First Attempt at a Les Paul..

eddym

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Well, it's not just a first attempt at a Les Paul, it's a first attempt at building a guitar of any description.

This idea started as wanting to put p90's in my sg, my mind wandered, and all of a sudden it seemed that all I've ever wanted to do was to make a Les Paul. So I read lots of threads on making Les Pauls and began to think about how I would takle the challenges in my way with the tools I have, and I don't have a lot!

I do have a background in furniture making and antique restorations, but that was a good while ago, and back then the firm I worked for had all the kit under the sun.

I did put a great deal of thought and research into this before I started, but I am on a budget, so I have been a little tight when it comes to splashing out on books and one-time use tools. I know this is a false economy because I may want to make more later.. Who knows, anyways enough waffling, here goes.:fingersx:
 

eddym

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First off I went to a local furniture lumber supplier and picked up some Honduran Mahogany, and some curly maple.

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The maple is big enogh to get three tops out of with a little creative thinking, so I ordered and waited for plans before I cut it.

I placed an order with Stew mac for the plans, a truss rod, inlays, fretwire and some other bits. While I was waiting though, I could Join up the mahogany for the body.

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When my order arrived, my body blank was now ready to rock, here are the raw ingredients.

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eddym

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With the plans I was able to map out three tops on the maple and cut out the one I wanted ready to join.

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My next step was to line up all the pieces and mark out and rout the channel for the wiring, then glue on the top, I had reasons for not routing the control cavities at this stage, although it would have been the easiest time to do it.

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eddym

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I then started on the neck, I got all of the surfaces square and flat and cut the truss rod channel, the tennon, and then the headstock face angle.

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eddym

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To cut the neck pocket at the correct angle, i first angled the top while the blank was still a rectangle, it was crucial that everything was square, otherwise the neck joint would be off line, or twisted or simply at the wrong angle..

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I then got the Joint to fit nicely, it isn't the best joint i've ever cut, but its fine, nice and snug, the joint can hold the weight of that big lump of wood, so its ok by me.

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eddym

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Next I carved out the truss rod nut hole and dropped the rod in to take a look!

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eddym

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I don't have access to a band saw, so I cut the neck out with a bog standard wood saw, cutting in at an angle, so I had v shaped bits sticking out, then cutting those off as straight as I could, keeping well clear of my already conservative line. The sawing went quicker than anticipated, and after 10 mins or so I was at the belt sander, and another 5 mins later I was at this stage, and ready for a beer!

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eddym

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The following day, I glued on the sides of the headstock, and made myself a 3/4" mdf body template.

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(if you look at this pic for a while, it looks like headstock end is floating! I can't even remember which bit was on the floor...)
 
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eddym

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Once the glue had been left overnight, I sanded down the wings to the same thickness as the rest of the headstock.

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bildozr

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sweet
i want to build one
 

eddym

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Now the time had come to cut out the body, I took my mdf template, and screwed it to the back of the body blank, screwing into the control cavity areas which will later be removed, I had to do this from the back because i had already cut the neck angle on the top, at this stage I had to be carefull not to make myself a left handed Les Paul! I made sure everything lined up nicely.

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Then many, many passes, when I was deep enough, I removed the template and used the previous cuts as my new template..

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stryker59

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that woulda sucked!!! get it all nice and cut out, then realize it was backwards!!!:wow:
 

eddym

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that woulda sucked!!! get it all nice and cut out, then realize it was backwards!!!:wow:
Really would have sucked, it seemed so obvious when I saw it was Backwards, but i looked at it for 10 minutes before the penny dropped, with the template set for a left hander!!:hmm:
 

eddym

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So after lots of routing, and a bit of sanding, I had the body shaped, and I was Happy with it, I know that this isn't the most complicated step, but its a very important one not to screw up:

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eddym

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I have been building this in a friends garage, and he had a router table! bit of luck that was, so after a few experiments, and a bit of pondering I made a little guide to put above the bit, to cut the binding channel, this stage went very smoothly.

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With the bit pokig up through the table, I obviously had to do this all with the body face down, so special care was needed when the angled part of the body was ot the table more than the flat part.. (if you catch my drift..)
 
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eddym

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I then routed an extra step at the binding height, to be the edge of the carve..

This is what I have all told, the contours marked on the body are me thinking out loud, not accurate, or intended to be.. was just illistrating the contours to Mike (the guy who's garage it is in!)

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bildozr

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i REALLY want to attempt one now
 

eddym

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i REALLY want to attempt one now
DO IT!! Just take your time, and think about how you would do each step, and if you are confident you can pull it off, then get it going. Do your research - look at all the build threads you can, and you'll see that there are a good few ways of dealing with each stage, get it clearly mapped out in your head what would be the best plan of attack for YOU, and get stuck in.

I'm sure that expirienced luthiers would do things differently to how I have done them, but I've carefully thought about each step, and stuck to MY plan... and so far I've been ok, however, I'm sure that at some stage, especially the finishing, I'll be looking for some words of wisdom from the pros'

And you know what, it has been great fun, and a good learning expirience, whatever the result is like at the end.

Good luck, and if you think you'd enjoy the process DO IT!!
 




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