Making An Electric Guitar from Oak (part 3 of 9)

In this video I started by cutting a slot for the nut to slot in to the fretboard.  I did this on the cross cut sled on my tablesaw, making a couple of passes to get the slot to the right size.  Then I did a bit of shaping to the end of the fretboard using the belt sander.

Next I wanted to add the frets to the neck, and I used a free online tool by StewMac which accurately calculates the correct fret spacing for the scale of any guitar.  Then I carefully marked these up measuring the distance from the nut slot using a steel ruler.

Then I rigged up a jig using some scrap pieces of wood and some straight edge clamps. The scrap pieces of were sacrificial and would help me to assess how deep I was cutting the slots for the frets.

I used my thinnest kerfed tenon saw to make the cut and a speed square to guide each cut lined up with the marks I’d already made.  This method worked pretty well. 

Before adding the fretwire, I marked up where the fret markers would be.

To make the fretmarkers, I would use some round oak dowels which I hoped would contrast nicely against the Sapele fretboard.  I cut some pieces of oak square on the bandsaw, rounded over one end on the belt sander, and then I could put that rounded over end in to the chuck of my drill.  Then I used some aggressive sandpaper (40 grit) to round over the dowel while it was spinning in the drill. 

Next I cut the dowel in to small pieces, drilled the holes for the fret markers and glued in the dowels – some of them needed a hit with a mallet to seat them properly.  Once the glue had dried, I used a flush cut saw to trim them and sanded them flush with the random orbit sander.  I then cleaned out any dust or debris from the fret slots.

To cut the fretboard to the same shape as the neck, I traced around it with a pencil and then cut out the shape on the bandsaw.

Then I could install the fretwire, first using a mallet to seat the wire in to the slots, and then later using clamping pressure and the radius block to ensure all the frets were properly seated.  I also added a bit of super glue to the side of the fretboard just to help secure the frets a bit more.

I sanded the bottom of the fretboard perfectly flat, and then I could insert the truss rod in to the neck and glue the fretboard on to it.  I used a piece of tape over the truss rod so that wood glue didn’t overspill in to the truss rod slot.