Gluing the neck and raising the grain

Late last night I glued the neck. I gave the neck pocket and heel a final sand with 80 grit paper, liberally coated the pocket with Titebond Original and clamped the neck to the body. Using a damp cloth I removed the excess glue that squeezed out. I’m left with a very clean and neat neck joint.

An hour or so later I noticed that the areas where I’d wiped with a damp cloth felt almost “furry” compared to the super smooth finish yesterday’s sanding had left. This was a perfect demonstration of something I’d only heard in passing before; raising the grain.

What happens is that the sanding leaves the surface covered with tiny torn fibres of wood. Immediately after sanding these are all lying flat, leaving the surface feeling smooth. As soon as they get wet, all of these tiny fibres distort, bend and stick up, leaving the furry feel to the surface.

The solution is to slightly dampen the surface of the whole piece, allow it to dry and then to lightly sand, at a slight angle to the grain, with the finest grade paper you used previously (240 grit in my case). The aim here is to just remove the tiny raised fibres. You don’t want to be sanding into fresh wood, otherwise you’re back to the start of the cycle.

My plan for today is to finish the final shaping of the neck heel (see picture below), and then complete a couple of cycles of raising and cutting back the grain, and get the body ready for the first coat of finish. I’m going to be using Rustin’s Danish Oil.

Hopefully the set of long drill bits I’ve ordered will arrive this morning which will allow me to finish the last scary part of the construction. Because this guitar has no control cavity I’ve got to run a hole all the way from the jack socket to the pickup cavity, a distance of 190mm (7.5″). Keeping the drill tip on target is going to be something of a challenge and my biggest fear is that it’ll veer off and break through the front or back. This is going to be done freehand, but I’m planning to set up a guide in each axis, and enlist the help of a friend to make sure the drill stays parallel to the guides. This step is going to be done very, very carefully. I’d hate to bugger up the previous 100+ hours of loving care and labour that has been lavished on this.

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