Last weekend we went down to Craft Pride, located at 61 Rainey Street in Austin TX, to see our good friends Lynn and Tracy Dowd, who were having their Dowd’s Tools event. They always have a large range of tools, and I almost always find something that must follow me home. While each event is obviously different, since the tools they sell are antiques, or at least used. Lynn and Tracy also have to decide what portion of their tools to carry along to each event, so if you are looking for something specific, contact them directly as they very well may have it. Their contact information is:
Lynn & Tracy
Dowd’s Vintage & Antique Tools
I took a few photos at their event, as well as some of the items I procured. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any shots with Tracy in them.
And now for some of the cool tools that “followed me home”:
If you have the opportunity, either go to one of their events around Texas, or stop by the HQ, in Garland. They are great people and always have some cool stuff.
Oh, and here is info on their upcoming event:
THE URBAN FLEA
Outdoor Vintage Market
701 Avenue A
Garland, Texas 75040
(Located directly behind RESURRECTED DESIGNS at 701 Avenue A in downtown Garland just one block off the square.)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 8TH
10 AM – 5 PM
Thanks as always for checking out my article. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
I’ve been finished with the major aspects of my Les Paul (LP) copy, and just messing around with the little details, before saying “she’s” done and putting some lacquer down. I’ve been playing her every day or two, both because it’s fun and to make sure I wasn’t overlooking anything that needed attention.
Well, the other day a friend of mine, Phil Edwards from Philly Planes, told me about the neck of one of the guitars he’s built (and let me tell you, he’s not just brilliant at making hand planes). The crux of the email was relaying how he’ll re-assess a neck for a while, and if changes are needed, make small moves and then check it again in a couple of days.
All of his talk about necks enticed me to get my LP, and give the neck a really good inspection. For some reason, the shape of something like the guitar neck, being 3-D and curved, is difficult to visually tell exactly what is going on. I picked up my LP and the neck felt pretty good in my hand, although I’d always thought it was a bit chunkier than I’d find optimum. I guess I was a bit over cautious and wanted to make sure I didn’t do something crazy and cause a decent thing to end up as firewood. Ok, in truth, that’s really not likely to happen, unless someone is completely overzealous and not paying attention to what they’re doing. After thinking for a bit, I knew how I could get a better read on my LP’s neck. I went out to my toolbox, and pulled out a tool I’ve had around for close to 25 years, and I’d never even used it. It was a tool used to capture the shape of a piece of molding. The tool has a bunch of very thin pins, all lined up against one another. They are held so all of the pins can slide against the adjoining pins, but can’t move in any other direction.
|Photo of contour gauge in neutral position.|
I decide it could be useful to provide a photo of the gauge along with another cylindrical object, and see how the two compare visually.
|Contour gauge with one of my turned mallets (upper right). I pushed the
gauge against the area of the mallet indicated by the top red arrow.
Using the contour gauge (top photo), I decided I’d take readings along the neck at multiple positions (image from the 12th fret below), so I could see how much (if any) material might need to be removed. Even though the information the gauge provided was a bit shocking, since I thought I was already spot on, luckily there really wasn’t a huge amount of wood I’d need to remove.
|Negative shape of the LP’s neck at the 12th fret.|
When I applied the contour gauge to the LP’s neck, I tried to make sure I was perpendicular to the length of the neck, as well as keeping the bar on the gauge so it’s long edge was parallel to the fingerboard. Holding it in this manner prevents getting a bad read on the shape. Looking at the photo above, the portion of the curve on the right, is on the thumb-side of a right-handed guitar neck. The curve on the left would then be the finger-side of the neck. As you can plainly see, the thumb-side has a gentle curve down towards the center of the neck, while the opposite side is much more steep.
I used my Benchcrafted Skraper to remove the majority of the excess wood, both pushing at a low angle with a bit of skew, as well as pulling while holding so the angle of attack is much closer to 90 degrees. This tool ended up providing a much more refined removal process, compared to any other tool in my arsenal. Once I felt good that I’d removed what was intended, it was on to a bit of sandpaper, to return the neck to it’s silky smooth feel.
After this process, I checked the shape once more, with the contour gauge. It looked exactly as expected, and feels wonderful in my hands. It now feels much less chunky, and I’d have to say it truly seems faster. You’d probably be surprised, if you knew precisely how little wood I needed to remove, to make a huge difference.
So the mantra should be to get the shape somewhat close to what you’re after, and from there, sneak up on what feels good TO YOU. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’re buddy says the neck feel horrible, if in fact it feels great to you (unless, this buddy is your client for whom you are making the guitar!).
Thanks for reading my blog. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
I wrote an earlier article on my Benchcrafted Skraper, but I’ve since determined my initial usage was a bit myopic. Maybe it had something to do with the visual and overall heft of the Skraper, but I was only using it in what I might call the “agressive position”. I was primarily holding the Skraper so the […]
I’m not sure how many woodworkers know about Benchcrafted’s Skraper. It’s a cool tool that does what it sounds like it would, but it’s construction is not obvious. It has a nice comfortably sized wooden handle, with a 1/8″ thick steel shank attached. It sounds like that could be the end of the construction, but […]