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Body Shaping

The guitar build continues... Now that I've got all the mistakes fixed (at least to this point!), I can do the final shaping of the two bodies (the third has binding, and won't require any shaping).

 The first part is pretty straight forward - using a router to round over the edges.  The only real thing to watch for is how close you get to the neck pocket on the top - I stopped about 1/4" to 1/2" short of the neck pocket, and finished that part by hand. 

 

Strats always gets both a "tummy" and an "arm" cut, where the body is respectively contoured on the back so the body doesn't dig into your chest and on the face to make it easier on the arm that does the strumming.  Telecasters usually don't - though it's not unknown.  Since I have the one with binding that will get neither, because it makes the body lighter and because I happen to like the contours - I will be putting them on both the remaining Tele and of course on the Strat.

 The arm cut on the face is pretty straight forward - it is just formed to an angled plane on the top front, from a line that starts just below the centerline going up at about a 45 degree angle, and the body itself gets to about 5/8" thick at the outermost portion of the body.  I pulled out the trusty old jack plane and went at each one: 

   The "tummy" cut - the one on the back center of the body - is a little more involved - it's actually curved, like a reverse cylinder.  A plane wouldn't work (at least none that I have - a circular plane would, or some sorts of cooper's planes also would), so I had two choices.  The first was to remove the majority of the waste using a rasp or chisel or some such, or to go the power route and use the oscillating sander:

  I put together a jig of sorts to hold the bodies at an angle on the sanders' table at the appropriate angle (appropriate = eyeballed), then clamped the bodies to it and went to work:

 The sander wasn't quite tall enough to do the full depth of the cut, but it got close enough: 

 I then finished off the cut with a rasp - a good rasp, this one is an older Nicholson Pattern Makers' rasp.  I can't tell you what a difference using a good rasp can make over one of those poor, cheap ones you get these days.

Probably the best place to find decent rasps is at Tools For Working Wood - both the Gramercy and the Auriou rasps are truly top notch - though expensive, if you have just one rasp it should be a good one.

Once the shape was close, I broke out the half-round file then used a sanding block to finish out the shape. 

 The end product turned out well enough, I am wholly satisfied with it. 

 Now that the cuts were made, I needed to match the round overs done by the routers done earlier.  For this, I first knocked down the corners with the rasp and files mentioned before, then continued on with a rand orbit sander to finish off the shape.

 Once the body was shaped, I spent some time with some 220 sandpaper and a block removing any gouges or faults I could find, and put a coat of shellac on the body.  

The shellac helped to highlight flaws, so I worked it over again removing those and then finally gave it a final coat of shellac.  These two bodies are now ready for finish - but before that, I'll do the binding for the remaining Tele in the next chapter...

Leif