Renk - Siren Build Thread

Discussion in 'Guitar Building' started by Renkenstein, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    So I've been focusing my time working on the Siren. I'm really only a couple steps behind my first build's progress at this point. This build has gone swiftly in comparison, after learning quite a bit from previous experience in the construction process. I also through trial and error found what jigs, templates, and orders of procedure work for me and my shop. As of now I still have zero finishing experience, but I've got another mostly constructed guitar, and that has taught me a lot.

    I've been posting bits of her here and there in the workbench thread. Now that I'm reaching unfamiliar territory, I'd like to open up a forum for discussion.

    This is a copy/pasta from imgur with tater-cam photo quality, so it may be a mess. I've got some DSLR shots that I'll try to include now and then to make up for it.

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    Traced this body off of drawings I've had in my file cabinet for a long time. Made a few tweaks here and there, primarily in the horns. I made a lot of templates, and always thought the size was a bit small. It looked like a kid's guitar. I increased the size 10% overall and it was perfect. Comparable to an Ibanez RG in size. The point at the bottom gives a really nice center point for layout and template lineup. I designed it aesthetically, but it turned out to be quite handy in the build process.


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    I initially planned on a basswood body, but after the decision to laminate maple and mahogany for the neck, it just didn't sound like it was going to look right. Here I also have the top clamped up with F clamps and the weight of my granite slab keeps it straight under clamping pressure. It's worked very well for the 2 bookmatched tops I've made thus far. With my #5 plane and this clamping configuration, both tops have had invisible seams. I've had to pencil the center lines just to be able to see them for the rest of the build. Annoyingly triumphant? That's what I'd call it.



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    Here's the neck stringers after running them through the thickness sander. Planing 30" pieces is difficult, but the thickness sander does it effortlessly and leaves a perfect surface for glue-up.



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    Gluing the neck blank while the top is still under clamps.



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    Decided the body would look a LOT better if it had a bevel carve, so I did a quick sketch-up on the template. I think I was right.



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    Top out of clamps, cut out on the band saw, and sanded to the line on the ROSS. This is the last picture to feature the basswood body before it was nixed.

    I'll post a few more pics and continue the story tomorrow. :D
     
  2. KnightroExpress

    KnightroExpress Active Member

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    I really like this design, dude. Looking great!
     
  3. Knarbens

    Knarbens Well-Known Member

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    Seen your thread elsewhere ... really nice job!
     
  4. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, fellas. I do have it linked in my sig, so many of you have probably seen most of it.

    I mainly want to bother y'all about my finishing strategy. ;)
     
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  5. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Gluing scarf joints is a serious PITA. I learned from forums that drilling holes and putting a small brad in each keeps it from slipping under clamping pressure. Stay outside of the lines, and the holes get cut away with the waste.

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    Clamping up the scarf joint. The brads kept the ~15 degree joint from slipping, but they caused a problem later on. I did not remove them before the glue set and one of them broke when trying to extract them.

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    The original fretboard I was going to use. Curly maple center flanked by what I was told was Brazilian walnut. Short story long, I was digging through people's trash on big pickup day and ran across a cabinet maker's residence/shop. He gave me lots of scrap wood, and the Braz walnut was some of it. It looks really cool and streaky with red/orange highlights. I'll prob still put it to use on a future build using more of it so it'll flow better.

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    After nixing the basswood body, I glued up a 7 piece scraptastic body blank. Since the neck is laminated with alternating maple/mahogany stringers, I thought a single maple strip would look cool down the center. Traced the template onto the blank then headed off to the band saw, sanded to the line on the ROSS, and sent through the thickness sander to prep the surface for glue. Each piece of mahogany rang like a percussion woodblock when tapped. I took that as a good sign.

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    Gluing the maple top to the mahogany body. I really need more clamps for this, but I did drill through the top in the bridge pickup area so I can get some pressure in the center.

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    I had small clamps, which left no room for a piece of scrap to keep the clamp from marring the surface. My solution was some small felt sticky pads that I found at the hardware store. Stuck 2 of them on each clamp. Worked well.
     
  6. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    After several botched truss rod slots, I was thinking long and hard about how to do this one. I've routed them off center. I've gouged slots in the middle after templates slipped. I don't like cutting them blind, and wanted to figure out a way to do it with the neck face-up. My lady's grandparents are purging things from their basement and while we were picking down there, I ran across a edge guide for a router. Grandpa says to me, "I've got the router that goes with it." I could tell he was hesitant to give it away. I could see the inner turmoil when he weighed it in his mind. I'm happy to say that he did give it to me, and I put it to immediate use.


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    Immediate use. I slipped a little in the middle(AGAIN), but overall I think this was a solid, successful attempt. I've cut TRCs on a table saw on its own, on a jig on a table saw, with a router and a template on top of the neck, and on a router table face down with a fence. I have to say, this was the best IMO. I could see the workpiece and the bit as it was cutting, which is VERY important to me. This is a 1/4" slot and an Allparts truss rod.



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    Leaving the edge guide in place, I changed out for a 1/2" bit to rout the access cavity. I wish I had a router bit with a rounded bottom. If I had used one of those, it would be perfect.



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    Took the body out of clamps and screwed the template to the top. I flush trimmed with the body in this state, which I do NOT recommend. I should have traced it and taken it to the line on the ROSS to make the flush trim go smoother. Here I'm using an MLCS 1/2"x2" 3-flute flush trim bit. I couldn't afford an up-cut spiral bit, and I'd much rather have a bit that I can sharpen, so I figured a 3 flue would be a good compromise. It works well, as long as there isn't too much excess outside of the template edge.



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    Finished flush trimming. I can breathe now. Routers make me very nervous.



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    Scraptastic mahogany back.
     
