Slow neck carving

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Dave M
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Slow neck carving

Post by Dave M » Thu May 02, 2019 3:18 am

OK so who else will admit to taking ages to carve their necks?

I have a cedrella neck on the bench for a cutaway classical and I have spent hours and hours on it. I keep going back to the section in G&G but I simply can't work up the confidence to take those huge facets out down to very near the final surface. I end up nibbling at it in small bites with the spokeshave and then the sanding sticks. I do get there and am happy with the result but it sure takes a long time.

I guess this is the difference between an amateur and a proper craftsperson.
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Allen
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Allen » Thu May 02, 2019 6:33 am

22.5" scale Baritone uke neck is the closest I'd get to what you are doing. 20 - 30 mintes tops to being ready for pore fill.

I don't draw facets onto the neck though I did this to explain to students what we are going to do. Some get it right off the bat, other still struggle trying to visulaize the shape that is hidden inside.
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Petecane
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Petecane » Thu May 02, 2019 6:56 am

I tend to do my necks slowly as well.
I suppose I take a couple of hours and do not use templates.
I am also an amateur and fortunately do not have to earn a living doing it so time is okay with me.
I use a spoke shave and a half round file.
Then sand with 320 on a cork based round sanding stick.
I sit down to do it with a piece of cow hide on my knee to stop neck bits digging in and then move the neck to the position I want it rather than me moving in all directions to check.
Everybody has their preferences though.
There is a good you tube with John Da Silva demonstrating how he carves his ukulele necks.
He has his neck horse mounted on four legs and sits down to do it all in about 10 minutes or slightly under.
But time doesnt matter.
Being pleased with your neck work does.
Pete

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kiwigeo
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by kiwigeo » Thu May 02, 2019 9:37 am

I work slow..mainly because I'm totally anal and I'm not running a business.

I start with facets drawn on the neck for the initial chisel work. I start with the chisel and mallet on the heel but as soon as I can switch to a curved scraper followed by a dragon rasp. On the neck shaft I start with a Veritas flat blade spoke shave for the rough shaping before going to a rasp. Final finishing is done with sandpaper.
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WJ Guitars
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by WJ Guitars » Thu May 02, 2019 11:37 am

I also take my time and generally use various rasps and scraper, then finish with sand paper. I constantly check the shape and neck style I am aiming for. Spending time for me is important to achieve the desired results. If I had lots of guitar orders (and I don't), I would likely reduce time frame slightly, however, quality results are vital for the final product. I prefer to just enjoy the neck carve and come back another day and review with a final sand.

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kiwigeo
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by kiwigeo » Thu May 02, 2019 11:48 am

One thing to always keep in mind when neck shaping is the location and depth of the ^^%%$$$ng truss rod channel. Nothing worse than getting to the end of a days worth of neck shaping and then noticing what looks like a pin hole near the headstock that starts to rapidly get larger :evil:
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Steve.Toscano
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Steve.Toscano » Thu May 02, 2019 7:00 pm

For neck shapeing (not heel shaping) typically takes me between 1 - 2hrs depending on the timber, thats from a rectangle blank to a sanded up to 600grit finished product.
I shape all necks with the fretboard on and the neck attached to the body. All the bulk work with spokeshave and chisels, finer work with scrapers and abrasives.
I recently did 5 necks in an 8hr work day.

The same process for my students takes anywhere from 2 - 8hrs depending on the student.

I'm yet to hit a truss rod channel, nor has any student of mine. I suspect if you're hitting a channel your truss rods are massive or your necks are stupidly thin. :toi

Time shouldn't matter as long as you are happy with the results :D - however if you're spending more then a full days work on a single neck you are possibly going about it the wrong way, or have bad OCD.

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Trevor Gore » Fri May 03, 2019 12:21 am

No more than a couple of hours for me using the book procedure, and mainly spoke shaves, of which I have a few. I certainly wouldn't be game to use a draw knife on the figured wood I often use!

"Normal" spoke shaves work well for removing the bulk of the wood. I use a high angle spoke shave on figured wood as I get close to target. It means you can still take wood off fast without much fear of tear-out. The high angle shave is actually the Veritas low angle shave sharpened with a high bevel angle (the back of the blade forms the sole) with the throat set tight. I have a modified standard spoke shave (the little black one, near the scraper, Figure 4-14 in the book) which I re-ground to a tighter radius and added a sort of reverse chip breaker, basically a packer behind the blade to close the mouth so that it works in more of a high angle mode. I recently updated that tool with one of these Preston knock-offs. Then around the neck/head transition I use the small cylindrical HNT Gordon shave - a magic tool if you keep it sharp.

For the heel it's chisels to lose the bulk, then the small black/Preston, then the small HNT Gordon if required.

Dave M
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Dave M » Fri May 03, 2019 1:53 am

Well there's clearly a diversity of views!

Allen it has been said before but I still love the concept of the statue hidden in the block of stone just waiting to be discovered.

Steve, not OCD (ya cheeky bugger) but continuously aware that taking too much off is going to mean starting all over again. When quite a lot of work has gone into it. And I was really including the heel shaping as I do the two together.

As an amateur builder yes it doesn't really matter how long it takes but productivity is still important - we still want to get to the end of a build in a reasonable time, but as Wayne says the thing is to get it right.

Trevor thanks for the thoughtful reply. As ever you have thought through the process like an engineer and established what tools are appropriate and the process to follow. My favourites for the heel are skew chisels but I still end up with a fair bit of sanding with various diameters of sanding sticks.

However as someone said it is one of the most satisfying parts of the process, to start with a plank and end up with a wonderfully shaped object which is at the heart of the player's experience.

