I'm new to CBN and on my first cbg build. I'm trying to build a 3 string cbg using a scarf joint with poplar 1x2 stock.  I originally was going to have a longer headstock but do to trial and error with scarfing, I'm down to about 2 7/8" left of headstock. Ooops! The scarf angle is not much I think about 12 degrees.  I am not sure how to thin the headstock down to fit the tuners.  Should this be a tapered cut? Should the cut come off the back or the front? Where does the cut stop relative to the neck? How much distance needs to be between the first tuner and the nut? Here's a pic of what I'm working with.  Any help and suggestions is greatly appreciated! Thanks.

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Hi Dee.  Congrats on tackling your first build!

There are several ways to do thin your headstock, depending on what tools you have.  I prefer to thin from the face of the headstock.   I don't recommend a jigsaw or circular saw.  Jigsaws aren't accurate and circular saws cut an arc rather than straight.   If you have a band saw, that's the fastest and easiest.  My next favorite method is a tabletop scroll saw.   If you don't have one of those, I highly favor a shark-tooth rasp.  It's amazing how quickly it will go through wood, and it's good exercise.  Use the rasp first, then a file, then progressive grits of sandpaper.  Whole job should take about 15 to 30 minutes depending on level of expertise, but don't be afraid to go slow and take as long as you need.

The main thing of course is to keep everything even, same depth of cut on both sides.  If using a rasp, a bench vise is a very handy thing.

The ideal depth of the head will depend on the tuners you're using.  Thickness of a standard electric guitar head is 9/16".

Follow-up:   Using your photo as a reference...

Thanks very much Wayfinder.  This is a big help.

Hi Dee Ann, like most of us, you are learning things the hard way, normally, the easiest way to thin the head is , just sand the top till it is ok, but , that is now going to alter your nut position due to your lack of length, so now you have to do it with a bit more involved, in your case i would remove from the bottom , as taking off the top will be more exposed to sight, just use a rasp to rough it out and smooth it with s/paper, at 5/8" you don't need to remove a lot for tuner fitting, you could also go to a single slotted headstock which you can do without the need to thin at all, whichever way you go, with that headstock length you will probably need to have 2 tuners 1 side and 1 the other as you need around 1 3/8" between tuners otherwise it gets a bit crowded for your fingers, so i'd probably go  3/4 from the top, then 1 3/8 or a bit less to the next tuner, and the one opposite in between those 2, you don't have a lot of fiddle room there.The 12 degrees will be fine, but i'd try to move those tuners as far forward as i can without making it look silly to get a good string angle to the first tuner post. i've added a couple of pics to give you some ideas.--- http://www.cigarboxnation.com/photo/decked-out-1?context=user


Thanks Darryl.  Very good info.  Love your pics. I'd like to try a slotted headstock on the next build. Too late for this build since I used a pin in the scarf joint to keep it from slipping when I clamped.  I added 1/4" wings to the headstock to give myself a little more space to work with. Can't say its going to look pretty, but it will get the job done.  I measured the tuner placement for 2 on one side and one on the other and it will work out well. Thanks again for your help.

To play devil's advocate ('cos Darryl is experienced and sharp), consider the following diagram (slightly exaggerated to make the point):

I am concerned if you thin from the bottom, the break angle from the tuners to the nut might not be sufficient.  Best way for you to tell is to run a ruler from where the tuner pole will rise above the neck surface, to where the crown of the nut will sit.  See if that angle is steep enough to keep the strings on the nut properly.   As the diagram shows, thinning from the top increases the angle, putting greater tension at the nut and holding the strings tight.  It's difficult to tell from our end which will be better, which is why I'd recommend doing a dry-measure first before cutting.

I don't see a problem myself with your mark for the nut position, especially if you use a Zero Fret system.  Plenty of room for it and the zero fret would be at pretty much exactly the right location.  Depends on whether you are going fretted or fretless.

Thank you Wayfinder. I love the visuals. You've definitely given me some things to think about and more decisions to make. I forgot to mention that I'm planning on using a fretboard! This will certainly add to the string break angle. Turns out the 5/8" thickness is ideal for the tuners I'm using. I was planning on using a bolt for the nut, but maybe I should cut the holes and see what the string height looks like before deciding on bolt or zero fret? Thanks again for your help.

If you are using a fretboard, then simply cut off the top face of the headstock with a handsaw and sand it flat,to about 1/2" overall thickness. It will move your nut position back a bit, and will expose the glue joint on the headstock, but you can cover that with a piece of veneer for the cosmetic appearance if you want.

This also give the advantage of leaving a slightly longer headstock with more space to arrange your machineheads. One thing to watch out is that the position of the nut will be shifted back , so you'll either need to move your bridge position back correspondingly, or make the scale length slightly shorter.

Either way, all you need is a handsaw, sandpaper and a sanding block.

Leave it to Chickenbone to see the sensible way.  :D

Nice diagram, John.

Thank you Chickenbone John. I am such a visual person. Thanks for the drawings!! Love your idea. I think I could get away with the shorter head, but it looks so funky with the bigger Ashton box I'm using. I've got plenty of neck length to work with. I'm going to try your idea of cutting down the top to create a longer head and more angle for the string action. Thanks so much for your input.

My mistake Dee Ann, from your original post i thought you were running out of neck length, that is the only reason i suggested thinning the bottom, if you have plenty of wood , certainly thin the top, it helps everything, break angle h/stock length etc


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