  7. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Tear-out #1. Nothing major. Sandable.


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    Tear-out #2. Nothing major. Sandable.



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    Sanded out the tear-out areas on the ROSS. Worth its weight in gold, this tool.



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    Did a sketch of the bevels off the master template, and marked the depth of the bevels.



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    Grabbed my Shinto rasp and connected the dots.
     
  8. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    One bevel down.

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    Put away the potato and got out the DSLR for some body shots.


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    Neck and body. Neck marked for the taper. 1-11/16" at the nut, 2-1/4" at the body.


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    Here you can see where I had to forcibly remove the brad that broke off during the scarf joint glue-up.


     
  9. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Found a beautiful piece of curly maple at Woodcraft. 1"x6"x8' for $23. I love how cheap maple is, and I could work with it all day. I was weighing buying this BIG board vs buying a single ziricote fretboard blank for $20. I couldn't justify the price of the ziricote, and it wasn't a good specimen visually, so I went with the maple.


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    Cut out a couple fretboard blanks from the maple board. Found that once I ripped the maple, it wanted to curl. I set my #5 on them overnight to straighten them out.



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    They were still a little thick, so I whipped up a quick planing jig for the router and took them down to just over 1/4" thick.



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    After planing with the router, I put them through the thickness sander and took them down to exactly 1/4" thick. I cannot remember which of these 2 maple blanks I used for the fretboard.



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    Squaring up an edge on the table saw.



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    Fret slot miter box. I use a StewMac FB as a template and a feeler gauge that slides into each slot as an index.



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    Slots done! This will be a 22 fret neck. Weird for me, as all my guitars have 24 frets(except 2 of my acoustics). I heard a myth that having 22 frets puts the neck pickup in a position that's better for tone because it's under a harmonic node. I don't know if any of that is true, but I thought that since this is a prototype, why not try it and see if it works!
     
  10. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Body end of the neck. Quarter-sawn maple with whatever-sawn mahogany. The maple will keep that unruly mahogany in line.


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    Since I have the TRC routed, I no longer needed a square edge on the neck, so I cut the taper on the band saw, sanded to the line, and flush trimmed using the template on the table there. I also glued on the headstock wings, cut the headstock on the band saw, and cleaned it up on the ROSS. I didn't want to risk any of those points on the router.



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    Here you can see the oops on the TRC. You can also see where the brads did not hold the scarf joint perfectly and my laminates slipped out of registration. They were lined up really well on the back of the neck though, so I let it ride.



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    I decided to try a zero fret on this build. I'm using a 1/4" corian nut blank, and there's 1/4" gap between the nut and the zero fret. I couldn't really find a good source for dimensions on this gap, so I made a guess. Hope it works.



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    Tapered the fretboard on the band saw and sanded to the line on the ROSS. Checking how everything lines up.



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    Looks good! Renk must be broke...he's smoking Pall Mall when he's usually a Camel guy.
     
  11. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    I had a fretboard slip on my LP build, and I vowed this would never happen again. I drilled a hole through the FB and into the neck at the first fret and the 21st using a 1/16" bit. Got the brads. I'm ready to do it right this time. I was going to use those bacon flavored toothpicks to pin the fretboard, but the brads were the perfect size. I still can't find a use for these toothpicks. They would all be chewed up if they tasted remotely like bacon, and not like band-aids.


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    FAT neck! I made the blank entirely too thick. I'll have to slim that down a bit.
     
  12. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    Before gluing the fretboard, I need to rout my neck pocket. The fretboard will have a square overhang, and the neck has rounded corners, so it has to be done now. I took scrap MDF and flush trimmed straight edges on each. I clamp the 2 longest pieces to the neck, then align the neck by measuring distance from center as far back from the neck as I could. Once I had that, I clamped the 2 outer pieces to the body. I slid the center piece in and squared it to the neck heel. This makes a perfect neck pocket every time.


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    I secured the ends of the template with a granite block and a couple clamps, and hogged out the bulk of the material with a forstner bit.



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    Neck pocket routed.

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    Neck pocket tight.

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  13. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    Sexy-wexy.

    And the guitar's nice too.
     
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  14. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    Yeahhhhhhhhh, buddy.

    I'm glad you switched to ash on that fretless build. Looks stellar!
     
  15. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I do like the grain. It's heavy as fsck though, so the "ultralightweight" concept is out. But as with every build, that was just one of the ideas I have been pursuing. I think it's important to have a Plan B.
     
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  16. Purelojik

    Purelojik New Member

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    anyone tell you , you look like Thor?
     
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  17. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    I will happily accept that compliment. Thor was actually my son's "working title" before he was born. Up until he was delivered, I called him Thor. Tried to make it happen, but at the last moment, we decided on Aleister.
     
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  18. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    After the neck pocket is complete, I glued the fretboard. Did some masking this time for easy cleanup. I also got squeeze-out down the whole length of the seam, so I know I won't have any gaps.


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    Got some project storage happenin here! Drove past a garage sale and there they were. I've got a new design cookin on the clipboard in front of my Suicide Girls poster.



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    Alright...time to do something about that double chin on this girl's neck.



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    Since I already did up the headstock, I couldn't figure a way to cut all the excess off with the band saw, so I cut as far as I could.



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    I took it over to the router table to remove the rest.



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    Then flattened it all on the thickness drum sander.
     
  19. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    Damn I need a drum sander.
     
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  20. Renkenstein

    Renkenstein Well-Known Member

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    You do! We all do! They're amazing for prepping blanks, stringers, fretboards, necks, tops...the works. I shape the HS edge of the volute just by running the headstock into it while taking the HS to thickness. Run the neck through the other way to flatten it uniformly and shape the other side of the volute. I used the plans on woodgears.ca, if you haven't seen those yet.
     

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