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Fitting The Neck

Raw Fit

As CNC shaped, the neck sits proud of the body. You need to remove wood from the sides of the pin to lower it into the body. Wood is removed from the top or bottom of the sides of the pin in a wedge shape to raise or lower the angle of the neck. Wood can also be removed from the cheeks (that sit flush to the body) to swing the neck from side to side.

It took me about 5 hours to sand it down, going really slowly (removing small amounts has a big effect). I used an old ice lolly stick with 100 grit sand paper suck to it, some climbing chalk and a straight edge. By coating the sides of the joint in the body, the chalk is used to detect high points that can then be removed. A straight edge sitting on the neck should sit about 1/16 of an inch off the soundboard at the location of the bridge.

The two images below show the neck joint before and after fitting. (The white marks in both images are just chalk !)

I needed to swing the neck laterally about 2mm (measured at the heel end of a straight edge). The neck set exactly 2mm off the top at the bridge position.

Drill Holes For Tuning Machines

Before the neck is glued in place, holes need to be drilled for the tuning machines. Martin provide a drawing, which is not to scale (but is close, so be careful !) but has accurate measurements. The diamter of the tuning machines needs to be measured and holes drilled to accomodate them. The holes need to have a different diameter at the back (10mm) compared to the front (8mm) to allow the tuning machines to fit tightly and to be recessed. I used a drill press, brad point bits and drilled sloooooowly from the back to the front. To avoid tear out, I put masking tape on the head stock veneer and placed it on a flat block.

Glue On Heel Cap

I glued on the rosewood heel cap veneer next.

Rout Top For Truss Rod

A slot needs to be routed in the top to allow the truss rod to be set into the body. This needs to be long enough to remove the flat top bar brace.

Glue Neck

I decided to glue the neck to the body at this point. I was not sure as to whether to finish the guitar and then glue or glue and then finish. I have read many different ways of construction and decided to do it this way around.

It was quite a nerve racking night waiting to see if the heel would pull out slightly (with the moisture in the glue, so I had a sash clamp ready !). I was also worried that the joint would change alignment slightly with the thickness of the glue. Fortunately, in the morning, all looked good - it was still straight and the neck angle was good. Phew ! Another nice thing is that the angle I put on the top (from the sound hole to the neck), looks like it is exactly right to accomodate the finger board). It's getting quite exciting now - it's looking like a guitar... I keep holding the fingerboard on to see what it will look like !

Glue In Truss Rod

Roughed with sand paper and epoxied in.


The Body Frets

I decided to fret the body frets with the fingerboard off the neck so as to reduce the warping of the fingerboard and to allow me to get a straight fingerboards on the neck.

I cut all the frets I would need and placed them in drilled holes in a block of wood in the right order. The fret slots in the Martin fingerboard are not cut all the way across, so that when you insert the frets, it looks like it is bound. This means that you need to relieve the ends of the tang on the fret with a file before fretting.

It is also a good idea to relieve the slot with a triangular file to make it easier to insert and (later) to remove them without splintering the fingerboard.

Gluing On The Fingerboard

I then glued the fingerboard on to the guitar and will put the rest of the frets in with the fingerboard on the neck. (The strap clamps were really useful here).

Before gluing, I masked off the slot at the back of the neck joint as well as the slot where the truss rod nut sits.


Once the fingerboard was glued on, I hammered home the rest of the frets into the neck, using a non-marking plastic hammer. I then levelled the frets with a whet stone and shaped the ends of the frets with a bastard file. The frets were then recrowned with a triangular needle file and polished up with wet and dry paper and 0000 wire wool. The final finish and (maybe) relevelling will take place once it's finished and nearing the set up.

The Nut Slot

First, the nut blank needs shaping so that it is square. Then a slot needs to be cut in the headstock veneer to accomodate the nut. This needs to be cut so the nut fits snugly but not too tight.

The nut is left over size until the setup stage.