Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Walnut Stratocaster - Number 8 - Fretting

Because of the wood binding on the fretboard, I had to take a different approach to fret work. Typically I would just bend the frets to match the radius of the fretboard, cut them slightly wider, then hammer them in.

For this build, I have to trim the fret tang, and then file the underside of the fret flat.
I ran into trouble when I tried to seat the frets.
When hammering the frets, the edges popped up slightly from the fretboard. I was unable to seat the frets without gaps.
I posted a question on the TDPRI Tele Home Depot forum. Between the responses to this query and a brief conversation with someone at Stewart MacDonald I was able to find a solution. It involved using a little glue and a fret press attached to my drill press.
After these results, I will start using the fret press instead of the hammer. I'm really pleased with the outcome. I had purchased the press a few years ago, but I was unhappy with the results. The problem was that the drill press table would give a little when I pressed in the frets. This time at the recommendation of someone from Stewart MacDonald, I secured the drill press table. Now with a firm base, the frets popped securely into place and stayed.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Walnut Stratocaster - Number 8 - Body Shaping

For the forearm contour I mark of the top. Then use a corse rasp to remove most of the wood. When I get close to where I want the shape to end up, I switch to a scraper and then a finer rounded file. I finish this off with 80 then 120 grit sand paper.
I repeat the same process for the belly cut.
I use a router with a round-over bit round the edges.

Walnut Stratocaster - Number 8 - Pickup Route

I'm going with three single coil pickups on this build. I'm planning a traditional Strat set up, except I won't be using a pick-guard here. Instead I will use a rear route for the electronics. I want to show off the figuring of the wood.
For these last two photos I wanted to get an idea of just how this will look when it's all set up.

I won't be using EMG's on this build, they are just for placement. I'm either going to go with a traditional Stratocaster single coil set up or I'm going to try the Brian May set up. I can wait until I'm ready to put in the pickup selector to make this decision.

Walnut Stratocaster - Number 8 - Bridge Route

I'm using a standard tremolo bridge template to route the hole for the bridge.
After I get a good distance through the body, I start on the back. Again, I'm using a standard template to route the rear cavity. I use the center-line to carefully measure the position of the template before I begin routing the hole. Because the cavity for the tremolo block is wider on the bottom, I make several passes. I route to within 1/4 inch of the top.

Walnut Stratocaster - Number 8 - Neck Bolt

I decided to use mounting bushings instead of a neck plate for this build. For the bushings I had to counter-sink the holes.
Then I drilled through the body for the screws. I used the drill press for these. I then attach the neck and use the holes to guide the drill bit.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Walnut Stratocaster Or Number 8 - Wood Repair

While sanding the sides with the spindle sander, I discovered a surface imperfection. at first I thought it was a just a crack.
Here is a close-up detail shot.
I used a plastic pick to examine the depth of this hole.
For this repair I will be using glue, epoxy and walnut sawdust.
I tape off around the damaged area.
The holes are filled with glue and sawdust. I then let it dry over night.
The hole isn't completely filled.
I mix up a slurry of epoxy and walnut sawdust.
I tape off the damaged are once more. And this time, fill the hole with the epoxy slurry. For this one I chose a slow-curing epoxy. I'll let this sit for 24 hours.
The epoxy slurry leaves a raised scar, that I scrape off, and then sand with an 80 grit paper.
The end result is a nicely filled repair. It will still need to be filled.
Here, I've wet the wood with mineral spirits to see how the repair may look after the final finish is applied.

I had a couple very small gaps between the fretboard and neck. I used the same glue and sawdust process for this repair.

Walnut Stratocaster Or Number 8 - Neck Pocket

Now it's time to move on to the neck pocket.

I start by clamping the neck to the body blank. I use a laser to line up the center-line of the body and the neck. clamp it in place. Then I attach two long pieces and one small piece of wood to the body blank. The wood is placed tightly against the sides of the neck. This creates a perfect routing jig.
I remove the neck. Then drill out excess wood using a 3/4 inch drill bit. I follow that by routing the pocket. Once complete I cut the body shape out, and use a spine sander to clean up the sides.
The neck now fits snuggly into the body.
I placed the pick-guard on these last two images, so that I could see just how it might look. I have not decided to use a pick-guard on this build.