Operation Plaid Hammer: Makin' Sawdust
The plan for Operation Plaid hammer is as follows; alder body in Taos Turquoise (a '56 Lincoln color), a maple neck with a wenge fretboard, a Mastery trem, and Lollar Regal humbuckers. The starting point, though, is a block made of two pieces of alder.
An alder blank and an Arcturus template! And indecent enthusiasm! Not the first time. Or the last. I regret nothing. Where was I? Oh yeah! The template is used to visualize where on the blank the body will be cut. In this case, there was a nasty knot to be worked around, so Doug had to measure the edge of the blank for an extra spacer to get the CNC router to cut closer to the edge.
The blank in its original condition needs smoothing and thinning. First stop: the wide belt sander.
The blank is run through the sander multiple times on both sides to level the block and get it to the correct thickness. Arcturi with Mastery trems can be run a bit thinner than those with Strat-style trems - that's the case here.
At this point, Doug left to do many important things, and Andrew took over. Next stop: CNC router.
There are a series of programs that must be run for each body. Each part of the process has separate programs for the controls, control cavity, neck pocket, trem, and so on. Andrew calls up and runs each of those programs, stopping to measure progress after each step, occasionally re-running a program with minor depth adjustments as necessary.
About halfway through the process, the blank looks like this.
Next step is a table router with a flush trim router bit to take off the flashing around the body. I completely failed to take pictures of this, but I did take some artsy-fartsy macro shots of the rough arm contour cuts looking all art deco.
Next comes another table router with a roundover bit. I did the routing for the flash removal and nearly all of the roundover, but Andrew stepped in to do the bits closest to the neck pocket.
And now? TIME TO MAKE SAWDUST! As Doug says, lutherie is 10% inspiration, 9874% SANDING. There are three different air sanders, an dual action orbital sander for the face and back, a square sander for the sides, and a detail sander for the contours. The guitar is carefully sanded with three to four different grades of sandpaper. To make sure the whole guitar has been worked evenly, it's hit with quick-drying spraypaint between each grade.
After the rough sanding has been done, it's time to drill for the output jack. For this, a Shopsmith is rigged to be a side drill, and a clamping template holds the guitar in place. Like most Kauers, this guitar will have an Electrosocket output jack. One bit cuts a lip for the socket to recess into, and another bit cuts through to the control cavity.
After many, MANY hours of snading (it's actually more fun than it looks), what's the result? Grab a handy neck blank, and...
Not a bad batch of work for day one - stay tuned for day two: Necking in Public!