How to Build a Guitar Neck
Here I'm going to show how I build guitar necks. All you need is a few
common woodworking tools and a bit of patients.
If you have done woodworking in the past you will be able to build a guitar
neck without too much trouble. And even if you haven't and have access to
woodworking tools, give it a try. Its not as difficult as it may seem.
This type of neck is a bolt on which is common in guitars today.
The necks scarf joint glue up consists of two pieces of wood. The neck
back and the headstock. You could make these from a single piece of
wood but it would not be as strong as a scarfed neck. If you look at the
grain in a scarfed neck you will see it runs the same direction as your
strings. This makes a broken headstock near impossible. The weakest part
of a scarfed neck is the joint itself but if it is glued properly it is very strong.
For a 22 fret neck-
The neck back should be about 22" long, 2.5" wide and 13/16" thick.
The headstock should be about 12" long, 4" wide and 5/8" thick.
Next cut a 13 degree (+-) angle on one end of both pieces. I do this with a
bandsaw (because the angles are so steep) then clean them up with a disc
Now they need to be glued like the picture above. It's a bit tricky gluing
these together but I found a way thats fairly simple.
SEE PICTURE BELOW.
I clamp a scrap block to my bench then stand the headstock block on it's
side with the top against the block. That will stop it from sliding. Now set
the neck back in place. You will need to put a block under the neck back
to pick it up to center it on the headstock. Now clamp it to the bench. Be
sure to line the two pieces up to create a flat surface for the fretboard.
Glue up the joint then rub them together to spread the glue. Now take
them apart and check that the glue is spread evenly. Add more glue if
needed. After the glue dries you need to flatten the surface that will accept
the fretboard. If you did a good job with the angles this step could be
skipped but if it needs correcting it is easily done on the jointer. Just
don't take off too much. You need 3/4" thickness when your done.
This picture shows the rough glu-up with the neck profile laid out. This is
going to be a 25.5 scale, 22 fret neck.
To start the layout draw a center line all the way. Now grab the nut you are
going to use. Set the nut in place and trace it. If you don't have the nut a
standard nut is 1/4" and a floyd type locking nut is 5/8".
Now measure from the body side of the nut 18-7/16" and draw a line. This
is the neck length. If your making a tele type heel it is marked straight across
with a slight radius at the edges. A strat heel is different and you need a
template or you can trace an existing neck if you have one. You can also
make a template from the body if you have it.
Measure 7/8" on each side of the center line at the nut. Then measure 1-1/8"
on each side of the center line at the heel. Connect the lines. This will give
you the taper for the neck. It will be approx. 1-3/4" at the nut and 2-3/4" at
the heel. From here draw on your headstock of choice.
Next we will cut it out using the bandsaw. After cutting it out I straighten the
area at the heel. No point straightening the rest as we will straighten it with the
fret board later.