From the Neck Up…Part 1

Scarf-Joint Layout

…A delicate taper, multiple layers and precise dimensions=a standard guitar neck. With this being my first, the true test can’t be conducted until I’ve strung this puppy up, which will be once I’ve invested in pick-ups, wood for the finger board, and cut fret slots. I remind myself that I’m making considerably awesome time on making a string instrument that were just planks in a lumber yard barely a week ago. So now I must admit the first two attempts at a neck failed. Third time right? It’ll have to be. I learned a few things on the first attempts, and feel better about the third neck. The scarf joint is a true 15 degrees, and isn’t quick, and certainly isn’t simple. Luckily there are some great books on this, and of course plenty of advice online.

Straight & Flat

The scarf joint being a true 15 degrees is tricky to cut, tricky to glue. Tricky if you havent read “Guitar Making-Tradidtion & Technology” by William R. Cumpiano & Jonathan D. Natelson. In this treasure of a read, there is great detail on how to cut and successfully glue this joint together. The joint is made true with a block plane and checked frequently with a straightedge.

Test Fit

The next best test is a dry fit to see if your straightedge is really straight and if the joint closes properly. Now here is where the book really comes in handy, how to glue this awkward joint flat and square. I placed the neck blank on its side on top of a piece of scrap granite. I clamped the neck to the granite then checked for square, making sure the neck was 90 degrees on edge from the surface of the granite.

The waiting.....

Then using a few small clamps I glue and clamp the peg head onto the neck. Here great care in spreading the glue is observed, because of this is like an elongated end grain to end grain joint. I applied a liberal amount of glue and kind of pushed it into the pores of the wood. It will end there anyway so why not help it along. Then add a little more glue, align the peghead to the neck. I used the mahogany inlay to help in alignment. Now it’s time to wait for the glue to cure….


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