Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Master Templates

Well, if you're anything like me, every now and again you just gotta get your best scratchy cough out and call into work so you can take the day off to build guitars in your back yard. I did that yesterday and, let me tell you, it's a hell of a good feeling. Not gonna let the man hold me down. (Who's w/ me!?) My task for the day was to get a couple templates done for a couple elements of my next guitar. Last time, I made the mistake of building all of these things into the template for the guitar. This is very convenient for one project but makes it a little more troublesome when you move onto the next shape and have to do everything all over again. This time, I'm made each element on a different piece of mdf for greater versatility.

The two pieces I made were for a humbucker rout and for a tele-style neck pocket. These will be common elements on guitars I make in the future so this will equal a lot of time saved. I made these on quarter inch mdf this time. Last time, I used three quarter inch and it was a beast to shape and very frustrating to get accurate.

The first step is to draw everything out very carefully w/ a straight edge and a carpeneters square. I got the measurements I needed from various places online. This took me about an hour and half. For the last project I didn't have this kind of patience but now that I know I can pull it off, it's easier to reach down into the depths of my psyche to find another five minutes of attention span to erase a line and redraw more accurately.

This is the neck pocket:

I made the top of it extend an inch longer than it had to be. Hopefully, this will give the router something better to rest on when I use it so I can better control it. There's lines drawn so I can get it in the right place.

Same deal w/ the humbucker routt:

Ultimately, it was a mistake to cut it out so small, at least before I had the middle cut out. It made it really hard to clamp down as I worked on it:

It was too small for me to use a jigsaw so I had to use a coping saw. As seen in the picture above, I drilled out the corners w/ a handbill so I could turn the blade. The initial cut was none to accurate:

But some time w/ a file got it in good shape pretty quickly (I actually filed it a bit more from this point and it looks very clean now):

Same deal w/ the neck pocket only this time I could use the jigsaw to save time (and I'm actually more accurate w/ that than a coping saw). It is nearly perfect:

This all came together a lot quicker and better than previous efforts so I'm pretty pleased. The only problem w/ using the quarter inch thick mdf is it's really too thin to use directly on a guitar so I will need this to make some thicker templates. It's worth the extra effort for the added accuracy.