Les Paul 05

Jul 10 2004, 03:55 PM

With the carve mostly completed I return to the neck. The fretboard is to be bound with the last of the Stew Mac ABS binding (good ridance!). I cut three lengths, machine them to the correct thickness with the router, and then plane the fretboard down to the appropriate width.

Neck binding

The binding is taped in place, then CA is wicked in bewteen the board and binding. Then the tape is removed and glue is wicked into the gaps where the tape was.

Binding taped

Once binding is all firmly in place and the glue is dry the board is tidied up with a scraper. It is advisable to run the scraper at 45 degrees to the board, otherwise you’ll leave dips in the binding by each fretslot. The board is now ready for the side dots to be fitted.

Neck bound

The side dots are made of the plastic dot material sold in rods by Stew Mac. Positions are measured with a cheapo caliper to get the dots centred between the fretslots. I eyeball the height of the dot - this must be done after the binding is scraped down, other wise you’ll get the dot off centre. This is also true when radiusing your own boards - dot’s should be added after radiusing or you’ll have no reference for the correct height. The holes for the dots are drilled a hair deeper than the binding, and short sections of rod are glued in with CA. I level the rod with my flushcut saw and 220 grit paper on a flat block.

Side dots

Lee asked: Where the binding meets at the end of the finger board do you a mitre cut? or just like a butt…

The fretboard binding is lap jointed. The short length on the end is the same width as the board, and the side pieces extend over it’s ends. Thus far in my guitar building I’ve not had to do any mitres, and I’m not keen to start - they look like joints concieved by a malign god to punish his willfull children.

Or something.

The same could probably be said of doing inlays the way I did, so take the following with a pinch of salt. This took a looo-oong time, and left me tired and grumpy, but it looks decent.

First I cut the inlays using a razor saw. I decided to keep all the sides straight rather than scalloped. This part was easy. The inlays are Agoya.

Inlays cut

Before cutting the inlays I had taped the fretboard at the appropriate frets. Now I glued the agoya to the tape with CA glue.

Inlays glued

Once they were dry and unable to shift about, I carefully cut around them using a sharp scalpel. Then I pulled them and the tape away, leaving a neatly marked cavity.

Inlays marked

It was after this that things got ugly. My attempts at using a dremel type tool in a homemade jig were spoiled by the poor chuck. The bit was drawn into the workpiece, and the chuck allowed it to creep deeper than it should have. Scratch that idea :(

I ended up using my smallest 1 flute router bit in my trend T5 to hog out the cavities, then a scalpel and chisel to clean the edges. This was very slow, finicky work, and I don’t recommend anyone else to use this technique.. it may make you cry.

However….. :)

Inlaid board

Looks good, but upclose there are a few spots which need filling, especially on the last three, smallest markers. All in all I’m happy for my first attempt.

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