Les Paul 02

Jun 22 2004, 08:47 PM

Next I glue on ears to make up the width of the headstock. Before glue-up I thin the blank a little in the head area to ensure that the ears will not be glued where the headstock shaping will expose the joint. The only evidence of the joins should be in the end grain on the end of the headstock, and the end grain where the headstock tapers to join the fretboard.

Clamped ears

Once the glue has dried, I plane off all the excess from the front and back of the headstock, and prepare the head veneer. In this case, it’s madagascar rosewood from LMI.

Planed Headstock

Jun 23 2004, 01:01 PM

The next job is to shape the peghead, for which I use a template on the router table. I always perform the cuts across the grain before I go along the grain, so that any break out at the ends of the head will be in waste.

This doesn’t help when this happens!


The cutter split the head just past my glued on ear, and tore out a bunch of short fibres in the process. Patching wasn’t an option, since the missing wood had been atomised, so I simply glued the split (which ran about 2 inches down the head) and machined the head a second time, making about 3mm shorter. No biggie, but it really makes you sweat when it happens out of the blue!

After shaping the head I tapered the neck using the router table. I attach the neck to a piece of plywood with a machined edge, line it up with my marking out, then run it over a template bit. I take 2 passes with the sheet on, and 1 with it removed to achieve full depth at the head and heel. Once it’s completed it looks like this:

Neck, fillet and trussrod

Now it’s time to fit the trussrod and fillet. I sand the trussrod with 180 grit paper, then wipe it down with alcohol to remove any grease or grime from it. I mix a medium quantity of epoxy, and apply it to the sides of the trussrod channel. Once I’ve got a nice even coat, I press in the trussrod, and coax any squeezout onto the top of the rod (away from the surface of the neck blank). I then mix up a second batch of epoxy and apply this to the top of the rod, before pushing the fillet into place. Lastly, I apply several clamps to keep the fillet from creeping, and set it aside to cure.

Trussrod clamped

Jun 23 2004, 04:02 PM

Once the glue is set I plane the fillet down level with the neck, and give the fretboard surface a quick going over with the big sanding block. This shows up any movement in the neck caused by shaping, and flats any remaining high spots on the fillet. Happily, this neck was still dead straight after thicknessing - not always the way.

With the neck flattened again I can proceed to attaching the head veneer. I glue this with titebond, using cut off staples to prevent it creeping (if you omit this, I guarantee it will creep). After gluing I trim it to size using a flush trim bit in the router table.

Next I cut the trussrod adjustment cavity using a roundnose bit and a straight fence. I attach the neck to a straight board so it will run straight against the fence on the router table.

Trussrod cavity

I take a couple of passes, taking care not to go too deep, though I confess I did brush the adjustment nut this time. This isn’t a problem - the sound of cutter against brass is easy to spot, so I barely grazed the edge of the nut - still, this is better avoided :)

Here’s the result.

Trussrod Cavity

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