Thursday, May 17, 2007

Routing--Stage One

Even though I don't have all the bits to finish the job, I figured I'd get a head start on routing out the shape of the baritone body. I had to do a few things first before I got started though. First, I used my jigsaw to modify the rough-cut body to compensate for the design changes I made in this post (the little block of wood is what I cut off):

I know, real exciting, right? Well--it only gets better. The next thing I did was take my hand drill to drill holes through both templates and the body so that I could attach the template to the body w/ wood screws to keep it from moving around while I used the router (the screws go where the pickups will be so there won't be any screw holes in the top of my guitar):

Woooo! And w/ that done, I am ready to rout.

I will take a second here to discuss routers since, honestly, I didn't know what one was before I started researching guitar building. Basically, it's a powerful electrical motor which spins a cutting bit at an incredible rate of speed. Mine is probably almost as sweet as a Buick Grand National--and I don't say that about a lot of things. What makes it so sweet? Have you ever found yourself w/ a block of wood that you knew would be a great guitar if it weren't for the fact that there's just way too much extra wood? Well--a router takes that wood and turns it sawdust:

Most people who make guitars use a template following bit, which has a little bearing on it so that it follows a template and only cuts the wood you intend to cut. My router came w/ a little template following kit that that allows you to use a regular straight cutting bit for the same purpose. I think this picture best illustrates what it does:

The light wood on top is the template and the reddish stuff below is the future guitar. The template following kit basically serves as a guard so that the cutting bit doesn't cut the template. The cutting bit itself cuts a narrow bottomed groove around the edge. (You can see that there is a little bit of mahogany sticking up in the middle that I missed.) You can only cut a little bit of the entire depth at a time or you run a greater risk of tear-outs and other woodworking screw-ups.

As I mentioned, the router bit spins really fast and can severely fuck shit up if you're not careful:

That took about one tenth of one second to happen. These really are one of the most dangerous tools you'll come across and utmost caution should be used w/ them at all times. Seriously, you can slack w/ some things but a router is really a beast to be reckoned w/. Fortunately, that slip up and a little tear-out were the only problems I had and it all came out pretty well:

As you can see, I'm only a third of the way though. I need some longer bits to finish up. Hopefully, I will get to that in not too long. For now, I am just pleased that I finally got to have at the mahogany after working on the template for so long.

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