Work Day # 27 - February 10, 2009 (3.5 hrs)
Today we continued shaping the neck. We used a lot of different tools. Files, scrapers, sandpaper, chisels, barrel sander in a hand drill, and rasps.
For the basic shape of the neck there are a couple of ways to go. Some players like the neck to have a nice "D" shape to it. On the couple of Hannabach guitars I've seen lately, his necks have the "D" shape to them. Other guys like a bit of a flatter profile. Ours is leaning toward the flatter design...mostly because I got a little aggressive with the spoke shave the other day! But it's not a problem at all.
The other thing we want to keep in mind is the thickness around fret #9 and fret #1. The neck at fret #1 should be about 22mm thick and at fret #9 it should be about 24mm. Also, the center of the neck should be straight and not be bowed in or out. So laying a small right angle across the neck can help us keep that in check.
Other than that, the rest of the shape is largely cosmetic. Deciding how we want the head to meet the neck...how much of a point we want the heel to have, etc. Ultimately, shaping the neck gives the guitar maker another chance to personalize their instrument. The key is to be patient, don't rush the work, and keep an eye on the symmetry.
One thing we did find working this curly cedar is that it has hard and soft spots in the wood. These can be tricky to smooth out. One trouble spot we had was on the heel...the wood took on practically a washboard look (and feel). But the little barrel sander in the drill did the trick. It smoothed out our trouble spot w/o any problem at all and left a fairly smooth finish.
I'll admit, I expected shaping the neck to be a lot harder and more time consuming than it has turned out to be. Getting a feel for the way the wood reacts to the different tools and keeping an eye on the symmetry help a lot. And things are always easier when you have a good teacher, like my dad, to verify your work and show you how it's done. Thanks again dad for all the time and help!