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Discussion Starter #1
I'm going to say good morning because it is quite early here. I'm new to this forum but I've been building guitars as a hobby for the last 5 or 6 years. I have a full time job and a family so I do not move very fast but I have managed to build 4 guitars for myself, and about the same number of full guitars for other people. I have also done a lot of kits and custom designs for people on forums like this one.

I've always been interested in vintage guitars and more recently Gibson late 50s and early 60s guitars. My first guitar builds were patterned on a '59 LP burst, a '54 LP junior, and a '63 Rickenbacker 360.
IMG_5660.JPG


Someone on another forum approached me to build them a '57 Futura and I jumped at the opportunity. I actually finished that up and shipped it off but I had built a body and started a neck for myself. I want to finish that one off. I'll catch up on what I did and then continue on to finish my Futura.

The Futura was the prototype to the Explorer. After a little research here is what I found. It showed up at the NAMM show in 1957.
1957_namm_show_gibson_futura_guitar_small.jpg


There were also some diagrams floating around from the original patent.
patent.JPG


There is good story about one of the prototypes that surfaced in the mid '70s. Kurt Linhof was a guitar collector and seller of vintage guitars. He was driving to a guitar shop in Texas and drove by a house where there was a guitar on the front porch. The owner was a blues musician, Ponty "Guitar" Gonzales, who was using the guitar as art work and used to drive around with it in the window of his Cadillac. It turned out to be one of the 4 - 6 prototypes created. I believe it was the only one made with a korina body and mahogany neck. The others were all mahogany or all korina ( FYI - korina is also known as white limba).

Here is a picture of the guitar as found by Kurt and Ponty is holding it.
Futura_zps802da6ae.png


My background is creating construction docs for Architects and Engineers so AutoCAD is my "go to" program. After using some of the other guitars, and these photos, as reference I worked up a CAD plan and details.
updated_body_cad.JPG


I'll leave it at there for now and hopefully get up some more progress pics soon.

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
The person I built the first Futura sent me the wood to make the guitar. He sent me a huge one piece blank of black limba for the body, a piece of honduran mahogany for a one piece neck, and a flat sawn piece of brazilian rosewood for the fret board. Here is the body blank.
body_side1.jpg

neck blank. I forgot to take a picture of it before I rough cut the shape -
cutout_thickness.JPG

and the fret board blank -
FB_thickness.jpg


Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So I cut the head stock angle after rough cutting the neck with a jig on my table saw.
headstock angle.JPG


then the truss rod slot - I have a table saw blade with a 3/16" kerf -
trussrod_channel.JPG


I drilled for the anchor, and truss rod access, and rough shaped the neck. He wanted vintage correct so I will use a one way truss rod.
neck_TRA&anchor.JPG


I cut up some hard maple strips .
filler_strips.jpg


Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Nice link. I really like black and white limba for guitar wood. The black limba has great character and can look a little rustic or rough. The white limba / korina can be quite a bit lighter in weight and very homogenous in colour. I can make a two piece body where you hardly notice the seam. It's also a decent price as far as exotic woods go. It is less than half the price of Honduran Mahogany. A friend of mine has a ton of it and we trade for services, so it works out really well.

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
So I used a fret board template that I created to layout the board. It's 1/8" stainless steel and has indexing pin holes in it so I can drill small dowels holes to locate the board on the neck, and in the CNC machine.
FB_template.jpg


A friend of mine has a thickness planer with 12" radius knives in it but I was concerned about tear out with the crazy grain on this board. Also since it was client supplied brazilian rosewood I didn't want to have to call him and say hey I just blew your board apart in my planer. So I went hand tool route.

I have a jig I made up with an 18" aluminum sanding beam. I also double face tape my walnut planer push stick to use as a handle.
FR_radiusbeam.jpg



I started with 60 grit, which makes short work of radiusing. I marked with yellow pencil and when the marks are all gone I'm done and can move up grits.
FB-sanding.jpg


A little bit later and -
FB_finish radius.jpg


Down through some finer grits and then checked radius - Looks good.
FB_radius.jpg


I put it in the CNC machine to cut the taper, cut the slots with a 0.023" diameter end mill and also marked the location of the dots. I had to mark the holes with a yellow pencil because the bit was very tiny. I'll use a brad point bit to drill for the dot inlays.
FB_slotted.jpg


Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Drilled for dots - had to put my reading glasses on to find those tiny marks.
drill for dots.jpg

got out a sheet of cellulose nitrate and punched out some dots and glued in -
punched.jpg


sanded flush -
sanded dots.jpg

The board was a little thick so I flipped it over stick it to my radius beam and fed it through my thickness sander. Took off about 1.2mm down to final vintage thickness.
thicknessed fretboard.jpg


Finish sanded to a fairly high grrit and a little acetone over the inlays to shine them up. Nice fancy BRW fret board ready for frets -
final sanded.jpg

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Moving on to frets. My fret bender doesn't really work very well so I decided to print out a few radii on a piece of paper and see which one worked the best for a slightly over bent fret wire. I printed out 11" 10" and 9". Bent a few pieces and a little less than 10" radius seemed to be about the correct bend.
fretwire_radius.jpg


I use my drill press to press in the frets.
FB_pressing frets.jpg

I wicked some CA glue under the fret tangs and clamped with my radius beam, which was probably unnecessary but the result was pretty nice. sanded the ends of the frets close to the board edge then filed flat with a bastard file.
fretted&filed.jpg


