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Old 12-27-2014, 05:30 PM
printer2 printer2 is offline
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Default Since most luthiers are taking a well deserved posting rest, I have a neck question

Since most luthiers are taking a well deserved posting rest and I am assuming a building rest during the holidays, I have a neck question. Seems one piece necks are highly desired in custom builds and multi-piece necks usually are given a grudgingly nod of acceptance. Scarf joints and built up heels do not seem to really excite people. I have done a few built up necks with scarf joints but not with wood of any quality as I seen my first few guitars as learning tools.

Since starting on this hobby I have picked up a number of sets of wood that will make some reasonable guitars. So while I have tops, sides and backs to keep me busy for a few years wood for necks is a question mark. The local lumber yard that does deal in hardwoods seldom has much in the way of mahogany, I have picked up some flat sawn cherry to do some laminated necks.

But then I have my 'gifted' mahogany. I was looking at some plantation mahogany one day when they had a pile of it and a gentleman said I don't want that junk and that he had some Honduran mahogany I could have. Long story short, he sold me two planks that are 8' long, one inch thick, and one 7 1/2" and the other 11 1/2" wide. He had it for years and figured he would never do anything with it and thought being turned into guitars was a worthy use.

So not really being a wood guy before I started with guitars, I would have thought just to build up whatever thickness I need and never thought of grain direction, run out or all the other details that makes you pick one piece of wood over another for a certain job. Now that I know more but certainly not enough about wood in my opinion, I have a need for necks and these two pieces. I figure a couple of pictures is in order about this time. Here is the 11 1/2 piece,



and an end shot of the two.



So given my needs and the wood that I have, what do I do? I do have a couple of blocks of mahogany that can be used for heels so I do not have a bunch of laminations but still end up with a scarf joint. I could always put a head and back plate to cover up the scarf joint with only the sides showing it. Or do I ignore the grain, cut out the neck outline and laminate three sections together and then add a couple of wings? So what would you do with this wood if you needed to build some necks?
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Old 12-28-2014, 11:59 AM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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I hope some folks chime in with some advice. It looks great to me but I'm no luthier!
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Old 12-28-2014, 12:56 PM
Simon Fay Simon Fay is offline
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That wood is mostly quartersawn -- the exact opposite of what you really want for neck laminations. You would want to use flatsawn laminations so that you would end up with a quartersawn neck when you glued the pieces side by side. In practice, I'm not sure how big a deal it is BUT what you have is ideally suited for back/sides. If the material is free of flaws then it would yield some very nice mahogany back/side sets. I personally would not use that material for necks.

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Old 12-28-2014, 01:10 PM
tadol tadol is offline
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While typing I see Simon responded - Definitely pay more attention to his thoughts than mine -


NOT a luthier, but some woodworking experience -

I would surface and check those boards carefully, see what your finished thickness is, then lay out your neck in 2 bookmatched pieces. I would add a single lamination of your choice between them so you end up with a stripe down the middle and the width you need for the heel. Or a few laminations if you like the look. You will have to add wings to get the full width for the headstock, but you can cut them from the same stock and align them so they will blend in perfectly. You will definitely want to add a face veneer or front plate - the back is a matter of choice.

you could also stack laminate a heel, but I can't see in your pictures how the grain is oriented in your stock - I am assuming it's flatsawn - so I'd not do it that way - but if it is more quartersawn, thats a reasonable option - just need to make sure the grain is arranged so that it looks matched.

Single piece necks are nice if you can get nice straight grained stock large enough, but they are harder to find and the cost not only makes laminated necks more attractive financially, they can also be substantially stronger.
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Old 12-28-2014, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Fay View Post
That wood is mostly quartersawn -- the exact opposite of what you really want for neck laminations. You would want to use flatsawn laminations so that you would end up with a quartersawn neck when you glued the pieces side by side. In practice, I'm not sure how big a deal it is BUT what you have is ideally suited for back/sides. If the material is free of flaws then it would yield some very nice mahogany back/side sets. I personally would not use that material for necks.

Best Regards,
Simon
Thanks for answering, I thought I might fall by the wayside without a reply. When I said most luthiers taking a break I did not think all of them were.

I know for glued up side by side sections you want flat sawn material but as you also said, how much does it really matter? I With Mahogany supposing to be fairly stable the humidity effects should be minimal. Strength wise with people knocking off the headstock? I do not have enough knowledge of wood or know people who's door I can knock on for advice.

I could just do some scarf joints and when I find myself with too many guitars in the house just sell them off hoping the buyer does not mind a built up neck. Viewing our local second hand instruments being sold I do not see a big market for them, but just being a hobby I might get most of my input costs back.

