Dear Wood Tele nearly finished & making a radius block.

Published on November 22, 2019 at 2:09 PM

..it's been a few busy weeks so it's been a while since the last blog entry, but there's allot of thing happening here. Not only am I finishing up several projects in the workshop, and started building two new guitars, I've also been looking to move to a new and bigger workshop as I'm outgrowing the current one which is cramped in the corner of the showroom. More on that soon, but first some updates on the Dear Wood Tele that's almost finished..

 

Dear Wood Telecaster nearly finished!

The first Dear Wood Telecaster in nearly completed. If you've read some of the previous blog entries you may remember that I finished it with nitro applied with a brush. For final wet-sanding I waited for about 10-14 days to let the finish cure.  I was pretty happy with the result already and found that I could get it pretty close to perfectly smooth by wet-sanding it. Seeing how far I could take it I managed to get a mirror like finish similar to a highly polished spray finish, but unfortunately there were a few spots where I sanded through the finish in accomplishing this.. So I'll have to do some spot filling, which is easy with nitro, let it cure a bit and give it a final polish. 

 

Making the nut.

The Dear Wood guitars will get a bone nut as a standard feature which is made from a blank that's sanded and filed to the right proportions. For the guitars I make from scratch I use a flat-bottomed nutslot, made by cutting the sides with a fretsaw and than removing the waste with a 3mm chisel. The necks for our Dear Wood guitars come from the supplier with a radiused nutslot which follows the same radius as the fretboard. This means the bottom of the nut needs to follow this radius too in order to sit well in the slot and ensure maximum contact.

Normally I just tape some sandpaper to the fretboard and use this to sand the radius in the bottom of the nut. However a radius block which you can put in a vise work works much easier, and as I'm planning to make allot more of these guitars in the future I decided to make one, which is pretty easy really..


1. After sanding the nut blank to the right thickness I use a radius-gauge to 

mark the radius of the bottom and use a file to remove the bulk of the waste..

2. Normally this is the point where I tape some sanding paper to the fretboard

and finish the bottom of the nut. In this case I decided to make a radius block 

from a scrap piece of poplar.

3. Marking the radius on both sides with a radius gauge..

4. I use a jack plane to dail in the rough shape, than continue with a block-plane..

5. Using a concave radius-block which I normally use to sand the fretboard or level frets to finalise the shape and make it smooth.. Basically I'm using the exact same method thus far as I use to radius fretboards..

6. A coat of nitro to protect the radius-block from humidity..

7. A coarse and a fine grit help to perfectly radius and smooth the bottom of the nut..

8. Shaped the top as well so I'm ready to make the slots for the strings, but first I need to attach the bridge, as I place the strings over the nut to determine the location of the strings on the nut, rather than using a string=spacing ruler. 


As you can see making a convex radius block is not so difficult, especially if you already own a concave radius block which you can get at any luthiers supply-store. Even if you don't have a radius block yet, but just a radius gauge or even just a drawing compass you can quite easily make a radius block, convex or concave, by establishing the rough shape with a handplane and than perfecting it with a straight-edge with sandpaper underneath as an alternative for having a pre-fixed radius block at hand. Actually I sometimes prefer sanding the radius of a fretboard with a straight-edge moving from one side to the other, as I always seem to round of the edges with a radius-block. Anyway you choose to go I find that doing most of the radius with a hand plane first makes life much easier, and less dusty too..


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