When I shim the dovetail joint for a reset, how tight should I make it prior to glueing? "I plan to use hot hide glue.

After test fitting my current shims (option A), I have about .008" of play at the heel cap. Is that too much? It's pretty darn snug, just has that tiny bit of play at the bottom.

Shim option B is so tight that I really have to squeeze the heel block to get the joint fully closed. Its as snug as it will get while still allowing me to get the joint fully seated. This "seems" to me to be so tight that the glue at the bottom of the joint would be squeezed up, leaving little to no glue at the bottom of the joint. Is this OK?

Should I find a shim that gets me somewhere in between these two options?


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Any play at the bottom of the joint is too much. The glue will lube the joint as you clamp it shut so it will seat fine. Not sure what you mean by 'squeeze the heel block'. The only clamping needed should be between the fingerboard right over the block and the back of the guitar. The fit of the joint pulls the heel into the block.
Hi Greg, sorry for the confusion...what I meant by "squeeze the heel block" was that I really needed to put a lot of force (by hand) on the clamping areas (as you mentioned, on the fingerboasrd over the block, and on the back over the block). Sounds like my option B will slip into the joint just fine with the glue as a lube.

My follow up question is, should I glue the shims to the tenon first, let dry, then glue the joint together...OR just glue the whole thing at once? the shim for each side is made up of two pieces of veneer stacked on top of each other to double thickness.

Either way works. Frank Ford glues it all up at once. I used to do that, but I have switched to gluing the shim on the neck first, then fine-tuning the fit before gluing the neck on. Takes a little longer, but it seems I always have other things to do in the meantime. It just seems more controllable this way, and I haven't had to redo one since I changed.
Thanks, Brian and Greg! I am taking notes!


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