Day 3 – Carving The Neck

Carving The Neck

The last job yesterday was gluing on the fretboard so before the next task of carving the neck, I take the clamps off hoping nothing has gone wrong!

Everything is fine:

Fretboard glued!

Fretboard glued! Now just the pins to pull out ..

Now we engage in what Mark calls “bulk material removal” – he throws what looks like a bunch of medieval torture tools onto the table.

round and curved rasps

Medieval torture tools – round and curved rasps. And a worried-looking attendee 🙂

With the ease of someone drawing a smiley, he sketches onto my colleague’s guitar the lines we need to work to for carving. I copy these and wait for approval..

Headstock side profie line

Headstock side profile line

Heel and neck lines

Heel and neck lines

Headstock lines

Headstock lines

Heel side profile line

Heel side profile line

Once the lines are OK, we dive into the job with the rasps. The round one which has cheese-grater-esque cutting edges is used to get started on the sharp edges and corners then we turn to the more standard-looking, slight curbed rasp. This is used in a “push and slide” motion: without the slide you gouge out a channel which is fine if that’s what you want. We are looking to cut facets working from the line on the side to the line on the back of the neck, if that makes sense. Its the main shaft of the neck we are concerned with – where it meets the heel and headstock we leave it relatively unmolested as we’ll do this later.

Mark gives us measurements to work towards: the thickness of the fretboard and neck at the first fret should be around 21.2 mm, at the 15th it should be around 23.5 mm. Onwards:

Using a rasp to cut away the excess material

Using a rasp to cut away the excess material – here we are looking to cut a facet between the side and bottom lines.

Here’s how it’s looking after the first ones are cut:

First facets cut!

First facets cut!

We then work on bring t=ing the thickness of the neck down to the required measurements, checking the thickness often with digital  using calipers and also making sure we have the back plane straight with a straight edge:

Checking for high and low spots with a straight-edge.

Checking for high and low spots with a straight-edge.

Whenever we see light coming through under the straight-edge means that we have high and low spots – everything must be brought down to the level of the lowest spot.

Once we’re at roughly the right thickness, we work on removing the straight lines of the facets we have just cut and then removing the straight lines of those and so on until we have a roundish profile consisting of facets – to now make the neck rounded we use a scraper. By simply going up and down the neck with this we take off shavings and soon we have a fairly round neck profile – amazing!

Use a scraper to round the neck profile

Use a scraper to round the neck profile

To get to where we want to go – a smooth neck profile with no lumps or bumps in it – we use a mixture of the scraper, a sanding block and a strip of sanding paper which is used like a shoe-shine cloth. By varying the angle of the strip we can sand all parts of the neck depending on where the bumps are:

Shoe-shining the neck!

Shoe-shining the neck!

And the roughly finished neck shaft!

Roughly finished neck.

Roughly finished neck.

Next we turn our attention to the fretboard again.

 

 

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