Building a Solid Body Neck pt. 2

On to the next phase of neck making.

As the picture shows, the truss rod slot is now cut, tuning machine holes drilled and the step down on the peg head is cut.  I do this using a Wagner Safety Plane.  This inexpensive tool is chucked in a drill press and easily planes the wood safely as the name would imply.

After this step is done we now have to drill a 3/8″ hole long enough to accept the truss rod nut.  The rod nut is usually a little smaller in diameter to allow the nut to turn.  Then use a bell hangers 1/4″ bit (these bits are 12″ or longer) to connect the 3/8″ hole to the 1/4″ truss rod channel.

I then make the truss rod out of 3/16″ steel rod that I thread on both ends with a 10-32 die (Fender has used both 10-32 and 8-32).  On the heel end I drill a 1/2″ hole to accept an aluminum rod drilled and tapped to accept one end of the threaded rod.  Thread the truss rod into the aluminum so that the truss rod protrudes about a 1/6″ the other side.  Now put the setup in a vice and peen the end over.  This will prevent the rod from turning when in the guitar.  Thread the rod through the peg head first and then set the heel.  Now a fillet strip is cut to fit the channel so that it forces the rod into the arc mentioned in the previous post.

After this has been glued in and the glue dry you can trim the fillet flush with the fret board and glue the fret board on.

Now is the time to put the radius in the peg head to blend the fret board into it.  You must be careful with this so that you don’t sand too deep.

Once this is done you can shape the back of the neck with any combination of spokeshaves, rasps, gouges, chisels, etc.  A cut belt from a sander can be used to “shoe shine” the neck to make a round backed neck.

You can now put the radius on the fret board and fret it.  I do not, however, dress the frets until the neck is bolted onto the body.  The tension of the screws in the neck change the geometry and I’ve found it best to level them after the neck is installed.

I sometimes use threaded inserts in the neck so that bolts are used to connect the neck to the body instead of wood screws.  This is an extra step but will keep the screw holes from stripping if you are a tinkerer and like to pull the neck off a lot.

Cheers from a member of the dirty trades.


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