Friday, February 17, 2017

OK it's NOT a guitar but . . . it holds guitars


After 2 years . . .  yes I actually looked up when I originally purchased the first pieces for this . . . it's done. The guitars have a place to hang and the light takes care of a dark corner in the living room. But now I have to clean up the case next to it ... ... ... sigh ...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Forming the guard

It's been a while, the neck got a GOOD Tusk nut courtesy of the local guitar wrangler and is now really a playable instrument, although the intonation of the G still leaves something to be desired but I haven't looked into that yet . . . the other stings are (close to) perfect although once I start fudzing with the truss rod (the relief is still a little large) I expect I may have to do some more adjusting. And I need to do . . . something . . . as the low E it buzzes ONLY when played open despite the fact that the height over the 1st fret is larger than over the 2nd when fretting on the 1st . . . . ??

In the mean time here is a longish post on progress with the 'proper' pick guard.


First drilling the mounting holes and then, drilling the countersinks . . . no easy recovery for mistakes now . . .

At least it looks good with the screw in place so the diameters are correct . . .

The tools for shaping, sandpaper would have been OK but a scraper makes less of a mess even if it's a little harder to keep in 'fighting trim'. I always keep a a small sanding block handy too (or is that one o . . . ) because once you've got a divot a scraper just makes it worse, especially around the edges next to the holes. And those countersunk holes make the creation of divots REAL easy.

Needs some more work but it's getting there . . . the edge at the round over especially is a bit thick.

The signs of a well sharpened scraper . . . shavings, not dust . . . so much easier to clean up, and it doesn't 'get everywhere'.

Ready for the pickup holes . . . turns out that one in the right bottom went REAL close to the edge but fortunately ended up OK. And my jig for sanding the edges in with a Dremel . . . WITH the new centering measure, it makes lining up the jig so much easier. One of the finished pickup holes is visible behind it.

Drilling control holes in the upper bout for the coil selection switches . . . and the holes for the pickup height screws . . . . . . a humbucker mounting ring makes a nice template . . . 

And here we are with most of the holes drilled and the shaping pretty much complete.

And then I had the BRILLIANT idea of recessing the pickup selection control knob . . . . 

Measuring and shaping the 'mounting plate'

And here it is with the required 3/8 hole <=> BTW ALWAYS clamp polycarbonate plastic down when drilling or sawing, or doing pretty much anything else involving any kind of force, if it moves around - especially small pieces or pieces with holes - they have a tendency to crack <=> . . . so now we need a 3/4" hole in the guard . . .

Measured . . . and cut. I used a punch to mark the center and drilled a 3/16 pilot hole (the size of the center spike on the spade bit) and then a 3/4 freshly sharpened spade bit with VERY little pressure from the back to the front and got very little tearout fortunately. Why from the back as tearout is always worst at exit holes, WELL . . . . . the front is already shaped and thus NOT FLAT making starting the bit exactly vertical that much harder. I SHOULD have done this before starting the shaping process. SHOULDA, COULDA, WOULDA I only came up with the idea later so . . . . 

AND blogger is throwing me for a loop once again . . . now it doesn't want to remove the 'align to center' from the text ... and ... even when the options show it IS removed it still . . . arrggghhhh . . . oh well I'm not getting a prize for layout anyway.

And then I produced some locating pins from a medium size nail . . . 


With some cutting, filing, grinding and fixing them into the plastic with some superglue the results are . . . quite good . . . as far as I can tell things are pretty much exactly centered with very little play . . . and the test knob (same size as the actual ones) fits correctly.


I believe we can glue it in place check all the other holes (I think the holes for the pickup height screws need to be drilled out 1/64 larger) and proceed with the finish (the guard has 1 coat of danish oil now and the quilt on the maple is nice, not 'master grade' - and it has some mineral streaks (some visible above -, but nice) and assembly . . . . . yes assembly . . . . Oh and the cutout for the neck pocket . . . need to cut out the neck pocket . . . . 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Progress . . . .

