Cherry Strat Build

SlingBlader

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Hello everyone. I have a couple of winter projects in the works and thought I'd post a couple of build threads to document the progress. As I learn to build, I wanted to fill in gaps in my instrument collection. Right now I'm lacking in the single coil category. So this thread will cover my take on a Strat build. I'm also building a version of a Les Paul Special to fulfill my want of a P-90 equipped guitar, but I'll start a separate thread for that.

This build will break from standard Fender conventions in some ways, but I hope for the end result to be pretty much a classic look. I'll be using cherry for the body and figured maple for the neck along with a Madagascar rosewood fretboard. The current plan is for a 2 tone burst on the body, but I still need to do some testing to see how that will look over cherry, especially once it darkens up a bit.

Being winter and all, I'm just taking my sweet time to get this completed. My garage is heated, but I really don't want to shoot finish until it warms up this spring. I got started shortly after the holidays, so I'll make a few posts to get some progress shots up.

My body blank is large enough for a one piece body. I don't have a jointer and I didn't want to joint it by hand, so I used my box jig and router sled to true up one side.


Once that was done, I jointed one edge, then went to the band saw and took off some excess material.





Laying out the body. There will be some sapwood on the rear of the body for sure, but may get covered with the burst. Not the end of the world if it shows.


Roughly cut out on the band saw.


Will post more soon. :)
 

SlingBlader

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Next up, I moved on to routing operations on the body.

I have an inverted pin router, so the normal way of doing things is exactly reversed. The benefit is that you can see exactly where your pin is, so following the pattern is easier. Dust collection is pretty good since there is essentially a downdraft dust port; and it may be a bit safer overall.

The downside is that you have to be very sure of the turret adjustments before you begin, because all of the cutting is blind... except when routing a perimeter. So, when you move that turret lever and throw the switch for the pneumatic control, you need to hang on securely and know that you got your depth set correctly.

Routing the trem spring cavity.


Trem cavity complete.


Front routs complete along with body perimeter. Now it needs roundovers, forearm contour and belly cut.


Next up I slotted fretboards for my winter projects. At some point I decided that I'll be building two Strat necks, and possibly two Strats, so hence the 2 Madagascar boards. The Brazilian board will be for the Les Paul "Special" build that I have going as well.


I'm now using router bits for putting the radius on fretboards instead of radius blocks/beams. For me, this is much quicker and so much less work. Here I have a board mounted along a centerline on a flat and square fixture. I make a pass, flip the fixture over (end for end) and make another pass. I then move the fence to expose more router bit and repeat the process. I do this in three passes to remove a minimum of material on each pass. Surprisingly I've never had a problem with chip out, although I did get a bit in the nut slots, which is no problem.


Closeup of the bit. These boards are getting a 9.5" radius.


Here is a completed board. A minute or two with a leveling beam with some 220 paper to remove tool marks and suddenly you're a nephew to some guy named Bob... er... something like that. :D


More later, thanks for looking. :)
 

emoney

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Love that router bit. Soooo much easier than hand sanding and quicker than using a sled I'd think.
 

Kennoyce

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Love that router bit. Soooo much easier than hand sanding and quicker than using a sled I'd think.
Seriously, it's a great way to go! I've always radiused before cutting the slots though for fear of tearout between the slots, but it's cool to see that it worked out even with the slots pre-cut!
 

SlingBlader

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Love that router bit. Soooo much easier than hand sanding and quicker than using a sled I'd think.
It makes it an absolute breeze. Not to mention the fact that you could pretty much buy every radius bit that you would ever need for less than StewMac charges for one of the aluminum beams. And don't get me wrong, the beams are very nice and they are handy to have, but ouch!
 

SlingBlader

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Seriously, it's a great way to go! I've always radiused before cutting the slots though for fear of tearout between the slots, but it's cool to see that it worked out even with the slots pre-cut!
Yes, I should probably do this as well to minimize the chance of tear out. The trick is to remember to leave the ends alone so that you have square ends left. That way you can still use the slotting template on a sled for FB slotting.
 

Tone_Chaser

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Just got a 12" radius bit. Do you just center the bearing on the center line?
 

SlingBlader

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Just got a 12" radius bit. Do you just center the bearing on the center line?
I really don’t use the bearing at all for two reasons.

  1. There is a gap between the bearing and the cutter. If you set the bearing at the centerline, you will not get a radius that is complete. Your board will be flat in the center. I ignore the bearing completely and set the edge of the cutter at the centerline. For this reason, I use the fence and do not allow the bearing to ride on the workpiece; even for the final pass. I take very shallow passes (typically 3) moving the fence after making a pass on each side of the board.​
  2. If you were to use the bearing against the workpiece in the correct position (above center with cutter at centerline) this is what would happen: When that cutter makes the final pass on the first side at the centerline, that surface then becomes too low and the bearing will follow right along when you make the pass on the second side. What you end up with is an offset, or ledge, at the centerline that you will chase until your board is too thin to use. Ask me how I know this. :D
 

Kennoyce

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I really don’t use the bearing at all for two reasons.

