Portland Guitar Co.

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


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Finished Build

Orchestral Model Cutaway For Dan I.

OMC 1.5.32

Jacaranda Body
Sitka Spruce Top
Mahogany Neck
Ebony Fretboard
Bloodwood Binding

Page 5


(136) 15-June-2010
A quick pass with a sanding block removes the minor tool marks left on the surface when the fretboard comes out of the Universal Radilator.  

(137) 15-June-2010
Here I am marking the outline of the fretboard on the ebony blank.

(138) 15-June-2010
I have built a sled and rail system and a set of templates that set the position of the saw for each slot.  The saw blade that sits in the sled fixes the position of the sled to the templates on either side.  I have a different set of templates for each unique scale length.  This system ensures the sled remains square and is accurately positioned.    I use a small circular saw to cut each slot.  The saw slides across the front of the sled and has been adjusted so it remains parallel to the sled and normal to the fretboard.

(139) 15-June-2010
A shot of the slotted fretboard blank.

(140) 15-June-2010
A closeup of the extended end of the slotted fretboard blank.

(141) 15-June-2010
I use this handsaw to open up the slots so that only the barbs on the tangs of the fretwire engage the wood.  If the slots are too narrow the tangs on fretwire push the slots apart and the fretboard takes on convex warp.  The objective is to make the slots just wide enough so the barbes engage the wood while the tangs do not.

(142) 15-June-2010
I use a piece of fretwire with the barbs on the tangs removed to check each slot to ensure that the fretwire will firmly seat against the fretboard.

(143) 15-June-2010
Once the slots are set I trim the excess edges off of the blank in the bandsaw and sand the fretboard to its final dimensions with the edge sander.

(144) 15-June-2010
I cut off the fretboard extension in the bandsaw.

(145) 15-June-2010
Here I am marking the position for the fretboard dots.

(146) 15-June-2010
I use a 1/4 inch Forstner bit to drill the hole for the MOP dots.

(147) 15-June-2010
I use cyanoacrylate to glue the dots in place leaving then slightly proud of the surface.  I then sand the dots flush.

(148) 15-June-2010
I have made a simple form to press the binding into the shape of the extension end of the fretboard.

(149) 15-June-2010
I have glued a strip of blue purfling onto the end.

(150) 15-June-2010
And then I glue the shaped binding into place.

(151) 15-June-2010
The straight edges of the fretboard get a strip of blue purfling and a bloodwood binding glued into place.

(152) 15-June-2010
They are a little difficult to see, but I have laid out a set of fretwire to match slots in the fretboard.  Since this fretboard has binding, the slots do not extend through the binding.  I mark each piece of fretwire to match its slot length.

(153) 15-June-2010
I then use this small belt sander to carefully sand the tang off of the fretwire where it will hang over the binding. I have developed this mounting fixture to hold the fretwire at the proper angle so that all of the tang is removed while the bottom of the crown remains intact.  This ensures the bottom of the crown will sit flush to surface of the fretboard.

(154) 15-June-2010
I hammer the fretwire into place using a steel plate to cover the fretwire which helps prevent nicking or damaging the crown.

(155) 15-June-2010
I then carefully inspect each fret to ensure it is properly seated.  I then use cyanoacrylate to glue the fretwire into place.

(156) 15-June-2010
I use the edge sander to remove the excess fretwire from the edges.

(157) 15-June-2010
And I use the oscillating sander to remove the excess fretwire from the fretboard extension.

(158) 15-June-2010
A look at the fretted fretboard.

(159) 15-June-2010
A close up of the extension.

(160) 15-June-2010
And a close up of the mid section of the fretboard.  

(161) 15-June-2010
Here I am sanding the headstock veneer to its proper dimension in the drum sander.  The headstock veneer is made from a piece of burled maple matching the end graft and the rosette.

(162) 15-June-2010
I use the table saw to trim the heel to its proper length.  After the neck is shaped, the heel will be trimmed giving it a slight angle to compliment the transition to the body.

(163) 15-June-2010
Very exciting, the first time the neck is fit into the heel slot.

(164) 15-June-2010
I use the idler pulley on the belt sander to shape and dimension the throat on the neck.

(165) 15-June-2010
And I use a safety planner to dimension the thickness of the neck and the headstock.

(166) 15-June-2010
A quick side job to cut two pieces of 1/4 piano wire to be used as supports for the cantilevered portion of the fretboard.

(167) 15-June-2010
And a quick trip to the bandsaw to cut a slot for the truss rod access.

