Part 1:  How I make a guitar neck

I precut neck stock ahead of time to rough and oversized dimensions and then leave it stacked for months

so it will relax and stabilize until I am ready to use it.

 

 

 

 

Select the neck pieces.

 

 

Prepare the neck stock on the jointer...

 

... and the planer.

 

Cut the stock to the correct dimensions.

 

Cut an 8 degree scarf using a tenon jig.

 

Scarfs are cut on the neck back for the glue joint and on the head to remove excess material

 

Glue the headstock blank / neck back scarf joint using a simple glue jig and a few clamps.

 

One clamp holds the glue joint until it sets.

 

After the scarf joint dries, prepare the neck surface on the jointer.

 

Neck back and head attached and flat.

 

Moving to the fretboard... first cut the nut slot.

 

Switch out the blade on the saw and cut the fret slots with a dedicated fence jig.

I used to cut the slots by hand, this is much faster, easier and more precise.

 

 

 

 

Because my fretboard is thicker than normal (about one half the thickness of the neck)

I cut a slot for the truss rod in it...

 

 

 

... as well as in the neck back.

 

 

 

I also embed two carbon fiber rods inside the neck. To make room for the carbon fiber, the truss rod slot

in both the fret board and neck back is widened with a router and another jig.

 

 

 

 

This shows the truss rod in the slot and the space on either side for the carbon fiber rods.

 

 

 

 

Change the blade for a third time and cut the fretboard taper using a taper jig.

 

 

 

 

The taper must be precise and a measuring jig is used to make sure it is perfect.

 

 

 

 

The truss rod and carbon fiber rods are in place, glue applied.

 

 

 

 

Pinch it.

One nice thing about the rod slot being shared by both the fretboard and the neck is that

they line up and register perfectly... no squirm.

 

 

 

Neck block free from the clamps.

 

Trim the excess from the neck back.

 

Finish the neck edges with a pattern flush trim bit that traces the tapered fretboard.

 

Cleaned and trimmed to size.

 

Necks move from string tension in one direction and from the truss rod in the other direction,

and they move the most near the nut. So, I prefer to put a dowel there to pin the neck and fretboard permanently.

 

 

 

 

Dowels for structure.

 

 

 

 

At this stage I like to stack the neck blanks and let them set for a while

to work out any kinks they may have before the finishing begins.

 

Once chosen for use, a template and precise measurements for the head shape and tuner locations.

 

Tuner holes are drilled in the head.

 

The head is rough cut on the band saw...

 

... and trimmed to the final shape with the router and another template.

 

Head cut and trimmed.

 

Now the side markers are drilled...

 

... and bunged, i.e. decorative doweling.

 

Finally, the side markers are trimmed with the router.

 

This neck is ready for fitting and finishing

 

The fretboard is given a 12" radius using a box and carriage jig.

That is an antique Stanley "chrome dome" router.

 

The fretboard is finished on a matching 12" radius sanding beam.

 

Neck profile starts with a grinder...

 

...evened out with a rasp...

 

... and finished with sandpaper.

 

Brand it.

 

After all the sanding it is time for frets. I prefer to use a hand clamp press.

 

Nip the fret ends...

 

...file the edges...

 

... a couple of light passes on the radius beam to level the frets...

 

Re-crown any frets that need it.

 

...and buff them up. I'll give one more high polish buff to the frets after the whole guitar is finished.

 

This neck is ready for a guitar.

 

 

follow this link to Part 2:  How I make the rest of the guitar.

 

 

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