A few weeks ago a viewer on my YouTube channel asked me if I’d do a quick walk through of the spray system that I use in my shop. Here is the video.
It’s the least expense of the Earlex line. I bought it at my local home center for around $100. I don’t have an air compressor in my shop so I have to use an electric gun or a HVLP turbine. I used to use the electric sprayers that you can buy from Harbor Freight. I didn’t have good luck with those. Despite cleaning them very well I’d generally only get one use out of them before they stopped working. I was in a bind and needed a sprayer to finish up a commission so I purchased this. I have to say that I’m very happy with it and it does a great job for me. If your interested in picking one up here is a link.
Looking back, I can’t say that my Dad is the reason that I began working with wood but I can say that he introduced me to the craft. He used to build all kinds of things for our home growing up, from wall decorations, to benches and blanket chests.
He had a fully equipped shop in the basement of my childhood home. I can remember going into our basement and drilling holes in pieces of pine he had laying around. I wasn’t doing anything productive, just drilling holes but it was a blast. I can remember his radial arm saw, a very popular saw in those days, of course his drill press and he also had a lathe. I seem to remember another tool down there but I can’t remember specifically what it was, just this looming shadow in the corner of my memory. Maybe a table saw? Most of the time I spent down there was sweeping up the sawdust he made. He definitely didn’t have a dust collection system. I’m pretty sure that I’m still waiting to be paid for completing that job.
Most of the lumber he used came from the local hardware store. It was mostly 3/4″ pine and from the photos below you’ll see that it has held up pretty well. I can remember Dad working the basement, building this wares to sell at local craft shows. I can’t remember how well he did at the shows but he always seemed to be making more so I assume he must have sold things here and there.
This first piece is a blanket chest that he built. You can see how over time the top has cupped a bit. This must have been a piece he didn’t feel was up to standard for selling because you can see how the paint bled beyond the lines of the stencil on the top. The construction is mostly screws, and I assume glue but you can also see how the front and back of the chest have been let into the sides.
The next piece is a garbage can he built. I remember this sitting underneath our wall-mounted, corded phone in our kitchen. Again, it is made from 3/4″ pine with a slanted lift type lid. It features brass hinges and buttons to cover the screw holes, as well as a heart decoration on the lid. I like how he used wood filler to help stabilize the knot on the front of it.
The final piece is a bench he built. I can remember this sitting in my parent’s bedroom as a child. Again, 3/4″ pine lumber and simple screw and glue joinery with the exception of the dado he used to attach the seat to the sides.
There are lots of other prices he built here and there. I’ve spotted a footstool and a quilt rack. All of these pieces are at least 20 years old at this point. So, again while my father didn’t get me into woodworking he definitely introduced me to it and it’s nice to look back at some of the pieces he built in the basement shop.
Just wanted to put out a quick shop update as I won’t be in the shop next week. There have been some changes on my site to include the addition of some build plans. I also wanted to say thanks to Jay Bates and John Heisz for featuring some of my work on their websites.
I’ve been working more on my guitar build. Now I’m focusing on the neck. Recently I finished up shaping the neck, slotting the fretboard and gluing it to the neck. Here’s the build video on the process.
I started by working on the fretboard. I milled a piece of walnut to 1/4″ thick and cut it to an oversized rectangle. From there I used the measurements provided on my plans to mark out where the slots needed to be cut for each fret. I used an adjustable square and a clamp as a guide and cut the slots with my flush cut saw as the kerf was just the right size for the job.
With all the slots cut I could then mark out and drill the holes for the maple fret markers that I would inlay into the neck. With all of that finished up I trimmed the fretboard to its rough shape at the bandsaw and used a pattern routing bit on my router table to get it down to its final size.
To make the maple inlays I made a 1/4″ dowel from a strip of maple. To make the dowel I drilled a 1/4″ hole in an old table saw blade and drove the strip through the hole. The result was a perfectly sized dowel. I then cut the dowel into small sections the glued them into the fretboard. A little flush cutting and sanding later they were flush with the fretboard.
With the inlays in the fretboard I could next glue it to the neck. This is a pretty precise glue up because everything has to be in line. So I lined up the center line of the fretboard with the center lines of the headstock and the body of the guitar and clamped it down. When the glue dried I again used a pattern routing bit to flush the neck up with the fretboard as the neck was still a little oversized. Next I put a 12″ radius on the fretboard. To do this I used a radius block that I purchased from Stewart McDonald. Since this is the last time I’ll be able to work on the fretboard prior to installing the frets I sanded it up to 800 grit. With the fretboard on I had to dry fit the neck to the body just to see what it was starting to look like.
Next up it was time to shape the neck. I started this process with a spokeshave to make the neck generally round. Then I used a rasp to refine the shape, then a file. Finally I could start sanding the neck. I began with 120 grit and went up to 220 grit for now. Since I still have some work to do on the neck there’s no point in sanding any further than 220 grit. I do still have to install all the frets, drill holes for the tuners and to the inlay on the headstock. But for now, it’s starting to look like the guitar!
So, I’m continuing work on the guitar. With the body essentially completed it’s time to focus on the neck. So far I’ve got the neck cut out to rough shape and I’ve installed the truss rod.
Cutting the neck out was pretty simple. I just used a template that I made from my plans to trace the shape on to my blank and then I cut it out at my band saw.
