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.
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.
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.
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.
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.