I am almost there bar a bit of sanding:
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neck 2 small.jpg
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by seeaxe » Mon May 06, 2019 6:59 pm

I have no idea how long my ones took me but its the most satisfying part of building a guitar for me.

Forming of the typical Spanish pointy heel from a rough block of wood is about the most directly sculpturally creative thing I ever do. All that really very complex compound curvature and I can shape it more or less by eye in a couple of hours. Watching it gradually appear is a joy and its the last thing Id ever worry about taking too long over.

I think I read somewhere there's about 200 hours of work in a hand made guitar - 5 weeks? does that sound right? Takes me a lot longer but I'm certainly very amateur. But if that's right a couple of hours is only 1%. I use facets cos I think it helps keep the shape symmetrical. I've also done a couple by getting the nut right and then the heel right and then carving off in between to join them up.

Your neck looks great Dave. However long you're taking, it seems to be working!
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kiwigeo
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by kiwigeo » Mon May 06, 2019 8:11 pm

Steve.Toscano wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 7:00 pm
I'm yet to hit a truss rod channel, nor has any student of mine. I suspect if you're hitting a channel your truss rods are massive or your necks are stupidly thin. :toi
Or you're just not paying attention...happens to most of us at least once :mrgreen:

OCD........in my case no, it's simply a case of being totally anal
Martin

Dave M
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Dave M » Tue May 07, 2019 1:26 am

Thanks Richard, yes I do get there eventually. Also I have stopped using a router on the headstock after blowing one up really badly.

Martin it hasn't happened yet but I'm sure it will sooner or later.
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Lillian
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Lillian » Fri May 10, 2019 10:11 am

I'm about to start the first one I've carved in, well, forever it seems. I've been watching David Fletcher's youtube videos for his strat style guitar build. I'm not completely sold on his method, but I think I'll be following most of how he does it. Unless someone has a suggestion for a "better" (better being a relative word) video, different method or different sequence of steps.
And I'm sure I'll be going slow.

Dave M
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Dave M » Sat May 11, 2019 3:18 am

Those David Fletcher videos are very good. He clearly knows his stuff and explains well. Much is only relevant to the electric neck but there are definitely a few ideas that are useful.

What I'd never heard of is anyone making there own marker dots... never heard of polymer clay. It struck me that it could be very useful for creating shapes other than circles instead of trying to cut up MOP etc.
Anyway enjoy your neck shaping. I got the heel cap on and the frets in today so I'm finally getting there on my classical neck.
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Lillian
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Lillian » Sat May 11, 2019 5:55 am

Dave M wrote:
Sat May 11, 2019 3:18 am
Those David Fletcher videos are very good. He clearly knows his stuff and explains well. Much is only relevant to the electric neck but there are definitely a few ideas that are useful.

What I'd never heard of is anyone making there own marker dots... never heard of polymer clay. It struck me that it could be very useful for creating shapes other than circles instead of trying to cut up MOP etc.
Anyway enjoy your neck shaping. I got the heel cap on and the frets in today so I'm finally getting there on my classical neck.
Congrats! Real progress there. Looking forward to pictures.

Polymer clay has been around for a little while now. Its easy enough to work with, comes in numerous colors and I can see it being perfect stand in for clay markers. My concern is that it looks just like what he wanted, a little hunk of clay. I don't think you will get a "depth" to it, that it will always look like a solid bit of clay or plastic. But I could be wrong. Maybe filling the bottom part with the clay and the rest with epoxy might add "depth" to it. It's cheap enough to play around with.

Right now I'm focused on making an electric neck. My son asked me to make him a neck for his cheap knock off strat for his birthday. It is his devious plan to get me back into the shop. He knew I wouldn't say no to him. So I'm hanging out with David, watching him make a neck. I really do like his videos. Its almost like taking a class from him.

Petecane
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Petecane » Sat May 11, 2019 1:26 pm

That is a smart son you have!
Full of trust.( or Truss!!!)
An electric neck is even harder to carve than acoustic.
They are thin and Sleeky!
Any bumps are immediately apparent.
Good luck.
Pete

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demonx
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by demonx » Sun May 12, 2019 10:22 pm

Reading some of the posts here it’s safe to say most people here are taking WAY too long.

I wonder if many people would be interested if I offered a once off private neck carving workshop?

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lamanoditrento
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by lamanoditrento » Mon May 13, 2019 7:29 am

I find 1st-time students usually take a class (3 &1/2 hours) to carve a neck and non-cutaway heel, quicker for a cutaway. They usually take another class of sanding to get the neck/heel/headstock near finished sanded.
Trent

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kiwigeo
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by kiwigeo » Wed May 15, 2019 3:49 pm

demonx wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:22 pm
Reading some of the posts here it’s safe to say most people here are taking WAY too long.

I wonder if many people would be interested if I offered a once off private neck carving workshop?
I'm all for that...as long as the fee includes beer and a barbeque :mrgreen:
Martin

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demonx
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by demonx » Thu May 16, 2019 7:44 am

kiwigeo wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 3:49 pm
demonx wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 10:22 pm
Reading some of the posts here it’s safe to say most people here are taking WAY too long.

I wonder if many people would be interested if I offered a once off private neck carving workshop?
I'm all for that...as long as the fee includes beer and a barbeque :mrgreen:
If you’d seen what my BBQ looks like you’d probably retract that request!

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dpo
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by dpo » Thu May 16, 2019 10:13 am

It used to take me at least half a day until I asked Allen what rasps he was using in a video of him carving a neck. Two Dragon rasps later and I am down to an hour. Thanks Allen.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
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Petecane
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Re: Slow neck carving

Post by Petecane » Thu May 16, 2019 10:45 am

Yep.
Keep the beers flowing fast.
Carve the necks nice and slow.
Oath!
Pete

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