The Definitive Top Carve Thread

59sunburst

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Gibson has used the Claw an original 59 Les Paul for its 60th anniversary guitars top carve and neck carve. They did computer imaging so it’s spot on. In the 50s they did so much by hand that there are a lot of variations in measurements. I own and have owned many 50s Les Pauls and believe me that they are all different and some are magical and some not.
 

nuance97

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...many 50s Les Pauls and believe me that they are all different and some are magical and some not.
That point has been made multiple times in this thread by myself and others. This thread is only meant to get the hand builder within some approximation of a vintage flavored carve which is closer to the mark than previous methods
 

Dimitree

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many thanks for those template, they look awesome.
I'm going to build a 1956 goldtop LP with P90..do you think I should modify those templates (in particular, the pickup plane, and of course the pickup cavities) for P90?
 

nuance97

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many thanks for those template, they look awesome.
I'm going to build a 1956 goldtop LP with P90..do you think I should modify those templates (in particular, the pickup plane, and of course the pickup cavities) for P90?
No. I’d use the .6*(ish) plane...anything between 5.5-7* is gonna be close enough imo
 

Bama5150

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Hello. I am attempting to draw the arch based on v2. First, thank you both for such a great resource. I am currently trying to reconcile the difference in the carve templates with the contours in my drawing. I am pretty sure the problem lies in my understanding of how they are used. So i thought I'd share a few pictures.
It's my understanding that the curves of the contour should roughly align with the corners shown below.
Thank you.
profile.png


upper view.png
 

nuance97

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The two important contacts points are here:
C7A31056-1F6F-4541-AD0F-25F1DDEA0851.jpeg

Don’t worry if it’s now perfectly perpendicular going down the side of your [virtual] mahogany

The maple in your render is the correct thickness I assume? .593”
 

pshupe

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I have also started some CAD / 3D drawings. I would like to model a top in Fusion 360 and CNC it and see how it matches up with some of the other top carves I have on file.

I have attached the full pdf of my plan below. I drew up the plans and then cut a section at one of the top carve profiles and then matched the carve template against the section of the countour lines. They are very close but not exact. Much closer, for this section (tail-end contour) than what is shown above. The contour gauges should exactly line up with the bottom points of the steps. That way you sand until the bottom edges just barely disappear and you are done.

Capture.JPG


Not really sure if you can see this but it is full scale in the attached PDF. Image imports on the forum are horrible since the change BTW. The contour gauge outline is yellow, the carve steps are red, and the green dashed lines are where the contour gauge outline does not match the bottom points of the contour lines.

One question would be - Are the contour profiles more correct than the steps in plan?

Regards Peter
 

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nuance97

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One question would be - Are the contour profiles more correct than the steps in plan?
Without a doubt the contours are the “more accurate” of the two. The steps were more/less hand drawn by Scott (with CAD being used to make them a usable file). He did the best he could, but they may not be perfect. They’re still definitely usable so long as you leave yourself a bit of wiggle room and match your final carve to the contours. You can’t just expect to sand away the steps and BAMO it’s perfect...a bit of finesse will be required.
 
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pshupe

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View attachment 484223
@pshupe
There were at least 4 iterations of the carve steps that Scott drew, and yours looked so similar to one of them I had to dig back through my emails to find it. It’s practically identical to one of the versions he did. Pretty cool! Maybe we should have went with those

Maybe I wasn't clear. I traced the pdf I downloaded, so it is probably identical to that one because it is that one. Then I created the steps based on the step heights and placed the contours overtop. The one I did, tail-end contour is almost dead on.

Cheers Peter.
 

Bama5150

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Maybe I wasn't clear. I traced the pdf I downloaded, so it is probably identical to that one because it is that one. Then I created the steps based on the step heights and placed the contours overtop. The one I did, tail-end contour is almost dead on.

