Body Blank

Here’s a little insight into how I build and prepare a body blank for my electric guitars.

This particular build is from New Zealand Black Beech and a strip of Puriri.

The Black Beech board was about 1000 x 180 x 50mm. I spent half an hour cutting one edge square on the table saw, then flattening out a minor bow, and both edges on the jointer. Getting both sides flat and even is easy with a thicknesses. Then it was a matter of cross cutting it into two even boards.
The three blocks of wood all need to be planed, jointed, and thicknessed to the same height. The flat right angles will hopefully ensure that the three sections will adhere strongly to each other.

You’d think that such large, hefty chunks of wood would need some sort of special wood glue. Nope. Selleys Exterior PVA does the trick. And only enough to spread evenly across the surface of the entire join.
You could quite easily use your finger to spread the glue out, but given the amount of joins I do, I’ve simply glued two bits of scrap MDF on top of each other. The small bit on top provides a bit of a handle, while the larger bit flexes enough to spread the glue evenly. And afterwards, I put it down, and any left over glue on it is soaked into the MDF and provides a glazed layer of plastic that only helps spread the next layer of glue. Bonus!

This is how the body blank will end up looking. Obviously the body shape will be drawn onto it and cut out with a bandsaw or jigsaw. But for now, I take a mental snapshot of what it will look like. I love the contrast that these two woods provide, as well as the grain of the Beech. Simply stunning.

I’ve made up a bit of a jig that goes into my Black & Decker Workmate bench that doubles as a table clamp. The jig provides a solid force along the length of the body blank that provides even pressure to the join. This ensures it glues, even, and doesn’t slide around in the early stages of drying.

Here you can see the three pieces of wood are squeezed together, with their joining edges completely flat. Only the jig is warping under the pressure of the clamping forces. I am looking at upgrading the jig so that the mounting points onto the workbench fit through the bench holes. At this stage, it’s solely relying on two bolts that go through, but obviously have some play in the oversized holes, allowing for the jig to flex a little more than I’d prefer.
As PVA glue acts as a lubricant before it dries solid, it’s relatively important to ensure that the joins don’t move about while it is drying. With all the pressure coming from the sides, there is a chance that the boards will squeeze the middle strip upwards and out. A simple bit of wood clamped over the top of the joins keeps the boards from popping upwards. Hopefully it doesn’t glue to the body blank with any overflow!

Leave it to dry for 24 hours, and it’s ready to start cutting out tomorrow when I get home from work.
Best to do body blanks during the week, so that the 24 hour drying time doesn’t chew up your weekend!

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