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Day 17 - Shaping the neck and gluing the bridge

Day 17: I started the day by putting a coat of shellac as a sealer on the back and sides; later in the day I applied pore filler to the back/sides. Rosewood has open pores that need to be filled if you want subsequent layers of finish to go on smoothly, so doing the pore filler is an important step. We also worked on the finish on the top of the guitar. It’s looking pretty good! 

The two important operations for the day were shaping the neck and gluing the bridge in place. Up until today the neck was still a rectangular block that somehow needed to become round. I was really worried about how this would work; would I be able to carve it round? Of course, George had a clever way of doing this by having us measure and remove triangular pieces of the neck that were at a tangent to the target radius of the neck. It took some careful measuring and drawing lines, but overall it was pretty painless. I had grand plans of trying to duplicate the neck on my Martin D-18GE, but decided that I should just focus my attention on making a well-shaped neck rather than mess around with a custom neck profile.

I especially liked using the spoke shaver, although that tool is so efficient for working on the neck that I only used it for a few minutes. Towards the end of the day I installed the heel cap, sanded the neck, and applied a few coats of shellac.

The other big task for the day was gluing the bridge into place. We had previously masked off its placement (so not to get finish there), but we still had to do some careful measuring for the location of the holes for the bridge pins and saddle. I discovered that my neck is slightly askew, so we’ll have to dial that in later to get everything lined up properly. I was pretty worried that this was a big screw-up, but George reassured me that we’d be able to correct it (my dad’s neck also had a similar problem, so there must be a genetic predisposition to be slightly askew...left-leaning, as it turns out). Gluing the bridge requires stuffing several large clamps through a small soundhole.

If I'm keeping track correctly, this is what's left (I won't even begin to guess which will be easier and which will be more difficult than expected):

  • Install side dots on the neck; I'm leaning against putting in position markers on the fretboard itself
  • Make the nut and saddle, figure out the intonation, and dress the frets
  • Continue working on the finish on the back and sides
  • Fix my neck angle
  • Install the tuners and string it up

Matt with his maple #9-sized guitar

Went in at 7:00am, an hour for lunch, an hour for dinner, and done at 10pm.

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