Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Holy Poplar!

Note: There will be a handful of posts coming to catch up on the project. Rather than blurt them all out at once, I'll post one every few days until the blog is caught up with the project (at which point I'll go back to neglecting my readers). 

The PROPER way to cut a body from a block of wood is to use a band-saw.  I don’t have one of those, so Plan A was, “Use a coping saw to cut the perimeter of the Telecaster.” Plan A was stupid and lasted about 2” into the process. 

Not only would it have taken an insane amount of time, a coping saw (at least the one I have) is not intended to cut through and inch and half of hardwood and was making wandering cuts as the blade flexed trying to get through the block.  After sawing in to the outline, I realized I need to make about a 45 degree turn to start cutting the perimeter. The problem was that the saw/blade really did NOT want to make that turn, so I decided I’d drill a hole that would allow me to easily turn the blade and get on the right line. What started as a way to make the turn from cutting in to the guitar to cutting the perimeter became the primary “cutting” process for the perimeter.  The drill press not only ensured I stayed on track around the perimeter, but it also kept the sides perfectly vertical, something that was NOT going to happen with the coping saw.
Starting to cut the perimeter.

Most of the way cut out!
One of the first cast-off pieces.

Coping saw work complete.

Very rough edge to start with.

From the VERY rough outline, I used a rough wood rasp to get down close to the final dimension and then used a home-made drum sander in the drill press to give most the guitar its final smoothed shape.  A little bit of work remains in the tighter spaces that I couldn't reach with the larger-radius drum sander, but those can be hit either with a dremel, hand-sanded, or sanded with a smaller drum.

Glue & clamp some 60-grit on and VOILA! A sanding drum!
Homemade sanding drum using disks cut with a hole saw, a length of threaded rod, and a few washers & bolts (all things just lying around in the workshop).
Before sanding
After sanding.

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