I've been busy in The Dungeon the past few days. Let me get you caught up. Lots of pictures. Possibly a record for me for one post.
The main event is the neck reset on the Kay guitar. You may recall the original factory set was quite sloppy and the dovetail was ugly. Jake Wildwood, who I bought the guitar from, had replaced an old bolt at the bottom of the heel which someone had put in many years back. Kays are notorious for bad neck sets.
My goal is not only to get the set correct, but to tighten up the dovetail. This isn't anything out of the ordinary on a reset actually. It's just that this dovetail probably has never been correct - even when it was first built.
First I need to remove a small amount of material from the bottom of the heel. This will pitch the neck back. In this case, the amount I calculated was just .018 of an inch.
I've written about how to determine the neck set and how to calculate the amount to remove elsewhere on the blog, so I won't go into it here. You can also find out how elsewhere on the interwebs.
I put some masking tape on as close to that measurement as I could - it's just a bit more than 1/64 of an inch. A third of a millimeter? I don't know, but it's a small amount by any measurement.
This is 120 grit paper glued to a paint sanding stick with spray contact cement.
I take a little material off, then check the set on the guitar. It took about three passes to get the set right.
Don't try to take the full amount off at once! It's very easy to take too much off and then you have a mess on your hands.
Now we can fit the dovetail to the guitar.
I first put some card stock (index paper) shims in the joint to tighten it up.
Then I sanded a piece of mahogany down close to the thickness of the card stock shims. They measured about .018 of an inch - here you see I got the mahogany down to .025. Close enough - we'll make adjustments to make the male part of the dovetail fit exactly.
Or darn close.
This is good. Now I can work with the dovetail to tighten it up.
I've gotten in the habit of putting waxed (aka paraffin) paper over these kinds of joints. We don't want the cauls to get glued in place!
I have an assortment of wedge-shaped cauls for just this application.
I use carbon paper in the joint. As the paper gets used up - usually about 3 or 4 applications - just replace it.
I also have sign painter's tape on the body - you'll see why in a moment.
Put the neck into the joint as far as it will go. I give it a whap with my fist to get it seated.
You can see the carbon paper in the joint.
However, don't overdo it! The neck block and dovetail are made of hardwoods, so they'll only go so far in any event. You'll still have some clearance between the fingerboard extension and the top of the guitar - see the red arrow.
This will take a number of passes to get the joint fit exact. That's the tedious part I mentioned. I think I had 8 assemble-and-reassemble passes on this one. Be patient.
To get it apart, give it a sharp rap (as opposed to a whap) with a rubber mallet.
The finished dovetail should be so tight that you can pick up the guitar by the neck and not have the joint slip or shift. In fact, Bryan Galloup, of Galloup Guitars, usually strings them up to check the neck set without glue before the final gluing.
Stew-Mac has a fantastic neck set video that features Bryan along with Dan Erlewine doing neck sets. Highly, highly recommented. A must-have if you're going to do any neck set work.
Scrape off the marks. I'm using a scraper here, but a sharp knife like an X-Acto works well too. You don't want to take much material off - just skim the marks off.
Then it's back to the carbon paper, put the neck on, clamp it down, etc.
I measured the centerline of the neck and the bridge. Use a straightedge to check the alignment. You may need to adjust one side or the other of the dovetail to align the neck.
It MUST be centered so that the strings will fall correctly on the fingerboard and the bridge.
This will ensure you have a nice fit on the neck heel.
I scraped the old glue - and a fair amount of finish - off the area where the fingerboard extension will be glued down.
Check out my new Carruth ultimate scraper. You can never have enough tools.
I'll put a strap button here later and the dowel will give me something to drill into.