Saturday, 2 August 2014

James' Les Paul Jnr DC: Shaping the Headstock

With the body of James' Double Cut Jnr prepared for Wudtone, it was time to concentrate on the neck. In general, the rock-maple necks that come with these guitar kits come finished quite well from the factory. They are smooth to the touch and to be honest, need little work. Still, it's customary to give them a going over with the sandpaper anyway, just to make sure the finish will take, and so I initially sanded the neck and headstock with 240 grit.

Before finishing the sanding with 360 grit, the headstock needed shaping. James indicated that a traditional Gibson headstock shape was desirable, and so it was to the interweb I went. Gibson headstock templates are a little thin on the ground compared to Fender, but I did manage to find my good old favourite - the Les Paul headstock template - here:

The template doesn't quite fit the Pitbull blank perfectly - neither in width or tuner hole positions - but with a little fudging it's close enough to provide an indication of position and shape. Using a centre line, I lined the top profile up with the sides of the headstock width-wise and ignored all other aspects of the template.

I then traced the template profile with my clutch pencil and roughed it out with my scroll saw.

Taking the roughed out shape, I sanded the curves right down to the pencil line using my smallest diameter Josco Brumby Slap Wheel.

The tight curves at the centre of the shape always seem to pose a problem for me. I got these close with the scroll saw, but still needed to use my half-round bastard file get them closer to acceptable. In the end they came out pretty well. This is about the 5th time I've had to cut this headstock shape, and I'm finally starting to get more comfortable with the steps required.