Finishing the Neck

So after I finally stopped staring at my shiny new guitar box, I figured I'd better get around to finishing up the neck so I could attach it and finally string this baby up! (Also I've been getting a lot of "encouragement" from friends and family lately, who seem bent on reminding me that "i haven't actually built a guitar yet" or "if someone asked me if I knew anyone who built their own guitar, I'd have to say 'No' )

So for me, final neck wrapping-up involved applying several coats of Tung oil, reaming the lacquer out form inside the tuning holes, attaching the tuning machines, etc.

Here's a shot of me test-fitting the neck--you have to carefully remove material from the neck where it will butt against the body in order to achieve the correct neck angle:
Once I have the angle set, I have to scrape all the hard-earned finish off of the soundboard directly under the fingerboard to facilitate a strong glue joint. Although the fingerboard gets glued, the rest of the neck is bolted only so as to allow for future neck removal if necessary---the fingerboard is glued with white glue, which fails when heated with an iron so it can be undone.

...and the painstaking, delicate removal of finish...

Here's the final result--the lightness is bare wood. I could finally see how thick a lacquer coat I had applied to the top--apparently it was thick enough that I didn't really need to worry about sanding through it. The area where finish has been removed is about 1/32" shy of the actual fingerboard footprint so as to not over-scrape and to also allow for a good "bite" into the finish.

Now that I'm ready to attach the neck, I needed to finish up a few neck loose ends. First I needed to use a reamer to remove all the built up lacquer finish that had accumulated inside the tuning machine holes.

And the tuning machines in place:

Actually, installing the tuning machines was mildly rewarding--it was sort of an initial step toward actual completion and one of the first small indications that this box with a stick attached to it was becoming an instrument. I'd actually been looking forward to installing the machines for quite a while...(sadly, I know...)

Also while I was finishing up the neck, I thought I might give something a try. I bought a cheap alphabet engraving punch set ($15, hunt around) and I thought I might inscribe a dedication on the back of my headstock. Although many people directly and indirectly contributed to my being able to undertake this project and build a guitar, my grandfather in particular taught me many of the woodworking and craftsmanship skills I eventually summoned upon in order to execute this challenge. Growing up he generously donated his time, knowledge, and workshop space to my myriad of projects, and impressed upon me perhaps one of my favorite quotes, "haste makes waste."

Unfortunately my grandfather passed away during the construction of my guitar and never got to see the final product, though he knew I was undertaking the challenge. I thought a little dedication inscription might, in a small way, permanently provide a vestige of his contribution to both my craft and life. Anyway, it turned out well:

Next will be to "attach" the next, but first, here's a dry-attached preview of where it's going: