Here's the scenario (ok, here's my currrent scenario)...

You're making peghead veneer, you have a sweet piece of rosewood, bookmatched, from the scrap of a superb Ramirez repro back (because you hover around more experienced luthiers like a vulture, and you have an unhealthy lust for tiny bits of exquisite figure), wonderful color, inky lines...

This peghead has your signature inlay, Cambodian rosewood inlayed into in Indian, subtle, warm, subdued and perfectly fit along the center of the bookmatch line...

This peghead needs a truss rod cover because it's that sort of instrument, and you want the person who someday opens that cover to gaze in wonder at the finesse you have achieved in a place hardly anyone will ever see...

You do all this because you can, and after all, you should. It's near perfect, after the disc sander sucked up the previous 3 attempts, you persevered, exhilarated.

You glue it to the peghead, that truss rod access hole, that perfect ellipse aligned just so, and measured so the allen wrench will fit like a glove, 15 degree bevel kissing where the nut will go...

The clamps cause the slippery glue to slip - when you return from your glue-drying meditation, you see your work of art is...


Your colleagues cluck and soothe, it's 'not that bad' they say, but then finally admit that it glares at them like a deformed penguin, an asymmetrical tuxedo.

Now begins the truly hard work - how to fix it?

Sand it off, do it again, better?

Turn it into a feature?

Have a martini and write a forum post about it? (works for me)

How have YOU dealt with the insult of haste, symmetry and physics?

Views: 167

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Would inlaying a center piece help out?
At the moment I am thinking that inlaying a small thermonuclear device might help out :) The ideas come almost as fast as the rejection notices for a bad novel :D

Seriously though, if it was easy, would we do it?
I think most everyone who has built an instrument can identify with what you're saying. My first guitar was built after studying David Russell Young's book, Steel String Guitar Construction (or some such title). He said there was no need for a dovetail joint in the neck to body area. He even recommended stacking small pieces of wood together to form the heel area of the neck. I followed his instruction and built a neck with a lot of inlays and fancy trim. The neck stayed on the body for about 2 weeks before the string pressure caused the butt joint to fail. I was in the same shape as you and didn't know how to correct the problem. I ruined the top of the guitar in my crude efforts at removing the fingerboard. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise but it surely didn't seem that way then. You may be able to heat the overlay and remove it without ruining it. Those silicon blankets do a good job and there are other ways to heat it. I've had to develop my own method for securing a bridge while I am glueing it on a top. They always seem to slip a little when you are applying the clamping pressure. The same problem occurs when you are trying to glue a fingerboard on to a neck. I think some luthiers use little pieces of a real small drill bit to align the fingerboard to keep it from slipping. The fact that you are aware of the potential problem of slipping when applying clamping pressure will help you in the future. I hope your project goes well.
Ronnie Nichols
you COULD heat it off with a domestic clothes Iron.

set the Iron on it (use a sheet of grease proof paper if you ever want to use the Iron for clothes again!!) for about 20 minutes.

use a steel ruler under an sedge and then slide the ruler between the headstock and the veneer.

I've taken off several fingerboards like this, so I'm GUESSING that you could do this on your veneer!
Thanks Martin - that's what I'm going to try.
IME the best way to do it is with a cloth iron and a grinded/polished putty knife (or artist knife). Heat the peghead veneer for a minute or so (definitely not 20mn…) with the iron, heat the blade of the knife on the iron and try to slip it under the veneer without force (that's why the blade needs to be grinded and polished). As it cools, heat the veneer again, the putty knife again and so on. Clean the glue residue on the putty knife with a razor blade as you go. It should come off in 5 minutes without damage.
BTW I glue my peghead veneers with small indexing brads (1/8" dowel or plastic rod) where the tuner holes will be, 4 are enough.
Ah, very good suggestion Laurent! Thanks! I was concerned that a prolonged baking might not only unglue the veneer, but also delaminate the peghead itself.

I probably would have gone ahead with trying to take the veneer off, but I figured I would have a go at saving it first. The problem was mainly that the logo inlay was off center, just enough to be annoying, so I decided to try to change the logo itself so the result would appear to be centered and hopefully distracting enough so that the crookedness of the background wouldn't be as obvious.

Here's what I did (sorry about the nasty cellphone camera pic) - the penql logo was off center, so I added a little comet to balance it. I think it works OK.

Once I had the comet on there, it helped me decide what to do about position markers on the fingerboard - more little 7 pointed stars.
I have found when I have heated off thin veneers they usually cup real bad when removed. I try to have 2 pieces of flat wood (i usually have scrap plywood from jigs and forms around) I can warm with the iron and clamp the veneer between them to let it cool down slowly. It usually helps reflatten the veneer. One other thing I have found is too much heat will age/yellow or kill pearl inlay.
Ronnie, when I glue on fingerboards, I use wooden tooth picks as alignment pins in several fret slots. They can be easily sawn through and the fret covers any left out to the sides.Black Plastic side dot materal works well to and hides in ebony if it gets out to the side. David
I use locating pins with these types of glue jobs. 16 ga brass scutcheon pins from the hardware store are what I use. They fit a 1/16" hole.

For headstocks, I simply place them outside the pattern so they'll be cut off, or inside the inlay pattern so they'll be covered with pearl.. For fingerboards, I put them through a fret slot so the bead of the fret covers them up. It's important to also drill a larger relief hole in your clamping cauls to accomodate them. After gluing, it's easy to pull them up with angle cutters.

Hope this helps!

Thanks Carter. It does help - I got the exact same advice today from another wise person. As you can see I'm just about ready to glue the fingerboard on. This is uncharted territory for me. I have a lot of experience making general woodworking mistakes, but for really spectacular guitarmaking mistakes, I will need some practice :)

What mistakes can I expect at this stage?

Larger pic...


© 2023   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service