Cutting the Jazzmaster neck pocket and binding channel

Overnight I drafted the decal and this morning printed out a copy, cut it to shape and checked for size and position.

For making the neck template I largely base my approach on that documented by Jack Wells over on TDPRI, but because that approach demands a table router, I’ve adapted it for working with a plunge router.

I rip some 18mm MDF into a 50mm strip and cut it into two long and one short pieces.

I stick one down on the MDF that will become the template, and push the neck up tight against it.

As tightly as possible I stick down the second piece. With pencil I mark a line on the inside edge of each piece – so that I can accurately mark the centre-line later on.

I mark the end of the heel and then tap the neck into the two pieces to get them as snug as possible – without dislodging the two taped down battens. I mark the new position of the neck heel. I measure a further 7-8mm in and stick down the small piece. This ensures a nice snug fit once the pocket is cut.

With the pattern following bit I cut about 10mm deep into the MDF and then remove the battens. Before I’ve cut right through I want to mark the centre-line. Rather than pencil – when I’m working on template material, I prefer to use my Stanley knife to mark lines which is much more accurate and less prone to smudging.

And then I check the fit against the neck. What I’m aiming for is snug enough to hold itself to the neck, but not so tight that you have trouble getting the neck in and out.

Now I’m happy with the neck pocket I mark on the body exactly where the neck heel should lie. I can then use the centre-line and this mark to mount the neck pocket template to the body.

Then it is a simple matter of routing the pocket to depth (17mm in this case) and then checking the fit.

Last job for the day was to cut the binding channel in the body and headstock. I removed the bearing from my 12mm laminate trimmer and replaced it with a 9mm bearing from another cutter. This will cut a channel 1.5mm deep. I set the depth and tested on numerous pieces of scrap until I was totally happy. Then it was a simple matter of running it round the top edge of the body.

The headstock was more problematic because the narrowness means that it is difficult to keep the router’s baseplate flat against the surface. With care and patience I was able to complete the cut, but I didn’t go too close to the ends, preferring to finish these with a chisel.

There are only a woodworking jobs left now. I need to drill the hole for the jack socket, rout the control cavity and make a cover, rout for the pickups and drill the wire runs. I’ll glue the binding and trim the ends before gluing the neck into place. All that will then remain is carving the heel and sanding it ready for finish.

One thought on “Cutting the Jazzmaster neck pocket and binding channel

  1. Pingback: Neck Dents « Confessions of a Wanna Be Guitar Player

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