Build a Guitar Neck
Here is the miter box I use to cut fret boards. These are available at most
Luthier supply houses. This one came from stewmac.
This process is fairly simple. The fret board blank is clamped to the fretting
template. You just cut your fret and slide the unit to the next slot. Very
simple and extremely accurate. For a 22 fret neck I start with a blank about
20 inches long, 2.5" wide and 1/4" thick.
The directions for these boxes say to use double sided tape to connect the
fret board to the template but I have found using two clamps is easier. Just
be sure to only loosen one clamp at a time when your moving the
Once you finish cutting the fret slots and cutting the board for length you
need to taper the fretboard. This is simply with a tapering block. If you
look at the block in the picture you will see that it has a tab at each end.
One tab is 1/4" and the other is 1/2".
TO USE: Set your tablesaw fence to 2-3/16" (or 1/32nd more).
All cuts are made with the nut end of the fretboard away from you
(towards the blade).
First cut using the 1/4" tab with the fretslots up. Just like the left side of
the picture above.
Next turn the block to the 1/2" side and cut with frets down like the picture
on the right of the photo above.
I put a piece of tape on the board for the first cut to help prevent chipout.
Next glue on the fret board. Be sure to line the nut end of the board with
the layout line you made earlier. If you don't put it right on the line you
will have difficulty intonating the guitar. A 22 fret neck hangs the heel
slightly. I usually leave about 1/4"
Next up is drilling and installing the fret markers. I usually drill the holes
with a 1/4" forstner bit and cut the dot inlays with a matching plug cutter.
On a standard 22 fret neck the dots go on fret 3,5,7,9,12(double), 15,17,19,21
Once the markers are installed you need to radius the fret board.
Radius blocks come in many radius. The most common today is 12" and 16".
As you sand your board be sure to keep checking your neck for straightness.
Fliipping the block end for end frequently will eliminate any error the the block.
Drill the appropriate size tuner holes. I usually drill 25/64" which is the most common.
Now for shaping the neck back. There are a lot of ways to do this but I
prefer an oscillating sander. Draw a line 3-1/4" from the heel end as a guide.
You need this flat surface below the line to match your neck pocket on your
body. I really can't show how I shape the back of the neck. It's something
you have to jump in and just do. If you keep the profile your trying to
achieve in mind it's not to difficult to achieve. Just be sure you don't go too
thin while shaping or you "WILL" run into the truss rod. Measuring the full
thickness of the neck at fret 1 you can't go thinner than about .800
And here is the completed neck.