I started the week by cutting my neck out of a Honduras mahogany block, which was large enough to include the headstock and heel without having to use a stacked heel or scarf joint. I figured out my desired neck extension height and routed the dovetail to an appropriate angle, fitting the neck to the body.
I decided on a heel shape and started to rough it in using a rasp, switching to sandpaper to work it out to shape and size. I also prepared the fingerboard to size and cut the fret slots. I used the finished fingerboard to determine the heal width.
Next, I began to fit my dovetail to the body. This is a very important process that involves setting the right neck angle, keeping the neckline centered while avoiding twist, and finally setting the neck flush to the height of the body. I did this using freshly sharpened chisels and a little sandpaper to achieve a tight fit.
After setting the neck, I glued blocks of mahogany to the headstock as wings to increase the width of the peghead. I used a template as a clamping caul to glue an ebony veneer to the headstock before shaping it to the desired shape.
I also took some time to inlay pearl dots and diamonds into my ebony fingerboard. I started by marking a centerline before finding the center of each fret. I laid out my pattern and used a small router to cut the diamond shapes, and a drill bit for the dots. I glued them in place and sanded a 14" radius into the ebony to level the inlays and finish the fingerboard.
I routed a channel into the neck for the truss rod, tapering the depth slightly to the body to allow adjustment through the soundhole. I marked the neck taper from the nut slot to the 14th fret and cut the excess material off using a bandsaw. At the end of week 5 my guitar had a neck that was almost ready to be glued on.
- Justin Ness