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 I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop! 
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Post I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Initially I've started a thread on tdpri.com to get some guidance from experienced builders over there. I didn't want to post a build thread here until I was confident I could finish the job. With all the routing done I've got the finishline in sight so I'm posting my progress hoping it won't jinx anything :D

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:33 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
DAY 1

I've been wanting to build a guitar for a long time but never had the courage (or tools) to do it. A while ago I found TDPRI while browsing the net and after reading countless threads with amazing builds I've decided that it was time to get off my butt and build a guitar myself.

I've figured that because I have no experience with woodworking I'll start by making a copy of a messed up, cheapo bass body I had lying around.

Since I didn't have any tools at my disposal (seriously, not even a hand saw) I had to buy a lot of stuff. By the time I was ready to start working there wasn't enough cash in my pocket left to get wood, glue or necessary clamps. Luckily there was a leftover piece of a beech countertop in my hardware store that was just the right size and cost only a $1 more than a bottle of Titebond alone so I bought that instead.

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Here we go:

I started with this.

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Used the body as a guide for the router bit and made a template out of particleboard (not the best choice as it turned out but there wasn't anything better available so I'll have to live with it for now)

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Here's everything together on the blank.

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Traced the outline...

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...and jigsawed away. What I hadn't realised was that this thing was meant to withstand long term use in the kitchen or a bar and because of that it was very very very hard and difficult to work with. Can't turn back now so I'll just have to battle on. It almost killed the jigsaw but after a long battle I finally got the rough shape cut.

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Screwed the template on.

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View from the side.

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Then I flipped the body and used a long, bottom bearing bit to rout the excess away. This step took a very long time.

At one point the bearing fell off during routing. I stopped the router immediatly so it didn't cause any damage but I spent 20mins looking for the bearing in the grass (I work in the backyard).

Mistakes were made but in the end I managed to get the job done.

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Not bad for my second routing ever (first was the template).

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One more shot :wink:

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The body still needs sanding. Quite a lot actually since the bearing from the router bit made a small groove in softer places of the particle board making the sides of the guitar body a bit uneven. I'll try to put together a diy 'robo sander' tomorrow. If that fails I'll just sand the sides using a sanding block.

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:34 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
DAY 2

The body needs a ton of sanding (there were some rough spots) so we need to speed things up a bit and not go bankrupt in the process:

Leftover piece from the blank. We'll screw that onto our table.

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A small, wooden rolling pin ($3)

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Remove all the unnecessary bits

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Put a screw through it, put the screw in the drill, mount the drill in a smll vice, screw the vice onto the blank.

Looking good.

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Looks good but it wobbles like crazy so we make this little gizmo,

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screw it onto the table and drill a small hole in the screw that's on the bottom of our diy sanding drum (I forgot to take a picture of that). Then we stick the drum on top of that (making kind of a vertical lathe) so the whole thing won't move when pressure is applied.

No wobble so we sand it using a block with a straight edge until it's nice and even.

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Make a riser and put some double-sided tape on it

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Next we put some sandpaper on and we're ready to sand away all those nasty spots

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After we're done with the horrible spots we sand the rest using this contraption

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This one took a decent chunk out the lower horn so I had to reshape it :sad:

Then my gf came home with her camera so I could take some better quality pics.

Smooooth.

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Smoooth.

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Sm... errr... not so smooth, but it's quite deep so I'll deal with that once I rout the neck cavity and know exactly how much I can sand away.

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All that's left is to figure out how to rout these cavities :)

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:36 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
DAY 3

Even though I didn't have the bits I wanted/needed I've decided not to waste time and work on the guitar anyway. The weather outside was too good to just sit at home so I figured I'll try making some neck pocket and pickup templates for later use.

