I recently finished my first archtop guitar and it worked out ok but I can't get the neck to straighten out.
I used a single piece of figured maple and a # 0968 Traditional Truss Rod Kit from Stewart Macdonald. The neck with no tension is straight but strung up I have more relief than I want. I've put up to 2 foot/pounds of tension on the rod but it just doesn't want to pull back far enough. I'd like to get it almost straight.
Q- How hard can I crank the nut before I break the rod (something I have experienced on a martin-style truss rod in the past- need to deal with that sometime too)?

I'd like to not pull the neck and strip the fretboard if I can get it right some other way.

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It's hard to say how much cranking the rod would take; it's one of those "feel" things. You may want to call StewMac and ask 'em what ft/lbs that their truss rod is rated-at. They may indicate it's built to take a higher degree of torque, but maybe not

If the guitar were mine, I might try releasing the rod to slack (no tension) and clamping the neck into a forced back-bow. After it sits and stabilizes a while { -what... maybe an hour?-} then retorque the truss rod down and see if you've gained anything.

For a more aggressive move, the neck can be heated while clamped (your choice of heating weapons) and the glue-joint between the neck and fingerboard can be slipped a taste. Leave the clamps on until the joint has cooled-off and try the rod again... there should be some movement in the right direction.

If you haven't made headway after that, it might be time for surgery? Or maybe oversized fret tangs to force some backbow? Hmmm. it's starting to get a little tricky here....

Good luck, and keep us up-to-date on the outcome?
They're all different.

I had a truss rod break before the neck was fitted.......
I have been advised by several, with far more experience that I have, that You shall allways "help the neck with manual force", when tightening the trussrod. If the relief is to big, I tune the guitar down, place the guitar in my lap and force the neck to a "backbow" while tightening the rod. You could say the rod shall only keep the neck in position, it shall not do the job itself.

In severe cases (usually on old 12-strings), I use tools to force the neck while working with the wrench. And Always make shure to have some oil in the threads....!

So far I have never experienced that terrible sound, but have had it described to me. What a nightmare...
It's important to have good lubrication on the threads and between tne nut and washer. Remove the nut completely and add some white lithium or other good grease there. As a rule, the rod's effectiveness depends on how low in the neck it is mounted because it works by compressing the back of the neck, using the fingerboard side as a fulcrum.

Taylor uses the same system - notice how low in the neck it is mounted:


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