Sunday, June 7, 2009

Neck Joint Cutting - For Real

Sunday, June 7, 2009.

Well I finally cut my neck joint - this was the step I feared the most (so far). Having never attempted a dovetail joint before, I was just new I would mess it up to the point that I would have to start all over. Fortunately, it looks like this won’t be the case - at least not for this reason, anyway.

Cutting the body side of the joint was really straight forward since the design has this cut square with the body. Since I have yet to attach the back, the rim sets nicely on my bandsaw and once the shape was transferred from the template, it was as simple to cut as you could want.

As you can see from the photos, I ended up needing to install a shim on one side of my dovetail. This is a piece of the same maple veneer I have used elsewhere and ended up being necessary once I got finished trimming and sanding the curved section of the joint on both the neck and the body. The veneer turned out to be almost exactly the right thickness right out of the box. All I did was to cut a section the right length and width, glue it on to the side of the joint and let it set up before attaching the neck.

You will also notice that there is a spacer that has been attached to the head-block. Because the fretboard will eventually extend over the body but not be attached to it, there needs to be a support onto which it will attach. Furthermore, the design has a binding strip that matches up to with the 15th fret (I will be installing that pretty soon) and yet another extension that will act as a support out over the body. This piece fills the gap between the neck joint and the 15th fret that would otherwise be there. If this is not all perfectly clear, I imagine it will be once I get that part done and some photos up. In the mean time, here are some pictures of the joint in neck.

And finally, here is the joint glued together.

In addition to the shim I talked about earlier, I added a very thin shim to the opposite side of the dovetail in the back. I installed this shim as my last step just after the joint was made up. It acted to really tighten the joint up and to add just a tiny amount of twist that I needed to square the plane of the fretboard with the body.

When you look at the back of the joint, you will probably notice that the base of the neck is set back a bit from the body. This is a result of my over zealous sanding way, way back when I was first shaping the neck. I realized pretty early that this would likely be a problem at this stage, but figured it was a small enough issue that I would go ahead with it rather than to make a another neck. Since I intend to finish this part of the mandolin quite dark and this is not a critical piece, I plan to make a maple shim to fit here.

This can be our little secret.

Now to let the glue dry and get started working on the rest of the fretboard.

1 comment:

Philz said...

Great picture-- The one I really wanted to see was your jig for cutting the neck joint. In Siminoff's book, he shows a picture of the body joint at an angle & then goes on to say that the dovetail neck cutting jig should be ten degrees-- doesn't seem right. I too am making my first mando with a dovetail, the first was with a pegged joint as described in his book ph