Les Paul Build – Part 6 – Rough Cutting the Neck

Multi-Tasking

The last two weekends saw some progress on the guitar, but were focused more on other shop-tasks that I’ll share in another post.  Suffice it to say that we needed to build some jigs for the guitar, and I spent some time prototyping some other interesting ideas that I’m really excited about, but aren’t quite ready for prime time.  Let’s call it multi-tasking.  Never fear, though.  We did get some quality work done on the guitar, as you’ll see below.

Rough Cutting the Neck

Quick flash-back scene:  this is where we were last time we talked about the neck.  We have a blank cut out from our mahogany board with a block glued up at the head end to accommodate the angled headstock.  That’s been sitting for a few weeks and is ready for a little more attention.

The first step is to true up the top surface, which seems to have a little extra height in the middle, and I made quick work of that with a nice sharp plane (thanks Josh!).

  

The neck is actually laid out at a slight angle across our board to take best advantage of the direction and pattern in the grain, so I didn’t have a good, square edge on either side that I could lay on the band saw table in order to make the angle cut for the headstock.  So I simply clamped a couple of thin, straight boards to either side, so I could feed the piece into the band saw at right angles to the center-line of the neck.

That worked out fine, and I got the top and side profiles cut out with no problems, as well as the underside of the headstock.

        

Here’s where I ran into a problem though.  When I went to cut the bottom profile, I realized I needed a reference line, so I grabbed my MDF template, and discovered that I no longer had a flat side to set the template on to trace the line.  The wings on the headstock held the full-length template off the side of the neck.  I guess this is just a long way of saying that I used the side neck template to make a new side neck template that excluded the headstock so I could lay it on the side of the neck and mark my reference line.  So anyway, I did that, and then cut the bottom profile.  Not really all that dramatic in retrospect.

Surfacing the Headstock

With the neck rough cut on all four sides, and close-to-final surfaced on the top, the next step is to shape and surface the headstock.  I started by hand planing the top surface flat, and down to the nut-position reference line on the neck.

      

And that’s where we are at this point.  The next step is to surface the back of the headstock to the correct thickness and flatness.  To do that, though, I need to finish building the router thicknessing/surfacing sled.  Oh well, more reasons to spend time in the shop.  Then on to final side-shaping of the neck and headstock, work on the fretboard, carving the back of the neck… lots to do!

 

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