The Body

 

Heres our raw materials for this build. Slabs of swamp ash, hard maple, and east indian rosewood.

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First I trimmed down the ash on my table saw to a more manageable size so that it will fit through my thickness planer.

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Then reduced the thickness to 1 3/4″

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Using my template I trace the outline of the body on the slab.

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and cut it on the bandsaw. I stay just outside the line.

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Good enough.

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Next step is to take it even closer to the line using the spindle sander on the inside curves

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and the disk sander for the outside curves.

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Then after attaching the body template to the bottom of the body I use the router table with a top bearing pattern cutting bit and trim the body to exactly the right shape.

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Next we use the cavity template to draw where the cavities will go

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This is a 7/16″ radius roundover bit. This will be used on the router table to round the edges of the body over.

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Like so.

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A 3/16″ bit is used to drill the holes through the body for mounting the neck

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Now you see why I drew the cavity shape on the body. I use a forstner bit to carve out the bulk of the material from the control and pickup cavities. Its a lot faster than trying to use a router for the whole process, and saves wear and tear on the router as well. For those interested, the depth of the neck pocket is 5/8″, the pickup cavities are 3/4″ deep, and the control cavity and output jack socket are 1 1/2″ deep. Remember that the forstner bit has a spike in the center that goes a bit deeper than the rest of the bit, so if you were to take the bit to the full dept of the cavity, once you cleaned it up with the router you’d have a bunch of spike holes still left in the bottom and it would look terrible. I stop my bit a little shy of full depth so that I’m not left with the spike holes in the bottom.

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Looks good right? Wrong! This looks like shit!

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Next we attach our cavity routing template to the body. I used to use doube-stick tape for this, but I’ve since learned a much better method. I attach masking tape to both surfaces so that when I turn the template over the pieces will align and contact each other. Then I draw a thin line of gel super glue down the center of the tape on the body, turn the template over, align it, and press them together.

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Believe it or not, this holds the template VERY securely. Even extraordinary lateral pressure will not dislodge this template, and yet when I’m finished they will come apart very easily when pulled directly apart. then the tape peels right off leaving no residue or adhesive to clean up.

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I use a hand held router with a 3/8″ top bearing pattern cutting bit and make several passes, increasing the depth each pass until I reach the desired depth. Trying to cut the full depth in one pass will have very ugly results.

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This takes a while, but the result is a nice, professional looking, clean-cut cavity.

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The belly carve can be done by hand carving with rasps, which is how I’ve done them up till now, but this time I tried out something new and used the round end of my edge sander and I have to say I’m really happy with the results. Same result as before, but much faster and smoother. Of course the edge sander method is MUCH dustier. Its imperative to wear a filter mask. The dust collection takes care of most of it, but not all.

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I used the same edge sander to do the arm carve, only I used the flat face instead of the rounded end. After some clean-up with 120, and then 220 grit sand paper the result is a gorgeous, professional looking one-piece swamp ash Strat body

 

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Page 3 –  The Neck part 1