Portland Guitar Co.

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Custom Handcrafted
Guitars, Ukuleles
and Accessories


Portland Guitar Co. | Portland Oregon | Contact Jay Dickinson-503.245.3276 | jay@portlandguitar.com


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Finished Build

Classical Model

CLM 1.2.63

  • Body: Brazilian Rosewood
  • Top: Carpathian Spruce
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Binding: Cocobolo
  • Headstock: Amboyna Burl
  • Tuners: Gotoh, gold plate, ebony buttons, black friction resistant roller

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Now I start working on the neck. Here I am squaring up the previously made neck blank with the table saw.

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The sanding belt removes some irregularities.

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I use my sanding table to route the channel for the truss rod.

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The truss rod lets me control the amount of bow in the neck.

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The strings will exert about 120lbs of tension, causing the neck to warp over time. The truss rod can be adjusted to resist this deformation.

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I have set up my CNC tool to cut the fret slots in the fretboard blank.

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Next I layout the fretboard design on the blank.

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And then I reduce the thickness with the drum sander.

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I place tape at the ends of the fretboard and use my straight edge to cut the tape on the outline of the fret board.

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The edge of the tape tells me how much material I need to remove and I can make all of my measurement before I start.

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First I use the band saw to come close to the edge.

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And then the belt sander to fine tune the edge.

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When I can't see any wood between the edge of the tape and the edge of the wood I know to stop sanding..

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The bottom edge of the fretboard is going to have a white/black/white stripe to match the sides of the guitar. Here I have cut three layers of fiber board to create the pin stripe.

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I then glue them together.

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Next I drill a hole for the top next attachment barrel nut.

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Here I have mounted the neck blank on a template with the shape of the heel.

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The router bit follows the template...

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and cuts out the heel.

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Next I use the milling machine to create the support plate and wing channels.

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The big channel is for the cantilevered fretboard support plate, and the small channels on the edges are for the top plate heel channel wings.

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Now with everything lined up on the head plate I cut a channel in the veneer plate to expose the truss rod adjustment bolt.

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Here I am cutting a 3 deg bevel in the back of the heel to make sure it will have free movement in the heel channel.

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Next I trim the bottom of the heel to fit the heel channel.

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Here you can see haw the heel fits into the heel channel.

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Next I cut a channel in the support plate for the truss rod.

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A bit of glue.

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And here you can see the support plate glued in place. This plate reenforces the portion of the fretboard that floats over the top of the guitar body.

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Next I line up the pinstripe assembly on the head stock using two small wood dowels.

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And then after carefully positioning the fretboard I glue a few positioning blocks on the assembly. I use these positioning blocks so that when I am gluing everything together I don't have to worry about positioning. Freshly glued wood is slippery and these help keep everything in place.

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Epoxy goes on the bottom of the pin striping and the fretboard.

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And then I clamp everything together.

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Next morning.

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Now I have set up to plane the bottom of the neck blank to dimension.

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A slight 4 mm taper to the neck.

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I have inserted a center point on the neck adjustment nut.

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So when I insert the neck into the heel channel...

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it leaves a small hole where I will drill out the holes for the neck angle adjustment hardware.

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First I drill a hole for the hardware...

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and then a coaxial hole for the adjustment tool access.

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I use a small o-ring to provide a bit of compression, followed by a washer, then the adjustment bolt, and finally the retention flange.

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A bit of glue on the flange and I stuff everything into the hole.

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And then I compress the assembly just a little bit. I do this so that when you take the strings off, the neck won't flop around.

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To prevent the flange from sliding out I drill two hole through the flange...

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and insert two retaining pins. Without these pins the flange would tend to slip out over time and tension.

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Now I trim off the excess from the neck blank.

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I use the router table to clean up the sides.

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And the headstock gets trimmed to shape using a template.

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Now I start shaping the neck with the end of belt sander.

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And after the heavy lifting has been done I use a variety of tools to finish up the shape.

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A use a matrix of contour gauges to get a good idea of the shape profiles along the length of the neck.

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By sighting down the matrix I can see where I need to work next.

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Here I am drilling the holes for the tuning machines.

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A test fit.

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And then I mill out the string channels in the headstock.

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And then finally I bevel back the channels for the string access.

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Here you can clearly see the support plate in action.

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Everything fits perfectly. Hurray!

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