Portland Guitar Co.

Designing and Building
Custom Handcrafted
Guitars, Ukuleles
and Accessories

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

Home | Orders & Sales | Photo Gallery | Current Builds | Finished Builds | Tilt Action Neck
Engineered Braces | Rosettes & Marquetry | Split Saddle | Shop Tour | Biography | News

Finished Build

Large Jumbo 8 String Wedge Cutaway

Serial # LJ8C 2.1.55

Page 5

( 222 ) 17-Aug-2012

We are going to use Snakewood binding; in this picture I am preparing the heating blanket that will make the wood strips pliable.

( 223 ) 17-Aug-2012

After heating up the binding strips I use the bending machine to shape them. I'll put these aside until I am reading to install the binding.

( 224 ) 17-Aug-2012

The 24 fret extended fingerboard needs to be supported with a cantilever support plate. I this case I have used a piece of Purpleheart for this purpose because it is hard and stiff and I just happen to have a piece the right size. In this picture I am getting ready to route out two slots for a couple of carbon fiber reinforcing strips.

( 225 ) 17-Aug-2012

The reinforcing strips extend from the headstock through the cantilever support plate.

( 226 ) 17-Aug-2012

Here you can see the reinforcing strips installed.

( 227 ) 17-Aug-2012

Now I am ready to cut the fret slots. I use this sled and template machine to position and guide the Dremel tool.

( 228 ) 17-Aug-2012

Here you can see the fret slots cut into the fretboard blank.

( 229 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use my hand saw to fine tune the slots' width and depth.

( 230 ) 17-Aug-2012

I check each slot with a fretwire tool to make sure that the fretwire will fully seat into the slot. When I press this tool into the slot if it wiggles back and forth I know the slot isn't deep enough.

( 231 ) 17-Aug-2012

Patrick has asked me to inlay Snakewood position markers. In this picture I am routing out the channels for the markers.

( 232 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use a hand chisel to square up the ends of the channels.

( 233 ) 17-Aug-2012

And then I trim the Snakewood pieces to fit the slots. Any gaps - I hate gaps - will be filled in with CA and ebony dust.

( 234 ) 17-Aug-2012

After sanding the markers flush I trim excess from the fretboard.

( 235 ) 17-Aug-2012

I am using masking tape to mark the final dimensions of the fretboard blank to accommodate for the width of the binding.

( 236 ) 17-Aug-2012

The belt sander lets me trim the fretboard to its final dimension.

( 237 ) 17-Aug-2012

The extend fretboard has a serpentine termination. Here I am bending the Snakewood binding to shape.

( 238 ) 17-Aug-2012

After I have the binding bent I place this assembly in the oven to fix its shape.

( 239 ) 17-Aug-2012

Here is the terminal piece of binding.

( 240 ) 17-Aug-2012

I trim the fretboard blank to its final shape.

( 241 ) 17-Aug-2012

And touch it up with the oscillating sander.

( 242 ) 17-Aug-2012

The terminal binding and the fretboard.

( 243 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use CA glue to attach the binding to the fretboard.

( 244 ) 17-Aug-2012

To further reinforce the extended fretboard I am going to install a couple of carbon fiber reinforcing strips.

( 245 ) 17-Aug-2012

The strips will help to prevent the extended portion of the fretboard from flexing.

( 246 ) 17-Aug-2012

Now I am getting ready to install the gold "Evo" fretwire.

( 247 ) 17-Aug-2012

After carefully cutting twenty-four pieces of fretwire and marking the portion that will overlay the binding, I use a belt sander to remove the tang from the binding portion.

( 248 ) 17-Aug-2012

To insure the matrix of frets will be level, I level and check the fretboard blank one last time. My objective is to have the tops of the fretwire level to within plus or minus 1 mil. This will avoid any frets from buzzing and allow a very low action. This very straight and level sanding tool helps me sand the fretboard to its final shape.

( 249 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use a brass hammer to install the fretwire.

( 250 ) 17-Aug-2012

And then I put a few drops of CA glue on the ends of the fretwire to lock them in place.

( 251 ) 17-Aug-2012

The belt sander trims off the excess fretwire.

( 252 ) 17-Aug-2012

In this picture Ii am trimming the heal of the neck to a 3 deg angle. This will allow free movement of the neck in the heal channel as it is adjusted.

( 253 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use my milling machine to drill out the hole for the Tilt Action adjustment hardware.

( 254 ) 17-Aug-2012

And then I drill a hole straight through the heal for the adjustment tool access. I will instal a 1/4-20 wood insert in this hole for the strap button. The strap button then hides the adjustment hole.

( 255 ) 17-Aug-2012

The end of the heal where the adjustment bolt will be installed.

( 256 ) 17-Aug-2012

After the retaining flange is installed I drive two retaining dowels through the flange to insure that it will not pull out under the tension on the neck from the strings.

( 257 ) 17-Aug-2012

We are going to use a Cocobolo veneer on the headstock. In this picture I am using by drum sander to level the blank.

( 258 ) 17-Aug-2012

And the bandsaw to trim it to shape.

( 259 ) 17-Aug-2012

And the oscillating sander to fine tune it.

