The blanks for the neck were cut out of the door frame in the previous article, and now the task is to make a classic neck out of them. The neck body will be made of ordinary pine reinforced with an oak insert. There will also be an oak overlay on the headstock. I will also make the heel from oak. There will be details with measurements and the assembly sequence of the neck, as well as its installation in the guitar body.

After several years of using this neck, I can confidently say that the pine neck holds string compression excellently. Of course, the neck is significantly reinforced with oak.

Gluing half blanks

First, we glue the blanks together. On one side, the width of the neck body should match the width of the neck's headstock in the middle where the joint ends. On the other side, it should match the width of the neck under the 12th fret. The red line in the figure below represent the blank for the neck. These are precise measurements; of course, allowances need to be made. It's convenient to glue together blanks that are equal in width. However, in real life, you might encounter various types of blanks.

blank for neck

Smoothing the neck parts can be done with a small but very sharp plane. I use the block plane to fit the pine halves to each other, and then I insert a calibrated oak insert of the appropriate thickness. I check for any gaps beetween pine halves against the light.  Or use the method of revealing need-to-be-removed spots between blanks with copy paper or chalk.

I calibrate the oak insert on a grinding machine. A cylinder with sandpaper rotates above the table. I use this machine to calibrate all the blanks for the project. There is information available online on how to create a similar machine.

In the photo below, it's not visible, but during gluing, I secure these three parts with nails. I make 2.5 mm holes along the edges and select nails that fit freely into them. With these nails, there's no fear that the blanks will shift when clamped. However, it can also be done without nails. The main principle is to gradually tighten the clamp while holding the blanks to allow the glue to squeeze out slowly. It's very convenient to compress with rubber bands with guide blocks. I used this method when gluing the parts of the top, only here with rubber bands about 20-25 mm wide, wound tightly. They provide strong compression. Bicycle inner tubes work great for this purpose.

The thickness of my blanks is 21-22mm. This is a substantial margin. In the photo, you can see that approximately in the middle of the neck, there's still a tiny hole from the nail, as if it thinks it was overlooked.

glueng a guitar neck body and headstock

Gluing the headstock to the neck body

Of course, there is the Spanish technique where one blank is used for the neck body and headstock. Its width matches the widest part of the headstock. A slanted cut is made at a specific spot. But I always bought some timber and cut separate blanks for the neck bodies and headstocks. In this case, there's no need to make the headstock in multiple parts, as in this project, but I always glue it exactly as I describe below.

The working scheme is as follows:

The upper surface of the neck body is planed where the fretboard will be placed. It becomes our reference point plane. The entire neck is constructed relative to it.

Prepare the area for gluing the headstock. From the chosen edge, reduce the thickness to 14-15mm. This is the thickness of the neck under the first fret with a margin. There will be additional thickness for the fretboard. Calculate this according to your plans. For example, if you want a neck thickness of 22 mm at the first fret (mine is no more than 21) and a fretboard thickness of 6 mm (mine is 7 mm), you'll have 22 - 6 = 16, plus a margin of about 1 mm (I'm taking a risk :). So, in such a case, you'll have 17 mm, not 14 mm like mine. Don't ruin your blanks!

The length where you should create this platform should not exceed 80 mm. Beyond this point, the neck will increase in thickness. I make this surface parallel to the fretboard's surface, but you can have a slight angle here. The key is to achieve the intended angle for gluing the headstock of the neck and not misalign this joint. The neck is ready for gluing.

We're preparing the headstock for gluing. Its thickness is 18 mm in my case. Base this on your blueprint. There will be a headplate on top, and perhaps even a headplate underneath. Your tuning machine's plate should fit with allowances. It's simple arithmetic.

The gluing angle is 15-17 degrees. In the photo, I've marked that the length of the bevel for me is 67 mm for a thickness of 18 mm, and remember that I have a parallel surface. In this operation, it's important to create a good glue joint. A block plane works great for this.

Everything is glued as shown in the photo. I secure the blanks with two small nails around the nut area along the edges; the holes will be trimmed away. I marked with a red arrow one of this nail against which the clamping wedge presses additionally.

glueing headstock to the neck body


If everything is super smooth, then it remains to bevel the end of the neck body, and you can glue the headplate onto the headstock. In practice, here you can perfectly adjust the planes. I can't even recall how to express this in geometric terms, but you probably don't know or do you know... In general, it's all intuitively clear; the line where the planes of the fretboard and headstock should intersect must be perpendicular to the fretboard plane axis. The main work was done earlier, and now it's just calibration. Again, this is quickly done with a block plane.

