Sunday, May 24, 2009

Neck Block and Peghead Veneers

So far I am very pleased with the progress of the neck. With the scarf joint complete, it's time to give attention to the the neck block. A large block of mahogany is glued to the heel end of the neck where it joins the body at the 14th fret. I first have to lay out some line on the neck blank. First, I draw a center line on both sides of the neck as well as the peghead. Since the guitar is a symmetrical shape, everything works off of the center line. Then I measure 3/16" from where the point where the peghead angles backward, and square a line across the neck. This marks the front edge of the nut, which is where the scale length will be measured from. From this line I measure down to where the 14th fret will be and square another line across the neck. I already have a cardboard template with this marked for a 25.4" scale length (the distance from the front of the nut to the front of the saddle) so it's a simple matter of placing the end of the template on the nut line and marking the 14th fret.

The tenon which will hold the neck onto the body will be 15/16" long, so I mark this from the 14th fret position and square another line.

Now I know where to attach my end block. While the jointer was out I flattene one face and squared two sides to that face. I mark its center line and line it up with the center line of the neck, and it's ready to be glued.

I do this Thursday morning before work so that it will be ready to be unclamped when I get home later that day. After unclamping everything and making sure that it didn't slip out of place while being clamped, I then cut it to rough shape on the bandsaw.

Now it's really beginning to look like a guitar neck.

Next it's time to glue the veneers onto the headstock. These are thin sheets of wood that are mainly decorative, but the main veneer strengthens the peghead and makes it less vulnerable to cracking if the guitar is dropped.

The main veneer is a piece of ebony, and sandwiched between that and mahogany headstock will be a very thin sheet of maple. When glued this maple veneer will appear as a thin line all around the edge of the peghead.

This is a pretty simple operation. I use a couple of wood cauls to protect the mahogany and ebony from being marred by the clamps, and wax paper to keep the glue squeeze-out from gluing the cauls to the neck.

I do a dry fit, then spread Tite-Bond first on the maple veneer, placing that on the peghead, then on the ebony, which then goes on the maple.

Wax paper, cauls, clamps, and the end result is this mousetrap:

This has to glue overnight, so I'm done with the neck for now.

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