Les Paul 10

erikbojerik asked: Does the CA form a good chemical bond with the StewMac binding like the binding glue does? I’d love to get away from that airplane glue…

And you taped the binding first, THEN wicked in the CA? Did you need to tighten up the tape afterward?

Skr4ped asked: How exactly do you “wick” glue?

jer7440 answered/asked: Super glue ,or CA glue, or cyanoacrelate (spelling) comes in at least 3 different consistencies. Thick, medium, and thin. If you use the thin variety (thin like water) and apply right to the joint line of the 2 pieces you are gluing together, the joint will actually “suck up” or wick the glue into itself.

I had one question about doing this, doesn’t the CA stain the fingerboard? Does this scrape off?

I scrape the binding flush, which removes 90% of the glue, and any left over is sanded away. If there happened to be the odd bit still around it is removed when I level the inlays with a radius block.

The CA can soak into the end grain of the maple top, so I’d recommend sealing the binding channel with a wash coat of shellac. This will all be sanded away when you finish sand the sides and top.

jer7440 asked: I was wondering if you could elaborate a little more on carving the neck angle and “pickup plane”. I’ve read in the past that the neck angle for a LP is about 4 deg. How do you know how deep to carve this angle? Also what angle is the “pickup plane”?

Neck angles generate a lot of questions and seem to confuse a lot of folks, but they’re really very easy to understand. I find out the angle I require following the process described by Melvyn Hiscock in Make Your Own Electric Guitar. If you don’t already have a copy, I suggest you get one post-haste, it’s essential reading.

The depth of the angle is simple - it has to start at the top of the binding. I use my drawing to work out where the angle ends, and join these two points. Likewise, the pickup plane is simply the angle created by joining the end of the fretboard and the bridge - I have no idea what angle it is…

Bill-Murray asked: Dude awesome, how did you know how much to carve??? Do you have plans or an LP on you?? Or did you just go with the flow and do what feels best?

I have a body template. I also know the depth of the carve is 1/2″. From there is simply a case of carving the top so the transition from full thickness in the middle to 1/4″ at the edge is gracefull and smooth.

Sep 19 2004, 11:55 PM

Thanks to everyone for the pep talk, sorry that I’ve been slacking off on the updates. The image uploading/processing PC is back online, so here’s where I left off last time. (Ed. The ‘pep talk’ was due to my accidentally dropping the guitar on a concrete floor shortly before completing it Ooops!).

Now that the neck is glued in, and the fretboard attached attached and scraped flush, it’s time to shape the back of the neck. The guitar is clamped firmly to the workbench ready for me to start work.

Carving the neck

I remove the corners on either side of the neck, leaving flat 45 degree facets along the whole length of the neck. I do my best to keep these flat and level.

Carving the neck

I keep removing the corners until the neck is curved nicely, leaving the area in the centre of the neck and the very edges by the fretboard untouched. This ensures I don’t alter the width or depth of the neck accidentally.

Carving the neck

Once I’m close to final shape I smooth the corners at the fretboard edge, and switch to sanding to achieve final dimensions. I use a long flat block to keep the neck straight, and a shorter semi-hard block once I get to smaller grits (220 - 400).

Here’s how it looks after all the sanding is done:

carving the neck

Now, a bit of a leap. I’ve grain filled and sealed the guitar, using a dark brown waterbased grain filler, and thinned plastic coating to seal. I then masked the top, fretboard and all the binding, and shot my colour coats, using red aniline dye disolved in a 70/30 mix of thinners and plastic coating.

At this point I was bitten by rushing - my grain filling wasn’t good enough, and I had a lot of pores unfilled. I tried a few heavy clear coats to see how bad the problem was, and ended up sanding back to bare wood. There was no need to re-fill the grain, since I sanded very sparingly, and first attempt at colour and clear had filled most of the open pores. After carefull clean up, I reshot the colour coats, this time getting a nice smooth surface ready for clearing.

After about 5 coats of clear all over, I applied clear plastic coating to the bindings by hand, to help fill the ridge from the colour coats, and sanded this back to level.

