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GarethFlatlands

Jazz neck build - Now a full Jazz build!

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I had an old Maya bass which I was doing up before I realised the truss rod was stuck, rendering the neck pretty much useless. Said bass is now in many, many pieces in my basement and I decided to use it to make some templates for bass building. 

However, if I can't build a neck then any hopes of building full basses are out the window (although I suppose I could do bodies?), so I decided to take the plunge and try it out. I ordered a maple neck blank and a pack of 5 panga panga boards and got to work. I also ordered a neck template which had a 62mm heel width as I think my Maya bass was 60mm which is non standard.

I found a centre line on both the template and the blank and drew an outline before busting out the jigsaw and doing a rough cut as close to the line as I could freehand. Looks pretty good if I do say so myself (which I do).

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I then left it for a couple of days to rest. I have no idea how much truth is in it, but I saw a Paul Reed Smith documentary on Youtube where they said they take a month to build necks, taking a little material off at a time and then leaving it to settle so by the time it's done, the wood has moved as much as it's going to, leaving the neck super stable. I'm doing it for this reason, and because I'm pretty lazy. Once two days had passed, I secured the template to the blank again, using double sided tape to add friction to prevent slipping and C clamps to fix it to my workmate. I was going to use my new, big Von Haus router but the bit I wanted to use was a 1/4 inch shank and the collet installed on the router was 1/2 inch. I could have swapped them around but hadn't used the router before and didn't know how involved a job that was. I decided to plough on with my Katsu palm router and see how I got on. I used a top guide router bit, and using the template as the initial guide took off a little material each pass before lowering the bit and repeating. The palm router didn't drop enough to the the whole neck, but I had a bottom guide bit so once I'd gone as far as I could, I removed the template, flipped the blank upside down and used the already routed sections as a guide for the last 1/2 inch or so. I also watched another woodworking video the day before I did this work that said to use a low speed when routing maple to prevent burning, so I settled on the 2 setting on my router (no idea of the rpm but the lowest setting is 10,000rpm and this is the next one up). It seemed to work anyway, there was neglible scorch marks and it still cut great.

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Note the slight singing on the template. I'm not convinced it'll last long, so I might use that template to make another template out of hardwood ply or some 18m MDF I have lying around. Anyway, cut done! A little sanding and then leave the blank to rest again both to settle, and to order a truss rod and wait for it to arrive.

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I also decided to carry on with the neck template from the Maya neck so I could, if I wanted to, make 60mm necks. People with older Japanese copy basses and anyone wanting to make a Fenderbird with a bolt on neck would find a 60mm heel neck useful so I'd rather have it and never need it that not bother. I ran into a slight problem in that the headstock on the Maya is both huge, and not aligned in the same was as the Fender ones. I'd already done a rough cut but the alignment issue meant that I wasn't able to just substitute the Fender template onto the Maya one as there was overhang on the top edge. I could either start again, or use the Maya template for the fretboard area of any future necks before swapping it out to the Fender one for the headstock. That was a problem for future Gareth to deal with though. I've done enough for him.

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Edited by GarethFlatlands
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Nice routing job, @GarethFlatlands :)

I usually do the top bearing then flip to use a bottom bearing when I'm routing body blanks.  Works well.

Nice clean cuts on your maple :)

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Good to know, it was just one bit when I did the Shuker course last year but I wasn't sure if I was doing it right or bodging it. Anything that works I guess.

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So I have made a fair bit of progress with the build BUT I didn't take many photos. Sorry!

Next step from the above point was to route a truss rod channel using a 6mm straight cut bit approx 9mm deep into the neck down the centre line. I used the guide that came with my router to keep it centred, and used a chisel to widen out a very small chunk of the channel as the rod was ever so slightly wider than 6mm where the adjustment nut was.

Once done, I glued on a roughly cut fretboard blank and clamped it before leaving it to dry overnight. Once dried, I used the neck as a guide to route the edges of the fretboard nice and flush. The blank was very thick and I'm still sanding it down using a radiused sanding block weeks later with several mm left to go. There's got to be an easier way, so once I figure it out, I'll update the thread. Suggestions welcome!

The headstock was thicknessed with multiple passes of a router using the same bit as you see in the picture above. Once done, I got to shaping the back of the neck. On the Shuker bass course, we used a roundover bit to take the majority of the material off before fine shaping with files and a saw rasp. In the absence of the correct bit, I went the tedious route and did the whole thing with just the saw rasp. It took a while and constant checking to make sure I was happy with the shape. It's quite a chunky neck compared to the average Jazz, I'd call it a phat C shape. But it feels fine to me! 

Shaping done, I sanded up through the grades, 80, 100, 120, 180, 240, then 320. After 320, I lightly wet the wood to raise the grain before a final sand with 400 grit paper. The stripes in the maple really started to pop at 180 grit. Once dry, I applied the first coat of Tru Oil and sanded it while still wet with 1000 grit paper to fill any small gaps. I then repeated this with subsequent coats, moving from 1000 grit up through 1200, 1500 and then 2000 before moving on to fine steel wool between each coat. I've lost count of how many coats have gone on there now, but I think we're up to 7? I'll do a few more and then finish it off with a matt furniture wax.

