Fabricating the fingerboard


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Beginning with a slab of Ebony approximately 3-1/2" x 25", I first established a flat face by running one face on my jointer; once the face was established, I used the jointer to establish one edge as flat and square to the finished face. Then, I thicknessed the piece to exactly 1/4" using my planer. Finally, I cut the resulting fingerboard blank to 2-1/4"; I should have left it a little wider (say, 2-3/4"), but it looks like I'm lucky and the 2-1/4" width will be just barely wide enough. The next step is to cut the fret slots in exact position. This process started with a template built from a luthier's layout rule.
Using a jig to cut perfectly perpendicular and at a constant depth, a fret saw (kerfed at about .024") was used to cut the fret slots. The fingerboard blank is double-sticked to the template, and the template is placed within the jig. Here, the initial (Fret 0) slot is established.
Next, an "Exacto" knife is placed at precisely the position of the Fret 1 as the template (with fingerboard attached) is advanced for the next cut. This process continues until Fret #20 is cut.
This photo shows the end of the luthier's layout rule. Note that the "scale length" used for this guitar is the 25-11/32" length. This distance is the theoretical distance between the nut and the bridge, although in practice, "compensation" is added to adjust for the tendency of the strings to increase in tension when the strings are pressed against the frets (1/8" additional at the high E and 1/4" additional at the low E). This compensation is added at the bridge.
The attached .PDF file lists out the theoretical distances for each of the fret positions with a scale length of 25-11/32".
Elapsed time for these steps: 4 hours ... See the main page for the cumulative time.  

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