Cheers Peter.
On the one i did the tail end contour matched much better as well (see below), which is why I posted my question..
Should all the contours be aligned so that the end of the contour rests on the top at .593"? if so then the maple top is thicker on the sides than the back right? or not?

I actually had bought the Bartlett plans, but it didn't seem to have much top carve information for me to even begin. So luckily I stumbled on this thread.

back countour.png
 

nuance97

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On the one i did the tail end contour matched much better as well (see below), which is why I posted my question..
Should all the contours be aligned so that the end of the contour rests on the top at .593"? if so then the maple top is thicker on the sides than the back right? or not?

I actually had bought the Bartlett plans, but it didn't seem to have much top carve information for me to even begin. So luckily I stumbled on this thread.

View attachment 484270
Yeah basically you’ll want to get your .593” and route your steps PLUS the neck and pickup plane. Your contours will all sit on the “spine” created by these planes and angles
 

pshupe

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On the one i did the tail end contour matched much better as well (see below), which is why I posted my question..
Should all the contours be aligned so that the end of the contour rests on the top at .593"? if so then the maple top is thicker on the sides than the back right? or not?

I actually had bought the Bartlett plans, but it didn't seem to have much top carve information for me to even begin. So luckily I stumbled on this thread.

View attachment 484270
This one does not match very well at all compared to the one that I had traced and lined up the steps. I think there would be a problem with this one as, although the top of the carve is almost perfect, the bottom 4 steps are too low. In order to get the correct profile you will have to drop the contour profile too far into the top. Ideally all the steps should be above the profile gauge, or line up exactly with the bottom points of the carve steps. Then you can sand down to it to match the profile exactly..

I would be very concerned in this area -
Capture.JPG


Regards Peter.
 

WhiteEpiLP

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I’m carving one right now, no templates just hand drawn and routed and sanded. Now I’m on to scrapers to get the recurve and waist. First time trying an actual les Paul, everything is wrong from a accuracy stand point. Poplar body with maple top, it’s thinner then a Gibson, body is 1 1/2” and the cap is only 1/2” thick. It’s shape was traced from an Epiphone then augmented a bit, it’s getting a 2 piece quarter sawn poplar neck, no scarf joint though, not sure what for a fretboard yet but I’m leaning towards ebony. Since the bony and neck are poplar it is going solid black over the poplar and a trans black for the top.
602A6EBE-F982-4BB2-BE43-D3FC8D081D97.jpeg
B4CD062A-B111-42F4-9C9A-8802F0B6F004.jpeg
 

nuance97

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I’m carving one right now, no templates just hand drawn and routed and sanded. Now I’m on to scrapers to get the recurve and waist. First time trying an actual les Paul, everything is wrong from a accuracy stand point. Poplar body with maple top, it’s thinner then a Gibson, body is 1 1/2” and the cap is only 1/2” thick. It’s shape was traced from an Epiphone then augmented a bit, it’s getting a 2 piece quarter sawn poplar neck, no scarf joint though, not sure what for a fretboard yet but I’m leaning towards ebony. Since the bony and neck are poplar it is going solid black over the poplar and a trans black for the top. View attachment 488828 View attachment 488829
Looks good man! :thumbs:
 

SlingBlader

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I’m carving one right now, no templates just hand drawn and routed and sanded. Now I’m on to scrapers to get the recurve and waist. First time trying an actual les Paul, everything is wrong from a accuracy stand point. Poplar body with maple top, it’s thinner then a Gibson, body is 1 1/2” and the cap is only 1/2” thick. It’s shape was traced from an Epiphone then augmented a bit, it’s getting a 2 piece quarter sawn poplar neck, no scarf joint though, not sure what for a fretboard yet but I’m leaning towards ebony. Since the bony and neck are poplar it is going solid black over the poplar and a trans black for the top. View attachment 488828 View attachment 488829
Nothing at all wrong with using poplar! Looks great. Here's my LP with a poplar back and mahogany neck. I do need to change those knobs, though. :D


 


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