Friday, March 30, 2012

Not Another Jig!!!!

Yep, I have built yet another jig for building my guitars. Actually, it's another Scheltema Neck Contour jig. This is my third attempt at building one of these nifty jigs. The first two worked, but they were a bit sloppy. I took everything I had learned while building the first two and incorporated  this knowledge into what I am confidant will be the final jig. My initial test (I used a slab of Pine for the neck blank) was exactly what I had hoped for. Check it out:

I call it the Scheltema Neck Contour Jig v3.0.

The resulting contour is so smooth, I will only need to sand from 150 grit to 220 to finish.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Little Light Of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine...

No, I am not going to get all religious on ya. What my headline is referring to is how I judge a buffed out lacquer finish.

After the lacquer has cured for a week, I wet sand the body with P1000 grit paper to level the surface. Then, I quickly move through P1500 and P2000.

One might think that at P2000 grit, the surface would be ready to buff. It isn't unless you start with a very course buffing compound, which I don't like to use due to its aggressiveness. Before I can buff, I like to go over the surface of my guitars with Micro Mesh sandpaper. I start with 3200 grit and work my way through all of the available grits to 12000. I use the same technique I used with the wet/dry paper except I spend less time with each grit.

After finishing with the 12000 grit, I polish the surface on a buffing machine, starting with Menzerna Pre-Polish. Then, I move to another wheel loaded with Menzerna Very Fine polish. Check out the results:

It took me a couple of years to perfect my technique, but the results were with the effort.

I know I am finished buffing when I can clearly see the reflection of my lamp without any scratches.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Copper Coils, Magnetics And A Hot Wax Bath

Today I wound a set of single coils for my latest Highline Envirocaster Single Cutaway. Here are some photos and details regarding the process:

I used my ghetto winder to fill the bobbins with 9,400 turns of 42 AWG poly nylon insulated wire. Each coil showed a DC resistance of 7.0 Ohms on my meter. That's a bit hotter than the norm for single coils, but the thick wire should produce wide ranging tone.

To magnetize the Alnico V slugs, I use a vice with four neodymium magnets (two on each jaw, with north polarity on one jaw and south on the other). I slide the pickup into the field and quickly pull it out. The result is a fully charged row of slugs. However, for the best tone, the magnetic field needs to be weakened (degaussed) slightly. To do this, I place a 1-1/2" thick block of Maple against one set of neos and slide the pickup between the block and the other set. To check my efforts, I use a homemade gauss meter to test the strength of each slug before and after degaussing. Of course I won't know for sure how they'll sound until installation is complete.

The last step before installation is to pot them for ten minutes in a 150° bath of paraffin and bees wax. This will reduce microphonic feedback, especially with regards to squeal.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nothing Like A Batch Of Fresh, Homemade Single Coils

Today I made a set of single coil bobbins. Black fiber flatwork with staggered poles and brass eyelets. Tomorrow, I'll try to wind 'em fat with 42 AWG wire.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two Cool Guitar Finishes

This double cutaway features a hand rubbed tung oil finish
This single cutaway features red dye and a water-based acrylic lacquer finish
The necks for both of these guitar projects are finished with hand rubbed tung oil

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dressing Up Some Frets

Today, I finished fretting a pair of Highline Envirocaster necks. I used a crowning file to reduce the high spots and to round over the fret ends. Then, I used a triangular dressing file to fine tune the ends. To remove the file marks, I wrapped my crowning file with some 400 grit sand paper and lightly sanded each fret. Finally, I rubbed each fret with some 000 steel wool and followed that with 0000 to get a nice polish. All of this work was done with the fretboard covered in masking tape to keep it clean. All that's left to do is apply the finish. That will happen next week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Two New Guitar Necks

A pair of Highline Envirocaster necks near completion. At this stage, I have wiped them down with natural stain, which helps me to see any potential flaws. None were seen, so now I can proceed with adding the headstock decals. Then, I can shoot the water-based lacquer. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Houston, We Have A Problem

While making a neck for one of my latest guitar builds, I discovered a knot in the middle of the back contour. For obvious reasons, I can't use it. However, I don't plan to trash it just yet. I have an idea for something special, which I will detail in a future post. In the meantime, I made another neck today.

I drilled out the surface of the knot and tried to fill it in. You can't feel it, but you can definitely see it.
This is the new neck. To get to this point from a flamed Maple blank took about 3 hours. All I have left to do is attach the fretboard and do the final sanding and shaping.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Plumbing An Electric Guitar

The photos below show how I plumb a solid body electric guitar for wiring. Oh, and don't forget, you can download the plans by clicking here for this guitar and the double cutaway version FREE during the month of March.

To drill the jack hole, I start by using a 7/8" Forstner bit and drill about 1/8" into the side of the body.

Next, I drill out the wood with a regular 1/2" bit to make it easier for the Forstner bit  to drill  into the control cavity.

To run the neck pickup's wires through the bridge pickup cavity and into the control cavity, I drill a 1/4" hole with an 18" long bit from the neck cavity all the way into the bridge pickup's cavity.

Finally, I drill another 1/4" hole with the same long bit from the bridge pickup's cavity down into the control cavity.

To make the slot for the 5-way lever switch, I used a 1/8" straight cut bit in my router.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Routing An Electric Guitar Control Cavity

The photos that follow show how I like to rout out the control cavity for an electric guitar:

I use a template in conjunction with a 1/2" diameter, 1" long pattern trimming router bit to rout the pocket. The depth is within a 1/4" of the front of the guitar.
This is the template I use to make recessed cover shelf.
To rout the recessed cover shelf, I use a bushing guide with a 3/8" straight bit.
The router in action as I cut the recess for the cover. The depth is about 1/8" below the back surface.
All that's left to do is drill the holes for the switch and pots and make the cover.