Voodoo Telecaster: Cutting the fretboard and installing the dots

We’ve had heavy rain on and off for the last couple of days so not too much progress, but in the the breaks between downpours I managed to drag all the tools out and get the ebony fretboard cut close to shape. I first clamped it up to the neck, and marked the underside with pencil. I transferred the marks to the top side and then ran it through the bandsaw, keeping 1-2mm outside the line.

I had thought about mounting it onto the neck and using the flush cut trimmer in the router but, because of my inexperience with ebony, and the fact that I have no scrap pieces for practice, I chickened out and took the prudent approach – cut it close and then sand it down.

Last job before the fretboard gets epoxied on to the neck was to install the marker dots. I had been scavenging around for a couple of days looking for interesting materials that I could use. The favourite was going to be a yellow cocktail stirrer until I found a scrap of 2mm diameter copper.

I drilled the 2mm holes at the relevant locations, put in a dab of thin superglue (aka CA glue), and pushed the copper rod in, snipping off excess with my wire cutters.

It took a matter of minutes to remove excess material with a diamond file. Job done.

Tomorrow I hope to installing the truss rod and glue the fretboard to the neck. After that I’ll finish shaping the neck to the final dimensions, before heading into the the new scary world of fretting.

And if you ever happen to be using power tools, please don’t forget to take a minute to put the safety gear on. I managed to find a chunk of the router’s exploded bearing housing about 40 feet away from where I was working. Imagine this hitting an unprotected body part…

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4 thoughts on “Voodoo Telecaster: Cutting the fretboard and installing the dots

  1. The copper fret marker dots are brilliant! Very impressed.
    Necks are something I am still nervous about making. I have a lot to learn about bodies and routing, but I’m willing to try. Necks are just a whole new world to me I’d still rather buy than build.
    I did have one question. Are you going to put a clear coat of something over the copper fret marker dots so they stay shiny and copper-y?
    I know ebony fretboards don’t need clear coat (btw, I love mine), but that copper could use something. Or you could let them get slightly tarnished and green, then clear coat them to lock in that color. I read somewhere that Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top did that with a motorcycle. He had a motorcycle built with no paint and all “rustable” metal. Then he drove through a sandy beach. Let the salt water do its magic. Then clear coated the whole thing to lock it in. It could be a total internet lie, but it sounds cool!

  2. Thanks. Yes the making of neck is enough to make me nervous too but after making a couple of bodies it seemed the logical next step. And like most things, if you break it down into small steps, there’s nothing impossible about each step. Phenomenally time consuming though.

    The fretboard will get a light oiling which I think will protect the copper slightly. I’m interested to see how they do develop with age. If I don’t like it I can always clean them up again with steel wool. If I do decide to seal them in future I’ll just add a small dab of clear lacquer on each.

    And I love the story about Billy G’s bike – true or not doesn’t matter!

  3. Sounds good with the neck. I end up putting a little dab of oil on my rosewood fretboards about every year to 18 months. I figure my newer ebony fretboard will be about the same, but so far it is holding up wonderfully (and it sits on the wall all day).

  4. What sort of oil do you use? I’ve heard people raving about orange and lemon oil but never tried it.

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