The slower you put things together, the slower they fall apart.
With the holidays upon us, I wanted to get some things done in order to take advantage of the break. Typically, I let complete neck blanks set for eight weeks after the fingerboard has been glued on. This allows the neck components to take a set before the fingerboard radius is machined. It’s better to let it warp or twist first and then machine it straight than to let it change afterwards.
In this photo, I’m cutting a length of cold-rolled 3/16″ steel rod to the prescribed length, before threading each end with a die.
I use a 1/2″ diameter hex rod cut to a length that puts it just under the fingerboard for the anchor end. After drilling and tapping a through hole, I insert the 3/16″ rod and screw it tight before mig welding both sides.
Good penetration is important because the last thing we want is for the weld to let go once the neck is built.
Getting a solid weld without making too big a blob is the order of the day. Here, I’m cleaning up the weld with a file to make sure it clears the slot. Now it’s ready to go into the blank.
While I’ve been making the rod, Jim has bonded the ebony faceplate on the headstock and is using a plexiglass template made from my drawing to mark the rough headstock outline for reference.
After coating the rod with paraffin, Jim slides the rod through the adjustment hole and taps the anchor down with a mallet and dowel. A spline of mahogany cut from the same piece as the neck blank is used to seal the rod into the slot before the fingerboard goes on.
I’ve designed an inlay that I call “Claw” and fitted it at the 12th fret. It’s a combination of mother of pearl and green abalone—seven pieces in all. This is done before the fretboard is glued to the neck blank.
Here’s the fretboard dry fitted to the neck before bonding. The rest of the fret markers are two different sizes of pearl dots for a clean sophisticated look. The final taper of the neck includes the space for fingerboard binding
It’s only a matter of spreading the glue and getting the whole assembly into the clamps. After that we can head home to our families, while time does what man cannot.