( 260 ) 17-Aug-2012

Here I am installing the binding and a b/w/b purfling strip on the headstock veneer.

( 261 ) 17-Aug-2012

The Snakewood binding being glued in place.

( 262 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use a few hand tools to the sand everything flush.

( 263 ) 17-Aug-2012

The end of the headstock veneer gets sanded to a 13 deg angle. This is the same angle as the headstock angle and will hold the bone nut in place without any gaps.

( 264 ) 17-Aug-2012

The bone nut held in place between the fretboard and the headstock.

( 265 ) 17-Aug-2012

I have prepared a black/white/black fiber sheet that will end up creating a pinstripe between the fretboard and the neck. Although this uses a lot of fiber sheeting, it results in a pinstripe that has no unsightly breaks in it as it circumscribes the neck and headstock.

( 266 ) 17-Aug-2012

Here I am gluing the fiber sheet to the fretboard.

( 267 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use a scraper to trim the sheets to the shape of the fretboard.

( 268 ) 17-Aug-2012

And here I am gluing the headstock veneer to the fiber sheets.

( 269 ) 17-Aug-2012

The bandsaw trims the sheet to shape.

( 270 ) 17-Aug-2012

And the scraper finishes the job.

( 271 ) 17-Aug-2012

Now with the fretboard/headstock assembly ready I position it on the neck blank.

( 272 ) 17-Aug-2012

A look at the nut area.

( 273 ) 17-Aug-2012

Now I am ready to route the neck blank to its thickness dimension.

( 274 ) 17-Aug-2012

This safety planner (a misnamed tool in my opinion, although a very handy one) lets me trim the back side of the neck blank so it is parallel with the top side.

( 275 ) 17-Aug-2012

To position the fretboard assembly on the neck blank I us a couple of fiducial buttons. Here I am drilling a 1/4 inch hole in the fretboard blank.

( 276 ) 17-Aug-2012

This button will prevent the fretboard from sliding around when I glue it down. The ice tea kept me cool on a hot day in the shop.

( 277 ) 17-Aug-2012

To prevent the glue from gumming up the truss rod I put a strip of Scotch tape over it.

( 278 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use epoxy to glue the fretboard to the neck. The epoxy doesn't swell the wood as it cures which a water based evaporative glue would.

( 279 ) 17-Aug-2012

Lots of clamps presses the fretboard in place making sure there are no gaps between the fretboard and the neckblank.

( 280 ) 17-Aug-2012

Lots and lots of clamps.

( 281 ) 17-Aug-2012

And finally a great day (one of many actually); the first time the neck is attached to the body. Looking like a guitar!

( 282 ) 17-Aug-2012

The bandsaw was used to trim away the excess on the neckblank.

( 283 ) 17-Aug-2012

I have a special support to help with the headstock.

( 284 ) 17-Aug-2012

And the oscillating sander trims the headstock to shape.

( 285 ) 17-Aug-2012

And a little fine tuning with the scraper.

( 286 ) 17-Aug-2012

After everything was glued up I decided to thin the headstock a bit with the safety planner.

( 287 ) 17-Aug-2012

Now I start to shape the neck. I use masking tape to mark where I don't want to sand and to give me a layer of sacrificial material if I should slip.

( 288 ) 17-Aug-2012

Here I am working on the volute.

( 289 ) 17-Aug-2012

The idler pulley on the belt sander does a lot of the heavy lifting.

( 290 ) 17-Aug-2012

I use this mounting plate to keep the neck square as I work on the heal.

( 291 ) 17-Aug-2012

Sanding... checking... sanding.. sanding.. checking.

( 292 ) 17-Aug-2012

I have a variety of sanding blocks I use.

( 294 ) 17-Aug-2012

Once the neck is roughed out I use hand tools and go quite slow. I have found it is much easier to remove wood than it is to put it back. Making a neck is literally a case where you glue a couple of pieces of wood together and then whittle away everything that doesn't look like a guitar.

( 294 ) 17-Aug-2012

I have the special tool I created to help me check the shape of the neck as I work. This tool holds a set of contour gauges and allows me to repeatedly put them on the same spot. This way I can check my work and I can see where I need to sand next.

( 295 ) 17-Aug-2012

I also use a dial indicator to measure the profile of the neck. I want the neck to be dead on straight from the nut to the twelfth fret.

( 296 ) 17-Aug-2012

Here is a close up the the fretboard.

( 297 ) 17-Aug-2012

And the headstock. In deciding on how to apply the purfling and binding I set up a few design rules. When Snakewood is next to Cocobolo (two woods with similar color) I put a piece of b/w/b pinstriping between them. This creates a very nice contrast. When Snakewood is next to ebony I don't put anything.

( 298 ) 17-Aug-2012

A look at the guitar with the neck attached.

( 299 ) 17-Aug-2012

And another view. This cutaway really gives you access to the upper fretboard.

( 300 ) 17-Aug-2012

I have attached a piece of Snakewood to the volute... I think it just added a necessary finishing touch.

( 301 ) 17-Aug-2012

Another look at the volute.

( 302 ) 17-Aug-2012

And another.