Shaping the guitar neck and heel – part 1

Carving the heel and neck is great fun. You have to be creative with the tools you have, as the demands on the tools change as the shape develops. I used a chisel, some carving gauges, a draw knife, a block plane and a carving knife at various stages. I also used a scraper blade at one point, but that didn’t work very well on the soft cedar.

While  information on neck width and thickness is available in books and online, I don’t think there are any templates or guides for shaping the neck profile or the curve of the heel with hand tools.  Mass manufacturers have all kinds of tools and machines to get consistent necks with exact profiles (‘D’ shape, ‘C’ shape etc).  But when you’re working on a neck and heel using hand tools it’s sight and touch that counts – and this creates something that is personal and organic. In the second part of this blog I’ll talk more about the tools and techniques I used.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of the work in progress:

Carving the neck. At this stage the chisel seemed most convenient

Carving the neck. At this stage the chisel seemed most convenient

The neck, carved to shape

The neck, carved to shape

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6 thoughts on “Shaping the guitar neck and heel – part 1

  1. Well done and I am glad to read there is no template for the neck. Hence this makes the guitar even more special!!

  2. Its tough to gauge the feel of the neck without the strings on there. A rasp would definitely work, maybe a finer wood file for the soft cedar. I prefer blades to rasps any day, at least up to a point. Nice work.

    • It is indeed tough to gauge the feel of the neck without the strings. On my previous (first) guitar I had to shave some more off the neck after I put the strings on. It was simply way too thick. I had to re-finish the neck but the extra effort paid off.

  3. Pingback: Shaping and laminating the headstock | Guitar building by hand

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