Step 1: Neck shape

  • Draw the shape of the neck on the wood


Step 2: Cut the neck

  • Saw the shape of the neck and leave some tolerance


Step 3: Pre-drill headstock

  • I decided for a straight Headstock with friction pegs from the side. I pre-drill small holes before I use a 1.4 inches drill. A hole of this diameter can only be drilled on an upright machine with a clamped part! You can also use a jigsaw to cut the hole.


Step 4: Drill headstock

  • The small holes in Step 3 reduce the forces for drilling the big holes. It also helps to get rid of the wood chips, and the wood doesn’t get burned


Step 5: Sand headstock

  • I sand the hole with a sanding cylinder in a handheld drilling machine. The machine is clamped to the table. I run the machine with very low speed. You can also sand the hole with regular sanding paper, but it will take a little longer


Step 6: Glue fingerboard

  • I bought a pre-slotted mandolin fingerboard with “tree-of-life” inlay for this project. Read the chapters Fret theory and Fretboard, if you like to handcraft your own fretboard


Step 7: Glue heal

  • You can glue a block of several pieces for the heal. Also go to the chapter Neck/Body to see alternative neck designs


Step 8: Shape neck-heal

  • Bring the heal in shape with a saw
  • Cut the slot for the body/neck connection


Step 9: Fretting

  • Use a plastic hammer for the fretwire. You can also use a standard hammer and tape the head of the hammer. Some luthiers glue the fretwire into the slots. It shouldn’t be necessary, unless the slots are too wide
  • Cut off the ends of the fretwire


Step 10: Side dots

  • Drill holes for the side dots
  • Glue the side dot material into the holes (with fast glue)
  • Cut off the dot material


Step 11: Glue neck-heal

  • Glue the heal to the neck


Step 12: Close fretwire slots

  • Sometimes the slots are a little bit deeper than the fretwire foot. You can mix two component glue with some fretboard wood from sanding. Fill the holes with this mixture
  • Wait until the two component glue is dry (about 20 minutes)


Step 13: Neck shaping

  • I use a sanding cylinder with a drilling machine to shape the neck. There are also special tools to shape the neck, which you can find in luthier supply shops, but it requires some experience to work with them.
  • Also carefully sand the ends of the fretwire. There shouldn’t be any sharp ends


Step 14: Nut slots

  • You can buy nut files in luthier supply shops. You can also cut the slots with a saw and carefully sand them with fine sanding paper. The bottom of the slots should not be rough, because it can cause buzzing strings


Step 15: Glue nut

  • Glue the nut to the neck and clamp it


Step 16: Polish neck

  • Drill the holes for the tuners
  • Sand the neck
  • Polish the neck. I use a sanding/polishing paste
  • You can finish the neck now, or after assembly. I already put a few layers of shellac (French polish) on the neck


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