Friday, May 17, 2013

Carving the Neck

Howdy, after a stretch of busy life I am back. My boss bought a Cabin and I've been helping remodel. I am home this morning with my daughter who is sick so I thought I would Take a couple minutes to update the blog.

I am currently working on the neck.

I started with a piece of maple that was a cutoff from a cabinet shop. I think I am going to get two necks out of it. I first cut out the rough shape. I square the Fret board plane with my Craftsman Bench plane, I also like to square the peg head at this point. Now I cut the Truss rod channel down the middle. I like to do that now because I can do it with table saw(I don't own a router). One of the Joys of building, one of the things I like best, is having a goal in mind, a pattern to follow, but not a full shop of tools. Instead it takes creativity to find the best way to do the job with the tools and resources I have. My first truss rod channel I cut with a 1/4 chisel. It was fun but time consuming.

           Once the truss rod channel is cut I rough cut the sides of the fretboard section. Time to glue on the ears to make the peg head wide enough for the shape we all love. I dig through my scrap box to find pieces close to the shape I need, that way I don't have to cut it out of fresh wood. Glue them on and walk away. Once the glue is dry I square ears with the top and back of the peg head. Now I clamp the whole thing into a jig I made out of scrap lumber from an electric fireplace mantel...( :) I do a lot of that... scavenge and re-purpose). I clamp the jig into the bench vise and reach for my Stanley spokeshave, my rasp, and a couple of files.

Starting with the spokeshave I do some serious material removal. Then I grab the rasp and do a little more. I won't take it to the final shape till after the fretboard has been shaped and I can cut and scrape the neck to the sides of the board. Depending on the the final destination I may make the fretboard a little wider or narrower, or the neck thinner or fatter. My A style has a wider fretboard and thicker neck because the friend that it's going to will be playing Praise music with it  more open chords than chops or picking. The wider neck = more mass = more sustain + a cedar top for mellower tone + a maple back for crisp clarity = one awesome mandolin for His particular style. I have played it myself (breaking it in...;) for church, It sounds great and slips into the band mix nicely.

I fit  the Truss rod and build a truss rod pocket, I also fit in two brass bars. The bars are a bit of an experiment to see if the added mast will add sustain. I have used a heavier than traditional neck to give me more tone and sustain. Players have have loved the tone but not the thickness of the neck. Hopefully this will give me the advantages with easier playability.
 I glued in the truss rod channel fillers and the brass bars.

I glued on the peg head veneer (curly Maple). Once the glue dries I cut out my peg head shape. I have redesigned the shape slightly removing the common break off points and simplifying the design a bit. 

Now I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of  a compound radiused Ebony fret board. the tracking info says its out for delivery. Could be here any minute.

I would love to here from you. I am open to better/easier ways to do things, or opinions, thoughts or just conversation.