Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Headless Body

This represents two weekends worth of work on the headless body. The photo to the left is where the where I stopped Sunday evening. Below is documentation of the progress that got me there.

I started by routing holes in the ash back for the wiring. Then I glued two pieces of curly maple together with a center piece of pau ferro. I cut small grooves on the sides of the maple for clamping. After the maple and pau ferro dried, I glued mahogany veneer to the back.

After the top dried, I glued it to the body. There was about a half inch of overhang on the sides. This was intentional. Later, I cut these edges close to the body, then I routed the edges flat.

The top and the edges are still ruff at this weekend. I started this weekend by using my router to plane the top of the body. I then used the orbital sander to sand from 80 grit to 220 grit. 

After planing and sanding the top, I used the router to smooth and straighten the sides. Here you can see the thin mahogany veneer sandwiched between the ash back and the maple top.  

Here the new headless body sits next to the old Steinberger P-Series body I won on eBay last year. The dimension on mine are slightly longer than the Steinberger. This is to accommodate the neck dimensions. I did not have plans for the neck, so I really was working from scratch on this build. Visually, the only Steinberger aficionados will notice. 

Next weekend, I will cut the rear to match the Steinberger body and route the neck pocket and perhaps pickup and the electronics cavity on the back.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Firebird Progress

Great progress on the Firebird this past weekend. First I spent an entire morning sizing up the route for the neck pocket. Because I was widening the existing route by less than 2mm on either side, I was running into trouble with lining up the the jig for the route. I tried three different methods before settling on using an existing jig. In order to achieve the 4˚, I used shims and double stick tape to raise one side of the jig.

The indention in the photo of the neck pocket was created by accident when my router lowered without warning. This happened because the collar holding it at the proper height was not tight enough. I have since taken to tightening the collar using a ratchet set after locking it in the appropriate height. I should be able to sand this indention slightly by hand. And it will be hidden by the neck once it is place.

After routing the the neck pocket I was able to determine the location of the bridge. The tail piece (if I use one instead of a Bigsby) will be far enough back that I can reach the appropriate location with the drill press after gluing the wings on.

Before gluing the wings to the center piece, I drilled a few holes for wiring tow pickups and the bridge ground wire. The holes lined up with the channel that I routed before gluing the curly maple tops to the wings.

The wings were then glued to the body one wing at a time. I discovered after gluing the top wing that if I masked of the wood close to the edge I could easily remove excess glue without having to use a scraper.
After allowing the glue to cure over night I cut off the excess wood from the center piece with the band saw. The body is now ready for me to route the pickup cavities (see photo at top of this blog post.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Side Dots and Neck Shaping

The holes for the side position markers have been drilled and the dots places. On the Headless neck I used a 3/32" bit for the slightly larger white dots. On the Firebird neck I used a brad point 2mm bit. I think I prefer the slightly larger bit. Unfortunately the 3/32" bit is not a brad point and has a tendency to drift slightly causing the dots to be drilled slightly off from the desired spot.
On Saturday I carved the back of profile of the headless neck. I started our using a microplane at two spots on the neck, behind the 1st fret and about 4 inches from the base. Then I used a rasp to smooth out the wood. After I finished the two spots on the neck I used a spoke shave to remove wood between the spots I worked on. After taking off the excess wood I used a fine rasp to smooth the wood. Once I finished the rough profile, I proceeded to sand paper, first 80 grit then moving on to 220 and ending with 320. This is still a rough neck and will require more sanding to even out the profile.

On Sunday, I worked on the Firebird neck. I went through the same process as I did above with the Headless neck. Pictures are below.