Twist and Shout

Before gluing on the headstock veneer, I needed to inlay my acorn logo in Mother of Pearl (MOP). Hand cutting with a small fret saw on a bird’s mouth platform is required (at least until I get that CNC guided laser cutter installed. Maybe around 2027) Some kind of magnifying glasses is a definite must.

A little touch-up filing with some riffler files to smooth any errant bumps and I’m ready to inlay. Because the pieces are so small and fragile, glueing or taping them on to the headstock to trace around them with a knife is not an option. So, I arranged them in their finished position, carefully stuck a piece of blue tape to hold them, and took that to the copier. That gave me an exact impression of the actual pieces (rather than the original art, which may, or may not, have been sawn exactly). This copy was glued to the headstock. I used a laminate trimmer with a 1/16″ spiral cutter bit — and the mag-glasses! — to carefully rout out the pockets. I’m using a piece of spalted sycamore, the same wood that will be the top of the body, for the headstock veneer. Double-check the fit, and then glue in using some thick CA glue. Over to the drum sander to sand to thickness and we’re ready to glue to the headstock.

I glued on the inlayed veneer, along with a piece of mahogany veneer for a contrasting band, to the headstock. Then rough cut the head shape, and used a pattern routing bit to rout to an MDF pattern I had made. The head was finished.

Next, after inserting the truss rod, I glued on the Macasser Ebony fingerboard, clamped it up, and let it cure. After unclamping, I brought it back in to the house to settle……

Then I saw it……

At some time in the process, whether due to the high humidity in the shop, or due to planing error, or a combination of the two, I noticed that the neck had developed a twist. ^*#&@&#$% @&^%$&^& $%(@&^%$  *^%$(&^%! Unfortunately, I had neglected to check for the twist before I glued the fingerboard on.

One thing about guitar necks, they MUST be straight, or the instrument will be unplayable. So, there was nothing else but to make a new neck. I was able to slice off the inlayed headstock veneer to reuse, but in order to use the fingerboard, I would have to get the truss rod out first. Despite my best efforts, it would not budge. I have purposely made it a tight fit, and some glue might have squeezed onto it, because it didn’t want to move. I finally cut some relief cuts from under the neck and managed to pry it out, but not without bending the adjusting rod. So, I can reuse the fingerboard, but need a new truss rod. It could be worse.

Made a new neck, etc., and got back to the glued fingerboard stage. After glueing the fingerboard, the neck gets tapered. To find the right angle for the taper, you have to make a full scale layout using the string width at the bridge, the scale length of the guitar (how long from the nut to the bridge), and the desired width of the strings at the nut. Add 1/8″ to each side so the strings don’t fall off and voila. Since I am making a through-neck guitar, I had already done this before beginning construction so I could make the neck the correct width where it met the body.

Next, I will be radiusing the fingerboard and inlaying an oak leaf at the 12th fret position.

You can play “Twist and Shout” on a finished guitar, but don’t develop a twist while you’re building one or you’ll REALLY be shouting!

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