Sunday, June 05, 2005


Gluing the neck block

The other day I attempted to glue in my neck block, and I glued it on crooked. I meant to take pictures of the screwup and the fix, but I got caught up in fixing it, so I forgot about getting out the camera. My intention is to document my screwups here as well as the stuff I do right. It's a little embarrassing, but the screwups are where you learn the most.

The very general reason that I screwed it up was that I was in a hurry. The specific reason I screwed up is that I didn't do a dry run. A dry run is where you get all the parts together and clamped as if you were gluing it together to make sure everything will go as planned, except there's no glue (thus, dry). I didn't realize until I had glue on the block and had everything partly clamped that I didn't have clamps with deep enough reach to get at the bottom of the block. I also let the block slip a little bit and it went crooked without me knowing it until I went to take the clamps off.

To fix it, I bought a Wagner heat gun from Walmart. They sell it in the paint department, it's used to soften up paint to be scraped off. I heated the neck block and slowly pried through with a paint scraper that I've ground extra thin at the edge. It mostly went well except for I got a few little cracks in the sides. I fixed the cracks with thin superglue and they should be invisible when everything gets sanded. When the neck is on, they won't be visible anyway.

So today I acquired a couple deeper clamps and did a dry run to make sure everything would go together correctly. Here's everything glued and clamped up.

Here's a top view. Be sure to note the waxed paper that keeps the glue away from things that aren't supposed to get glued together. Also, notice I've knocked off a block on my building form to make room for the clamps. I'll glue that back on later.

And here it is with the clamps off. On the inside I used a chunk of plywood as a caul. For the outside I made a flexible caul by slitting some mdf on the table saw. When I clamp it up, it flexes to the shape of what I'm clamping. The cauls help distribute the pressure of the clamps, and also keep you from damaging the actual guitar parts with the clamps.

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