Returning to the fretboard again, I radius the fret wire using a tool for that specific purpose. the fret wire has to be curved to the same exact degree as the board. I then cut each fret to length and put them in my little fret block. This is just so I dont lose track of which piece goes in which slot. Some scrap mahogany comes in handy for this.
Once the frets are pressed in, I glue the binding to the edge of fretboard. In the case of a Les Paul, the fret wire is cut flush with the edge of the board, and then the binding covers the ends of the frets. The binding then needs to be cut and sanded down flush with the top of the board, and little “nibs” of the binding stick up where each fret ends. Its very tedious work, but it looks really nice when finished.
So a Les Paul also has binding around the body. To do this we cut a channel around the whole body using a router. the channel will be a touch narrower and shorter than the binding. Once the binding is glued on it is sanded and scraped down flush and smooth.
Now its finally starting to look like a guitar!
OK, so nobody wants to play a guitar with a neck that looks and feels like this one. We have to do something about that.
These are the weapons of choice. They look ugly but they are the best damn rasps I own. They chew through wood like its butter.
Start my carefully clamping the guitar face down on clean towels. The towels are just padding so the top doesnt get scratched and dented. I think next time I’ll carve the neck before I carve the top. This would have made carving the neck a hell of a lot easier. Live and learn. Diverging from the “normal” way of building a Les Paul leaves one figuring some stuff out on ones own. Sometimes that means making mistakes 🙂
I carefully mark out lines to use as guides and start carving the corners off with the rasp. Its much better than just indiscriminately hacking away at the neck 🙂
Little bit at a time. This part is done very cslowly and carefully, stopping frequently to check and measure.
Starting to round off the facets.
Viola! OK, this isnt the finished shape yet actually, but I stopped to clean all the sawdust off with naphtha so I can see clearly where it still needs work…
Some more carving, sanding, and shaping. Drilled holes for the volume and tone pots, and the pickup selector toggle, as well as the output jack.
Heres the back with the NON-final neck profile.
Just a gratuitous shot that shows off the figure in the top with a bit of naphtha to bring it out
Heres the final coutour for the neck/body join area. Some folks suggested I should get more radical removing wood here, as that it one advantage of the neck-through design. I stopped at this point because taking away any more wood was not going to further increase my ability to easily reach the upper frets and the more wood in the neck, the more stable it will be.
This was a good balance. In point of fact the access is FAR superior to my Gibby LP.
The wire you see in there is the ground wire for the bridge. It goes in at a much earlier stage than the rest of the wiring. When the holes for the tail piece get drilled a little side channel gets drilled from inside that hole into the control cavity. A wire is run from there into the cavity, and then when you press the bushing for the tailpiece into the hole the wire is pressed against the bushing which holds it tightly in place, and then when you hook up the rest of the electronics you solder that ground wire to the common ground. Once the tailpiece, bridge, strings, and tuners are attached they are all connected and grounded via that wire.
The side dot markers are installed by drilling small holes in the binding and gluing in a 3/32″ black plastic rod. then the rod is cut off and scraped flush with the binding. Another “learning” moment too. Note to self: Next time put in the dots before gluing the fretboard on!
Headstock logo. The flash makes it appearoverly bright and blotchy. In real life it looks more subtle 🙂
Here I have bolted on all the hardware for final fitment adjustments if needed, checking everything from frets to neck profile to make sure everything works and fits. I got to plug it in and rock out for the first time and its everything I had hoped. Next step is finishing 🙂
Alrighty. The “Build” is done, but we arent done. We still have to put a finish on it. I’m going to use the traditional Nitrocellulose lacquer for my finish. First thing we need to do before we start spraying is to do some grain filling. In this case the back and the neck are made of mahogany which is an open grain wood. Lots of teeny holes. These need to be filled before we spray lacquer or it will look like an adult that used to have a real bad case of acne.
I’m using Behlen Pore-O-Pac grain filler. After thoroughly cleaning the wood this glop gets smeared on like frosting on a cake. Then its pushed into the pores with a plastic squeegy, and the excess gets squeegied off, then the remainder is wiped off with burlap. Burlap because it has very stiff fibers that wont bulge down into the pores and scoope the filler back out when you wipe it off.