I didn't get much work done that day but I've learned a couple of things:

no.1: Without the pattern following bit it was impossible (for me) to make an accurate template

Here's my "particleboard of failure":

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I've tried using the shank of the bit itself like a bearing but the mdf was too soft for that :(

After that I've made a pickup template (visible on the pic above) and decided that since there would be no neck pocket routing that day I'll atleast try my luck with that. I've clamped the neck onto the body to align everything and... it turned out to be waaay of the centerline. So I've adjusted it to be dead center and it moved beyond the neck joint area. Thinking I've got the centerline wrong I've measured everything again and my centerline turned out to be accurate. No matter how much I've measured and adjusted the neck was always off at least 5-7mm. So I've put the neck into the old body to see what was going on and it became clear that whoever made that body used the "I'll just close my eyes and rout it here" method because the neck was off by a mile there aswell. And since the new body was an (almost :razz:) exact copy of the old body....

no.2: my project was a failure before I even started

Feeling sad about the whole situation I did a quick 1/4" roundover on the back just to see how it would look, packed my gear and went home.

Then I got mad at myself for basically wasting the whole saturday walking around a piece of beech with a ruler and not doing anything because I was too afraid to mess it up.


So sunday morning, I set up my tools and get to work. I have nothing to loose at this point. Even if I rout the pocket perfectly with a template and the right bit made out of magical diamonds, handpicked by unicorns (unicorns don't have hands, I know) that always rout straight the neck will still be misaligned. What's the worst that can happen? There's no way I can make it worse. I dub my project the 'The Crookedcaster', trace the heel on the body, set up my high tech routing jig (below) and get to work.

(As I was taking the first picture the batteries in the camera died so we're going lo-res again. I've reshot some pics that were too blurred to see anything)

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That's right, I'm using a ruler with a calculator as my straight edge. That's how high-tech I am.

20mins later:

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Looking good

Quick test fitting.

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Tight fit (I was shocked how well that worked) but it's a mile off (as expected) so we need to fix it as much as possible.

We sand one side a little to make a small gap.

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Then we fire up the router again (yeah I have no fear :razz:) and route a small gap in the corner. We sand this side a little aswell. Enough to give the neck a bit of a wiggle room.

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yup, I did that on purpose :razz:

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That brought us a few mm's closer to the centerline. It's still way off but now the angle is a bit less dramatic.

When I first disassembled the donor guitar there was a quite large gap between the heel and the pocket that was filled with buisiness cards. I've always assumed it was because the old neck pocket had an uneven surface (unsanded paint, multiple layers believe it or not). The same gap occured when I've mounted the neck into the new body. Turns out the heel itself is uneven. It looks as if someone radiused the fretboard (and probably put the frets in too), clamped it upside down and then sanded the heel 0_o Here it is on a flat table:

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Awful. You could fit a car in there... with a whale attached.

We'll fix that later. Now there's more work to be done with the body. I've decided I like the look of the 1/4" radius (tele style :cool:) so I'm keeping it. Time to put the roundover bit in the router and run it around the body. Freehand, because setting up the DIY table would take too much time. (Forgot to take pics, sorry).

Then we draw some lines on the body.

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Draw some more

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Then take out the ol' trusty rasp (actually, I bought it last week but saying that makes me look like I know what I'm doing :razz:) and rasp away.

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Switch to this milti-million dollar gizmo for a while just to speed things up a bit

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Then finish with the rasp again

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Yup, that works. We repeat the process for the other side.

Rasping. (is that even a word?)

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Aaaand done.

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After that I rough sand everything with 80 grit to get rid of most of the toolmarks and to blend everything in a bit. I want to have smooth transitions instead of a distinct, visible line.

View from the side (because it's cool)

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Back to the neck.

Feast your eyes on this display of unmatched craftsmanship.

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Then we do this for the next hour and a half. I swear this thing took a bath in sanding sealer before being drowned in laquer.

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Getting there.

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(you can't see them but there are pencil lines on that heel)

Perfect. (Or "as good as it gets" whichever you prefer :grin:)

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And now for some hi-res photography. Just because I can :grin:

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The grain got all weird here. Do I care? No.

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You almost can't see where the belly cut starts.

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I like this one.

