Crimson Guitar Build – Day Five

Continued from Day Four

So there’s just one day left on my guitar build, and the big question is whether I will finish the guitar.  But I’m getting ahead of myself!  Let’s start from the beginning.

The first task this morning was to remove the clamps from the guitar and to see whether the neck was glued in properly.  Fortunately, all was well and the neck is at the perfect angle.  The veneer on the headstock was also fine.

A couple of small tasks kicked us off.  First I used a disk sander to remove some of the irregularities from my control knobs.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get any further with them today and I still don’t know if they will work out.  Next we cut the excess veneer from the headstock.

A necessary evil was the creation of the template for the control cavity.  We had drawn this out yesterday, but we needed to cut out the template, using a jeweller’s saw.  This took quite a long time and was also rather tiring; what’s more, Ben came round later and told us that the same saw had made a broken blade ping up and cut him in the face near his eye recently!  I’m quite glad that I don’t have to use it again.

Drilling out the cavity
Drilling out the cavity

After that, of course, we cut out the cavity itself.  As before, this was done in two main stages: drilling out some of the bulk of the wood, and then routing out the rest to get the right shape and depth.  The wood on the guitar top covering the cavity is only about 5-9mm thick; it’s a big hole!

Drilling done, now for the router!
Drilling done, now for the router!

While we were in the machine room, I also started the carve of the join of the body and neck, around the heel.  Tomorrow I will have to finish it with a rasp and then sand it smooth.

The nearly finished cavity and the partly carved neck joint
The nearly finished cavity and the partly carved neck joint

We worked out the final positions for the controls and drilled all of the necessary holes for those, plus for the bridge (including the holes for the strings to pass through the body).  All of these holes have to be drilled with great care and precision, and often in two or more steps.

After lunch I also worked on one of my other embellishments, which is the headstock.  I cut out a piece of maple veneer and shaped it according to a design that I drew on the headstock.  I want this to be glued onto the headstock face, and then to have a similar shape for the truss rod cover so that it all looks good.

Guess where that piece of maple is going!
Guess where that piece of maple is going!

Christopher took over for the delicate task of drilling the hole for the jack socket.  I had bought a jack plate in the same finish as my bridge and tuners, but unfortunately it was too large for the body, so we had to take another approach.  We recessed the jack in the wood of the body, which works fine, but doesn’t look especially attractive.  If we have any spare time tomorrow, I’d like to add another visual touch (a ring of purpleheart around the socket), but I don’t think we will get round to it.

The rest of the afternoon was taken up by working on the fretboard.  First we used a long levelling beam to sand it absolutely flat along the board (maintaining the radius, of course).  This took surprisingly long, partly because ebony is such a hard wood.  Then we marked out the locations for the fretboard dots and side dots, drilled the holes and glued in some ready-prepared dots which will look really smart.

The neck with the dots added. They will have to be filed or sanded down tomorrow morning.
The neck with the dots added. They will have to be filed or sanded down tomorrow morning.

That was it for today.  There’s a long, long list of tasks to complete tomorrow if I’m to finish my guitar, starting off (once the dots are filed or sanded down) with installing the frets.  I must admit to a certain level of fear that we won’t finish the guitar; I don’t mind taking it home and oiling it, but I wanted to complete the build on the course.

Finally, the guitar as it is at the end of Day Five
Finally, the guitar as it is at the end of Day Five

Lastly, here is the video of this day:

Come back tomorrow to find out what happens!  Day Six