The Workbench

Tele scratch build thread

1

Something I've always wanted to do is to build a guitar. Last year I built (and modified) a cheap kit, see this thread. It was a lot of fun building and solving the problems that came with it. The guitar turned out looking good and playing nice if I may say so myself. That project gave me the confidence to start on the next build from scratch. I know, another Tele. Even though I have some design ideas I want to build, I figured it would be better to focus on the build itself rather then to design something and try to make it work. The last two years I've been gathering parts, woods, tools and a lot of knowledge in the form of books and countless hours of youtube and other forums.

I bought a router and built a router table out of an Ikea side table to get started on the self-made templates.

I made three neck and six headstock templates before I got the design looking the way I wanted it. Here I'm making the final template I'll be using on the router table for my build.

To be continued!

3

Yeah man! Take us on a pic-filled journey.

I put together one a few months ago with a cheap body and a donated neck from a cheap Tele copy. Part of the goal was to use parts I had slowly acquired over the years.

4

Yeah man! Take us on a pic-filled journey.

I intend to do just that! Your Tele looks nice and fresh, and the binding really makes it stand out. I also have gathered loads of parts for different projects which will hopefully be used later this year.

Here I copied my master templates so they won't get damaged in the building process.

After this step I could start on the real wood!

5

A Scratchcaster is so much more challenging than a Partscaster. I hope you enjoy it.

6

A Scratchcaster is so much more challenging than a Partscaster. I hope you enjoy it.

– NJBob

I already came to that conclusion but I also kind of knew what I was getting myself into. So far I am enjoying it very much.

In my mind the most difficult part of building a guitar is the building of the neck. So I started with that to get that out of the way. Going really slow, step by step and probably overthinking it way too much. But here goes, onto the real wood!

I started with flattening and bringing a piece of maple to the right thickness.

I drew the all important centerline on the blank and transferred the template.

Now measuring the trussrod and marking out the trussrod channel.

7

I routed the channel for the trussrod and it has a nice snug fit! Pretty happy with that.

Apparantly I need to work on my shaky hands at the bandsaw, but I managed to make a rough cutout without touching the lines.

Next step is to clean up and form it into the final shape on the routertable.

8

Not only building the instrument...building the tools as well. Industrial culture evolution recapitulated, to remind us just how much development, ingenuity, and plain ol' work we take for granted.

I know I can buy a durn nice Tele for well under 200.00 - but even if it encapsulates the same steps taken here, no way will that guitar mean as much as this one. Clearly the point here is as much the process as the product, hands on every step from raw to rawkin',

Nice to be along for the journey!

9

Clearly the point here is as much the process as the product,

Lines up with my notion that art is more of a verb than a noun, the doing more than the byproduct.

10

From a particular point of view, art is the waste product we excrete in the process of making.

11

Not only building the instrument...building the tools as well.

Yes, some of it. I wanted to make my own templates because I want the final shape to be just right. When I see ready made templates for sale there always seems to be something off to my eye. I did download some build plans and also took apart my Baja-Tele to trace and take measurements. I combined my traced drawing with the downloaded plan until I was happy with the body and headstock shape.

Lines up with my notion that art is more of a verb than a noun, the doing more than the byproduct.

It sure is, and this goes for traveling as well. The journey is as much fun as the destination.

From a particular point of view, art is the waste product we excrete in the process of making.

I like that thought!

12

I routed the neck to the final shape and now it's starting to look 'real'.

I did a test fit on my Baja, and low and behold... It fits!

Although a wee bit on the loose side but hopefully once it's lacquered it will have a snug fit. I still have to make the body so I can experiment with routing neck pockets into scrap wood.

Up next, making the fretboard.

13

This is great, Mike! Good for you to take on a project like this. Can only imagine the satisfaction you'll have at the end of the project (as well as during the process) to know you built this from scratch! Great looking work so far!

Question- Is your source for material a local lumber yard, or did you go anywhere specific for the wood?

14

Thanks! It is pretty rewarding seeing the process thus far. I'm not really sure what it's going to be in the end except a Tele, maybe a thinline, but I'll decide when I start on the body. Not sure about the color either.

Question- Is your source for material a local lumber yard, or did you go anywhere specific for the wood?

When I got in my head that I wanted to do this project I started looking for a supplier of wood. I found a lumber yard about an hour drive away. Eventually we had to pick something up in that city so we combined that with a visit to the lumber yard. I had some ideas of what I wanted to build but I kind of lost track of that when I got there. I ended up picking out some pieces of wood for different projects I had in my head. I didn't have the tools to make things square so starting with somewhat more raw wood is something I still have to figure out. Long story short, I found another supplier selling neck- and body blanks so for my first build I went that route.

The lumber yard really feels like being in a candy store, they have a 'hobby attic' with smaller pieces suitable for guitar making etc. Here's a small corner of the attic at the Arnhemse Fijnhouthandel here in the Netherlands:

This is what I picked for future fretboards etc:

The piece on the left is a maple fretboard blank I got from Guitars and Woods in Portugal. I also got an ash bodyblank from them for this project.

15

Thanks! It is pretty rewarding seeing the process thus far. I'm not really sure what it's going to be in the end except a Tele, maybe a thinline, but I'll decide when I start on the body. Not sure about the color either.

Question- Is your source for material a local lumber yard, or did you go anywhere specific for the wood?

