Connecting the neck to body and detailing


Click on any picture to see a larger image...

The neck is done, except for fret leveling and finishing, which I can only do after the neck is attached to the body. The body is done, except for attaching the bridge, which I can only do when the neck is attached to the body, So...I guess I need to attach the neck to the body! To provide for clamping, I built these three clamping cauls and lined them with cork so that I wouldn't damage the guitar parts.

Before gluing, I also carefully cleaned up the top, heel, and heel-side of the guitar.

I spread glue on the guitar-side of the fingerboard, and carefully bolted the neck in place, then used the cork-lined cauls to clamp the neck in place. I checked, re-checked, and double-re-checked to see that everything was well-placed.
Here, you can see the heel fit on the left side of the guitar.
Note how the clamping caul with the "vee" notch was used to protect the soundhole brace while clamping the fingerboard.
Finally, the right side of the heel block where it meets the guitar. Things look great.
Since everything looks OK, I added a second clamp at the soundhole and now I'll leave the assembly to sit overnight. Can't wait to get those clamps off.
Clamps are off, ready for adjusting the frets...
Elapsed time for these steps: 2 hours... See the main page for the cumulative time.  
To start adjusting the frets, I first check the frets for level. I discovered that a couple of the frets are slightly high.
In addition, I checked to see that the neck angle is still properly set. Here, I have placed the bridge in approximately the right location, and placed my straight edge on top of the frets. There is a slight gap between the straight edge and the top of the bridge. This should work well when finally tuning the guitar.
I started the fret leveling process by carefully filing down the high frets (it didn't take much--just a few strokes of the file). Then, I ensured that the frets were level from one to the next. I did this by using a fine, single-cut file across several frets at a time. This leveled the frets, but created a flat spot on top of each fret.
When the frets were leveled, I needed to re-round the frets. I use a fine-cut triangular file to re-round the frets. However, those files are serrated on the edges, so to protect the fingerboard, I ground the tips of the "triangle" smooth on my grinder, as you see. This was suggested by the Jonathon Kinkead book, and it worked very well.
I carefully moved from fret to fret, re-rounding each. Here, I am working on fret. The other fret you see has been rounded on the top.
Also, I adjusted the ends of the frets at a slight angle, so that the guitar will be more "playable"--i.e., it won't hurt the hand to press the string against the frets. To protect the guitar top, I cut a protective caul out of some scrap formica.
Finally, after all of the filing, I polished the frets using progressive grits of sandpaper--400, 600, 800, 1200. Maybe a little touch up will be required later, but they look pretty good now.
Elapsed time for these steps: 3 hours... See the main page for the cumulative time.  
Another detail before finishing--applying an inlay to the headstock. I drafted a graphic representation of my favorite Cascade volcano--Mt. Jefferson. Then, I cut out a model of the artwork in formica, temporarily installed the tuning machines, and used stick-glue to place the formica template on the headstock. This way, I could visualize the finished condition, and plan the final placement. Based on the trial, I decided to slightly reduce the final inlay from that shown.
I recut a new inlay template in the adjusted size, and then re-cut a formica template in the new size. I obtained some figured mother-of-pearl inlay blanks, traced out the pattern, and used a jeweler's saw to cut out the two pieces of the inlay.
To lay out the inlay on the neck, I placed a piece of double-stick tape on the headstock, drew my lay-out line and placed the inlay pieces in the final location. Then I carefully used an Exacto knife to trace around the inlay. When done, I used the knife to remove the inlay pieces, pulled up the tape, and highlighted the knife-score with a pencil.
I then prepare to rout out the inlay area. First, I had to rig up a means to hold the guitar neck steady while I worked on the inlay. Here, you can see how I did just that.
Then using a router set up with a Dremel tool and a 1/8" router bit, I carefully routed as much of the figure as I could. Working very slowly, I could rout right up to the lines.
Of course, the 1/8" router bit couldn't clean out all of the tight corners, so I use some very small chisels to complete the inlay mortise. I used a magnifying hood to help me with this close work. The ebony was very brittle and I had to be vary careful not to accidentally chip the edges.
I colored some epoxy with epoxy colorant. I had earlier test using ebony dust with epoxy, but I didn't like the coarse nature of the epoxy after adding the dust. The epoxy colorant didn't add to the thickness of the epoxy, which I liked.
Here's a shot of the piece epoxied in place. I use 5-minute epoxy, and let the piece set for about four hours to harden. The colorant appeared to slow down the setting process, so I wanted to allow ample time for curing.
Finally, I used a small, fine flat file to reduce the mother-of-pearl inlay down to the level of the ebony.
Finally, I sanded lightly with 150 and then 220 grit paper. The result is a very neat inlay. This will look wonderful beneath the finish.
An additional detail--I worry about the neck bolt vibrating loose, so I used a little thread-locking compound to help secure the neck bolt. To install this, I clamped the heel to the guitar body, removed the bolt, applied the compound (shown) and re-installed the bolt. I was careful not to get any of the compound on the inside of the guitar.
It's my birthday!!!!!!! And so, I'm a year older than when I started the guitar. My gift was a guitar case, in which I have placed the unfinished guitar. It's great; I can keep the guitar safe while I figure out the finishing...
Elapsed time for these steps: 5 hours... See the main page for the cumulative time.  

The next step--Applying finish >>

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