Evo Pro Build Diary – Part 8

With the neck blank prepared in the last installment of the Evo build diary, I can now cut out the neck and prepare and glue on the fingerboard. Bear with me, this episode of the build diary may get a bit drawn out! The fingerboard is going to be Rosewood and bound with Rosewood too, this means no fret ends will be seen or felt but the fingerboard will look like a standard Rosewood offering.

I start by planing the fingerboard blank to thickness and making one edge straight and square. My custom CNC’d scale length jig is then taped onto the blank, flush with the planed straight edge.

Cutting the fret slots - Williams Guitars

Using the 25.5″ scale jig and indexing pin to cut the fret slots.

The fence is pushed across the blade and the slot  is cut, the indexing pin is raised with a foot pedal and the jig moved to the next position. This is the second of these fret slotting machines I have made, the first was for Overwater Basses about seven or eight years ago and it’s still used today to great effect. My newer version has a few improvements and replaces the bass drum pedal of the Overwater machine with a proper foot pedal, I maybe prefer the drum pedal but the proper pedal does work better.

The slotted fingerboard - Williams Guitars

The board finished slotted, ready for cutting to width.

I’ll cut the board to size later. Now I return to the neck blank and cut the shape out. As this is one of my standard necks it’s cut on the cnc machine. I use a vacuum jig to hold the neck  in place and also route the truss rod channel at the same time. Custom necks are usually done using hand routers and suitable jigs.

Cutting out the neck shape - Williams Guitars

Cutting out the shape and routing the truss rod channel.

When the shape has been cut out, the ledge for the headstock binding is cut. The binding is installed in the same way that the body was bound in Build Diary Part 3, though this time things didn’t quite go to plan! Even when you’ve done a task many times before sometimes something unexpected happens so, the next photo has been excluded as it would have been of me ranting, cursing and covered in glue! Instead we have a picture of a headstock mummified in rubber, the only real solution to the problem at the time. Old bicycle inner tubes can save you from all sorts of gluing problems!

A bound headstock - Williams Guitars

Not the style of bound headstock I had in mind but, it cured the problem!

While the binding dries I go back to the fingerboard and cut the taper. This is done roughly on the bandsaw and finished using a bearing guided cutter on the router and a jig. Indexing holes are drilled part way into the fingerboard gluing face too. As this board is going to be bound I use a smaller bearing than the cutter diameter so I can trim about 1.5mm off each side to allow for the binding.

Trimming the board for binding - Williams Guitars

Using a bearing guided rebate cutter to reduce the width and allow for binding.

The binding itself, is cut from fingerboard offcuts and sanded to thickness using the drum sander. It’s glued and clamped before the fingerboard is glued on to the neck.

Gluing the binding - Williams Guitars

Using cam clamps and cauls to glue the binding in place.

With the fingerboard binding in place I can now return to the headstock and finish off the ivoroid binding by scraping it flush. As the headstock is angled back the binding will run under the fingerboard for a short distance so this area has to be scraped flush with gluing face before the fingerboard can be glued on.

Scraping the binding - Williams Guitars

Using the cabinet scraper to clean up the binding.

I can now glue the fingerboard on. The gluing faces of the neck and fingerboard have indexing holes drilled a couple of millimeters deep. I use wooden dowel pins to align the fingerboard and prevent it slipping when I apply clamping pressure. Before I glue the board I install and check the truss rod, in this case a two way or double action rod is used.

Fingerboard ready to glue - Williams Guitars

The fingerboard ready to glue with wooden indexing pins fitted.

The fingerboard is finally glued on. A thick clamping caul is placed on top of the fingerboard to prevent distortion of the neck as the glue cures. The glue squeeze out is removed from the underside of the overhanging fingerboard end.

Cleaning up squeeze out - Williams Guitars

Cleaning up around the fingerboard overhang.

The neck is left overnight to cure. Once dry the fingerboard is then trimmed flush with the neck using a bearing guided trimming cutter on the router table. The overhang at the end of the fingerboard is cleaned up with a hand plane.

Trimming the binding flush - Williams Guitars

Trimming the fingerboard binding flush with the neck.

This stage is now complete, there are no more structural gluing operations left to do on the guitar. It’s now down to carving, fretting and finishing off.

The neck ready for carving

Fingerboard glued on and trimmed flush. The neck is ready for carving.

Thats it for this installment, next time I will carve the neck, dot and fret the fingerboard and cut out the headstock logo.

To be continued…

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