Once that was done I cut the joinery for the neck. I used my domino with 14mm tenons for the job. I really wanted to use a traditional dovetail neck joint for this but it just wasn’t working out or me. I spent a week trying several different methods of cutting the joint with no success. I guess there are some things you just can’t do without significant practice. The other traditional way is a mortise and tenon joint. So, if I was going to use a mortise and tenon I can’t see a reason why my domino wouldn’t do the job. It does after all produce mortise and tenon joinery. This certainly isn’t a traditional method and I’ve never seen it done. Perhaps I’m the first to attach a guitar neck with the Festool Domino. With the joinery done it was time for a test fit! It’s beginning to look like a guitar!
Next I needed to cut the groove for the truss rod to fit in. This is when I realized I’d made my first mistake. Luckily though it was something I could easily fix. I should have cut the groove prior to cutting the neck to its rough shape. Had I done this the blank would have been nice and square and it would have been easy to route a straight groove down the center of the neck blank. Because I had already cut the neck out I had to attach it to a piece of 1/4″ plywood that was square with a straight edge. y lining up the center line of the 1/4″ plywood and the center lin of my neck I was able to route the groove. With the groove cut I needed to chisel out a spot on the headstock for the nut to be recessed in to. This is the nut that makes the adjustments on the truss rod.
Once all of that was done I could make the truss rod itself. I made it from a long piece of 3/16″ steel rod and 2 shorter pieces of 3/8″ steel rod. The 3/16″ rod was cut to the length indicated in my plans for the truss rod. I cut one piece of 3/8″ rod to 5/8″ long and the other to 1/2″ long. The 5/8″ piece got a hole drilled through its side that I could insert the 3/16″ rod into. I then welded these pieces together so the 3/16″ wouldn’t turn inside of the 3/8″ rod. I then did a test fit of the rod in the neck. When I did this I realized that I wasn’t able to get it back out. I guess it fit really well. So I had to make the rest of the truss rod while it was in the neck.
The next step was to thread the other end of the 3/16″ rod. I used #10 32 tap and die set. With the rod threaded I could then begin the make the nut. I used the 1/2″ long piece of 3/8″ rod for the nut. First I had to drill and ho
le in the center of it for the tap and die set. Next I cut the threads. Finally I used a hacksaw to cut a groove on the side opposite the hole to fit a flat head screwdriver. This is how I will be able to adjust the rod. Finally I could install the rod in to the guitar neck.
With the rod in place I needed to cover its groove with an additional piece of wood. As it turns out I had some of the material I cut for the binding on the guitar left over and it was a perfect fit. So I cut it to length and glued it in. I paid special attention not to get any glue on the truss rod itself because otherwise it may not function properly.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten on this crazy build so far. Things seem to be going well. Hopefully that continues. Next up I’ll be working on the fretboard and shaping the neck!
Today my family and I went for a trip to the Hicksville Planing Mill. My “local” lumber yard of choice. I say local in quotations because its an hour and a half away. There are others near by but most of them only sell wholesale amounts (500 board feet or more) and their prices are way higher than at Hicksville.
Here’s a quick video of the trip. I must warn you, the video does include some cute footage of my children.
Generally when I go to buy lumber a buddy of mine from work goes with me. We usually leave bright at early around 5:30 am or so. On the way we usually stop for breakfast at a Waffle House. I thought I’d continue the tradition and stop there with my family. Once we ate our breakfast we headed on to the mill.
I really like the atmosphere of this place. The guys who run it aren’t pushy and they let you dig through their stacks looking for the right board. Just be sure to re-stack it the way you found it. It’s run by some mennonite guys so you won’t find a website for the place. I found it doing a good search for local mills and Charles Neil wrote an article about it. Otherwise I probably never would have known it existed. The address is: 14464 Hicksville Rd. Clear Spring, MD 21722 in case you’re in the area.
The lumber here is excellent and they have a very decent variety. Of course they have the usual stuff: oak, maple, mahogany, walnut, cherry etc., but they also have a small exotics section. Today they had: wedge, Caribbean rosewood, purple heart, yellow heart, zebra wood, padauk and some others.
Today I was after some 10/4 and 16/4 poplar for some blocks that my wife wants me to make for our daughter. I bought way more lumber than I needed so I’ll probably make some extra to sell. My wife says that handmade baby toys are huge these days.
After showing the family around the yard I went to work finding my lumber. The shed that it was located in doesn’t appear to be organized very well but the guys here always seem to know where everything is. They never have to go searching around for it. They just bring in a fork truck and move things around a little to pull out what I need. Then I start searching for my boards. Like I said earlier the lumber here is excellent so I usually don’t have to dig too far to find what I’m looking for.
Being that this is a lumber mill they do custom mill work and flooring in addition to just selling lumber. When I buy lumber here I usually have them skip plane it on one face and put a straight edge on it as well. I have a pretty small jointer in my shop so having them do this really saves me a lot of time. And the price is right, $0.10 a board foot. You can’t beat that, I’ve checked. Since I haul my lumber in my mini van I have to have them cut the boards to 8 foot lengths or less. Today the 10/4 board I bought was 12 feet long so I had them cut it in to two boards, one 8 feet long and the other 4
feet long. The 16/4 board was 8 feet so it didn’t need to be cut down. In case you’re wondering the 10/4 poplar was $2.30 b/f and the 16/4 was $2.50 b/f.
After that it was a simple matter of paying for my lumber and loading it in the van. The kids seemed to have a good time as well.