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Thread: First Telecaster Build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    New Jersey
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    First Telecaster Build

    Jim Becker has inspired me. I'm trying my hand at my first telecaster. Hopefully I can build one better than I can play one. There are great resources for building this style and there are many things about the geometry that make it an easier style to tackle as a first. We'll see...

    I'm making this one out of cherry mainly because I've had this piece laying around for several years. I suspect that people typically use swamp ash or poplar for price or weight. This isn't that heavy, though. I don't see a lot of cherry necks either. It's also easy to shape and work with.

    IMG_3661.jpg
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 07-21-2020 at 6:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Looking forward to seeing your build - post lots of photos!

    David
    David
    CurlyWoodShop on Etsy, David Falkner on YouTube, difalkner on Instagram

  3. #3
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    That will be interesting! Post some in-progress pictures!

  4. #4
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    Orwell, NY
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    Cherry is probably my favorite wood for instruments, it's stable, easy to work and pretty. Best of luck with your build.

  5. #5
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    Blanks cut

    I cut the body and neck blanks.

    IMG_3664.jpg

    I'm planning to route the cavities before cutting the body shape. I started with the neck pocket. The inside corners are typically rounded over. I guess this is because they are all made with a router. I recall from building a Maloof rocker that that these kinds of joint require matched roundover and pattern bits. If you don't have these, you have to do some manual adjusting and filing to get a perfect fit.

    I decided to make my corners square (trapezoidal since the pocket is tapered). Squaring the corners of the pocket with a chisel was straightforward. This also allows me to cut the end of the neck flat, and then sneak up on the fit with a plane. I couldn't find examples of people doing this. I know...I have a little clean up to do on the walls...

    IMG_3666.jpg
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 07-21-2020 at 6:05 AM.

  6. #6
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    Routing

    It's probably not critical that these mortises are pretty, but I would like to achieve more straighter walls. I fastened the template to the blank, and then used a pattern bit (1/2" dia x 1/4" depth). The issue I have with pattern bits is that if the bit is too short, you can be limited in how deep you can go. But if the bit is too long, you are limited in how gentle a pass you can make. Regardless, it's critical to keep clearing chips out or else the bit won't register and you'll get lines like I got. The switch channel is a little better because I hogged out a good deal with a forstner bit first. I'm only about half way done. Will complete tonight.

    IMG_3667.jpgIMG_3669.jpgIMG_3668.jpg
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 07-21-2020 at 9:14 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    That body is going to be really beautiful with that figured cherry! Wow.

    Can I assume you're going to use your basic pocket routes as your temple for getting things to proper depth for the pickups and control cavity? If so, be sure to hog things out with a forstner bit first to reduce strain on your router which in turn reduces the chance of a miss-route. When you drill your wiring holes between cavities, use a long "aircraft" style bit and a little piece of PVC pipe around it to protect the edges of the cavity on the body top from damage as you make these flat angled holes.
    --

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

  8. #8
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    Thanks, Jim. I have had a million questions and have been tempted to ask you, but I've been holding back, using TDPRI and 'Tube first. It took me forever to figure out that the angled mortise between the neck pickup and control channel is just a wiring channel.

    I am nervous about lining up the fretboard to the neck. I haven't found a good template that helps align them; I'll have to do that part manually.

    How do you feel about using walnut as a fretboard. It's much easier to work with than ebony or rosewood.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2003
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    I generally omit that wiring channel on the top of the body, although the bodies I'm building most of the time are chambered and capped so I can put in the channel "hidden". Otherwise, I use a long drill bit via the neck pocket through the neck pickup cavity to the control cavity.

    Walnut is fine for a fretboard although you need to keep in mind that it's going to get lighter over time. At some point, it will be hard to distinguish from the cherry other than a slightly greenish haze to the walnut as compared to the darkened cherry. The Indian Rosewood I used on the last two builds worked pretty easily, honestly, but then again, I was using the CNC to cut them. If you want to, you can get pre-cut fretboards from StewMac, including fret slots for very reasonable money while you are getting your feet wet with building. I recently bought some .25" Richlite to try for fretboards. I have several if you want to try one...they were not expensive at about $11 a piece.

    Aligning the fretboard can be relatively easy...two small holes hidden in inlay or fret slots and some toothpicks while you're gluing it up. Chris from Highline Guitars uses a few grains of salt for the same thing during a quick glue setup prior to fully clamping.

    If you're on TDPRI, be sure to post your build in the Tele Home Depot forum area...you'll get lots of help as well as kudos. I have learned a "yuge" amount from that group!
    --

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

  10. #10
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    Body and neck are cut.

    Body and neck are cut. Channels routed.

    This is a fun project. Half precision, half sculpting.

    IMG_3710.jpg

    IMG_3709.jpg
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 07-28-2020 at 12:12 PM.

  11. #11
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    ...and it's going to be a really delicious instrument when you are done!
    --

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

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    SE Michigan
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    Looking good, Prashun. Canít wait to see that cherry when the finish goes on.

  13. #13
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    Apr 2007
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    Fretty Mercury

    I made some progress this weekend. Fretboard cut. I used the Stewmac Dozuki. A pretty nice saw in its own right! When Lie Nielsen starts making saws more frequently again, I'm itching to pick up their tapered dovetail saw. I have their normal saw and LOVE IT. It's aggressive and smooth. It just works in my hands. The tapered version cuts a .021 thin kerf and I suspect would also work well for this.

    I knifed the lines and cut them free hand with the Dozuki. The depth stop on this is very nice - especially when re-cutting the slots after radiusing.

    Fretboard.jpg

    Fretboard2.jpg

  14. #14
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    Richard Neckson

    Fretboard glued and trued. I don't like template routing when I don't have to. It's a lot of work, risks tear out, is dusty and I rarely seem to have the perfect length bit... Anyway, I just hand planed this. Up near the headstock I used a rosewood shaver. Ironic, because my fretboard is walnut and not rosewood...


    Neck Glued.jpg

  15. #15
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    Neck shaping

    I radiused the neck with a small 12" sanding block. I got a tip from a Maximum Guitar Works video to use a #4 plane to assist. cutting the high spots and then using the sanding block really just to true up and check things. That worked quite nicely. I originally intended to do that for speed reasons. However, I found that it resulted in a more controlled cut because I was able to keep the neck flat along its length; Sanding requires a million strokes. Planing required 2-3 full length passes between tests. This fretboard is pretty straight grained, so it planes easy even in hurried hands. Last, the frets slots served as an excellent visual guide during the sanding because they'd fill with dust. Because the head end is narrower than the heel end, I focused on keeping the arc centered about the center line. It's a hard to describe, but those slots help make it easy to see how straight the radius is.

    I'm using a 12" radius on this one.

    I did a little neck shaping as well. I owned a couple Dragon rasps from Stew Mac that I bought several years ago to use on blended joinery. They have been awesome. The pointy tip makes them surprisingly versatile.

    Neck radius.jpeg

    Truss Hole.jpeg

    Neck Shape.jpg

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