Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Day 3A - The Movie

I just realized that I was also taking 15 second quicktime videos in addition to still photos during the class. There was an important step we did on day 3 not shown in my last post because I had no still shots of it. I captured some frames from the video to show how we cut and glued the scarf joint for the headstock. The headstock is the angled-back part of the guitar where the tuners go.

So to start off, we had the mahogany neck blank, which is approximately 3-1/2 to 4" wide, about 1" thick, and about 30" long. Most big guitar factories would use a big 4" thick mahogany slab and just cut the whole neck out of that, all in one piece. We cut and glued a scarf joint (this is what I'm showing in this post), and used a stacked heel block, which I'll explain in the Day 4 post. This is more labor intensive than bandsawing it out of one big slab, but results in a stronger more stabile neck, and there's less waste.

We used a table saw jig of Harry's to cut the scarf joint, which will be at 15 degrees. The jig holds the neck blank at 15 degrees to the blade, and also holds it perpendicular to the table of the table saw. Jigs like these make table saw operations safer and easier because it allows you to firmly hold your workpiece and keep your fingers away from the blade.

Speaking of table saw safety, check out the safety device this guy invented for table saws:
If any part of your body touches the blade, it immediately applies a brake to the blade and it drops below the table, faster than you can see it. You would only be left with a small scratch. Look at the video on his site, it's crazy. Most of the time he used hot dogs for testing, but in one video he actually used his own finger.

So the next step is to turn that end piece around and glue it on the neck blank, and it will become the headstock. Harry has an easy way of lining up the joint so it can be glued together. Here he's using a spring clamp to line it up, there's no glue involved yet. He's drilling a small hole on either side of the neck blank. Later when he puts glue on it, he'll shove toothpicks into those holes and they will line everything up, no sliding around. The holes are drilled on a part that will be cut away when the neck is shaped, so you'll never see it on the final guitar.

Harry is spreading the glue with an old credit card or magnetic hotel keycard. I never throw away those plastic cards anymore, they're a great tool.

It's a little bit hard to see in the pics, but if you'll look closely you'll see the toothpicks sticking up out of the holes. Once they're in place, the part sticking out can be knocked off.

Now Harry is getting the cauls and clamps in place to get it all clamped solid so it will be a nice tight joint. Note the waxed paper to keep the neck from sticking to everything else. I'll show a clearer picture of everything being glued up when I post the Day 4 stuff.

sawstop is the coolest thing that i've seen to defeat Darwinism in the woodshop.
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