Routing the Strat/Tele’s body shape

I managed to get a fair bit done today before the rain showers arrived. First I needed to carry on planing the body to the correct thickness. I was starting out at 49mm and wanted to get that down to just under 40mm. This is the minimum thickness required to clear the Strat style bridge block. The sapele I’ve got is particularly dense so I’m looking to relieve as much weight as possible. Here is my planing rig and a picture of the body after a couple of quick “swipes”.

After two passes on each side of the blank I’m down to 39.5mm

I lightly sanded the surface of the blank to make sure it was smooth and clean enough to take the double sided tape I use to attach the template.

Using the top-bearing router bit, I follow the template round, removing no more than a couple of millimeters of material on each pass. It is tedious but is a lot easier than trying to sand-out or cover up any tear-outs.

For the final cut I flip the body over and use a bottom bearing router bit.

And here’s what is starting to look like a Telecaster body.

Note the different colour stripe, caused by the bottom-bearing router bit rotating in the opposite direction. I really like this effect but unfortunately it won’t survive the final sanding.

I’ve got the Tanglewood dismantled, so the next job is to use the old body to make myself templates for the neck pocket and bridge rout. I know that these are exactly right (in terms of the distances between them) so I’m aiming to transfer them directly to MDF and thence onto the sapele blank.

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