Voodoo Tele build stalled – more detailed planning

The build is going to go on hold for a while. I’m just at the point where I need to start cutting the neck to shape. One of the key design points is the looooong tenon into the body. To be able to cut the top and bottom of the tenon I need to have the fretboard and maple top in my hands, so that I can calculate the correct height for the fretboard to sit above the body face.

As part of my planning I’ve drafted out a picture of the joint, so that I could get my head round it.

I’ve ordered the fretboard (pre-slotted and radiussed to 10″) from Luthiers Mercantile International Inc, along with their double action truss rod, after advice from the fine folk over at the Musical Instrument Makers Forum (aka MIMF).

Steve Benford has been super helpful (so, what’s new?) these last couple of days, pointing me in the direction of a trusted eBay vendor who sells figured timbers. I’ve put a bid in on this piece of quilted maple.

Steve also looked over my build schedule (the order I’d planned to tackle jobs) and made some suggestions which will greatly simplify the later stages of the build. The most significant of these is that I had been planning to glue the neck into the body before installing the truss rod, fretboard and frets. As Steve sensibly pointed out, these jobs are much easier if you’re not dealing with the dead weight of the body dangling from the other end.

So with Steve’s input, the order for the build is now;

  • Make “top down” and “side on” and neck profile templates for the neck, including the tenon,
  • Plane the top of the neck timber and rout the truss rod channel,
  • Rough cut the neck to shape (top down) and then tape on the template and rout to the final shape,
  • Temporarily attach the fretboard, to the neck, tape on the template and rout to the final shape,
  • Rough cut the neck to shape (side on) and then hand carve to match the “side on” template,
  • Install the truss rod and glue down the fretboard,
  • Cut the nut slot,
  • Finish shaping the headstock and drill tuner holes,
  • Install and finish frets (the neck is now pretty well complete),
  • Cut the shape of the neck pocket into two pieces of MDF (a spare copy just in case I mess one up),
  • Make the template and then cut the mortise in the body to match the tenon,
  • Dry install the neck, offer up the MDF and, with it mated to the neck heel, draw a pencil line around, leaving an overhang of 1-2mm. I’ll also mark the shape of the front pickup rout.
  • Trim down the MDF until I’m happy that it is right – still leaving a slight overhang all round, and making sure that the MDF’s pickup rout is exactly sized for the neck pickup chrome cover – and aligned with the cavity underneath,
  • Glue the neck into the body,
  • Rout the pickup cavities and runs for the cables. The neck pickup is going right through the body. It is going to load from the back, so that there’ll be no pickup ring or pickguard – just the chrome cover peeking out,
  • Check the MDF template still fits OK and, once I’m happy with it, use it as the template to trim the maple,
  • Glue the maple caps onto the body and headstock,
  • Use the spindle sander to remove the 1-2mm of excess maple (the body sides still need sanding which I’ll do at the same time).

Then it’ll be on to dyeing the top and finishing.

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