Well, some anyway, rough shape got cut with the jig saw. NOTE, rotary cutters and curly maple do NOT play nice together, you get an awful fuzzy cut so if you must, stay well away from the final line. AND, I found a great use for that vacuum driven Dremel I got initially, with a rotary sander it makes for quite a nice edge finishing tool and, here is the great thing, most of the dust created disappears directly into the shop vac . . . perfect.

And the edges are getting thinned . . . here the edge is down to 1/16 - 3/32 . . . . 1/16 is the goal all around but this is the first pass with some 60 grit EZ lock sanding disks on the dremel for quick removal of material and it already went a (tiny) bit quicker than I really wanted . . . . . . nothing disastrous but . . . . . . and yes it will be evened out by hand . . .

Also considering some ideas to reinforce the joins, with the cutouts for the pickups going through all four joins (reducing the total area) that may not be a terribly bad idea . . . . . . . 

Monday, December 5, 2016

So sue me . . . . .



Yes I changed my mind . . .

I never was exactly sold on the previous idea for the pick guard after seeing it, but wanted a wood guard and thought the colors were pretty and got carried away at the wood shop and . . . and thought a 2 piece pick guard would be 'cool' and ... and after seeing it with the maple thought that that might be a bit garish and ... and then was at a loss how to exactly connect the 2 pieces (blunt edge gluing of plastic to wood not being the best idea I ever came up with possibly ... epoxy or maybe urethane might do the job . . . on second though foaming urethane might not be the 'best' option, it will be problematic to get rid of off the top off the plastic.

ANYWAY

This is what I came home with . . . 1/4" thick (as was the other wood) one piece of walnut and one piece of curly maple. Not terribly impressed with the curlyness of the maple but I did some looking on the internet and it turns out that it's generally not THAT pronounced before finishing so maybe there is hope.

and there is a piece of yellow heart . . . Ok pieces layed out checked twice so ready for cutting . . .  it IS a mitre box saw but, well it's a CHEAP miter box saw and it probably won't be around much longer.  IT   IS   NOT   STRAIGHT , that doesn't matter much here but for some other projects ... ugghhhh

And here it is lined up . . . and checking to make most of the visible 'curl'. I figure if I can see it on a relatively rough sanded piece it's going to come out at least alright after the finishing.

And . . . that is the WRONG edge dumbo. Always check edges against a straight edge (there are some nice ones on metal levels with <0.005 deviation) and these were NOT straight coming from the store, holding it up to backlight is an especially rigorous check . . . so some painters tape, superglue and 120 grit sandpaper to straighten out the edges. It should be a shooting board and a #4 (or larger) plane BUT I don't own a plane as I haven't been able to find a reasonably priced one (and it may turn out the $100 IS reasonable for a good plane) that wasn't 'faulty' in some way or other. So just keep it flat and rub it STRAIGHT along the straight edge nice and even so you don't sand in a curve. And keep checking.

AND that piece of yellow heart JUST KEPT SHOWING UP . . . ok I get the message . . . I'll just put in an accent. Ready for the jigsaw, after measuring twice right.

And here is the whole set sanded and checked, 2 large pieces of maple, a medium piece and a strip of walnut and a strip of yellow heart. And some paper towel and acetone for degreasing and removing any remaining dust. Did I mention to degrease any wood before gluing, it's not terribly important when you have large joints, especially with non oily woods, but on a small joint I want maximum strength, and it's going to get even smaller. Acetone is OK for the job, dissolves almost ... anything ... and that includes your flooring if it's man made fiber / plastics . . . also it's toxic . . . and did I mention flammable . . . yeah real nice stuff . . . wear nitrile gloves and work in a well ventilated area, don't store near heat sources, etc. Basically don't be stupid and use something a little more environmentally friendly like mineral spirits. But I have it, and my brain is fried from to much organic chemistry (both practical and book learning) anyway. It does evaporate FAST, thus the toxicity don't breathe the stuff if you don't ABSOLUTELY have to, so no waiting after cleaning, with mineral spirits you should wait a bit before doing the gluing. Keep on wiping until you see no more color coming off the wood.

