A little necking

With the head shaped, the next step is to bind the fingerboard. Since the guitar body will be osage orange with cocobolo binding, we decided on a cocobolo fingerboard with osage orange binding.  After cutting the fingerboard to length and the tapered width (according to the nut width and the join at the 12th fret), first I curved the end that will overhang the soundhole, and curved a strip of OO to match it. That’s glued and trimmed flush, then the side strips are glued on.

Then, the sides are flushed with the ends and the whole bound fingerboard get a trip through the drum sander to bring the bindings level with the top and bottom. Then the fingerboard gets glued to the rough neck, with the truss rod in it’s slot. After the glue cures, the neck is taken to the router and, using the flush trim bit, the sides of the neck are brought to the width of the fingerboard.

It’s now time to work on carving the neck. This is one of my most enjoyable parts of the build; every stroke of the rasp has an immediate effect. There’s no glueing, its all shaping the neck, checking it, making adjustments, testing again, until finally, you’ve gone from a square block that would be very uncomfortable to hold, to something that fits the hand to a tee! One thing that made this neck especially enjoyable to carve, was the purchase of a specialty vise to hold guitar necks. It was so easy to hold it secure, work on any part of it, shift positions, reclamp, etc. Previously, I’d had to clamp it to the edge of my bench and work on one side at a time. Changing position to work on another part became a major production! This was a piece of cake as I attacked the neck with spokshave, rasps, and sandpaper.

After the initial shaping, I was able to meet with my client, so he could get a feel for the neck, and see how it was fitting his hands. On the whole, he was pleased, noting just a couple of small spots to address. That’s the benefit of a true custom guitar; you’re not selecting from a short list of options, everything is tailor made just for you!

Next, I did an initial radiusing of the fingerboard to a 12″ radius. Then I marked out and drilled the holes for the mother of pearl position dots. After they were glued (with gel CA glue), I did the final passes with the radius block, to bring everything to a nice silky smoothness, leveling the dots at the same time.

Then I marked, drilled and glued the black side dot material into the binding. After leveling, its ready for a final sanding and frets.

That’ll be next.

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