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Looking OK!

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3 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Nice carve!

Thanks! I quickly went from "carefully does it" to "must remove more material faster!". The tight curves were hard without a rounded file but I got there in the end.

Body is glued and rough cut, started routing it out with the template earlier but called it a day as the router had been going for a while on and off, and I didn't want to upset the neighbours any more than I already had done.

It's a 2 piece body, tulipwood e-bay special. 5cm thick so I'm wondering what the best way of reducing the thickness to more like 4cm is.

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Nice work on the neck carve!

I’ve just thicknessed a blank using a 25mm diameter router planer bit. I screwed flat straight timber battens directly to the long sides of the blank to make a bearing sled (see my MaybeRay build thread).

The planer bit made short work of thicknessing the blank, so I heartily recommend acquiring one. 

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3 hours ago, songofthewind said:

Nice work on the neck carve!

I’ve just thicknessed a blank using a 25mm diameter router planer bit. I screwed flat straight timber battens directly to the long sides of the blank to make a bearing sled (see my MaybeRay build thread).

The planer bit made short work of thicknessing the blank, so I heartily recommend acquiring one. 

Thanks, I was thinking of making a sled for the router to travel along with a top bearing bit to flatten the top/botton and take a couple of mm off per pass so sounds like I'm thinking along the right lines.

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Posted (edited)

I bottomed out the top-bearing router bit today, flipped the body over and... it's so thick that the bottom-bearing bit isn't long enough to complete the job. So it looks like I'll have to do some thicknessing before I can go any further. I already have a flat sled that I use as a circular saw guide so I cut two legs 5.5cm tall with my chop saw to support that from opposite ends of the workbench. The body will then slide under the sled and I can make straight passes over it with my top-bearing router bit (which has done 90% of the routing work so far on this project). The legs will be screwed into the workbench for extra stability, so there are some scrap pieces of plywood glued to the sides for this purpose. You can see them in the picture, clamped to the legs while the glue dries.

Just for fun, I marked out a rough layout to try and picture how the whole thing will look when finished, but that was all I could do for today bar another coat of tru-oil on the neck. It was hard to picture what the end product might look like when the body arrived as 2 blocks of wood, but it's coming together slowly but surely.

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Edited by GarethFlatlands
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At songofthewinds suggestion, I ordered a planer router bit which will hopefully arrive in the next few days. With the glue dried on the sled legs, I put it together and clamped it to my fold out workbench. I put my wooden workbench together myself, and frankly it's rubbish. I foresaw a lot of problems with trying to flatten on the body on a surface that was anything but flat, so went with clamping it to my fold out metal bench instead, which should be a much more even, stable surface. I also used my chopsaw to cut a wedge out of some scrap wood to stop the body slipping around while I was working.

But I couldn't leave it there could I? So I did about 8 passes with the trusty top bearing router bit, just to check the proof of concept was good, and took 2mm off in strips around 12mm wide. It will take a looong time with this router bit, but the bearing is super useful. Seeing as I need to take around a full cm off, 2mm at a time will be approximately 225 individual passes! The planer bit is around twice as wide as my current one, but has no bearing so I'll have to consider modifying the sled if I want to use it, or seeing it the guides to the router will solve the problem. I'll weigh the options up when it arrives and I can test it out.

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Good work! That’s how I was going to do it, initially.

I got onto YouTube for ideas, and found the guy on Popular Woodworking, and his video Planing with a Router immensely helpful. I can’t post a link from this iPad, but it’s easy to find. The rig I made is based on his, but more agricultural.

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On 28/06/2020 at 17:01, songofthewind said:

Good work! That’s how I was going to do it, initially.

I got onto YouTube for ideas, and found the guy on Popular Woodworking, and his video Planing with a Router immensely helpful. I can’t post a link from this iPad, but it’s easy to find. The rig I made is based on his, but more agricultural.

That's a better jig than mine, no moving the blank around between cuts and you don't have to use a bit with a bearing. If I have any issues with my shelf solution, or I need to flatten anything in future then I'll make the jig from the video. The video is below if it helps anyone who stumbles across the thread. 

Still waiting to the planer bit to arrive, so no more progress made.

 

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So I've been a bit listless this week and haven't really made any progress. Not sure why, just a general feeling of "meh". I made myself go to the basement today and finish off the first pass, and.... it's not very even at all. Fortunately (or not depending on how you look at it) we're still at approx. 48mm rather than anywhere near the target of 40-42mm so plenty of time to sort out a better jig to utilise the router planer bit which has now arrived. I'm thinking of 2 angles pieces of rolled steel similar to the jig slappindabass posted above.

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