Before routing the neck pocket in the body, we need a neck.
This guitar again features a Gibson-style angled headstock made with a scarf joint. The bulk of this neck will be African Mahogany like the body. For this guitar I decided to also laminate a “racing stripe” down the center of the neck.
A neck blank of 3/4 Mahogany was prepared and then cut down the middle. A sandwich of Maple and Padauk was then laminated down the middle of the blank. The bit of birdseye Maple I wanted to laminate in was a good bit shorter than needed for the neck blank. However, since I plan to veneer both the top and bottom of the headstock, there’s no real need for the stripe to continue the full length. So instead of cutting this neck from a single 32″+ blank, I prepared a “striped” blank long enough for the fretboard portion and then cut a separate solid Mahogany piece for the headstock.
When the lamination dried I cut the angle on each blank on the bandsaw and trued up the cut using a combination of sanding and scraping. The headstock veneers would be composed of a thin piece of Padauk and Maple on the top and bottom. Because these were shop-cut veneers, I left them about 1/16″ thick. To arrive at a final headstock thickness of around 1/2″, the Mahogany center was planed down to around 1/4″ thick. The scarf joint was then glued up as usual.
Crisis narrowly averted
The next step is to route the slot to accept the truss rod. I will typically make a mark on the center of the end of the neck blank to aid in setting the router table fence. In this case, the center stripe was a bit short of the end, so I was unable to make a readable mark. To remedy this, I figured I’d lop off the end of the blank to flush it up. At this point I had already marked the top of the neck blank where the truss rod would end. But when I went to the chop saw to flush up the end, I briefly confused this mark with the total length required for the neck blank and proceeded to randomly cut the neck a couple inches beyond this mark – thinking that this would leave plenty of extra length to work with.
Immediately upon finishing the cut, I realized my mistake and grabbed for the tape measure. Ugh! I had cut the blank 3/16″ shy of the needed length. At this point I weighed my options. I had already prepared and slotted a piece of birdseye Maple for the fretboard. This was cut to a 25.5″ scale length. I could cut a new fretboard at PRS-style 25″ or even 24.75″ Gibson-stlye length.
Alternatively, since the nut is 3/16″ wide, it could be moved just above the headstock angle. Since the original surfcaster – and my copy and templates – were all 25.5″ scale length, I decided to just move the nut back. It would be a relatively simple process to cut into the headstock veneer to make a flat-bottomed slot for the nut. Whew.
For extra interest, a 3/32″ veneer of Padauk was glued to the bottom of the fretboard. I made it relatively thick as I plan to inlay the side dots into this piece instead of directly to the Maple fretboard.
I had just enough off-cut left from the Maple burl body cap to use as the headstock top veneer. A piece of birdseye Maple would be used for the bottom face, with Padauk sandwiched between.
Once the veneer sandwich was dry I roughed out the headstock profile with the bandsaw, and then took it to the OSS to finish up the curves. I then roughed out the neck taper on the bandsaw and taped down a straight edge to it to true it up with the router and a flushing bit.A quick angle cut for the end on the chop saw and the neck blank was now ready to be used to measure and cut the pocket in the body.