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New Custom Scratch Build - The Narwhal (LOTS OF PICS!)
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overpwredbyfunk



Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 52
Location: washington, dc

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

did a bit of monkeying around this week



got the fingerboard wood sized and thickness planed for CNCing. don't forget, i've challenged myself to stick with north american wood species on this build. california walnut body, oregon maple neck, and this fingerboard is mexican cocobolo.

above it's ready to go with a few of those inlays.

(disclaimer--you may see me make an african mahogany/indian rosewood neck in the future to burn some scrap i have laying around)



i realized i haven't been showing much computer geekery in these posts--so here's the cut preview in the CNC software i use called VCarve Pro. That's how the fingerboard will look all carved out of the piece of wood i'm showing above--if i don't screw up at least. Off to the left i have a few inlay test pockets to check my fit before committing to the rest of the fingerboard and makes sure my tolerances are good.

i'm doing a heel spoke truss rod on this sucker, so thats why there's a notch at the end.

also, i've decided to NOT carve the fingerboard radius into this on the CNC. I'm just going to let it do flat milling and i'll round out the radius with a sanding block. the amount of machining time it would take really isn't worth it. It's nice having all these robotic tools, but it's interesting to see where in the process the old way works better.

So, plan is to cut that out with the profile, nut slot, fret slots, and inlays.
ill set the inlays, and attach to the neck. from there i'll radius sand it, and adjust the fret slot depth before fretting.

ohh--one last thing



thinking ahead about a custom case. theres lots of stuff in the shop you can play with and get in trouble with--so i messed with this carbon fiber/kevlar blend i found and cast a little disc just to see if i could do it. maybe i'll do a carbon fiber case for this thing when it's done?

not much to it. this little square is a few layers of the carbon fiber/kevlar fabric blend, a couple layers of fiberglass mixed in, and the resin. put under pressure and threw it in one of the powder coating ovens in the shop and viola! we have an oven large enough for a case, so maybe if i can get a hold of a vacuum bag i'll mess with it?
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overpwredbyfunk



Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 52
Location: washington, dc

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hey folks--hope everyone's doing well out there in project land!

finally got started on the neck this week! this thing is starting to get close to the finish line!

so, a community shop is super cool, but sometimes it forces you to work within limitations. i had hoped to do the fingerboard first and then do the neck itself, but because the milling operation for the fingerboard was looking like it'd take longer than was available on the CNC, i skipped to the more simple neck milling.



so, here we are all held down into the CNC. it's a nice piece of flame maple with some rough patches that I needed to avoid. also, as you can see the community spoil board is torn to hell and in bad need of resurfacing.

haven't talked much about CNC work, so i'll try to do that a little more



for the hold downs i'm just screwing everything to the spoil board at the corners. take your time with the hold downs, make sure your piece is relatively square, and be patient programming your X, Y, and Z zero coordinates



first milling operation was the long section for the truss rod, then the various sized pockets for the spoke-end truss rod that i'm using, then the neck holes. i also "pocketed" the face of the headstock. you'll notice i leave a large step from the top of the neck face to the face of the headstock--thats for a few reasons. for one, i decided NOT to do any contouring in the CNC. i'm pretty confident in my modeling capabilities and i'm sure i could model something that looks great, but i wouldn't be able to feel it until it was potentially too late--so i decided i'd do the fingerboard to headstock face, as well as the back of the neck by hand so i can take it slow and put my hands on it as i progress.

another reason i elected not to do the contouring in the CNC is just time constraints and the constraints of a community shop. we're really only supposed to block off a machine in 4 hour chunks and i was concerned that i wouldn't be able to do a two sided milling operation within those time limits. and, again, our spoil boards are pretty chewed up so locating a marker or somehow flipping my piece over would have been tricky.

another note on the picture above--at this point i was shitting my pants a little. I thought i nudged my Y dimension a bit too high and was concerned that when i went to cut the outline of the neck i'd end up with some of that live edge and the piece would be ruined.



but i got lucky and just dodged the gnarly stuff.

i DO wish the piece of wood had been about 2 inches wider because then i could have gotten another neck out of the piece--but one of the benefits of a shared shop is you can always barter materials with someone else. i can swap this for titanium or keep it myself for future tinkering.