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Aaaand another one just for fun :grin:

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You'd think that all this routing and sanding would make the neck loose in the pocket. Check this out. (being able to do that felt awesome btw :grin:)

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:39 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
DAY 4

This wasn't the best weekend for guitar building. Tons of things went wrong :sad:

Here we go:


I didn't get to do much work on saturday due to heavy rain. Routing was out of the question but I did manage to do a couple of things in the confinement of my tiny room.

(still no camera so lo-res once again, I'm sure you're all used to that by now)

Mark the 34" line.

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Align the bridge.

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It won't get better than this.

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Drill 2 very shallow holes, put the screws in to keep the bridge in place and drill through the rest. No drill press so I just went for it. It wasn't too bad. In the end the treble side moved less than a mm away from the neck. I guess it's called 'The Crookedcaster' for a reason :razz:

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Sadly the original screwes turned out to be made out of candle wax so I've replaced them with something less shiny but more reliable.

The bridge is on. Here's quick mock-up.

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Align the pickup covers and traced them onto the body. That's all I could do with the body at this point so time to work on the neck a little.

Remember this?

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This needs to be filled. No dowels? No problem.

Take one of these.

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Drill holes in the heel.

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Plugged.

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That's it for saturday. Sunday was only a bit better weather-wise. No rain, but that could change any minute plus I had to pick up my sister from the train station later that day so I had limited time to work. Things didn't go as smooth as I hoped.


Set up the trusty "routing jig" and get to work.

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Looking good so far.

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I had the perfect tool for the job. Something like this but longer.

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Perfect radius for those small, rounfed cornes.

So I'm taking my time, taking (very) shallow passes when all of a sudden this happens.

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Now I'm screwed. I consider my options and decide that I can't wait a week to work on this. I put a wide bit in and rout the rest of the cavity without the corners.

Then I rout all the round parts freehand.

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That was very tricky because 80% of the time I couldn't see where I was going.

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Hafway through I move the router too far and nick the corner of the cavity :sad::sad:

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After that I decide to man up and get the corners done using a chisel.

This isn't too bad.

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This is :/ You can't really see in the picture but it's a very ugly spot.

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Thankfully that's where I'm gonna drill the hole to the control cavity. I also went too far in a couple of places making one of the holes look more like an X than a square. I'll have to do a ton of sanding to fix that but not today.

Quck check to see if everything fits. Fits very tight.

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Then I flip the body and make a quick (literally 3mins) adjustment to the back contour. No time for sanding.

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Flip it again. Drill 2 small pilot holes. Put this into the drill.

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And do this.

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Then it's back to the low tech, ruler routing.

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As I was finishing that it started raining. I had to leave for the train station anyway so it didn't make much of a difference. I was hoping to finish all the routing today but there's still some adjustments needed to make the control cavity more presentable. Also I need to make a recess for the cover so there's still work to be done with a router.

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:40 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
And finally DAY 5 which is today :D

(Oh look, good quality pictures :smile:)

Started with this:

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Then before I routed the recess for the cavity cover there was the classic case of 'wanted to make it better - made it worse' (bottom right corner of the cavity). The recess was routed using a straight edge. The round parts I did freehand so they're a bit uneven.

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I've left more space on one side because depending on the type of jack socket I'll use I might have to make one of the rounded ends square.

Then I took this:

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Traced a slightly oversized outline of the cavity cover.

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Started cutting when this happend.

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There's still enough plastic left to get a cover out of it but it was getting dark so I left it for now and did a quick fix on the pickup cavities instead.

Before. (those three holes in the middle are there to stay :sad:)

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After. (left side of the upper pickup cavity)

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That's all. All routing is done. Now I have to drill some holes here and there and spend a couple of eons sanding the whole thing before I can start working on the finish :smile:


Bonus:

Here are some pics of my amateur chisel work for your amusement (I'll try to fix those corners as much as possible next time).

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This one is the most ugly of them all.

