Monday, October 24, 2011

routing the body 4

I finally routed the neck pocket. I had been putting it off partly because I wanted to make sure it was perfect and was a little apprehensive about making what is most definitely the most important rout on the whole guitar body, and partly because I have moved twice, to two different cities in the past 6 months. I'm all settled now, though, and the shop is all set up, better than ever. That's a great side-benefit of moving - you get a clean slate on how your workspaces are laid out.

I test-fit my neck to the template I was going to use for the routing, and I found some flaws with the fit, so I did a fair amount of hand sanding, hand-turning drums from the spindle sander, and Dremeling with a tiny sanding drum. Again, perfection is key with this rout. I measured the router bit depth (5/8" for a Telecaster style neck) about ten times and then routed the pocket.

It came out perfect. Perfect shape, perfect depth. Also in the above picture, you can see my previously unreleased pickup configuration. That's a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder in the bridge, a little fatter and juicier than the average Tele pickup (perfect for what I want from this guitar), and then, of course a P90 and a mini humbucker. I still have a trick or two up my sleeve, though.

Next, I started the finishing process. The first step was to apply sanding sealer. Sanding sealer acts as a moisture barrier, so your guitar body is not susceptible to shrinking and swelling with humidity changes. That's kind of an ancillary benefit, though - it's purpose is to raise the grain and fill pores so that sanding is easier. But it also provides an excellent base for a multitude of finishes. I used Minwax Sanding Sealer, and it surprised me, being a milky white color. I was expecting a clear liquid.

I painted it on to the guitar body with a regular old paint brush, and it became kind of foamy and bubbly in spots. Not a big deal since most of it will be sanded off, but kind of frustrating to work with.

 Once the sanding sealer was on, the grain of the mahogany came to life a little bit, which was fun to see. The back, especially, had a great depth to it.

I am in the process of sanding the sealer down now - it's easy to sand, but hand sanding anything takes a lot of elbow grease. The faces of the body are relatively easy, whereas the ends / edges take a little more control and finesse. I will probably do one more coat, because, as you can see most clearly in the picture of the body's back, the wood was very thirsty and soaked up the sealer in some places. I want to make sure the body is sealed against moisture, but I also want to make sure it's got as little finish on it overall as possible. So after I do another coat, I will sand that coat down as much as I can. Also, a tip on sanding sealer application: use a foam brush. The bristle brush created a lot of bubbling, but the foam brush is more even.

Also of note, I picked up a lot of odds and ends from Stew-Mac recently, and learned that the details can really get expensive:

That's all for now - here are some mock-ups to check out to hold you over until I paint!

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