

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    I do this as well, but I just use plain paper and an X at each hole location and mark with an awl. Great looking guitar.

    Cheers Peter.
     
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  19. bcguitars74

    bcguitars74 Member

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    I stained the body and neck with a brown/red mix first.

    IMG-20180410-WA0001-710x946.jpg

    IMG_20180410_170259-710x946.jpg

    Located the bridge .. I use this old tailpiece to hold the strings so I can locate the bridge properly and make sure my measurements are right:

    IMG_20180408_170405-710x946.jpg

    I then started the burst, first one ever attempted, and used the hand rubbed burst guide.. much fun! It started off quite light with reds and ambers:

    IMG_20180411_170947-710x946.jpg

    While I was scraping the binding clean however I managed to bury a blade in my thumb and by the time I'd taped it up the top of the guitar was pretty covered in blood .. I had to darken everything to mask it .. It took me a little while but I've got used to it and I quite like it now :)

    IMAG0139-710x1262.jpg

    After a LOT of reading, I decided to go with a wipe-on poly. That minwax stuff is mega expensive here so I just bought a tin of oil-based poly and thinned it 50/50 with white spirit.

    I've wiped on 2 coats so far and I'm loving it :)

    IMG_20180417_200240-1036x1381.jpg

    The only thing I haven't done yet is drill the volume and tone pot holes, I'm still trying to work out how best to do it. Obviously before the finish would have been better but I just plain forgot .. :doh:
     

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  20. fatdaddypreacher

    fatdaddypreacher V.I.P. Member

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    you are doing great. each one i build i learn to improve my technique a little more, as that is part of it. don't be too hard on yourself for the misjudgements or slip ups, as they happen. you are exhibiting one of the crucial abilities in any woodworking venture---how to recover from those uh-oh moments. nice work.
     
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