There are a few good back and side sets in this wood but there is the odd pin knot and some worm holes to contend with in the large piece and a flaw in the middle of the smaller piece. Ideally I would like to get some sets out of it and use the rest of the wood for necks. I am not in a hurry to cut it up yet as I still have some projects to get through. Just thought I would take this quieter time to throw out the question as we are all getting withdrawal symptoms from the building flurry of fine instruments we are normally used to.
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Old 12-28-2014, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tadol View Post
While typing I see Simon responded - Definitely pay more attention to his thoughts than mine -


NOT a luthier, but some woodworking experience -

I would surface and check those boards carefully, see what your finished thickness is, then lay out your neck in 2 bookmatched pieces. I would add a single lamination of your choice between them so you end up with a stripe down the middle and the width you need for the heel. Or a few laminations if you like the look. You will have to add wings to get the full width for the headstock, but you can cut them from the same stock and align them so they will blend in perfectly. You will definitely want to add a face veneer or front plate - the back is a matter of choice.

you could also stack laminate a heel, but I can't see in your pictures how the grain is oriented in your stock - I am assuming it's flatsawn - so I'd not do it that way - but if it is more quartersawn, thats a reasonable option - just need to make sure the grain is arranged so that it looks matched.

Single piece necks are nice if you can get nice straight grained stock large enough, but they are harder to find and the cost not only makes laminated necks more attractive financially, they can also be substantially stronger.
Looks to be quarter sawn by the end grain in the bottom picture but in the top picture I showed where the surface appears to be flat sawn. Not being familiar enough with Mahogany I thought I would ask here. Your post sparked a thought, I should post this question at UMGF in the Log Cabin.
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Old 12-28-2014, 04:13 PM
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Bruce Sexauer Bruce Sexauer is offline
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I guess this just goes to show that I am not most luthiers!

Simon is right unless you are thinking of classical construction, in which case the heel is made in a stack lamination and the head is scarfed on. I made my first 20 or 40 this way.

Truth is the grain orientation isn't usually considered particularly critical when using H Mahogany in a neck.

A picture of the end grain would be interesting as I do not expect I would agree that it shows a quarter sawn board. If you ripped the board down the middle (the one I can see the face of) into 2 1x3s you'd have a nearly quartered board and a nearly flatsawn bird, IMO. The first could be used for quartered stack laminated necks, and the second could be used for center stripe style laminated necks like Simon is thinking.
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Old 12-28-2014, 04:35 PM
Aubade Acoustics Aubade Acoustics is offline
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If you are not sure of what you are looking at it might be wise to have someone take a close look at them. You might be able to get some side and back sets from the wider board along with some neck pieces also. Before ripping the whole board down into small pieces look at it closely. Part of the wide board looks to be Quartered or rift sawn. It might be possible cut it so you could get more than neck blanks if that is something you are interested in. More photos of the ends and sides after it is milled some will help out to make a better decision. It will show knots and other defects that you might not see now.
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Old 12-28-2014, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Bruce Sexauer View Post
I guess this just goes to show that I am not most luthiers!

Simon is right unless you are thinking of classical construction, in which case the heel is made in a stack lamination and the head is scarfed on. I made my first 20 or 40 this way.

Truth is the grain orientation isn't usually considered particularly critical when using H Mahogany in a neck.

A picture of the end grain would be interesting as I do not expect I would agree that it shows a quarter sawn board. If you ripped the board down the middle (the one I can see the face of) into 2 1x3s you'd have a nearly quartered board and a nearly flatsawn bird, IMO. The first could be used for quartered stack laminated necks, and the second could be used for center stripe style laminated necks like Simon is thinking.
Of course you are not most luthiers, you are one of our gems here. I think you are right with the orientation of this board. That is partly why I took the picture of this section. It is the other picture that had me a little confused as...

...I think the light came on a little. The picture of the end of the boards shows a fine pattern running vertical and what I thought were saw marks running at an angle of the top board. Kind of looks like the grain of the top picture doesn't it? What has been confusing me was the end grain picture, all the fine vertical lines. Checked the other end of the board and so fine lines but you can make out the angled grain through the paint.

So I won't feel too bad cutting it up. See, worries alleviated and I will not feel bad cutting them up. What the fine lines are I don't know and won't worry about. going to be more fun carving this stuff than what I have been working with.
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Old 12-28-2014, 04:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Armadillo View Post
If you are not sure of what you are looking at it might be wise to have someone take a close look at them. You might be able to get some side and back sets from the wider board along with some neck pieces also. Before ripping the whole board down into small pieces look at it closely. Part of the wide board looks to be Quartered or rift sawn. It might be possible cut it so you could get more than neck blanks if that is something you are interested in. More photos of the ends and sides after it is milled some will help out to make a better decision. It will show knots and other defects that you might not see now.
I think there are some section I can get a set or two out of, especially the 7 1/2" wide plank. I'll have to cut them into sections no mater what I do and I'll try to cut in places where I can go either way depending what I have. Too darn cold out in the garage to do it now, I ran some pine through the table saw and my fingers froze. Going down to -25 tonight (did the Fahrenheit conversion for you guys), I will wait for a warm spell.
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