Cheers Peter
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So the fret board is pretty much done. I'll turn my attention back to the neck. I saved some of the cut offs from the neck rough shaping and cut up some ears to try and match grain.
ears.jpg


Found a nice set that matched and glued them on -
ears_glued.jpg


Took the clamps off and planed the ears to match the surface of the head stock. The joints are tight and the grain matches quite well.
HS_ears_planed.jpg


I thicknessed the head stock to close to final dimensions then used a plywood template to get the shape. First I drilled some holes straight through so I could sit the head stock flat on my bandsaw table.
HS_cutting.jpg

then put on the template and sand as close as I can to the edge on my oscillating sander. I want to reduce the possibility of tear out with this procedure.
HS_sander.jpg

onto the router table with a template bit -
HS_router.jpg


Cheers Peter.
 

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Completely tangential, but one of the builders displaying at the recent Festival Sonore showed a rather interesting use of wood in the fingerboard. It's a slightly fanned 7-string fretboard. They cut thin slices of banksia nut for each space and filled the holes with a fluorescent epoxy. The fretboard actually glows in the dark. Not my speed, aesthetically, but I was impressed with the workmanship.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks guys. This is definitely a fun build.

Drilled for tuners. I bought a tuner hole drilling jig but frankly it's just as easy and possibly easier to just drill on my drill press.
HS_tunerjig.jpg


Pretty straight forward.
HS_holes drilled.jpg


So I will stay on the neck and look at cutting the tenon. This is the most complicated part of this build. I did some CAD drawings to figure out bridge height etc. It's tricky because it has a tenon like an LP but a flat top like a JR. So there either needs to be a ramp under the fret board or the body has to be sanded so that is where the ramp exists. I figured I'd split the difference and go with a small ramp under the fret board and sand a bit of a ramp into the body. I actually think this is what they did on the Futura and then moved the neck join location to minimize the thickness of the ramp for the Explorer. Here are the cad files and then how I will cut the tenon and angle on my CNC machine.
neck_angle.JPG


So I constructed an angled ramp on my CNC machine and cut the tenon to the right depth. This kept a bit of mahogony as a ramp joined to the tenon, which I decided not to use in the end but it looked pretty cool.
tenon on ramp.jpg


and test fit on my korina body.
tenon_join.jpg


then glued up the fret board. I took the ramp of the sides first and will use a cut off to slide under the fret board when I glue the neck on. Glued up with hot hide glue. Gotta be vintage correct. ;-)
fretboard_glue-up.jpg


Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
No problem at all. I hope it's not too much? ;-)

So I added some side dots and did a bit more rough sanding on the neck.
side dots_glued.jpg


So onto the body now. Back to the CAD machine and create the tool paths for the CNC.
CNC Cad.JPG


Layout everything in AutoCAD first then into my CAM software. I have switched over to Fusion 360 for most of my stuff but because this is pretty much all 2d routing stuff I use my old CAM software. Vcarve Pro -
CNC_toolpath.JPG
Then onto the CNC and cut out the body - front -
CNC_front.jpg

and back -
CNC_back.jpg


That pretty much took care of the body. I just hand to drill the wiring channel through from the jack hole all the way to the neck PUP. This is probably another detail that was changed because it's a tricky maneuver.

I laid out the drill path on some paper and got out my long drill bits and a spot facer for the jack hole.
jack and channel.jpg


Cheers Peter.
 

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I hope it's not too much? ;-)
No,no,no,no...not at all from my perspective.

I'm also enjoying looking at the power and hand tools, vises, work benches, etc. in your workshop.

This pic answered the question I was just about to ask...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
No,no,no,no...not at all from my perspective.

I'm also enjoying looking at the power and hand tools, vises, work benches, etc. in your workshop.

This pic answered the question I was just about to ask...
Cool - I created these pics for the customer to follow along with the build. I thought it may be too much for people that aren't that interested in every aspect.

I work for an Autodesk reseller doing training for Architects and Engineers and we provide laser scanning for existing conditions that then get turned into construction drawings. We have a new scanner that also gives you a virtual tour and I tested it on my tiny shop. Here is the link - VIRTUAL TOUR It's a bit of a mess but oh well. ;-)

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
So back to the body. I did the round over on the router table and stopped well short of the neck route. I need to sand down quite a bit to match the angle of the neck for about half of the tenon. I printed out a layout of the pots from the CAD drawing and cut it out to fit in the control cavity. Then I drilled through with a small bit to locate and drill from the front.
pot placement.jpg


pot drilling.jpg


I test fit the pots with knobs -
knob_mockup.jpg


I will test fit the neck and fine tune the fit. I used a test piece and planed and sanded the ramp into the body -
neck fit-jig.jpg


then fine tuned with the real neck. I bought some thin strips of sand paper in a box from Lee Valley and this works great for fine tuning the 3 vertical faces of the neck joint -
neck fit02.jpg

Once the neck fit is good I can glue up. I cut shims to go under the fret board and glued them in at the same time and clamped. HHG again. This is a PITA especially when working alone. You have to work really quickly.
glue-up neck.jpg


and a mock up with paper for the pickguard. Just confirming that I want to go with the 4 ply vintage pickguard material with the white side up.
white_PG.JPG



Cheers Peter.
 
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