Final shaping of the neck began today. Carving a neck is like sculpting – you remove what is unnecessary to reveal what is there within. But only just so much. Plus it has to be not only pleasant to look at but comfortable to feel.
I have a jig to hold the neck. It fits in my swivel jaw vice, which is mounted on my old workmate stand. This workmate has been in use for about 35 years or more and it is one of the must have tools for doing just about anything, never mind guitar building. The swivel jaw vice is also a must have tool for guitar makers.
The microplane flat file is an incredible thing for carving. It can hog off wood, or remove only fine shavings, depending on how you angle it, and what pressure you use. I do most of the carving with only this tool. I also use a round version of it for the curves at the heel and neck. My other tool for this is a short file, called a four in hand. It has four surfaces, two flat, two convex, and each pair comes in rough and smooth cut. This file is about the only other essential cutting tool for neck carving. Sandpaper can do the rest if necessary, but I have some round files that are very handy as well.
I use the calipers to keep checking the neck depth. I set them a bit too large and when I hit the mark I switch to very fine filing and sanding so as not to overshoot. You can’t add more wood after it’s been removed.
The straight section is not too difficult, but the neck and heel transitions are very tricky. They take most of the work. I use the pin comparator to check my cross sectional shape for symmetry as I go along.