Friday, May 4, 2007

Rough Cuts on the Templates

As I understand it--and I might not understand it well--the best way to cut out the outline of a guitar is w/ a template following router bit. Now, to do this, of course, you need a template for the router bit to follow. My baritone body is a non-standard shape so I need to make my own rather than just buy one. Oh well--I didn't get into this to save time.

The material I chose for my template was 3/4" medium density fiberboard (MDF). It's cheap and it gets the job done. I got enough for two guitars for about seven bucks at my local mega home supply super dome. To get the templates to shape, I simply traced the pattern onto the board and used a scrolling blade in a jigsaw to cut it out.

I should mention a small design change at this point which is to take off the little bit indicated by the line:

The reason for this is the double cutaway tele design would leave the neck pocket w/o wood on either side. As far as I know, the only production guitars that are made like that are really cheap SG copies and who wants to be like that? So I just decided to move everything in three quarters of an inch so that there's at least that much of the neck w/ a little bit of wood on either side. I'm not sacrificing much in terms of playability since the only frets that will be deeper in the body than normal are the 23rd and 24th which I don't use anyway. (The whiskey in the picture is Wild Turkey Rye. It's good; you should try it.)

The piece of MDF I got is much bigger than my Workmate:

I was worried this would cause problems but I managed to get each of the two templates cut out on smaller pieces that I could work w/ more easily:

I just did this w/ the same blade as I did the rough cut on the body. For the rest of it I switched to a scrolling blade which is narrower so that you can turn it to cut curves. I first tried the jigsaw in scrolling mode, which allows you to turn the blade any which way w/o turning the body of the jigsaw. This seems like it would be a good idea to try, so I tried it. It turns out that a jigsaw in scrolling mode is way smarter than me and I cut inside the lines yet again:

Fortunately, I was just able to retrace the pattern onto that same piece of MDF so I didn't waste it. No harm, no foul. I cut the rest of the thing in normal jigsaw mode on low speed. It took me a while to get a hang of it and I broke no less than three blades today:

The two that are relatively shiny are nice Bosch ones. The other one is the Skil one that came w/ the jigsaw which met its match quickly but gloriously. I broke all three of those cutting the first template. What I was doing wrong was basically not being careful enough to hold the jigsaw flat to the surface so when I tried to turn the blade it was putting all kinds of stress on it. I corrected this problem simply by standing up straighter and relaxing, which gave me a lot better control. I did the last quarter of the first and the whole second one w/o breaking a blade--which is a damn good things since it was my last one.

And here they are, like two peas in a pod:

The cut is pretty accurate but still rougher than in needs to be. I am going to have to sand them into the proper shapes. I'm probably going to stick them together w/ double-stick tape when doing the outside curves to make sure they come out exactly the same. The reason I made two is that there needs to be one for the front and one for the back. I haven't done so yet, but the one for the back will have a space cut out to rout the control cavity and the one on the back will have the patterns for the neck pocket, pickups and controls as well as the holes for the bridge.

Hopefully, I will get to all that later this weekend. I got my router today and am looking forward to busting it out on that sweet, sweet mahogany.

No comments: