Posts Tagged ‘ building ’

Stage 10) Profile shaping

After the clamps are removed from the work we did in Stage 10, it’s time to mount the neck to the wooden template using two way tape. Use clamping pressure in order to have a good bond between the neck blank and the wooden template. I use the 3 inch Robo sander inserted into my floor mounted drill press to sand the profile of the neck. The wheel of the Robo sander rides on the wooden template and the sanding drum removes the extra stock we left in Stage 3. When the 3 inch sander has removed all it can, I take out the 3 inch Robo sander and finish up the neck with the 1 inch Robo sander to clean up the tighter curves at the headstock. In Stage 12, I will discuss the neck radius process. Stay tuned! Jim at

Acoustic fretboard

Acoustic fretboard By JCS Musical instruments

Stage 9) Gluing the fretboard

The radius in the fretboard will be added after the fretboard is glued in place. Now take the trussrod we made in Stage 6) and slide into truss trench pushing through the hole we drilled in the heel and add the washer and trussrod nut. For this next stage we are going to use Titebond wood glue. I prefer this glue because of the ability to heat the neck in the future if the neck needs any adjustment in curvature. I will talk more about this in the future either in the blog, newsletter or eBook. The repair tips show how the JCSMI Crossbow 2 and the JCSMI Hammerhead can help in this process. I like to wipe some Acetone on the glue faces of both the fretboard and neck blank using a lint free rag. I use a 2″ putty knife to spread the glue. Use a soft paintbrush to dust off the glue faces. Lay the fretboard on its backside an layout about a 10″ bead of glue. Use this glue first to lay the fillet in. Take the fillet and lay both sides of the fillet in the glue. Now press the fillet into the truss rod channel and locate it for final setting. Then spread out the glue on the backside of the fretboard until it is complete covered. Apply a bead of Titebond from the heel of one side of the truss rod trench down toward the nut area and around then back down the other side and end at the heel. Now press the fillet into the truss rod channel and locate it for final setting. Take the putty knife and smooth out the glue evenly on the wood blank. Line up the fretboard and press down and check to make sure the center lines are lined up. Hold down and press out the extra glue just using your hands for the next minute or two. Next get 16 adjustable clamps. We also need two pieces of flat wood cut close to the shape of the fretboard to sandwich the neck when clamping. We also need two strips of wax paper on the top and bottom of the neck to prevent the neck from sticking to the wooden culls used to generate the clamping pressure. We need to start by using 3 clamps to set the fretboard. Lightly screw one in the middle then one on each end. Now place one clamp on each side of the neck starting near the center of the neck, then 2 more from side to side working toward the headstock. All 8 clamps should be equally spaced on each side of the neck. The pattern will look like this : : : : : : : : when done. After last 2 at the nut location, start back near center and work your way towards the heel. Make sure your centerlines do not move. When all the clamps are set, go back to the center two and snug up the clamps working your way towards each end. The glue should be running out evenly around the whole fretboard.

Flame Maple dot in Wenge at

Flame Maple dot in Wenge at

Stage 8) Slotting the fretboard

After we have the fretboard cut out and thickness sanded to size, it is time to slot the board. For small jobs, I use the fret slotting saw, fret slotting template and miter box. There is a formula to figure out the fret spacing for odd scale lengths. Try the
fret caculator I found online. I used this formula for a couple of neck jobs with odd scale lengths. For Building your own practical fret slotting machine, please refer to my eBook soon to be published. As my orders for necks started to increase, my ability to manually slot fretboards became impractical. Take it from me, I wanted to manually slot each neck but the miter saw blade seems like it expands as it heats up from friction and gets harder and harder to saw as the slot gets deeper. The saw actually feels like it is a slip fit when the blade is cold and a press fit and pinched in the slot when hot. Not sure if this is really happening, just what it feels like. I even tried some types of blade lubrication with no luck. There is much detail when it comes to slot depth. In a perfect world, it is nice to have .010″ depth below each fret tang. As the radius changes down the neck, the flat bottom slot cannot match the effect of the taper and radius at the fretboards edge. I will discuss tips and tricks in detail in the eBook. This is beyond the scope of this blog.
Thanks for checking out this blog and please join my newsletter and pass this blog along to anyone you think may be interested in it or my product recommendations. I don’t want the downstream builders to suffer my trials along the road to building their dream neck.



