The headstock continued

Christmas is long over so it’s time for an update on the guitar building.

After drilling the holes for the tuning machines, I created the slots for the strings. I did this by marking out the centre line of each slot and used a drill press to remove most of the waste. I then used a chisel to clean out the inside walls of the slots. It’s amazing how much lighter the headstock is after this step – that’s a lot of wood gone!

String slots in headstock

String slots in the headstock

I’m pleased with the result, although the drill did cause some tear-out on the back face of the headstock. I’ll clean that up later by planing it out with my block plane.

I wanted to do add some design features to the headstock, and decided on an olive wood binding/inlay. The first step involved chiseling out a groove along the headstock edge. I used a home-made marking tool (the edge of a screw set into a curved piece of wood) to score a line parallel to the edge of the headstock. I used a knife to cut into the line and chiseled away the waste.

Cutting the headstock edge for the olive wood binding/inlay

Cutting the headstock edge for the olive wood binding/inlay

Then began the time consuming process of cutting the olive wood inlay pieces. The piece that took the longest was the one for the curved crown of the headstock (top right in the picture below) since the curves had to match exactly:

Olive wood inlay pieces for the headstock

Olive wood inlay pieces for the headstock

I glued the inlay piece by piece, stretching masking tape over each piece as a clamp. After the glue dried I used a scraper to get the inlay flush with the headstock:

Glueing the olive wood inlay pieces

Glueing the olive wood inlay pieces

I used a proper clamp with a wooden caul for the curved piece though:

Clamping the crown inlay

Clamping the crown inlay

After I finished, I slid in the tuning machines to see what it would look like. Here’s the end result!


Headstock, with binding

Headstock, with binding


8 thoughts on “The headstock continued

  1. Goedemorgen Jurgen,

    Het is prachtig geworden. Heel knap!

    Het lijkt ineens of je heel erg bent opgeschoten. Leuk hoor.



  2. Good work, really enjoying this blog. I’m currently on my first build and once I’ve got myself a drill press I’ll be able to cut the headstock slots.

    How wide is your headstock at the bottom and the top? I’ve gone for a simplified Torres shape for my first, think it will be a bit of a tighter fit getting the tuners in than yours.

    I saw your post about planing rosewood too. I’m having a mare thicknessing my rosewood back which has a book matched curvy grain rather than straight. If you learned any neat tricks on the way I’d love to read them! I’m debating using a cabinet scraper to remove the last 1.5mm or so this time.

    Keep posting!

    • Thanks for the encouraging words. My headstock tapers from 64mm to 72mm. As for planing rosewood, I planed most of the thickness perpendicular (across) the grain. If the plane iron is sharp and not set too deep, I find this works very well. I then plane with the grain, or use a scraper to get a fine, smooth, finish if planing with the grain isn’t possible due to curvy grain. Hope this helps!

      • Thanks – I only just thought to check here for a reply.

        I ended up cutting my old back into headstock veneers for the future, and bought a new back with straighter grain. Well worth it, I can actually plane this one. It’s taking a while but perpendicular (as you said) and diagonal strokes seem to work better.

        Keep up the blogging, it’s useful to see how others approach guitar building. My guitar blog is on wordpress now as well, feel free to criticise. It’s slow progressing, but going OK.

      • It’s btw – I’d appreciate any feedback you may have along the way.

  3. Thinking about inlays and banding. Would it be easier to first cut the olive banding (with curves) and transfer this to the headstock? Similar to marquetry? Usually easier to get the two curves to line up that way.

    I guess the challenge would be to have the Inlay have the correct curve to match the headstock.

    • Thanks for your comment!
      I suppose that would have been easier. I got the idea for the banding after shaping the headstock, so I didn’t have any choice. My initial plan was to do a bit of inlay along the centre line of the headstock, but I decided against that. I couldn’t come up with anything to fit the slightly asymmetric design of the crown of the headstock.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s