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Thread: Guitar build number three...

  1. #1
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    Guitar build number three...

    Tele at heart when it comes to the metrics, but I wanted to do something that was "mine" to go with the neck/headstock design I had been noodling with. And what a nice way to leverage a 360mm wide hunk of sapele that I picked up last summer while at a sign-making training class down in Suffolk VA.

    So I came up with a double cut with a top contour that favors arm relief like a Strat and with a belly cut. Both serve for weight reduction, too. The cuts and contours were done using Vectric's molding tool paths that Alex Navaro featured in a video not long ago...a little easier than modeling them in 3D and faster, more efficient when cutting. This one is for humbuckers, but I can easily flip the design to Tele-style single coils. This is designed for two-sided machining.

    JB-Alt-Body-HB-Front.jpg JB-Alt-Body-HB-Back.jpg

    I cut the back side first which includes a slight round-over for the edge, the ferrule recesses, the control pocket and recess for the cover and for this design, the belly and horn relief cuts

    IMG_5559.jpg

    Then the top gets cut.

    IMG_5560.jpg

    It's important to note that the CNC is just cutting out the body in the same way one would do it manually. It still needs the same refinement and hand work to complete the job. The big advantage to using the CNC is it removes some of the drudgery work, adds consistency and most importantly for a "new" design, provides the ability to visualize things and work out details before a single piece of expensive wood gets touched.

    I did a little sanding on the contours before releasing the body from the waste because it held things flat and stable. From there, all of the machining marks were removed from the top and bottom with 80 grit on my ROS. The body still needs to get the edges treated at the OSS once I have a large table project out of the way and then a whole lot more sanding to get it where it needs to be. But here are some photos that illustrate the design and contouring I ended up with this first iteration of the design.

    (just wiped down with DNA, which is why there may be some color spots)

    IMG_5561.jpg . IMG_5562.jpg . IMG_5563.jpg . IMG_5564.jpg
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  2. #2
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    Control cover on the back fits nicely

    IMG_5565.jpg

    And here are views of the "package" with the neck mock up design

    IMG_5566.jpg IMG_5568.jpg

    I think this is going to look great when it's completed. Hopefully, it will sound nice, too.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
    Another winner Jim! What are your finishing plans?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul F Franklin View Post
    Another winner Jim! What are your finishing plans?
    Still up in the air, Paul, but the sapele will be the feature. I may cut the neck from it, too, and I have some various types of rosewood as well as some interesting koa available for the fretboard. Still mulling things over. Whatever I choose has to also translate in the matching bass I have planned with the same body and headstock shape.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
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    I decided to go with sapele for the neck for this instrument and cut that today while I was waiting for glue to dry on another project. To add a splash of interest, I added a "skunk stripe" to the back of the neck. One thing I did different while cutting the back contour was to do the "finish cut" tool path across the neck rather than parallel to it this time. Oh my...major difference an increase in quality due to the way that ball nose bits become less efficient on the vertical sides of an object. There will be a whole lot less scraping and sanding required for the back of this neck!

    IMG_5592.jpg IMG_5590.jpg
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Another good looking build, Jim! How long did each take to cut - body and neck?

    David
    David

    Nothing to do with woodworking at all, just our music at church (I'm the guy with the Koa Takamine)

  7. #7
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    David, I forgot to note the cut times, but they were surprisingly quick despite the molding tool paths. I'd say the back of the body took maybe 15-20 minutes and the front about 30 minutes and that was only because of the repetitive cutting of the contours at a 9% step-over on a .5" ball nose. Top of the neck took about 12 minutes to cut. The back of the neck took about 40 minutes. That last one is significant...it would take many hours to do the same by hand to the same point of finish.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  8. #8
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    With the shop changes completed, stuff put away and my remaining client work out the door, it was time to get back on this guitar build.

    To start off, I cut the neck free and removed the tabs so I could test fit it to the body. This neck is also sapele with a little maple skunk stripe on the back. The fit is fine and I'm seriously considering making this a set neck so I can do some further sculpting on the back side of the heel/body for even better access to upper frets. I really do like the body shape and neck design together.

    IMG_5688.jpg IMG_5690.jpg

    I will certainly think a little more about that. In the meantime, it was time to cut a fretboard. I scored a nice piece of east Indian Rosewood at Hearne a few weeks ago and I think that the darker fretboard will really look nice on this instrument. So I cut a hunk off and re-sawed and thicknessed two fretboard blanks and set things up on the CNC. The wood has a really spicy smell to it...quite interesting.

    IMG_5691.jpg

    This rosewood species cuts really nicely and after a bit of time and a few tool changes, it actually looks like a fretboard.

    IMG_5692.jpg

    The surface off the machine is much nicer than the maple I've cut with the same file. Once it's sanded/scraped, it's going to positively glow

    IMG_5694.jpg

    For those wondering...this is what the tiny cutter looks like that does the fret slots... .023", three flute running at 18K RPM, 20 ips, five passes per slot. This tooling is from PreciseBits (Tinker and Tinker) in Colorado.

    IMG_5696.jpg

    Here's the fretboard with the edges cleaned and ready for assembling to the neck when I'm ready to do that task. It's cut slightly long at the headstock end so I can precisely trim it before blending into the sweep up from the headstock to the neck surface.

    IMG_5697.jpg

    Yea, I like this. A lot.

    IMG_5698.jpg
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
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    I decided to re-cut the neck for this build today...there were some things I just didn't like at the interface to the headstock and I wanted to move the break at the heel a little closer to the end of the neck pocket since I'm considering making this a set neck. The one I already cut will not go to waste as I have another body I'll likely mate it with where the things I don't feel work with this body will be less of an issue for me.

    It was the same "put in the stripe"..."flip it and cut the top"..."flip it and cut the neck contour on the back" thing as last time. There was a slight onion skin because of a minor variation in thickness, but that sanded out while I was cutting it free from the blank.

    IMG_5705.jpgIMG_5706.jpgIMG_5707.jpg
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    That’s going to look great, Jim. Kudos for the “redo”. It’s always a bit of head scratching for me to try to make something work without a redo...but once I get over it, I’m always happy I did.

    I’m not familiar with CNC bits. Are small straight cutters like you show all “down cut”. The fret groove edges look pretty darn crisp.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    That’s going to look great, Jim. Kudos for the “redo”. It’s always a bit of head scratching for me to try to make something work without a redo...but once I get over it, I’m always happy I did.

    I’m not familiar with CNC bits. Are small straight cutters like you show all “down cut”. The fret groove edges look pretty darn crisp.
    I use both up cut and down cut tooling, depending on the job and the depth. I also use compression cutters which have up-cut at the tip and are otherwise downcut. These are ideal for sheet goods for clean edges and I also use them for pocketing boxes so that the top edge stays pristine while the swarf from the bottom of the cut gets moved upward enough that the dust collection can grab the chips without them getting packed in like they would with a down-cut. The tiny tooling for the fret slots is up-cut. The first pass is so shallow that the edge stays fine and would be hidden anyway by the fret wire, and you don't want to pack chips into the slot for something so delicate.
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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