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:42 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
This is so awesome! :D 8)

The kitchen utensils! :lol: 8)


Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:32 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
I think I like this thread! :D

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Wed Aug 31, 2011 2:20 am
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Kudos for all the improvised tools and interesting project. How much did the stuff you actually had to buy set you back out of curiosity?


Wed Aug 31, 2011 5:00 am
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Off the top of my head:

Beech countertop - $18
Router - $69 shipped
Additional router bits - $13
Jigsaw - $29
Clamp (x2) - $16
Rasps - $3
Drill bits (very cheap ones) - ~$5
Sandpaper and various screws - around $10
Glue - $3

Kitchen utensils were about $3 total. :)

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Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:40 am
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Little tip, when cutting plastic, put masking tape or something over it first. Prevents it from cracking like that :)

Looking good, loving the whole totally DIY aspect :P

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Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:53 am
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Whenever this is finished, it's going to Killer Post Heaven.

As it's made from a kitchen countertop, you should give the bass this kind of paintjob:

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8)

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JeffMartin wrote:
Incredibly cool artwork.
You're hired. :)
For what...I have no clue.


Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:02 am
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Sir Robin wrote:
Whenever this is finished, it's going to Killer Post Heaven.

As it's made from a kitchen countertop, you should give the bass this kind of paintjob:

Image

8)


+1


Thu Sep 01, 2011 5:36 am
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Does your ruler have a calculator on it? 8)

Awesome work by the way!

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Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:58 am
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
dave5150 wrote:
Does your ruler have a calculator on it? 8)


Of course. It's a high-tech setup :wink:

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Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:40 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
My new favorite thread.

Loving the MacGyver aspect.


Thu Sep 01, 2011 3:25 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
UPDATE!

I've managed to get some minor things done after work today :smile:

After the previous hand saw/dustpan fiasco I've decided that a change of tactic was needed.

Trace a new shape on the undamaged area.

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Take a cheapo dremel copy and cut out the rough shape of the cavity cover.

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Assemble the turbosander again.

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That's as far as we go with power tools only, from there we use a file and a lot of elbow grease.

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30mins later.

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Not my best work but there's only so much you can do when you're freehanding everything :wink:

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Then we drill holes for the potentiometers. The cavity turned out to be a bit shallow so I might do a recess for them. I still need to decide whether to do it from the front or from the back.

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After that we flip the body and sand smooth the back contour.

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Turns out I got a bit carried away with the rasp during the last adjustment because by the time I got most of the toolmarks out it went from 'nice and subtle' to 'quite severe'.

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A noticable change but it's comfortable so I won't complain :smile:

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It was getting dark but there was enough time left to do some work on the ugly chiseled corners.

Hint: when using a file to work on chiseled wood only file downwards. Otherwise you're gonna and up with this.

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A tiny drop of CA and we're good again :smile:

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That's all for today. Stay tuned :smile:

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:28 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Not much left to do aside from 10 billion hours of sanding (which bores me to death)

Trimmed the dowels sticking out of the neck.

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Sanded smooth

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Then drilled the hole connecting the control cavity with the pickup cavity using another high-tech equipment. I just eyeballed the angle here.

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Came out pretty good.

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Then it was time to do some hardcore math.

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And do this. (sorry, blurry picture)

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Ugly as hell but ut's gonna be hidden under the bridge so I don't care. What counts is that my 'calculations' were correct. Check this out, dead center.

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After that I was sanding till it got dark. A zillion hours later and there are still toolmarks left all over the place.
I'll post pictures once I get that out of the way :)

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Sun Sep 04, 2011 8:04 pm
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is the Siren's Eye
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
NICE! I'm always a sucker for DIY projects. Your workmanship looks great!


Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:13 pm
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Post Re: I'm building a bass out of a kitchen countertop!
Thank you. It's far from perfect but it's getting there. Unfortunatly I work outside and it's getting colder every day. On top of that I really messed up when driling holes for the neck screws which set me back quite a bit. I have to figure out how to plug them, re-drill and still make it look presentable. Hopefull I'll have some time (and good weather) to get some work done this weekend.

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Tue Sep 20, 2011 8:24 pm
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