In the space of 167.5 hours I have been able to transform this…
I’m not overly enamoured with the white pickguard and hardware but I’m going to leave it on for a week or two and see if it grows on me. I do really think that a black/white/black pickguard with black pickup covers, knobs and tips will suit the natural finish of the sapele much better.
Of course the pickups are still as crap as when they came out of the Tanglewood so I’ll be shopping for some replacements.
After the first day of applying the Danish oil it is starting to build a nice depth, and has really started to bring out the beauty of the sapele.
I’m delighted with the results so far and I’m really pleased to be still on target for getting some strings on by close of play Tuesday.
It feels like I’m into the finishing straight now (pun intended). This morning I removed the clamps from the neck and set to with the rasps to carve the heel shape.
Once I’m happy with the shape I start the hard work of sanding to remove any gouge marks and then working up through the grades to 220 grit paper. Here she is ready for the next stage.
Now I raise the grain. I lightly dampen the body and allow it to dry, this distorts the ends of the ripped and torn wood fibres, making them stand up. The body actually feels furry. I remove these burrs with a very light sanding, wipe down with a damp rag and allow to dry.
And now we’re ready for the Danish oil to go on. To make sure the first coats penetrate as deeply as possible, I put the guitar in a warm room for an hour or two, and then place the can of Danish oil in a tub of hot water – hot enough that I could just about hold my hand in there for 5-10 secs. Working quickly I apply a liberal coating of the oil to the guitar, going back over any areas where it soaks in, until the surface of the guitar is glossy. I then take a lint free rag and wipe away any excess. I give that an hour to dry and soak in and then repeat the process.
Here it is after the first coat.
After the second heavy coat, I then switch to applying lighter coats every two hours. I’ll leave it overnight and then tomorrow morning the first application will be done using 600 grit wet & dry paper. This smooths out and remaining imperfections. Again it’ll get light coats at 2 hour intervals through the day. I’ll leave it to dry over Monday night and through until late afternoon on Tuesday. At this point it should be ready for putting the hardware on and stringing it up.
When I set out building my Strat/Tele hybrid I had sort of assumed that somebody else must have made something similar, but I’d never seen one. Well tonight I found out that John Mayer beat me to it. Sweet looking guitar and I hope mine turns out half as good.
I had lots of small tasks left to do today, to get everything ready for the Danish oil to go on tomorrow.
First off I slathered the neck in Nitromors paint remover, to get rid of the old finish.
While that was working I set about drilling pilot holes for all of the components and then sanding the body working up through the grades from 120 to 220. I then cleaned off the neck, allowed it to dry and sanded that smooth.
As on several of my previous builds this one is going to get a set/glued neck joint. I know it is far from traditional for a Fender-style guitar, but I really like being able to carve the heel into something more comfortable.
I apply the glue and lightly clamp it. Because this is a one time deal I pay particular attention to getting the alignment exact. I was too busy to take pictures but the approach I use is to attach the bridge and run cotton threads over the nut and down to the low and high E saddles to check everything lines up. Whilst the neck is lightly clamped I can make final adjustment and then, once I am happy, clamp it down tight.
Once the guitar neck is set aside I finish up on a couple of final jobs I wanted to do. As I was falling asleep last night I had the idea that perhaps I should stain the sapele, so I sanded down an offcut and applied test patches of aniline dyes. I quickly decided that I didn’t like any of them, so this one is going to remain a natural colour. One of my future projects is going to be an SG style guitar and I think that the orange on the left will go well with the gold hardware I have lined up for it.
I then tidied up the pickguard which I had roughly trimmed on the bandsaw yesterday. A combination of a cabinet scraper and 400 grit paper on a sanding block soon had the edge smooth and bevelled.
The first job tomorrow will be to carve the neck heel and then give it a final sanding all over before the first few coats of Danish Oil.