  1. There is a gap between the bearing and the cutter. If you set the bearing at the centerline, you will not get a radius that is complete. Your board will be flat in the center. I ignore the bearing completely and set the edge of the cutter at the centerline. For this reason, I use the fence and do not allow the bearing to ride on the workpiece; even for the final pass. I take very shallow passes (typically 3) moving the fence after making a pass on each side of the board.​
  2. If you were to use the bearing against the workpiece in the correct position (above center with cutter at centerline) this is what would happen: When that cutter makes the final pass on the first side at the centerline, that surface then becomes too low and the bearing will follow right along when you make the pass on the second side. What you end up with is an offset, or ledge, at the centerline that you will chase until your board is too thin to use. Ask me how I know this. :D
This is all correct. As stated in my post above, I do use the bearing and center it on the fretboard. This does leave a small flat portion in the center of the fretboard, so I use my radius beam to finish it off and just sand until I remove the centerline. Obviously if you go this route, you still need a radius beam, but it certainly saves a ton of time over just doing the whole radiusing with the beam.
 

dcomiskey

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Love that router bit. Soooo much easier than hand sanding and quicker than using a sled I'd think.
I have a 16" and, after spending 2 hours sanding a 10" radius by hand this weekend on a new build, I ordered the whole set yesterday. Those bits are a god-send.
 

SlingBlader

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I have a 16" and, after spending 2 hours sanding a 10" radius by hand this weekend on a new build, I ordered the whole set yesterday. Those bits are a god-send.
Totally agree. Which brand did you go with? Yonico, SJE, some other? I’d like to pick up a couple more as well.
 

Tone_Chaser

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I really don’t use the bearing at all for two reasons.

  1. There is a gap between the bearing and the cutter. If you set the bearing at the centerline, you will not get a radius that is complete. Your board will be flat in the center. I ignore the bearing completely and set the edge of the cutter at the centerline. For this reason, I use the fence and do not allow the bearing to ride on the workpiece; even for the final pass. I take very shallow passes (typically 3) moving the fence after making a pass on each side of the board.​
  2. If you were to use the bearing against the workpiece in the correct position (above center with cutter at centerline) this is what would happen: When that cutter makes the final pass on the first side at the centerline, that surface then becomes too low and the bearing will follow right along when you make the pass on the second side. What you end up with is an offset, or ledge, at the centerline that you will chase until your board is too thin to use. Ask me how I know this. :D
I've watched a video showing this as well. I don't really mind a little extra sanding for the safety of the bearing. I may change my mind after I use it.

Have you done a radius after doing the inlays? I worry about chipping even if done in steps but one of the fingerboards I'm working on already has the design on it that needs to be routed. I guess I could go ahead and route it out and inlay after radiating it.
 

SlingBlader

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I've watched a video showing this as well. I don't really mind a little extra sanding for the safety of the bearing. I may change my mind after I use it.

Have you done a radius after doing the inlays? I worry about chipping even if done in steps but one of the fingerboards I'm working on already has the design on it that needs to be routed. I guess I could go ahead and route it out and inlay after radiating it.
Well, it's not that I'm bypassing the safety of the bearing. I'm using the router fence to stop the cutters instead of the bearing. The point is this; if you rely on the bearing when it is in the correct position (above center), then it is only accurate on "side A". When you flip it over and rout "Side B", the bearing is then allowing the cutters to run too deep. Hope that clarifies things. :)

I have not done the radius after inlays, but as long as the inlay material is plastic or wood, I don't see why it wouldn't work. Again, I'd have to experiment. Any shell inlay would most likely chip like crazy.
 

Tone_Chaser

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Sorry, I wasn't talking that kind of safety. I meant safety from me screwing it up and putting a gouge in the board.

Thanks for the reply. I'll just play it safe and do it before.
 

SlingBlader

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Sorry, I wasn't talking that kind of safety. I meant safety from me screwing it up and putting a gouge in the board.

Thanks for the reply. I'll just play it safe and do it before.
Yep, I'm referring to the same kind of safety. :) The fence is used to position the workpiece relative to the bit/cutters instead of the bearing. I check the relationship with a straight edge every time that I move the fence.
 

SlingBlader

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Next up I began work on the neck, well necks. I'm making two, I don't recall if I mentioned that. The maple material that I have is wide enough to get two necks which are nested side by side. Me being the cheap @ss that I am could not stand wasting any material by making only one neck with this blank.

So, to make this work I laid out the necks with the centerlines parallel to the edges of the blank so that I could still use the router table fence to cut the truss rod slots. It did make it a bit trickier since the headstocks were in the way from each end. I had to "drop" or plunge the cuts in where it was safely past the headstock area.

I should mention that I'm using spokewheel truss rods for these. I'll be recessing the wheel into the heel of the neck. I hope this works out. I've never used them before but I think they look pretty neat. :thumb:



Here one slot is cut and I've cut the wider slot for the "barrel" nut access on the other.


This is as far as I could take them at the router table.


Attached a scrap of ply to use as a fence to cut the wheel pocket.


And done, although a bit burned. :D


After the routing, I roughly cut the necks out at the band saw.


Here is a truss rod laying on top of the neck. I still need to square up the end of the slot, so this isn't fitting yet.


I set the necks aside for a couple of days to rest in case they decided to go all wonky. :)
 

SlingBlader

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Well, I'm happy to report that the necks did not go all wonky, but stayed nice and straight.

I attached the neck template and then trimmed the excess material with a Robosander.


I then removed the rest of the material at the router table with a spiral compression pattern bit.


The necks came out very clean.


Here is the process of cutting the spoke wheel access in the fret boards. I'm sure there are a lot of ways that I could have skinned this cat, but this is how I did it. :D

First I aligned the boards, then drilled two alignment holes through the first and last fret slots. (1/16") I used plastic side dot rods as pins for alignment. I like using plastic in the fret slots instead of metal. I then clamped the board to the neck, then placed this assembly in a vise. Using a square and a marking knife, I transferred the outer extent of the wheel pocket to the end of the fret board.


I used the Dremel in a router base with a spiral bit to remove the material a little at a time. This was a little like a circus act, but surprisingly more stable than it looks. :wow:


Close up.


After the material was removed, I put a small chamfer all the way around with files and chisels.


Here are the results on both necks.




Thanks for looking, more soon. :D
 


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