before i pried the piece loose i wanted to test my inlay pocket sizes for the future fingerboard. you have to mill the negative a touch larger to leave glue space. the test worked out really well. i think the large piece is a perfect fit. the smaller piece my only guess is my hold down wasn't secure when i cut the pearl and it moved around a bit, ending up a bit smaller than it should be. i'll have to keep playing with this as i cut more mother of pearl pieces out for the remainder of the neck.



okay. the tuners. look, in most circumstances i'd consider these tuners pretty cheesy--and also annoyingly expensive, but i happened to be on a guitar parts website and saw them on clearance for like $20 compared to their normal +$100 price--so i snagged them. why not--it's a custom build and i've never seen them anywhere else. also, it pleases my german girlfriend to be using german parts.



here we are at the start of the shaping--just taking it slow and knocking a bit of the corners down



and here we are as i've progressed up the neck a little more. i'm using a contour gauge against a warmoth neck that i've been particularly happy with over the years and just keep checking my work as i go to see that i've matched the contours. i'll keep working up the neck like this with a coarse rasp until i'm happy with the shape and then switch to sandpapers all the way through the grits.
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overpwredbyfunk



Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 52
Location: washington, dc

PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greetings digital friends! sorry for the unusual delay in completing this build, but I had some other activities come up. I'm happy to say the narwhal is done! Thanks for your patience!

So, first of all I moved . . . a whole zip code away. Not very far, but it ate into my free time for the build for a while.

I also got engaged! And uh, I had to lie about what I was doing in the shop. I made my (now) fiancee think I was working on the guitar, but I was really working on a box for the engagement ring. It was fun seeing her get mildly aggravated thinking I was screwing around, when I was really up to serious business.

First, I designed the thing


Then I did a 3D printed prototype


Then I moved to wood


Out of the CNC


Finish Sanded


Magnets installed. Hinges are silly


Test fit with the ring


And finally clear coated. It's Patagonian Rosewood for anyone curious. I did the deed down in Argentina, so thought it'd be appropriate


Okay--enough of that detour. Back to the guitar. So, because of my time constraints, I ended up just ordering a Warmoth neck. Truth be told, I poop the bed on my attempt to hand rasping and ate a little too much wood. And all that happened right before I needed to get on a plane to Argentina, so I didn't have time to deal with it. I still have a slab of pretty birdseye and cocobolo and i'm hoping to eventually make a neck for the guitar from scratch. But for now, I had some shows and recording dates I was eager to have the guitar complete for.

Historically I've had a lot of luck with Warmoth necks, but this one was a bit unsatisfying, so I had to do a lot of fretwork to the thing to get it in playable condition. There were a lot of high frets and in some places on the guitar I'd fret a note, and it'd go up a full step or step and a half. The neck required a full fret leveling, dressing, crowning, beveling, and polishing. Now it plays great.



https://youtu.be/zwUPw2waPCU
Here's a link to me testing it out on YouTube. Signal chain is just the guitar into a Fender Hot Rod DeVille (2x12), Shure Beta 57, Apogee Duet, Logic Pro.

Thanks for following along! Not sure what I'll build next. Maybe a St. Vincent style guitar? I'll post the neck build when I get to it here as well.
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Pink Meanie



Joined: 18 Feb 2009
Posts: 893
Location: Katy, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man I wish we had one of those shops here in Houston.
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The Ballzz



Joined: 14 Jan 2014
Posts: 160
Location: LAS VEGAS, NV

PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

overpwredbyfunk,
WOW! Just WOW! Congrats on your upcoming nuptials! I hope your move didn't take you too far from your glorious "Tech Shop" and that you are still a member. That whole "Tech Shop" concept is brilliant. We could sure use one here in Las Vegas. I t would be interesting to learn if they are franchises or all "company owned" facilities. I would love to be involved in operating one or owning a franchise for one. And oh yeah, some fantastic work there sir, on all accounts!
Keep Smilin'
Gene
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tnt



Joined: 14 May 2007
Posts: 2897
Location: Princeton, NJ

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great looking guitar!

I wish two things:

1) I understood how CNC works...

2) I had one!
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The Ballzz



Joined: 14 Jan 2014
Posts: 160
Location: LAS VEGAS, NV

PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You and Me Both!
Jusat Sayin'
Gene
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