I joined up with the city park district because they offer a program called "Open Woodshop: 18 and Over." I signed up for it, thinking I could really enhance some of my builds by getting access to professional equipment, especially on learning to use a drill press to route out neck pockets.

 

Well, "Open Woodshop" actually meant "Beginning Arts and Crafts", as I am stuck making a 3" by 5" dovetail box. The instructor laughed when I asked about learning to use a table saw and a drill press, and assured me that my little guitars hadn't yet prepared me for REAL woodworking.

 

So, i thought I'd open it up here: anyone have useful advice for routing out neck pockets?

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Feck "real" woodworking...just learn how to do it yourself..heck...300+ guitars built and l've  still (just) got all my fingers and never had any 'real' instruction apart from school woodwork shop when I was 13-15. You don't need to know how to make dovetails (I certainly haven't got a clue).  For routing neck pockets..guess what..you need a router. A drill press is a must for the home workshop, but so  much can be achieved with hand tools. Table saws frighten me to death..thats why I don't own one (and probably accounts for  why I have still got all my fingers)...but I love my newly acquired (and secondhand) bandsaw.
CBJ: i have a small trim router, but Josh's guide says the best thing is rough-routing using a drill press with a forstner, to put less wear on the router bits. I've never used a drill press or a forstner bit though...
I drill press is a really handy tool, and forstner bits are handy as well. They are fine for roughing out, and doing things like pickup routs in solid-body guitars, as you can set the depth stop on the drill press, but for accuracy and neatness a router is better. I've never had a problem with router bits wearing out doing neck pockets (and I use my router a lot), I usually do it on 2 or 3 passes, going down to the full depth in stages. Router bits are disposable and need throwing away when they go blunt, but a decent quality bit will do a lot of guitars.

John Disposable Router Bits ? wow you must have too much money mate - you can resharpen TCT Router Bits with a Diamong Stone used with water - i have router bits that are 12 years old and they have had some serious use over there life and there still going strong - when you have a router Bit ready to dispose of send it to me i'll use it for another 12 years haha!

but yes as john said whenever routing do multiple passes dont try and rout it all out in one deep pass you will burn the wood and router bit and the neck pocket will be oversize due to vibration and burning of the wood - a good rule for routing is only rout half the width of your router Bit at a time so a 10mm bit should cut a 5mm deep slot without any problems at all

hope that helps

juju :)



JUJU AKA SOUNDSSOGOOD said:

John Disposable Router Bits ? wow you must have too much money mate - you can resharpen TCT Router Bits with a Diamong Stone used with water - i have router bits that are 12 years old and they have had some serious use over there life and there still going strong - when you have a router Bit ready to dispose of send it to me i'll use it for another 12 years haha!

but yes as john said whenever routing do multiple passes dont try and rout it all out in one deep pass you will burn the wood and router bit and the neck pocket will be oversize due to vibration and burning of the wood - a good rule for routing is only rout half the width of your router Bit at a time so a 10mm bit should cut a 5mm deep slot without any problems at all

hope that helps

juju :)

 

PS have a look through my Photos on page 9 + 10 i did a little photo shoot and explination on routing out a neck pocket and the setup of the router cutter and Guid bush callculations

Scotty, I dont think I like your instructors attitude, and I would probably find it hard to resist letting him know that fact on my way out the door!

Now, that aside, if I could contain myself, a class in handmade dovetail joinery is a great way to learn a good combination of basic woodworking and tool skills.

Heres a video on one way to route neck pockets. The only thing I take exception with in this particular video is the movement/relocation of the jig part way through the process. I would prefer not to risk any shift in my original set up and set up a jig that stays in place during the entire cut. Otherwise this is a pretty good example, with good tips.

 

Mark: I'm becoming acutely aware that the guy is a severe control freak. I watched him alienate half a class of old-timer workers last night in just under an hour. It was actually kind of breathtaking.

Mark Bliss said:

Scotty, I dont think I like your instructors attitude, and I would probably find it hard to resist letting him know that fact on my way out the door!

Now, that aside, if I could contain myself, a class in handmade dovetail joinery is a great way to learn a good combination of basic woodworking and tool skills.

 I have a really hard time with condescension.  I don't think your instructor and I would have a productive relationship.

I'll leave it to others to give useful neck pocket info. My advice relates to my version of woodworking in general (or "life", if you are into metaphors. lol).

1st, NEVER forget that wood is tougher than flesh and bone. If a tool will alter a bit of wood, it will definitely alter your body. Django and the old, arthritic Les Paul are the only 2 fingered guitarists I can think of.

2nd, scrap is your friend. Practice. That old 2x4 is cheap. Your new StewMac curly maple neck blank is not.

3rd, It isn't a race. Don't rush. Hurrying leads to dulled tools, damaged projects, injury, and mistakes of all kinds.

and 4th, Remember the Nike ads? Just Do It. If someone says "The only way to do this is.....", they are almost certainly wrong. Some ways are far better than others, but I could cut a neck pocket with a broken bottle and a piece of rock.(I hope I never have to!) Don't be afraid to try out a crazy idea. It's just wood. If it doesn't work, plant a sapling in penance.

No offense, but your instructor sounds like a real tool.

I wonder if I made that point in my guide.  Second edition, I guess.

 

Adding to this point, you want to get a variable speed route.  Larger bits want slower speed.


JUJU AKA SOUNDSSOGOOD said:

John Disposable Router Bits ? wow you must have too much money mate - you can resharpen TCT Router Bits with a Diamong Stone used with water - i have router bits that are 12 years old and they have had some serious use over there life and there still going strong - when you have a router Bit ready to dispose of send it to me i'll use it for another 12 years haha!

but yes as john said whenever routing do multiple passes dont try and rout it all out in one deep pass you will burn the wood and router bit and the neck pocket will be oversize due to vibration and burning of the wood - a good rule for routing is only rout half the width of your router Bit at a time so a 10mm bit should cut a 5mm deep slot without any problems at all

hope that helps

juju :)

Why would I be offended? I called him worse after class last night.

Josh Gayou (SmokehouseGuitars) said:
No offense, but your instructor sounds like a real tool.

The worst thing about the experience is not the non-refundable cost, because it was only $50; it's that I could have put that $50 toward buying machinery of my own.

I went in hoping that he could show me how to make cleaner cuts on my scarf joints -- or at least cut them for me -- and when i brought it up, he began hemming and hawwing about how that kind of cut would require a jig, and he doesn't have time to focus on one person in class of 12, etc etc...

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