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Part 1

OK - so we're ready to start shaping the neck:

I start with the 'shoulders' at the head end - rough shaping with a half round rasp, then on to the same with the heel:

Similar principle - although I start the heel by making a 45 degree angle cut with a mitre box so there's less wood to remove with the rasp. Then on to the rest of the neck:

Spokeshave for the basic shape

Then a rasp to round everything over

Then bastard files to get rid of all those nasty rasp scratches, and flat files to get rid of bastard file scratches :)

Before I begin sanding with the grain, I take a long strip of 60 grit (a sanding belt is good too) and run it up and down the neck using a 'shoe shining' approach - this is effective for both removing file scratches and ensuring a nice rounded profile to the neck. Just make sure you sand with the grain afterwards with the same paper to remove any cross-grain scratches!

Shape the top of the headstock and drill holes for tuners, then sand everything down to 320 grit, ensuring that all scratches and marks from previous abrasives have been removed. Now to lay in some frets:

Once my frets are cut to size, I use a one hand ratchet clamp to squash them in. Before laying in the frets, pass a triangle file over the fret slots - this will help the fret wire sit better. While they are in the clamp, I put a drop of superglue in either side under the tang to hold them in place when they are filed. I start with one clamp on either end of the fretboard, going on to the next while the glue sets, then meet in the middle.

On to part 3!

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Comment by Jim Morris on July 22, 2014 at 4:19pm

Ahhh Richey.... it's the circle of life!

Comment by Richey Kay on July 22, 2014 at 3:36pm
Cheers Jim, it was my pleasure. How odd that instead I learned a lot of this from you!
Comment by Jim Morris on July 22, 2014 at 3:06pm

Well Richey, I wish you had posted this 5 years ago then I wouldn't have had to figure out so much on my own! These 3 posts will be a great help to new builders and also to folks like me who've made a few but are open to new ways of doing things. Thanks!

Comment by Glenn Watt on July 19, 2014 at 9:26pm

Numero dos is well written. You explain your approach clearly. Excellent images.

Great stuff!

On to post three.

Comment by robert jones on July 17, 2014 at 1:13pm

LOL Holding the bare ends makes my fingers cramp, easier for me with the blocks attached.

Comment by Richey Kay on July 17, 2014 at 1:02pm
Just beautiful Bob. And infinitely more complex than mine, which is just a long strip of 60 grit which I hold at eother end :-)
Comment by Ron "Oily" Sprague on July 17, 2014 at 1:01pm
I do the same thing, sorta, but flip my belt sander upside down in my Workmate, using 80 grit, then run the neck through a few passes until I get the shape roughed out. Takes me maybe 10 minutes from quarter to there. Then I rasp out any high spots, rasp out the heel and headstock curves, then start in with a rubber block sander with progressively finer grits to about 320. Then steel wool it, one more pass with the 320, and it doesn't even really need stain. I use two pieces of laminated 3/4" plywood, with the lams standing up.
Comment by robert jones on July 17, 2014 at 12:44pm

Well then here's a pic of the tool in all it's complexity. :-)

Comment by Richey Kay on July 17, 2014 at 12:41pm
Yup, that's a good tip Bob, and a technique I use myself... didn't want to go into to much detail for the purposes of this guide, but I may add that one in.
Comment by robert jones on July 17, 2014 at 12:34pm

A handy "tool" to get rasp and file marks off the roughed in neck can be made from a piece of sanding belt and two scraps of wood.

Clamp the neck to your bench with full access to the rounded portion, brace the head stock against your body.

Use a shoe polishing action while moving up and down the neck. Use a light touch and check progress frequently.

Finish sand with the grain to remove any cross grain marks.


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