Build An Acoustic Guitar – Shaping and Slotting

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 cutIMG_7621 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 cuttingIMG_7629 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.

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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!

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