Stage 7) Making the fretboard.

Select a premium grade of wood for the fretboard. I bring the stock down on my drum sander so after gluing, my fretboard and neck blank thickness will be 1.010″ when finished. I will explain a little later in the backside routing process the need for the .010″ extra stock. Before I route the radius into the fretboard I use a Jet 16-32 Drum Sander and take the stock down close to my total neck thickness using 80 grit sand papersand paper. A great tip for loaded up sandpaper is using Gorilla Tape to stick to the buildup. after several stick and re-sticking applications, you will see a major improvement in stock removal. Using the fretboard template, I draw out the fretboard shape on your stock. For darker woods I use a Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil, True Green Lead. For some reason this color stands out on the widest variety of wood species. On maple, I just use a mechanical pencil with 0.5mm or 0.7mm lead . Next, we put the centerline down the Neck.

Hollywood Series in Python

Hollywood Series in Python

Stage 6) Making the fillet for the truss rod channel.

Making the fillet for the truss rod channel. I use a piece of flat stock scrap from the maple fretboard blanks. I saved the first working fillet and use as the template for all other fillets. The use of a .03mm mechanical pencil helps in getting as close to the original as possible. Gently rotate the led of the pencil, topside of led towards the original template. Now I take the maple stock with fillet outline over to the band saw. I cut as close to the pencil mark as possible with out crossing into the fillet. If there is more stock than needed, I head on over to the belt sander and slowly remove stock to the pencil mark. The next step is to put the semicircle at the back end plan view. This is done to match the truss rod trench near the heel of the neck. Lastly, I drum sand the final thickness of the fillet till I have the correct fit into the truss rod trench.


Brazilian and Cocobola by JCSMI

Brazilian and Cocobola by JCSMI


Stage 5) Building the truss rod

Use 10-32 threaded rod cut to length. Use a tap and die set to clean up the threads that will be used with the adjustment nut. Be careful not to cross thread the 10-32 threading. Next we need to make the anchor slug. Make sure it is thick enough to have enough thread engagement. Find the center of the slug and use a center punch to indent the center point. We are going to drill a through hole that will allow us to cut 10-32 threads into the slug. Then we screw the 10-32 threaded rod into the end of the slug. The eBook following this blog will have more detail on making the truss rod. I use plastic straws that are cut to length to keep the glue from getting to the treading. Using 2 straws for this process works out perfect. Tape the straw joint with Scotch Magic Tape to keep the wall of the plastic straw as thin as possible. Vaseline the threads for the adjustment nut and the bearing face of the nut to eliminate unnecessary friction when adjusting the truss-rod nut.

Black Cherry Vibe series

Black Cherry Vibe series at JCS Musical Instruments

Stage 3) Cutting out the neck blank.

Next we need to cut out the wood blank keeping a 16th of an inch from the pencil mark we made in stage 3 using the plastic template. I use a bandsaw to perform this task. Try and make four or five relief cuts so you do not have to cut a lot of curvature at one time around the headstock and the heel of the neck blank.

Tomahawk Guitars

Tomahawk Guitars using neck by JCSMI


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Stage 2) Neck wood selecting, thicknessing, template tracing

The first thing we need to do in the actual building process is to select a premium grade of wood for the neck blank. Next we need to bring the board down to the desired thickness using a drum sander or a shop planer. My total stack up for the neck thickness equals 1 inch. Next I trace out the neck profile using a pencil and the plastic neck profile template. Check out my Amazon store from time to time for some suggested products you may be lacking. The store makes for a good checklist of items to help you get the job done.

Guitar nut making at


Nut Making
Watch as a nut is processed and shaped from a bone blank to a semi-gloss nut.