Building a Telehawk



Now that the glue has fully dried, we can shape the neck.

First thing to do is cut the tennon to thickness. I do this on the bandsaw. The tennon is then clamped between the body sides, and a hand plane is used to make it flat front and back.

Next I clamp the tennon into a vise, or clamp the tennon and headstock to the bench and begin shaping using a belt sander, a spoke shave, and rasps (mostly the belt sander). WARNING, do not bring the neck right to final width until after the fretboard has been installed.

I then use a hand plane and sanding blocks to further smooth out the neck. I use a small block plane to fine tune the taper of the neck width AFTER confirming my string layout lines and fretboard overhang (still leaving room for final fitting.)

Also, at some point you need to ramp the end of the trussrod slot where the adjusting wrench will enter. I use a 1/4" chisel, but you can use a dremel or ratt tail file etc. PRS extends the trussrod slot aprox 3/4" into the headstock and hides it w/ a cover. The disadvantage here is you must use a short angled wrench or the short end of the allen wrench, and you don't get much turning radius before having to move the wrench.

This is what the neck looks like at this point.


The next step is to prepare the fretboard. First thing I do is to place the fretboard where I want it on the neck with double stick tape and mark the outline. I then remove the fretboard, and using a curved scraper (or small block plane, chisel used as scraper, or skip this step) I remove a LITTLE wood along the center of the fretboard staying at least 1/8" from the line on all sides. This causes the edges to contact the neck just before the rest of the fretboard, making a tight glue seam along the edge easier to get.

Next I install the dots. I use 1/4" abalone dots and a 1/4" forstner bit. Carefully mark the location of the dots and center punch them w/ an awl. Then drill the holes with the forstner bit making sure the insert will sit at least level w/ the highest point on the fretboard(or stick out above a hair). The first time I tried to install dots, I tested and dry fit stuff till I was satisfied, then drilled the fretboard. I then went to glue them in and all of a sudden they wouldn't go in. I leaned on them, stood on them, tapped on them w/ a hammer, but they would not go in. What happened? Well, the glue caused an airtight fit, and there was a bubble of air and glue caught under the dot which could not escape. so I now drill a small pilot hole all the way thru the fretboard at the center of each dot. (make sure to smooth the back of the fretboard where the drill comes thru)

The dots are glued in place with epoxy. If there is any gap at all, tint the epoxy with black epoxy paint (I use a small bottle of Testers model paint).

I now install the trussrod following the directions. I use silicoln at both ends and the middle to absorb any vibration.

You can see where some of the silicoln has pushed up. and the access cut at the headstock for the allen wrench.

Next we glue on the fretboard w/ epoxy. A trick here is to use 2 small pieces of finish nails. Drive them into the neck slightly, and then clip them off as flush to the neck as possible. After they are clipped there should be a very slight bit of the nail above the fretboard and kind of sharp. These will dig into the fretboard keeping it from slipping when clamping, but are small enough that they will seat fully into the fretboard when clamped (place a clamp directly over them. Another trick is to use 1/2" wide tape and tape over the trussrod slot. Apply the glue to the neck, thouroughly coating it (but not too thick) then remove the tape. the dry area will be coated by glue squeeze out, but no glue will reach the slot, or at least not enough to glue the trussrod in place ruining it. Use enough clamps, but not alot of pressure.

You can clamp it upside down to the bench, or use a board along the top to help ensure the neck remains straight. Oh yeah, one other trick; to get very tight glue seams along the fretboard edge, scrape or sand a (very) small void lengthwise along the center section of the fretboard. this will put additional pressure along the edges when clamped and requires less wood mate up perfectly flat.

Now we let the glue set up over night. While that's happening I'll bookmatch the caps.



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