Part 1 covered the design and the purchase of hardware for this build. This page shows the creation of the main components – the neck blank, the top and back, and the blocks for the side of the body.
Top and Back
These were quite straightforward. I had two zebrano caps in my wood store that I’d bought, on separate occasions. One has a very curved grain pattern, and the other has a straight pattern but with lots of burls, which is apparently quite rare in this type of wood.
Essentially, I prepared each of them like a top. I first glued them together…
Then I designed the outline of the guitar. I used a PRS Custom 22 for the basic shape, but I lengthened the top horn so that the strap button will be a bit further along the neck. This should help to balance the guitar, since it will have a light body and a heavy headstock. For visual balance, I also lengthened the lower horn.
To do this, I first attached the two caps together using masking tape and superglue, making sure that the centre lines matched. Then I drew the outline and adjusted it as mentioned, and used my band saw to rough cut it. Then I finished the shape using my spindle sander and finally hand sanding to eliminate any bumps. This was the final result, which I’m very pleased with.
I will make a deeper cut in the top for high fret access, but that will be filed out later on.
I made sure that the edges are very smooth and precise, because I will use them as a pattern to trim down the blocks with my router later in the build. A bit of care at this stage to get the edges right will greatly reduce the work that will be needed later on in the build.
I wanted to make a laminate neck for the extra strength, plus I think they make an attractive feature. Having already used three types of wood for the body (zebrano, sycamore and padauk) – and even four, if you include the ebony strip – this meant that I shouldn’t go too wild with the wood selection. Fortunately, I had longer pieces of all three woods in my store, and so I went with the same woods for the neck.
The piece of sycamore that I had available was only just wide enough if I cut it diagonally, to the right size to make the taper of the neck. I decided to use my circular saw to cut that, since my band saw wanders too much – hence the saw mark that’s visible in this picture. That will be hidden inside the body, though, so this little mistake wasn’t important.
After gluing these together, I had my basic neck blank!
Because of the inaccuracy of my band saw, I had a couple of gaps that you can see in the higher padauk strip, but I made sure that these were in parts of the blank that will be cut off when the neck is shaped. For the rest, it was fine.
Finally, I prepared the blocks – or bricks – of sycamore and padauk from which I will make the sides. To achieve a fairly standard body depth of about 43mm, these need to be 15mm high, and I decided to aim for about 30mm length. I had reasonably sizeable blocks of these woods left over from previous builds, which I first cut into strips.
These strips were about 40mm deep, so I cut them all lengthways and then glued the flat sides to a board (masking tape and superglue!). I ran that through my planer thicknesser in order to plane them all to a consistent height – I don’t have more photos of this, but you can see it in the video episode 2. Finally, I cut them down to pieces about 31-32mm long, to allow a bit of extra material for the fine shaping of the blocks. I had measured around the perimeter of a guitar body and estimated that it was about 140cm, so I needed a total length of about that for each wood, given that there will be two rows of bricks.
There should be more than enough blocks for the job here – and all from offcuts. This is an economical build as well as, I hope, an attractive one!
Page 3 will cover the shaping of the neck and the construction of the sides!