The headplate on the headstock of the pine guitar consists of two symmetrical oak halves. Usually, it's a single plate made of some rosewood, which is terribly dull. But here, I have two cuts from the same beautiful knot. It's the unique design of nature and the craftsman. The halves are smoothed and glued separately. We attach the headplate to the headstock. Again, the axial alignment of the neck and headplate is calibrated to be within 0.5mm. Nails used to fix the headplate can be positioned at any angles; all excess will be trimmed away.

glued overlay to the headstockShape of the neck

Here, without details, I give shape to the headstock using a router.

headstock just after router


After gluing the headplate, you can accurately determine the zero fret. This moment is important. Determine the position of the zero fret. From this point, locate the 12th fret (half of your scale length) and add space for the dovetail (around 12 mm for me). Don't forget about the nut width.

Next, I roughly trim the neck body. There are craftsmen who shape the neck later with the fretboard already attached. I give a rough shape with a 2 mm margin on each side. Initially, I trim the edges with a chisel, and the middle is carved with a block plane. Space is left for the heel.

rough forming the neck body

rough forming the neck body finish

Heel of the neck

The neck was longer than necessary. I trimmed this part and used it for the wider section of the heel. This ensures a smooth transition from the neck to the heel with a similar wood grain pattern. I glued a thin part of the heel from two oak halves. The joint extends to the edge of the heel and will practically remain invisible.

heel after glueing

Next, shaping the heel. I outline the shape of the heel and remove the excess material by either carving it away with a chisel or sawing it off. The process is evident from the images.

outline the heel shape

forming from the end

forming heel from the side

cutting heel shape

continuing shaping the heel

cutting the edges

finished shape of the heel

I complete the heel entirely so that I won't have to work on it further. It's very inconvenient to do so after it's glued into the body.

Dovetail joint on the neck

I shape the end of the neck and attach a guide to it. The holes in the guide are oblong for adjustment purposes. I route the tail. I attach the guide on the other side and route the tail from the other side. The dovetail router bit used is the same as for the body. I remove the remaining pieces with a saw.

guide for the neck dovetail

making dovetail

a guitar neck dovetail

Oak Fretboard

I create the fretboard from oak, a part of the door frame casing. I finalize the fretboard to its precise dimensions to facilitate working on the neck of the guitar. The fretboard itself is thick to reinforce the neck slightly. As I've mentioned before, I had some concerns about pine in terms of its resistance to string tension.

Neck Installation

This operation demands maximum attention and precision. Both the functional and visual aspects need to be executed with quality. My sequence of actions involves setting up the neck on four support points. I create supports at the very bottom of the heel and two small wedges on top. The dovetail has a wide allowance. I'm filling that gap with resin after all is fitted. I align the axial lines of the neck and the guitar body, achieving the desired angle of the neck's approach to the plane of the top. Of course, it's essential to ensure there's no visible gap between the heel and the sides. I take small steps and measurements. I stretch a thread like a guitar string and measure the heights. It takes just a slight misdoing to make the neck angle very wrong for the saddle height.

guitar heel on its place


fitting the fingerboard

nails for fixing the fingerboard


glueing the fingerboard to

I confess... you know, even the experienced can make mistakes. It's embarrassing to admit... But I'll tell you as it is. I made a mistake with the fret markers. For the first time in my life, I placed a marker on the sixth fret. How it happened, especially after double-checking before cutting, I don't know. At first, I left it as it was and tried out the guitar with the marker on the sixth fret. It was confusing, a nightmare! The decision was made to create one long marker from the fifth to the seventh fret. I made it of abalone. Playing with such an addition feels and looks pleasant. So, not bad in the end.



Finishing Body

I use a 400-grit sandpaper to remove any imperfections. Carefully sanding from the tip of the headstock to the bottom block. I moistened and treated the entire guitar with bone glue water. This helps relax any dents and raise  and stiffening the grain ends for leveling it with sandpaper block.

I've applied not only tung oil but also very liquid linseed oil. Of course, all specialized products. The recipe is simple here. Applied by rubbing, allowed to dry. Avoid leaving pools of oil. Between applying layers, steel wool is used to remove excess.

There are probably nuances in the video that I haven't described in the article.

Video version of the lesson.