(168) 15-June-2010
I use the bandsaw to finally trim off the excess from of the end of the fretboard.  I have adopted a general philosophy in the shop of waiting until the last possible moment to remove excess material from a work piece.  The excess material provides a degree of protection to the critical edges.  Leaving the material in place helps maintain the critical edges from being damaged.

(169) 15-June-2010
I use the disk sander to trim the zero fret position into shape.

(170) 15-June-2010
It turns out that glue is quite slippery before it sets up.  So, when two pieces of material are glued together with a clamp they tend to slide around a bit.  If their relative position are critical, this slippage can be a problem. To prevent this from happening with the fretboard and headstock I drill a set of holes into the neck and then glue a set of small pegs on the fretboard and headstock that precisely match the holes.  The peg and hole system help to accurately position the fretboard and headstock as they are glued into place.  

(171) 15-June-2010
I use a set of bone nuts to precisely position the fretboard and headstock while the pegs are glued into place.  I put the pegs into the holes leaving them slightly proud and put a small drop of cyanoacrylate on each peg.  Then I press the fretboard and headstock veneer down into place and the pegs will be glued to the bottom of each piece in its proper place.

(172) 15-June-2010
This system allows me to check the critical position of the fretboard and headstock while they are dry.  If the position is not correct, I can remove the pegs and try again.  I can repeatedly and accurately place the pieces together with this system and when I finally glue them together they will not slide out of position under the clamping pressure.  

(173) 15-June-2010
Here you can see the cantilevers that will help support the fretboard.

(174) 15-June-2010
The cantilever supports will fit into the channel that has been routed out of the body of the guitar (see pictures 116-118 Page 4).  This allows freedom of movement of the the neck as the action is changed.

(175) 15-June-2010
To prevent glue from getting into the works of the trussrod I carefully mask it off before gluing the fretboard into place.

(176) 15-June-2010
Gluing the fretboard and veneer in place is a messy process.  I try to mask off areas I don't want glue to get on to.

(177) 15-June-2010
And finally using lots of clamps I glue everything together.  Since the peg and hole system defines where the pieces will go, I don't have to make measurements and try to position the pieces while they are a gluey mess.  Everything fits together just right.

(178) 15-June-2010
A look ate the cantilever section being glued to the supports.

(179) 15-June-2010
I use epoxy to glue the fretboard in place.  After the glue is fully set all of the clamps come off.

(180) 15-June-2010
I have used double stick turners tape to attach a headstock template.  Using the bandsaw I trim off most of the excess.

(181) 15-June-2010
Trimming off most of the excess from the neck.

(182) 15-June-2010
And then I use the router table to execute the final trim to the headstock.

(183) 15-June-2010
Perfect.

(184) 15-June-2010
The neck and heel is like a little sculpture.  I use a variety of tools to shape the neck.  Here I am using the idler pulley of the belt sander.

(185) 15-June-2010
I remove material from the neck very slowly.  It is far easier to remove material than to put it back.  I am not in a hurry at this point.

(186) 15-June-2010
I use this pin gage to check the profile of the neck as I slowly sand it into shape.  I also use touch and feel to gage my progress.  

(187) 15-June-2010
I have a variety of sanding blocks and sand paper to aid this process.  Here I am checking the shape of the heel with the pin gage.

(188) 15-June-2010
It was such a nice day I took everything outside to my guitar shaped deck.  I use progressively finner grits of sandpaper to finalize the shape and to remove all scratches and working marks.  The sunlight makes it easy to see any scratches or marks that need attention.

(189) 15-June-2010
A look at the neck.

(190) 15-June-2010
Another look at the neck.

(191) 15-June-2010
I have built a special router table fixture to allow me to create a shelf for the headstock binding.  There are a variety of curves on the headstock that can be difficult to access without this triangled shaped fence.

(192) 15-June-2010
Here is a look at the shelf I have created on the headstock.

(193) 15-June-2010
A couple of simple forms help set the shape of the binding for the headstock.  I soak the binding strips before putting them into these forms, and then I cook them for about a half an hour to set the shapes.

(194) 15-June-2010
Here you can see the blue purfling being glued into place.

(195) 15-June-2010
And then the binding gets glued into place.  All of the pieces are oversized and stand proud of the surface.  

(196) 15-June-2010
I trim the excess off and then sand everything flush.

(197) 15-June-2010
With the neck almost finished I can put the neck and body together.

(198) 15-June-2010
The next thing to do is to install the binding and purfling on the body and to create the holes and purfling on the headstock.

(199) 15-June-2010
A guitar in the rough.

(200) 15-June-2010
A rear view.

(201) 15-June-2010
A top view.

(202) 15-June-2010
It is really starting to look like a guitar.