And glue, Tightbond III for maximum strength . . . one join at a time and clamp AT LEAST the minimum recommended time before setting up the next join ... ONE, TWO and THREE, and yes I joined the yellow heart and walnut strips BEFORE gluing them to the second piece of walnut so it really was one join at a time.

So here is the finished product . . . and check, ready for sanding. Well I did cheat, I had flattened the walnut and yellow heart strips with a rasp at this point, they were glued face on and not on the cut sides and were a bit wider than 1/4", and sanded up to 120 to get an idea of the figure.

And more sanding . . . use as large a FLAT surface to sand as possible so you do NOT inadvertently sand in any low spots unintentionally . . . . This piece actually contains a bow, it's concave on top (fortunately, it wasn't exactly planned that way, I just looked for the nicest side of the maple to use on top). I want to keep that curve for a bit of a 'carved' look and sand the bottom flat . . . . checking . . . more sanding needed. 


Thursday, December 1, 2016

And then I found this . . .

Rick Toone | Luthier . . . one of the most comprehensive discussions if somewhat fragmented between different builds on the ergonomic and technical physics aspects sorry need a better term there but he does take A LOT of care with the physics of guitar building.

And some BEAUTIFUL, if sometimes very unconventional, instruments. Unfortunately each of them cost a GOODLY chunk of my yearly income . . . . .

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Oodles of doodles

Well I had some time on my hands . . . uhhmmm . . . well maybenot really but I didn't feel like doing anything else so.

I had doodled this during some downtime at work, starting from this somewhat firebirdy thingy:


To this

And then 'wasted' most of a (rather expensive) 12 column evidence pad to get to ... this:

Which went into the computer and ended up like this:

Not bad but it has some (I can't define them) problems I think, maybe to long for the width, to much on the left and not enough on the right. I don't know but the balance seems off somehow. And that point at the top has GOT to hurt.

And then I started playing around with the curves and got this:

That actually looks rather interesting . . . . 

And then it turns out I'm not all THAT original . . . do a google search on ergonomic guitar and you'll see what I mean. I must have seen some of them before but can't really remember. And also there is this example:


I'm quite a fan of Ben Crowe and can't believe I didn't remember this. There is also a YouTube video which has a much better look at the instrument . . . 

I'm definitively not in Ben Crowe's class when it comes to building instruments but I might just give this a go in Maple and Wenge . . . with a maple on maple neck I think.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Once again . . . . . .

So here we are . . . once again


As promised a better picture . . . the rain let up for about 15 minutes and the sun peeked through so . . . and YES the 'garden' is a mess, I could have been cleaning that up instead of working on the guitar.

And here it is with the 'other' pick guard . . . . . . the maple faced ply was finished with 2 coats of dark walnut Danish oil (Watco) sanded back and then 'flooded' with natural Danish oil by basically knocking over the can onto it . . . not a procedure I would expect to be repeating but who knows. The pick guard on the guitar is unfinished maple face ply . . . 



And then there was Sunday - haven't we been here before - the new tip on the soldering iron made all the difference in getting it all apart and back together.


And yes, the sharp eyed can spot that the neck pickup is upside down in the pick guard, at least according to the SD name printed on it. There is only 1 switch below the tone control now and it switches between one 0.01 uF cap, off, and two 0.01 uF caps in series (0.005 uF), the 0.033 uF was to much to be useful, going from 10 to 7 on the tone control almost completely muted the high E string. This may be more useful, and I have some green (no orange drops at radioshack) polyester film 0.022 uF caps as well, in case I want to go higher



And here it is all put together again. I did find that my jig for routing the pickup holes is off by 1/32 or so and just a 1/16 or so bigger than it should be. I'll make a new one for the final 'real' one. All the screws are also in now.

The pickups play pretty nice with the bridge & neck . . . bridge PU has the strings right over the outer edge of the poles, while they are pretty much on center for the neck PU.


Sorry for the dark picture . . . .