Hello all. My name is Brian and I work as a folk harp builder for Stoney End harps here in Red Wing, MN. I went to school for guitar repair back in the mid nineties and am getting back into it doing repair and set up at our Hobgoblin Music retail store. Not a lot of work comes through, but I digress...
I've been setting up a shop to build guitars and have been thinking a lot about how to put the radius on a fingerboard. What intrigues me the most is some kind of jig that uses a belt sander.
Grizzly makes a jig for this that fits one of their belt sanders, but I'm wondering if anyone out there has made their own, or has any other kind of ingenious tool they use for this job that they'd care to share.
Great site. Thanks to all that make it possible.
Hey Brian, welcome to the site. I've had all of my boards radiused by Randy Allen up in Colfax Ca. for years now. He also slots them, perfect every time I might add, but I too am interested in building a radius jig. My problem has been that my stationary belt sander does not have enough length. I've thought about mounting the holding jig to a length of PVC pipe so it can slide back and forth. I'll be interested to see what others have done. Great question.
hey Brian heres a method I have used from Sylvan Wells http://wellsguitars.com/Articles/Fretboard_Crowning_Jigs.php
it still requires a little elbow grease but works well.
Hi Fred, thanks for the link. Some good ideas there.
If you have a router you could try building one from plans available here:
http://www.luthierscooltools.com/Dwgs.htm#FB Radius Jig
I have the plans already, and intend to build it when I can get round to it, I've already built a binding jig and a fret buck using their plans, so I know that their stuff works.
Cool! Thanks Grahame. I may spring for those drawings. I've had some ideas about how to use a router for this job, but I've never put them down on paper. Might not have to!
I prefer a compound radius (shaped after the fingerboard has been glued on) from 7.25" to 20" or 9.5" to 20" for solidbody and 10" to 20" on acoustic. I use the Stewmac or LMI radius blocks.
I am also interested in some sort of jig to speed up fingerboard shaping... here is a design worth looking at: http://www.cambrianguitars.com/compradjig.html
and again at: http://www.proulxguitars.com/buildup/build9.htm
Don't laugh, it's not as expensive as it looks. I use ebony 12" radius boards with some rosewood and we machine a lot in one go. I had these cutters ground for $400 and the vacuum box was made in our shop. The shaper has a standard head and whether you own it or get your local machine shop to do the job by the hour it worked out dead cheap in terms of hours spent versus total accuracy (one end of the board to the other and side to side is a couple of thou tolerance). The cutters skim rather than beat the wood into submission and do not cut deeper in softer or grainy sections thereby maintaining a true flat surface.
If you do a lot of boards, and work out how long you take to manually dimension a board or how long you take to make a fancy (but ultimately, shaky jig) and spend per board getting it accurate this approach makes a lot of sense. Obviously there is knock-on effect with pre radiused frets and fret press cauls seeing the same surface every time and there is less time cleaning up bumpy and lumpy fret work. This is not everyone's cup of tea but, when you do the figures over time and take into account the wear and tear on your own body joints, the boredom of interminable stroking and the cost of abrasives etc it's not such a bragging rights issue - it keeps the joy in the work.
On the subject of compounding, we use drop away and a touch of manual work in the fret level rather than complicate matters - but I accept that a well compounded board is a thing of beauty and facility - they are just a little harder to manage at our level. Rusty.
Not my setup, from a telecaster forum somewhere, simple radius jig-
Also, google images is an often overlooked way of finding info fast-
sorry folks, i have only just seen this topic and my response is late.. i'm making my own radius sander using a large linisher / belt sander as seen in the photos. this is "work in progress" hence the "G" clamps everywhere..
this is a previous homemade system that i abandoned because getting the side rails absolutely true both sides became a pain !