I also sanded through my colour coat on the front, and dropped the guitar on a concrete floor, but I don’t recommend these steps… it took a long time to fix the result of trying to work when I was tired and grumpy, but here’s the result.

The colour around the neck - this looks *way* to bright, red is tough to photograph well, the real deal is nice and dark, but with the grain clearly visible, not washed out as it appears here.

Too red!

And here she is full length. Tomorrow I’ll take her down to the workshop at my former Uni’ and drill for the stoptail studs, which I’ll fit before applying more clear.

Clear coated...

jer7440 asked: I have a couple of questions going back to the top carving.

1) How thick was the maple top when you started carving?
2) How deep is the carve or what is the difference in depth from the bridge level
to the lowest point of the carve?
3) How tall is your binding? The tallest I saw at Stew-Mac was 3/8. Does your
binding channel overlap into the mahogony?


1&2 - My maple was supposed to be 3/4″, with 1/2″ difference in height between the highest and lowest points of the carve. However, the maple was badly warped, so machining it flat cost me a little thickness, I estimate it was 5/8″ give or take a hair.

3. To preserve the height of the carve my binding was routed so that the maple/mahogany joint was in the centre of the binding. The binding is 1/4″ all around the body, except in the cutaway, where it gets almost 7/16″ tall.

Binding detail

I used Stew Mac ABS creme binding in .090 thickness, 9/16″ height (part #4397).
Before gluing I ripped the binding along it’s length, apart from a length long enough to cover the tall region in the cutaway.

Hope that covers everything.

Oct 4 2004, 11:50 AM

sorry for the lack of updates lately, progress has been delayed by building work keeping me out of the garage. here’s what *has* happened…

I took the guitar down to my old Uni’ workshop, and drilled the holes for the stop tail using a sharp 10mm bradpoint to avoid damaging the finish, then following up with an 11mm twist drill to achieve final dimension. I got away without any chipping or finish damage, so it was time to test fit the hardware and string up for a check of the action and alignment.

Hardware trial

The action was alarmingly high, even with the bridge bottomed out. I thought I’d set the neck wrong until I checked the relief (insert bad pun about being relief-ed). This neck is one piece, and bent under string tension much more than any I’ve built. Once I had cranked the trussrod 1/4 (in 2 steps of 1/8) the neck was much straighter, and the action was bang on. I spent a few days noodling on it, and checking out how it settled in, all is good. Neck has stayed straight as an arrow, and there is minimal buzzing and rattling - not bad since I haven’t levelled the frets yet.

I wet sanded the guitar all over with 600 grit,levelling the finish in preparation for spraying my last few clear coats. More pic soon, but fullserve seems to be broken at the moment, I can only upload pics if I delete existing ones first. I tried setting up a second account, and I can’t upload to that at all.

Oct 15 2004, 12:53 PM

looks like fullserve is back up, so here’s an update.

Front and back of the guitar are all wet sanded with 600 grit, until I have an even matt surface. Any low spots will show up as shiny patches, and will require extra sanding, or spot fills with clear to fill them in.

Levelling the front

Levelling the back

The aim here is to get the finish as flat as possible, without sanding through to the colour coat. Once I’m content that everything is nicely levelled, I sprayed three more coats, trying to lay down super smooth coats, without orange peel, dust, or runs.

No pics of these coats, sorry. Once the last coats had cured well (a week is fine with Rustin’s) I wet sanded with 1500, prior to final sanding with 2000 then buffing. However, my sanding has revealed a few tiny low spots, and one area which needs a spot fill, so I’ll have to spray another coat or two before I’m done.

RGGR asked: The back color looks awefully purple…..is that the pic or did you paint it that way????

The red is actually very red - but as Drak has pointed out in the past, red is a tough colour to get a with a digital camera. The matt finish also messes with how the colours look.

In answer to a couple of questions from Luke via PM:

I’ll be doing the final buffing with Rustin’s burnishing compound/paste. I used it on the last guitar and was very happy with the results:

As for pickups, I’ll be using Golden age humbuckers from Stew Mac - an overwound one in the bridge, and the standard model in the neck. I used thses on my last guitar, and was very impressed with the value for money.

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