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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:55 PM   #1
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Project 7_B

First post on this forum... I followed one of my buddies over.

I looked through some of the other build threads and really liked what I saw. I think I will hang around and check out all the really cool stuff.

This build is posted over at Project Guitar as well. It is close to finished but I thought I would share the process.


B 7 String

Project 7_b - Project Guitar Forum

Zebra and wenge neck attached to a super thin Sapele/Zebra topped body with hipshot parts and custom pickups.
Aiming for a dark sounding 7 string light enough to enjoy.

Neck : Zebra/Wenge
Fretboard : Wenge
Scale : 25.5
Frets : 24
Trussrod : ALLPARTS

Body : Sapele/Zebra (33mm)
Tuners : Hipshot
Pickups : Diablo 7 Strings
Bridge : Hipshot
Electronics : 1 Vol/Push-Pull

Neck Blank finished up. The experiment here is to not waste any wood. I am trying a super thin 1" neck blank for construction. Normally I use 1.5 in and cut the headstock scarf from the scrap on the back leaving almost no waste. This time I made the blank 3' long and planned to get the scarf from the same piece. However since this is a seven string I changed my mind of the headstock design and used a solid piece of zebra for the headstock.
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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:55 PM   #2
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Scarfing the headstock was different on this one as I only used one accent line and the headstock is a solid piece. It tried to move on my several times but I was able to get it to tak up and then clamped.


Out of the clamps, through the bandsaw, and onto the planar. I really dislike neck scarfs because I don't have a large belt sander it always takes more work to clean them up.


Trussrod route needed a spacer on the edge so I could use the router table. Since the headstock is one piece...
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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:56 PM   #3
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On to the bandsaw for a rough profile. I will start using the rigid spindle sander soon to clean this up.
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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:56 PM   #4
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Sapele body blank glued up. Since this is an experiment I was not wasting my limba or african mahogany on it. I am trying to get a certain sound and hope to reproduce my personal zebra/mahogany strat that I built 20 years ago. Since the SG came out very close in sound and it was Sapele I think that this is a decent substitute for african mahogany. Also this body is going to be rail thin... 33mm at best. I am trying to keep the weight low without chambering it.
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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:56 PM   #5
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Working on the back of the guitar since the top hasn't arrived yet. To start I knocked off the high glue line and drew the outline of the template on the blank. Next up bandsaw the body really close to the template with a 1/4" blade. Attach the template with tape and move to the new router table. Hopefully the new spiral template bit will help with any tear out.

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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:56 PM   #6
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After a pass with the spiral template bit the edge is so smooth that it doesn't need to be sanded. I think it might have been worth the $72.50. The few marks in the template are from were the bandsaw blade was a little too close to the template.

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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:57 PM   #7
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Got my Zebra top in the mail. It looked better in the pictures. The lines are not as dark as I would like guess I will fix it up later. First up flatten, then join, then lay it face down and trace out the shape. After a trip to the bandsaw we are ready for glue. This is a Drak like adventure... I got tired of joining the tops, sanding, then trying to orient them on the blank. So now I glue one side and clamp it on center. Then I glue the other side. First clamps that go on are the ones that pull the top together to make hte seem tight. Then I throw my curved brace across the top and clamp each end to pull the middle in. Lastly I run around the edges clamping down and cleaning excess glue. It is a pain but it is quicker than the old 2 step process.

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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:57 PM   #8
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Did the rough profile on the neck as well... if you are out in the shop at 11:00PM then you might as well make the most of it.



Attached the template to profile the neck sides. I have glued 2 templates together to get a smooth surface on both sides and get a little thicker so I have a better surface for the bearing to run on.

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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:57 PM   #9
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Fret board radiused, sloted, profiled.


Headstock rough shaped and volute roughed in. After covering the threads with wax I glue the trussrod in with a little bit of silicon. One thing I learned from a piece of firewood was that I need to let the silicon dry before gluing the fretboard on. Not long ago I was very surprised when I ripped the fretboard off a 3 month old neck and the silicon was not dry yet.

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Unread 07-01-2010, 02:58 PM   #10
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Here is where we are now. I am going to try a new method of shaping the neck. I am looking for a little more consistency so I am going to use my old radius sled jig to cut the back of the neck down before gluing the fret board on. This way I will have a consistent thickness across the back of the neck.

