On Ted's suggestion, I'm blogging to document my first build. Fair warning, I don't know what I am doing so I am just figuring it out as I go and gleaming information wherever I can. This first photo is one some of you have seen before, and then I will bring you up to date as to what I've done so far.
This first build is pretty much just for practice because I have the tendency to plan things out to the nth degree, over-thinking every detail. Doing a practice build lets me jump right in and get busy, just do it... go cheap, rude and crude. I watched Crow's one hour build video and bummed his eye bolt tuner idea but didn't feel like calling a taxi cab to go buy parts in the right size so I whittled down one end of a poplar 1 x 2 x 24 (actual size only 1.5 wide) with an X-acto knife to use the shorter eye bolts that I already had, and sanded it smooth. Then sanded a radius on the back edge so it would feel good for my hand.
I was thinking of cutting the step in the neck board deep enough for the top surface to be flush with the top of the box so the fingerboard would lay nice, run right down the neck and on top of the box and hide the screws I planned on using to attach the neck to the box, but... there was this pesty little knot in the wood that did not like my blade. I'm a little shy on power tools right now so I chipped it out with a knife and worked it smooth and flat, testing for daylight with a piece of scrap wood so I could see if it would mate with the box. I cut the box lid to accept the stepped edge of the neck so I could see when I had stepped it deep enough.
When I was deep enough to see that I could quit fighting with that knot and make a step in the back of the fingerboard instead, it sounded like a good idea so I cut the bottom of the box to accept the neck.
Then I went to the stewmac website to use their fret calculator and cut a piece of 1/4 x 2 poplar to just a wee past the length required for 20 frets at a 25 scale even tho I planned to go fretless, then laid it on the neck to decide where the nut will be so I'd know where to start the step so it could round over the curved edge on top of the box.
A little oil based leather dye on the top and sides and under the stepped edge, hand buffed to removed excess pigment before sealing exsposed surfaces with a wax, and it was ready to glue onto the neck.
I'm glad I did not buff or wax the curved underside step of the fingerboard because it did not fit nice and I had to do some sanding on the curve of the box lid. I kept sanding and test fitting until I could slide the neck into place without leaving a black mark on the edge of the box top.
The next problem was how to attach it. I didn't want to screw up (literally) because this box is an old miniature cedar "hope chest" that the Lane company gave away to girls when they graduated from High School in the late 1970s, not to reveal my age or anything. I was afraid that I would split the wood if I screw into it. I still wasn't thrilled with the idea of exposed screw heads even if it is a "rude & crude" practice guitar. So, I opted to use dowel pins. I drilled holes in the box first, then slid the neck in place to mark the neck. I drilled thru holes just in case the glue and dowels fail over time... then it will be easier to knock them out if I need to repair it with some screws. I don't own woodworking clamps, so I protected the box with a piece of scrap leather.
Here is a long picture of everything.
OOPS!!! I screwed up somewhere... good thing I did not use fretwire because 25 inches from the nut would place a bridge within an inch of the bottom of the box. Hummm... it could be 23 scale... so back to stewmac's calculator. I printed out the chart and measured out where the frets should be on a piece of paper and double checked to make sure each fret measured ye about okay with the 12th dead on, telling myself that this is fretless, I do not have to be ultra precise... it's wood... I'm not grinding steel to the 4th decimal place or anything so don't be so anal, but I still checked with my digital calibers. When I was happy, I taped the paper to the side of the neck and drew fret lines on the side of the fingerboard with an off white polychromos pencil (oil based artist pencil) so it won't rub off the wax so easy.
I decided to mark the frets on the side, another tidbit gleamed from Crow's video, but I had to go girly and glue on shiny flat back gems instead of using thumb tacks. Yes, I marked ALL frets... purple for those usually not marked, because I have to learn how to play this... I want to know where my fingers are.
And here is my sound holes... without power tools, I'm limited on drill size. I could cut a diamond shape by drilling 4 holes and sawing dot to dot with an Xacto saw blade. I think it looks like a kite. A little "cowboy brown" (saddle tan leather dye) on the cut edges eliminated the lighter shade of wood and blended in some sanding marks.
I debated about using violin fine tuners to compensate for the eye bolt tuners per a suggestion, but since this is a practice build, drilled holes for the guitar strings is fine. Colorful 1/8" grommets will protect the strings or the holes. I'm not sure which. Maybe both.
The eye screws on top is a temp fix... I don't have the key for the lock on the box and don't feel like paying $12 for a replacement key. Someday, I may find one at a yard sale. RIght now, a bit of wire is holding it shut.
The line drawn ye high up is where the leading edge of the bridge should be for a 23 scale.
And here is what I am working on now... (last photo for today! lol)
The thin woods are cherry and sassafras, cut and glued in layers, to support a bridge made of a bone jewelry making part... yes, I have earrings to match. I did some more sanding after snapping this photo.
I may be over-thinking this bridge... the one side is lower and more curved and the grooves in the bone were filed in on an angle from that side to give the strings a bit of lead-in. Does it need more or less? I don't know. Is it too tall or too short? Grooves too deep or not deep enough? Guess we'll find out when I string it up, eh?
Well, thanks for reading or at least scrolling down... maybe I should apologize as I do tend to ramble, perhaps give too much information but Ted said to document the why and how... someday I'll come back and read this and groan at my own mistakes... in the meanwhile, yall can groan for me.
So what's next? I get to figure out what to do with a piezo.