Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

IconProjects, musings about guitar builds, guitar repairs, vintage tube amplifiers, old radios, travel, home renovation, and other stuff.

Sticking Out Our Neck

One thing you may have noticed is that there are usually a whole buncha projects going on at once around here.  Sometimes I start in on one and then get a hankering or a sidetrack-ing and wind up on another one.

Way back a few months ago, I started on a new neck for my blond(e) Telecaster.  I reshaped the headstock and was trudging down the path of finishing it when off I went to Hawai'i, ukuleles, etc. etc.

(You may also be wondering what the heck happened to the sunroom project.  It's still there, and still moving forward.)

But now I am back from those digressions and back to the Tele neck. 

If you recall, it's a USACG (see the sidebar for link to their site) AAA grade one-piece birdseye maple neck.  This one is .820 inches at the first fret and has the "hard V" back profile, small frets and 7.25 inch radius.  Yummmmmmm - ee.

First order of business is to give it a light sanding with 400 grit paper.  I have a little sanding block I use for necks - especially getting in between the frets, which is a major pain in the tookus.

After the sanding - which if I didn't say, was light, almost a scuff sanding - we have a nice smooth surface.

Lookit them birdseyes.  Really pretty, dontcha think?  I also got black mother-of-pearl fret markers.  From some angles, they look black.  From others, they look silver, from others, they look multi-colored, almost like abalone.  Neat.

It was pointed out to me that I hadn't blogged about any radios for some time.  Mainly, I should say, because I haven't pointed the old Weller in the direction of any radios (or, in Ebay parlance, 'raidos') for some time.  But just you wait till this winter.  I got lots of 'em in the queue.


While I was working on this neck I rediscovered this Hallicrafters WR-3100 (sit down before you read this) transistor radio from about the mid-1960s on a shelf where I had some finishing supplies.

This is a pretty rare bird, which is why I snagged it off the you-know-where auction site.  It's in amazing shape, and it even came with the original box, manual and earphone!  It works well - covers AM, FM, and shortwave from 4 to 12 Mc.  To be honest, the shortwave scale is so short, it's a real pain to tune.  The radio has the red "h" logo from near the final days of Hallicrafters when the company was owned by Northrup.  The radio was made in Japan and runs on a standard 9-volt batt-ree.

But back to our regularly scheduled project.

What I'm gonna do here is stain the neck a vague approximation of vintage Fender 'neck amber' color.  I have a batch of Yr Fthfl Blggr's Own (tm) waterbase Neck Amber from way back when I made the Surfcaster.  It's a mix of Stew-Mac 'vintage amber' with a few drops of brown.  The vintage amber is way too yellow for my taste, and the brown tames it a bit.

You can see my stain container and handy-dandy built-in dispenser - a Vlasic Polish Dill pickle jar and lid.

Word of warning: putting stain in the lid is a somewhat risky proposition and may/will spill easily.  Don't ask me how I know this.  Hee hee.

Next, we take a nice *clean* 100% cotton cloth, dip it in some stain and go to it.

Coupla notes here.

First, I buy those 'painters rags' in boxes from the Despot.  I've found I don't like the 3M ones - there is another brand I really like.  They are like cut-up new T-shirt pieces.  Really useful for all kinds of stuff and relatively cheap.

On the stain.  It's easy, just wipe it on.  Some books and web sites will warn you about streaking and overlap lines.  I don't believe you'll see much of that on hardwood such as maple.  I'd guess something soft like pine may streak, so be aware of it - test on scrap first.

I generally put on two or three coats of stain.  More will make the color darker.  This is water-base stain, so I had to let it dry overnight.  The stain will soak into the wood and really bring out the figures.

After the stain has dried, it's on to part 2.

For a topcoat, I'm using what you see on the right - Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish (like it says on the bottle).  This stuff is (surprisingly enough) made for wood gun stocks - it's a mix of linseed and other oils and varnish.  It rocks.  You can get a satin finish or a gloss finish (my preference) depending on how you put it on.

There is a lot of information on the web about Tru-Oil finishing.  I won't bore you with a lot here, other than to say the finish should be put on in very thin coats.  After four or five coats, it will build, and would be a fine satin-ish finish at that point.  I was trying to see how much gloss I could get, and wound up with about 15 coats.  You could also lacquer over it, (which I did on the Surfcaster), but I wanted to just go with Tru-Oil this time.

If you know Fender necks with the old-style truss rod adjustment at the heel, you'll be familiar with the walnut 'plug' at the top on the peghead.  I love this look, and I like to highlight it a bit.

Here I used a coat or two of brown stain and a small brush to bring up the contrast.

In the closeup, you can see how much the stain highlighted the birdseye figuring in the wood.  This, My Fhtfl Rdr, is gonna be crazy.

Now on to the oil.  Since the Tru-Oil has linseed oil in it, it also will work down into the wood and help bring out the figuring.

There are a variety of ways to put the oil on the surface. I did it two ways - I put on rubber gloves, put a small amount of oil on the neck, and rubbed it in. For the later coats, I put a tiny bit on a cloth and rubbed it on that way.

The thin coats is key. If you put on heavy coats, it will run and look awful.

I let the oil dry for 2 hours between coats.  After it was all done, I let it sit and 'cure' for about a week before buffing it out.


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