When I got in my head that I wanted to do this project I started looking for a supplier of wood. I found a lumber yard about an hour drive away. Eventually we had to pick something up in that city so we combined that with a visit to the lumber yard. I had some ideas of what I wanted to build but I kind of lost track of that when I got there. I ended up picking out some pieces of wood for different projects I had in my head. I didn't have the tools to make things square so starting with somewhat more raw wood is something I still have to figure out. Long story short, I found another supplier selling neck- and body blanks so for my first build I went that route.

The lumber yard really feels like being in a candy store, they have a 'hobby attic' with smaller pieces suitable for guitar making etc. Here's a small corner of the attic at the Arnhemse Fijnhouthandel here in the Netherlands:

This is what I picked for future fretboards etc:

The piece on the left is a maple fretboard blank I got from Guitars and Woods in Portugal. I also got an ash bodyblank from them for this project.

– Mike2000

I love the smell of those places, wood and machine oil takes me back to my childhood. My grandad was a woodwork teacher.

16

I love the smell of those places, wood and machine oil takes me back to my childhood. My grandad was a woodwork teacher.

Yes I love that too, funny how such smells can take you back in time.

That place is pretty huge (probably not US huge, but hey, it's a small country here) the pic is just a small section of the attic. I remember it was freezing cold there, the pic was taken last year in the winter but still we spend over three hours looking at pieces of wood.

17

Very nice work,love those pieces you have do future fretboards.So at this stage of the build are you considering logos (your own) for the head or going naked on it?

18

Fabulous. I'm enjoying this.

I scratch built a La Cabronita a few years back.

Having made one neck, and provide to myself I could do it, I swore never again

19

Very nice work,love those pieces you have do future fretboards.So at this stage of the build are you considering logos (your own) for the head or going naked on it?

– Michael Williams

Thanks! I'm also looking forward to use those pieces. I will put on a logo I made. As a graphic designer who loves typography I'm pretty much supposed to, haha. Also many, many years ago I was a graffiti artist as a kid so putting my name on things is mandatory. Here's the decal I used on my previous (kit-)build, so I'll be using this design on the new project too.

Fabulous. I'm enjoying this.

I scratch built a La Cabronita a few years back.

Having made one neck, and provide to myself I could do it, I swore never again

Thanks! When this build is finished I'll probably start on a Cabronita since I already gathered a few sets of Filtertron pickups. Like I said, I think the most difficult part is the neck build so I want to get that done first. I'm also proving to myself that I can do it and I must say it is very rewarding to have come this far already. I'll swear I do a few more at the least!

20

Onto the maple fretboard. Here I'm bringing it down to size with my router.

I got a mitre box and fretscale template from Guitars and Woods in Portugal which I bought months ago. Then I stumbled onto a problem... The notches in the template are too small to fit over the locator pin in the mitre box. I checked the other template I got at the same time (that's a 24.6" scale for another future project) and that one fits perfectly. Strange... I contacted G&W and I could send it back for a refund but the shipping costs would be close to the price of the item itself so I decided to keep it. They could not provide me with a fitting template unless I ordered 20 of them (?) as in a custom order I think. Really weird, so I tried to fix it myself first. Usually I've been happy with their products but this was pretty annoying.

I scuffed every notch with three or four light touches with a rotary tool, all on the same side so the other side would maintain to be the machined true edge. Now it's fixed and it works like a charm.

Getting the fretboard slotted to a 25.5" scale. To be continued!

21

Thanks! I'm also looking forward to use those pieces. I will put on a logo I made. As a graphic designer who loves typography I'm pretty much supposed to, haha. Also many, many years ago I was a graffiti artist as a kid so putting my name on things is mandatory. Here's the decal I used on my previous (kit-)build, so I'll be using this design on the new project too.

Fabulous. I'm enjoying this.

I scratch built a La Cabronita a few years back.

Having made one neck, and provide to myself I could do it, I swore never again

Thanks! When this build is finished I'll probably start on a Cabronita since I already gathered a few sets of Filtertron pickups. Like I said, I think the most difficult part is the neck build so I want to get that done first. I'm also proving to myself that I can do it and I must say it is very rewarding to have come this far already. I'll swear I do a few more at the least!

– Mike2000

Oh hell yeah,I gotcha...looks killer!!

22

Thank you!

or going naked on it?

Although this sounds intriguing too!...

23

Well,the reason I asked about a nudie headstock is because I’ve seen a few custom builds that used heavy flame,quilt or birdseye necks and they looked really good just letting all the grain everywhere show,nothing covered. But your logo looks killer though.

24

Well,the reason I asked about a nudie headstock is because I’ve seen a few custom builds that used heavy flame,quilt or birdseye necks and they looked really good just letting all the grain everywhere show,nothing covered. But your logo looks killer though.

– Michael Williams

I have seen those too, and I can understand the choice to not have a logo cover such a beautiful piece of wood. But even though it can look beautiful, in my eyes it doesn't look finished without a well designed logo. My headstock doesn't have any flame,quilt or birdseye but it does have some nice grain lines which I of course choose to be there when drawing the outline of the neck on the piece of wood. Here's a close up of the headstock.

I did design my own logo by writing down my name with a marker, scanned it and traced it in Adobe Illustrator. I left in the imperfections which you get by handwriting to give it a more organic 'hand made' look.

25

In the meantime I've been radius sanding the fretboard. Very satisfying to see the progress!

It's starting to look nice I think!


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