Les Paul 03

Jun 24 2004, 06:43 PM

Well, enough with the neck already, onto the body.

First I setup my router thicknessing jig. The router table makes a great flat base to work on, but before I got it I used the big slab of worktop, so don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy base.

Router planing jig

This is a variation on my usual jig, since I’m working with such a big blank. Normally I mount rails on the router base, then run these rails on a second set of rails which set the height. In this version, I place plywood boards at either end of the blank to set the height, then clamp the rails across these, and run the router along the rails.

Router planing jig

First I barely skim one side, to get it flat without removing much thickness. For this side I’ll have to move the rails about 5 times to cover the whole area, and I’ll need to clamp the blank to stop it rocking since it isn’t perfectly flat.

Once I’ve machined one side flat I flip the blank, and repeat the process until I’m at final thickness. The second side is easier since I can leave the rails in one place and slide the blank to get the whole surface done. Here’s the result - you can see a tiny area unthicknessed where the cutter couldn’t reach - I’ll knock this down with a plane.

Thicknessed blank

Jun 28 2004, 09:34 AM

OK - Here’s what I’ve been upto in the past couple of days. Once the blank was thicknessed I layed out the centre line and body shape and rough cut the outline on my tiny bandsaw.

Rough cut body

Then I mark out the chambers, placing them so that there’s plenty of meat around the pickup routes, hardware and neck joint. I route them very shallow, being careful to follow the lines smoothly, removing about 1/4″ in two passes.

Chambers drawn Chambers routed shallow

Once the shallow route is done I hog out the majority of the chambers using a 1″ forstner bit in my drill stand. This pic is before I finished the hogging - you can use the forstner bit to get the chamber 95% done.

Chambers rough

The shallow route can now be used as a guide to clean up the chambers, using a template follower bit. Finally, I route the wiring channel using a 1/2″ roundnose bit.

Chambers finished

Jun 28 2004, 09:49 AM

Here’s the maple top sat on the chambered body. I jointed the top using a router jig I got from the MIMF. Normally I book the top using a plane, but this one was *very* cupped and warped, so even after machining out a lot of the warp I had to clamp the top to get it flat, which made it very hard to joint using my usual method.

No pics of the jointing I’m afraid, I was too busy cursing and tearing my hair out to get any photos :)


I got the top glued on, and once it dried I popped the body back on the thicknessing jig and skimmed the top to get the front and back perfectly parallel. I routed and sanded the body to final shape using the router table, belt sander and a drum sander in my drill stand. I sanded for 2 reasons - 1 the depth of the body & 2 Because the router table tore a big chunk out of my maple top when I routed that, so I was keen to avoid a repeat! After shaping with the power tools I smoothed all the countours with 80 grit on a flat block, then sanded the sides and top through 180/220/320 until I had removed all the sanding scratches.

Top planed

Inset in this pic is the router tearout in the maple. Some of this will be removed by the binding channel, and any patching should be completely hidden by the dark area of the sunburst.

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