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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:00 PM   #11
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I built this rig to radius fretboards. Well I really didn't like the way it worked so it has been on the shelf. Lately I have not been happy with the consistency of my necks. I decided to mechanize the process a bit. I still like to carve them by hand but this will help make them uniform from headstock to tenon.




And after a few passes we have the proper thickness for a neck...I left it a little proud so that I can sand and shape without taking to much off.





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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:00 PM   #12
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Time to glue the fretboard on. I use some tape to keep excess glue out of the channel. I remove it right before assembly. The other trick is a piece of scotch tape over the allen head end of the trussrod. I trim it up after the glue has dried.






And half the clamps in the shop.

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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:00 PM   #13
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Fixed and ready for shaping...





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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:01 PM   #14
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I finally got the neck pocket routed out and set the depth. I had an idea and didn't try it cause I hate the evil router. I thought about using a cove bit with a bearing arounf the heal to create the perfect radius on the heal of the neck. I chickened out and drew a pencil line around it and hand rasped it close.





Placing the bridge after setting the neck.





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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:02 PM   #15
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Electronics cavity roughed in. I still have not decided if the cover is surface mount or recessed. I am pretty sure this decision depends on what push/pull knob fits in the control cavity.




Shaping out the neck. Haven't used the rigid oscilator yet for a neck shaping... it lasted 2 minutes. I did the arc at the nut and the heal and went to the spoike shave. So much for revolutionary tools.





Done enough for now on the neck. It needs to be finished sanded and polished up. The safety glasses keep falling of my nose and the dust mask is killing me. I drank too much and ate too much hot salsa last night. God thing I am in the shop.





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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:02 PM   #16
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I put a 3/8" radius on the back of the body and cut the belly. I used my cheap old crafstman plastic router with a radius bit to get it done. The belly cut was done with the angle grinder. I really like to put serious relieve in the back. At some point I might need to consider the amount of weight I am removing as the neck is still heavy even with the Fly style headstock.



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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:02 PM   #17
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Alright while this is not a how to on carve tops this is basically how it goes. The problem with doing a step by step is that while I am doing it there is so muck dust that I hate opening the optic on the camera to take pictures. Basically this is how it goes. I take a step bit you would use for binding and go around the body. Next I take a 4" 60 grit sanding disk mounted in a hand drill and turn it on edge. The idea is to use the curve of the sanding disk to produce the proper arc on the carve. Stay off the edge... If you don't do anything else never ever cut into the area you routed. Make sure you sneak up on that by hand with the scraper then hand sanding. Next step is to take the goose neck scraper and fix anything you hosed with the sanding disk.







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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:03 PM   #18
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This is where I am now. Neck shaped. Body shaped. Bridge set. Pickups routed. Electronics set. This thing is thin. Really thin. While I like blackmachines there guitars are simple. Exotic woods...check...but I would say that they are template driven. The carves are all router bits... No one sat with there palms burning from the heat of the drill exhaust ports with salty sweat dripping in there eyes carving the tops of those things. I am not in any way belittleing the guitars they build I love them for the modern Model-T they are. Instead I am pointing out that it is easy to see the difference between hand carved and tool carved.







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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:03 PM   #19
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The carve and the thin. This is a scary experiment in thin. Seriously I put a carve on a 33mm guitar. I look at it and think... It will be fine. Lets hope.







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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:04 PM   #20
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Use a 5/16" bit to drill the tuner holes then use my Stew Mac Rear Peghole Reamer to finish up.
You can see the shelf it puts in. The tuners fit so much better this way.




Getting ready to fret. It took just a few minutes to finish the radius on the board. Pre radiusing with the router bit saved me at least an hour.





Frets pressed in. I use a small bead of thick CA on the tang to help keep them in. Wenge makes an awesome fretboard. I didn't have a single fret pull up or not seat tight.
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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:05 PM   #21
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Fret ends cleaned up. Time to glue it in. Wait almost forgot to knotch for the neck humbucker... that would have made a mess.




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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:06 PM   #22
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That is better.




A little tape to keep the glue off the zebrawood.



Couple of clamps and wait.
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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:07 PM   #23
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Out of the clamps. I am going to do the test assembly and dress the frets this week.





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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:07 PM   #24
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Rough assembly. Still needs a fret dress and I need to recess the bridge a 1/16" as the action is perfect but the bridge is bottomed out.



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Unread 07-01-2010, 03:07 PM   #25
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Control cavity has enough extra room for one switch... maybe. I am still on the fence about the plates. I think I am just going to do surface mounted black plastic but I still have time to figure out something.

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