Custom Search


Making the fingerboard

Next is to prepare the fingerboard.
Basically the process is pretty simple: Slotting, Sawing off the excess sides, thicknessing, final shaping (at sound hole part), sanding.
I use the LMI fret slotting jig which essentially is a mitre box.
It works very very.
To help cutting, I first use my ryouba saw before final cutting with the fret saw.
I also sharpen the fret saw with my saw file.

The 3 fingerboard blank for #7 #8 #9. 2 Ebony fingerboard and 1 Madagascar Rosewood Fingerboard.

Marking the centre line for the fingerboard. The raw fingerboard is double sided taped to the fingerboard template.

Sawing the fret slots

2 Ebony fingerboard done. For the MadRW fingerboard I still pondering to cut 640 or 650 scale length.

The fingerboard was then shaped into the standard wedge shape and thicknessed accordingly.
As the fingerboard is one of the factors affecting the neck geometry, I did regular check to make sure the neck geometry is correct.
I also trace the sound hole shape and saw and cut it.
I included a small unobtrusive 20th fret.
As the end of the fingerboard is rounded the fret slots become visible, so I patch it up with ebony dust and epoxy.
Now the fingerboard is ready to be glued to the neck.

I also cut the head curve part of the neck.
This 2 curve will narrow nicely into the fingerboard.
Also I thickness the back of the head.

Shaping the sides into a standard wedge shape.

Thicknessing the fingerboard.

Scraping the underside smooth.

Checking the neck geometry

Cutting the curve portion of the fingerboard

Filling up the fret slot gaps.

Shaping the head portion to curve into the width of the nut end of the fingerboard.

Fingerboard ready to be glued.

The fingerboard is glued to the body.
Firstly is alignment problem, I use the centre line of the fingerboard to be in line with the centre line of the top and the head.
I use a ruler to place on the top to clearly show where the top's centre line is.
After satisfied that the alignment is good, I lightly clamp down the fingerboard and drill the 1 mm alignment pin holes.
But I have to be careful to coincide the holes with the fingerboard caul which I will be using later on for clamping.
So before drilling, I marked out the approximate marking for the alignment pin holes.

After drilling I inserted the 1 mm wire (handed down by my father who is very fond of using the metal wires to secure almost anything)
It's really useful.
So I practise dry run for the clamping the fingerboard while the hide glue warms up.
When it's ready I applied the glue, heat it up and glue it to the neck using the alignment pin.
I double check the alignment to make sure it dead on before put in the caul and applying the clamps.
Now to wait for the glue to dry.

Saw away the nut end excess fingerboard.

Check the alignment with top and head and fingerboard's centreline.

Drill the 1mm alignment pin holes thru the fret slots

Check the caul fitting the pins

Dry run clamping

1mm Alignment pin holes

Apply hide glue

Apply the clamps

Another view.

Fingerboard glued.


New woods from Prosono

I receive new wood stock from Prosono (South Africa).
The mill manager, Philippe, is really a friendly guy and very nice to do business with him.
I am quite sure I will be purchasing more woods from him.

For this batch of wood I got some African Blackwood, Pink Ivory and Chacate.
All of them are top notch wood (straight grain) especially the ABW which is really amazing.
I also take the opportunity to get some fingerboard.
African woods are really dense and mostly stable great candidate for fingerboard.
Do check out their woods.

Woods come in the box look how well it's packed

All wrap in multi layers of bubble wrap protection

Pink Ivory set (AAA)

Chacate - another dense wood. Look at how straight the grain is!

African Blackwood.
Another amazingly straight grain set which is very rare for ABW.
Even then flatsawn ABW is very very stable.

ABW fingerboard. 3 of them are straight grain while 2 are flatsawn.
All of them looks great!

Pink Ivory and Mopani fingerboard.


Installing the binding and purfling

The next step is to install the binding and purfling.
So I have to cut the channel first.
For this guitar the ornament is minimal, i.e. there are no side purfling or back purfling.
So I have a quite a bit of work there.
The only place that have purfling is at the front's perimeter.
The front purfling will serve to outline the guitar's shape which I think is very important.
This is especially so since the binding used is maple which is white and not very very good at outlining a shape.
The dark purfling line will enhance the contrast.

So I began to cut the channel.
I use the laminate trimmer this time round instead of the hand cutting the channels.
Well there are some areas which I will still need to cut by hand though.
Those areas near the heel which the router doesn't reach, I will have to cut by hand.
One of the main problem of using the standard router jig that comes with the trimmer is that reference used is based on the top instead of the sides.
I measure the top and back and they are offset from 90 degrees with the side by 2 degrees actually.
So I reference using the top or back I will be off by 2 degrees.
It's not really a big deal so in the end I didn't make the jig for routing this time round.
I test cut a channel to confirm the width and height.
After set-up I double check and began to route the channel.
It all went pretty well.
The channels are well cut and no accident :)

Test cut to check the binding fit.

