I am getting started soon on my next project. For many reasons I need to keep the cost to a bare minimum. I am going to use for the neck what I consider to be very unconventional, bordering on taboo, plywood. Now don't go jumping up and down. Nice cabinet grade oak ply. Yes, it's going to look wonky. But oh well I have it on hand and I can save money for the parts I have to buy. Now for the fret board itself, the only thing else I have on hand is our old waterbed from 1980. Its 5/4 pine and rather twisted. The twist I can handle, so after making it nice and flat. Taking it down to 1/4 inch thick. Will Fret wire hold tight in pine?

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ok, that got away from me fast. Bumped the keyboard and that posted way before I was ready. And I can find an option to edit or delete. 

Hi, If I used ply for a neck, for stability I would have the ply run upright. So instead of [with the ply I have] being 13 plys thick it would be 26 plys wide by joining two strips, and as thick as you need. Like some Martin guitar models' necks. Hope that makes sense.

Also, pine is not hard enough for a fingerboard and its grain structure does not lend itself to gripping the small tang of a fret. You could glue them in. Also being a soft timber hammering in frets may make indentations leading to uneven frets.

A hardwood fretboard also adds stability to the neck.
Cheers Taff
HTML dont forget.

Yes, that is my plan. Edge grain up. Then laminate a solid wood for the Fretboard. I'm hoping I can find some source for this other than the hardware store. Yes, I can afford to go buy a little wood. But for reasons I don't need to go into I really want to keep the cost of this build to an absolute bare minimum. I have been eyeing the sold oak leaf to the old dining room table...shh dont tell my wife! 

General rule of thumb is the fretboard material is harder than the neck wood. Softwoods like  commercial white pine will give less stability & sustain, & at some point the fret ends will come loose unless you glue them in? You can get a 1 1/2”x 1/4”x48” plank of oak for less than $10 at a big box hardware store in the lower 48? 

Michael, if you look up above the title of your discussion, next to the add button, you should see an “options” box? There’s an edit as well as a delete function in the pull down menu? 

Thanks, I fixed the post.

You can pick up a 1/4" x 2" (1.5 actual) x 24" piece of Red Oak for 3 bucks at Lowes.  Makes a great fingerboard.

I've used pine for a fingerboard several times. There is lots of different kinds of Pine. You want tight fret slots if the wood is soft. I take a 99 cent yardstick from the big box store, cut my fret slots, then wipe on a coat of shellac, let it dry, and then fret the fingerboard without cleaning out the slots. I also get better results if I press the frets in as opposed to tapping them in with a hammer.

Super glue the frets.  :)

 I have actually used both high and mid quality Plywood on my builds-it is definitely doable. Depending on the ply quality, you may need to watch for splintering as you saw and file,may or may not have voids in the wood(in which case I recommend sawdust and glue, a week to settle and shrink and then a stain-able putty for a 'finishing layer') and tiny irregularities in the feel that may require extensive fine sanding or several top coats of finisher.

 I have also used both soft pine and door skin laminate for fret boards. As mentioned, pine is soft-I  tend not to tap the frets in so much as press them in with a wood block faced with leather-then i'll tap the block if needed-it seldom is needed-and drip a tiny amount of cheap, runny Dollar Store superglue into each side of the slot...soaks right in. Laminate fret boards are just as delicate in their own way, as I often want to preserve the original finish on those, and the top layer can flake a little under my fret saw if i'm not gentle enough...

 Now, laminates for the sound board and back? Stronger than regular wood, can be just as resonant depending on the source quality, and needs less bracing if any. Most Cigar Box bottoms are thin laminate these days, and my recent experiments in door skin sound boards show promise...heck my last build (Death Head Dulcimer) was all laminates, from the 2mm ply face to the multiple layers of paint sticks to the three pine square dowels and oak strip backing with laminated fret board....worked just fine!

I have used both pine and poplar on lower cost builds. It works BUT. You have to make sure your frets are very flat before tapping them in and you will have to drop some super glue on them. Don't over drive the fret wire or you get some too low. I strongly recommend at least medium sized fret wire. Anything smaller will just drive into the soft wood.


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