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Old 07-10-2019, 11:51 AM
packocrayons packocrayons is offline
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Default Finishing the end grain of the neck heel

I was thinking about this recently - it's unlikely that even with a good neck set the heel is perfectly sealed against the sides. Air and moisture can get in and affect the neck.

I know guilds finish the neck/body joint, but that makes for difficult finish issues during neck resets.

Does anyone finish this end grain on the heel? I guess it can only be done once everything is in place and neck geometry is finalized, but better late than never.
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:56 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is online now
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I think finishing the end grain of the heel is a solution looking for a problem. Finish only slows the transfer of moisture: it does not eliminate it. As it is, the end of the heel isn't all that exposed to the open atmosphere. No one is reporting an epidemic of issues due to transfer of moisture to this area.

I see no harm in doing it, but also no effective benefit.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 07-10-2019 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:50 PM
MC5C MC5C is offline
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No one finishes the end grain on the inside of the heel joint. As noted, finish does not seal the wood against moisture, it just slows it down. If you did finish it, what would happen is that under time and pressure the finish on the neck would meld with the finish on the side of the guitar, and effectively glue the neck cheek to the side, and getting that to come apart would be a treat and a half...
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Old 07-10-2019, 02:16 PM
redir redir is offline
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I do. End grain is where moisture gets in. I do a bolt on butt joint and seal the end grain with shellac.
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Old 07-10-2019, 04:59 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redir View Post
I do. End grain is where moisture gets in. I do a bolt on butt joint and seal the end grain with shellac.
I can see the sense in doing that. Do you find it makes some identifiable difference finished vs. unfinished?
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:12 PM
redir redir is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post
I can see the sense in doing that. Do you find it makes some identifiable difference finished vs. unfinished?
I can't say that I do honestly and it might actually 'glue' to the sides and make removing the neck harder but I've not experienced having to do a reset on one yet. It's just one of those ideas that popped into my head early on and I still go with it.
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Old 07-10-2019, 08:12 PM
phavriluk phavriluk is offline
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Default A thought

Isn't that what heel caps are for?
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:01 PM
cobalt60 cobalt60 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC5C View Post
No one finishes the end grain on the inside of the heel joint. As noted, finish does not seal the wood against moisture, it just slows it down. If you did finish it, what would happen is that under time and pressure the finish on the neck would meld with the finish on the side of the guitar, and effectively glue the neck cheek to the side, and getting that to come apart would be a treat and a half...

A great number than zero of people finish the inside of the heel joint, as well as the inside of the sides, back, and/or top in some combination.

Actually, of the high-end luthiers I know or have visited, more than half finish neck parts at least with a spit coat of shellac.
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:14 PM
John Arnold John Arnold is offline
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Quote:
Isn't that what heel caps are for?
A heel cap is not on the end grain. IMHO, the main function of a heel cap is the same as body binding....protection against dents and dings.

I have only witnessed an issue when steaming out a neck for a reset. If the steaming goes on for an extended period (i. e. when the dovetail is stubborn to separate), the heel can swell, causing it to curve backwards. The result is a neck that no longer fits flush to the body. Trimming the heel to fit flush (without allowing the wood dry out and return to the former shape) can cause the neck to be pitched back. Note that this is a level of moisture in the neck that would never occur in normal use.
I think this is only a problem in extreme conditions, like when the guitar has been submerged. In that case, there undoubtedly will be more serious problems than a swelled heel.
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