Saturday, September 6, 2014

1987 - Finishing up

I'm down to the final steps on 1987.
I've filled the grain. Stained the Curly Maple top black. Sanded most of the stain off. Re-stained the top blue. The remaining black stain helps the wood's figuring jump under the blue stain. I sprayed the body with shellac as a sealant coat and followed it with a coat of lacquer. 

Coming Soon - Les Paul Custom

This is where the build begins - a Les Paul Custom. Here's a few pictures of the raw wood.
Three pieces of Mahogany, with Maple veneer glued to the edges.

I glued a three pieces of veneer, Maple/Mahogany/Maple, for a triple pinstripe.

I am using a 16mm thick piece of Curly Maple for the Top.

The neck will be a three piece Mahogany and Maple combination and the fretboard will be rosewood.

This is going to be a fun and complex build.

Number 6 - In The Photo Studio

Now that it's completed, I brought Number 6 in to the Photo Studio on Friday.

24.75 inch scale
3 piece Walnut back
Book-matched Curly Walnut
Thin Maple veneer separating the Walnut on the body
Katalox fretboard
3 Piece Set Walnut Neck
24 fret neck
Zero fret
Seymour Duncan JB and Jazz Humbuckers
3-way pickup selector 
2 Series / Parallel Switches

Number 6 - Fret Job

So in adition to having problems with the shellac finish, I also was not happy with the overall string height on Number 6. Unfortunately when I lowered the bridge, I discover that I had fret buzzes on the high E and B strings at the 7th and 8th frets. first I tried dealing with the buzz by going after the culprit - the 9th fret. I lowered, leveled, crowned and polished that fret. This cured the problem with the buzz at the 7th and 8th frets... but created a bus at the 9th fret, caused by the 10th fret... so i corrected that problem and... well, you can guess where this went. I was chasing a fret buzz.

I decided to take a different approach to fixing this problem. Armed with my copy of the Stew Mac 2nd Edition on Fret Work, digital calipers, a fret rocker, a fret dressing stick (sand paper), a fret crowning file, an iPad with Apple Numbers, and a finger-nail buffing block (found at the local drug store), I got to work on Number 6's fretboard.

I removed the strings and then used the digital calipers to take three measurements of each fret, on the high-E string side, one in the middle and one on the low-E string side.

I added all of this information into a spreadsheet on my iPad. I then created a chart showing the largest deviations between frets. This helped me come up with a plan of attach.
After pinpointing the problem frets on the chart, I taped off the fretboard and marked the tops of the frets with a red Sharpie marker. I then use the fret dressing tool to slowly sand the tops of the frets.

After sanding the frets, I check the fret height with the calipers. Then I use the fret rocker to check the height of the filed fret in relation to the fret immediately before and after the filed fret. If the rocker lays flat against all three frets, I mark the completed frets with a green Sharpie marker and move on to the next fret.
Once I've leveled all of the high frets, I use the fret crowning tool to round the top of the frets. I follow that by polishing the frets with the four-sided finger-nail buffing block. After completing all of the frets, I remove the tape, string Number 6 up again and test the frets.