Set up for the cutting of the binding rebate

Cutting the rebate.
The paper behind is to make the debris go down instead of flying all around.

Binding rebate nicely done.

Back set-up

Cleaning up the debris.

Checking the channel (back)

Checking the channel (front)

Next I cut the purfling channel.
The only difference I cut it by hand.
Using router will be too dangerous.
I use the gramil since my purfling cutter wasn't ready.
I change the blade but haven't go around to set it up properly
The gramil works fine for spruce top since you don't really need a lot of strength to cut the wood.
If for the back you will need the extra grip to pull or push the cutter.
That's where my self made cutter will excel as it has lots of area for gripping.

Anyway the channel was cut and level using both chisel and router plane.
The part where is unreacheable by the gramil, I have to score the cutting line by hand.
I did it using a French Curve and marking knife.
One part underneath the sound board wasn't supported well enough and so I glue in extra pieces to give it a solid support.
Similarly I cut the part on the back's heel region.

I test fit the purfling and the fit was good.
Next I began to glue in the purfling.
The purfling was held with tape only.
Next I began to bend the bindings.
All went well with no breakages.
I test fitted the bindings and so far so good.
However, I can't really think of good way of installing the binding.
My previous ways of installation was OK as I can't really see the gaps until the last part.
So I am thinking of a better process.
I saw an idea from Delcamp using an external support push the binding against the channel from outside.
It's really a neat idea but the only issue is I have to make them and materials might a be problem.
So now back to the pondering mode...

I also cut the end graft channel by hand.
First I score the line using marking knife and a square.
After that I saw the scored line using douzuki saw and chisel away the channel waste.
I have a piece of maple from a side cut off just nice for the channel.
After that I test fit and glue in the end graft.
I will need to plane it down though.

Checking the width of the purfling

Chisel the channel

Clean up with a router plane

Scoring the purfling channel using a gramil.

Scoring the neck region manually by using the French Curve rule as a guide and marking knife.

Chiselled away the waste. There is one hole underneath the top which needs to be patched.

Checking the binding fit

Glued in the patch.

Test fit the purfling

Applying glue to the channel

Installing the purfling. They are held by tape

Purfling done.

Marking the position reference for the binding

Bending the binding. (with 2 hands not 1 as shown)

All bent.

Purfling all nicely done.

Purfling at waist

Checking the binding fit and cutting the binding to size.

Marking the heel side.

Chiselled the channels.

Made a waist clamp for the bindings

Sawing the end graft

Chisel the end graft channel

End graft channel chiselled.

Test fit the end graft. A small section of binding is used to act as a stop block for the end graft.

End graft glued and taped down.

After the end graft was installed I have to plane and scrape it level.
I also use the file with safe edge to level the ends in line with the binding channel.
Now the binding channel is ready to take the binding but first the binding jig...

Plane the end graft level with the sides.

Scrape it level.

Using file (with safe edge) to file the end graft level with the binding channel.

Finally I installed the bindings.
I was experimenting with different ways of installing the binding.
Basically what I didn't like about the current way is that I can't really see the binding when I am installing it.
So if there are any gaps I won't be able to do anything about it.
So actually I modify one of my old solera to make into a binding jig of some sorts.
The idea is pretty similar to the various binding jig out there with pins at the side of the solera for ropes to tie the bindings in place.
I wanted to add a centre section so that I can do one side at a time.
However as I try out I discover the tension will come loose when the centre section shifted so I gave up the idea.
In the I revert to my original way of installing binding: tape first then rope.
The tape is able to hold it in place until I tie the entire 2 sides binding in place.

After I did the top binding, I leave it for the glue to dry while I worked on the fingerboard.
When the glue is more or less dried, I removed the rope and check.
So far so good - no gaps.
Then I came to work on the back section.

This time round I use duct tape which is stronger and is able to hold the binding in place better until I bring in the rope.
The spring back on the binding for the back is more.
For the back and side woods is more resistant to the strong tape so I have less worry when peeling off the tape.

Before I glue in the binding I spend some time cutting and trimming the bindings to length.
The ends are marked then sawn.
The fine trimming is done with a chisel.

Trimming the bindings to length

Applying glue onto the binding channel

Glue one side of binding using tape first.

Both side glued and taped

Finally tightening the binding with rope.

Front binding done. Looks good with no gaps.

Trimming the binding length.

Glue one side.

Both side done.

Tighten with rope.

After the ropes and tapes are remove I check the binding.
So far so good, no gaps seen.
Think taking the time to trim the length and glue the binding helps a lot.
After that I began to scrape the binding / purfling to fit the sides / tops

Scraping the bindings to fit the sides

Back view

Front view