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Day 16 - Fretboards and fretting

Day 16: I went in early today to finish my headstock inlay. At the risk of sounding immodest, it does look fantastic!

We started the day by continuing to do additional applications of shellac on the top. Working with the finish is a mixed bag for me. On one side, it is neat to see the guitar get all shiny and new looking. On the other hand, I like the look of worn in guitars, so having a perfect finish isn’t really that appealing to me, especially given the work it can take to get them looking that way.

Much of the day was spent working with our fretboards. First we made sure they were level (i.e., did not have any dips or high points in them). Once we got that set (via planing the surface), we worked on the radius. The fretboard actually isn’t flat; it’s slightly curved. To complicate matters, that radius isn’t the same all the way down the neck (the curve is less severe further down the neck). So we planed our fretboards down some on the edges and then used a sanding block with that radius (12’ on the nut, 16’ on the end) build in. This created mountains of fine black ebony dust, but was very effective.

After things were in shape, sanded our fretboards until they had a near-glassy sheen to them, and then installed the frets. This wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated it would be. You simply put the metal fret in the slot, hammer it down a few times along the length of the fret, trim off the ends, and check the height. Most of mine seemed to be the right height, and those that were a tad high were knocked into place with another hit or two from the fret hammer. We also filed down the ends, but I’m sure we’ll take another pass at getting them all ready to go.

Towards the end of the day we began to shape the neck (i.e., cut the width to shape; still haven’t done anything with the shape of the back of the neck); one of tomorrow's big tasks will be getting the carving the neck.

We did one last application of shellac at the end of the day. I’m actually surprised that there wasn’t more “homework” to do tonight. I guess that means weren’t not behind (at least the majority of us) and are on track to finish on Friday.

Arrived at 7am, an hour for lunch, and done at 7pm. All in all, a relatively short day.

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