Friday, 4 July 2014

Scratch Pine Toronado: Routing the Neck Pocket

A knock on my door at 9:00am heralded the arrival of my latest Stewmac loot - two router bits, extra bearings and a slew of routing templates. Joy!

So after a nominal amount of wage earning, I snuck into the workshop to get humming on my scratch Toronado body.

Now I wont say that everything went exactly to plan. I made a couple of epic errors in the few hours I spent shaping and routing the body, but in the end it all came together.

First step, I traced the body shape on to my pine blank and endeavoured to cut the shape out with my el-cheapo band saw. When the blade snapped (yes snapped) I realised that I really didn't know what I was doing. Apparently you can't use a band saw like a jigsaw?? Who knew! And so I fell back to said jigsaw to try and finish cutting out the body. Turns out the jigsaw blade is 1mm too short for the 45mm body blank. But, with a bit of brute force I managed to get the body roughly cut out.

Second step saw me finishing off the body cut using my body template and the router, using the 1/2" template following bit from Stewmac. All went well until the router reached it's maximum depth just over half way down the body.

Time to flip the body over! This is when I discovered my second error - way too much double sided tape on the template. Christ! It took me 15 minutes and a whole lot of swearing to extract the template from the body. With this done, I got the template *almost* identically placed on the back and then routed the rest of the body. Awesome!

Third step was to take the mostly shaped body and use the desk sander and the slap wheels to even out the sides of the guitar where the template didn't quite line up. No problems here. In no time the sides of the blank looked very straight indeed!

Fourth step was to route the neck pocket!! Finally the moment of truth. Firstly I stuck my bespoke neck pocket template to the body (this time using only 2 small pieces of tape!!).

To make sure the template didn't move, I also made sure one of the clamps held it in place in addition to the tape. Looking at my previous Telecaster builds, I calculated that the fretboard should clear the body by approximately 9mm. For my neck, this left a pocket of depth 17.5mm. And so, out came the 1/2" router bit again and the pocket depth was achieved in 3 passes.

All looked perfect! But did the neck fit? Like a dream baby! I'm so happy with how the pocket came out - the neck fits nice and snug. Should sound fantastic when it's all bolted together!

Here's how she's looking so far. I'm really happy with how this build is coming together - especially since at least 3 times today I thought that the project had died in the arse due to a) very poor tool choice or b) operator error.

Now all I need to do to finish this phase of the project is to a) route out the pickup and control cavities, b) rasp out an arm bevel and then c) get the edges rounded over. To be honest I'm not sure I have a deep enough router bit for part a) so I may need to spend a few more bucks on tools before I'm done. Stay tuned!