Laminated Neck & Headstock

If you are going to utilize the Laminated Neck design for your Acoustic Guitar, Classical Guitar or Ukulele, (and I recommend that you do).

The Purpose of This Method:
The reason that a laminated neck is used in explained in detail in or article Neck Wood Selection. This construction give you superior structural resistance against warping over a solid wood neck.

The Headstock Lamination:
Most handmade acoustics will use this method in one form or another. Although some luthiers will stop with the lamination process and just cut out the neck without the Scarf Joint. As the Scarf Joint article points out, by not using this joint you will have short-grain in the headstock, which will result in a weaker headstock.

Tools and Materials Required:

Neck Wood Blank
Neck Lamination Materials
Titebond Glue
(4) Bessey Clamps
Waxed Paper
Plastic Tipped Hammer
Stationary Belt Sander
Band Saw
Table Saw

Let’s Get Started:

I am assuming that you have read or are familiar with Preparing The Neck Scarf Joint. If not, you should read it and understand the proper steps in cutting this most import of joints for your Guitar neck. Remember that with this method of neck construction, you laminate the entire neck BEFORE you cut the scarf joint.

Glued Up Laminated Neck Looking At End Grain

Glued Up Laminated Neck Looking At End Grain

Rip The Neck Woods To Proper Width:

Decide on the center strip options. You may decide to use contrasting wood or wood of the same species that is detailed with a couple of purfling strips as in the photo at the top of this article. Cut all lumber to the proper widths and prepare all gluing surfaces to be extra smooth. Top prepare these joints you could use the same method we employed for the back and top plate jointing – that is with the 24″ level with sandpaper.

If you have access to a planer or drum sander – all the better. Your total neck width should be at least 3″ to match the headstock width. Make sure all pieces are the same thickness as well to facilitate proper gluing.

Note: In order to conserve wood, some guitar builders employ the use of “Ears” on the headstock. This method allows the nominal neck wood dimension to be approximately 1″ less in width because you are only allowing for the maximum width of the neck where it joins the body.

Then small “Ears” are glued on the headstock to bring this dimension to the proper width of 3″ +.

Glue the Neck Stock:

Clamping the Laminated Neck Sections Together Using Bessey Clamps

Clamping the Laminated Neck Sections Together Using Bessey Clamps

Place a sheet of waxed paper beneath the neck wood. Glue the pieces together by spreading Titebond on all gluing surfaces. Spread with your finger or a small straight piece of Maple veneer. Slide the pieces back and forth until you feel some resistance. Lightly clamp (4) steel C clamps at equal points along the neck wood. Lightly tap the wood from the top so set the wood flat on the work surface. Now give the clamps a few more turns and tap to flatten once again. By this time there should be minimal movement of the glued surface and you can crank down pretty hard on the (4) clamps. Set aside to dry overnight.

Surface Plane The Neck Faces:

Once the glue has dried, run the neck blank through a Surface Planer or Drum Sander to complete level both faces. Trim the laminated wood(s) flush to the scarf joint. Trim both sides of the neck blank to exactly match the width of the uncut headstock. This will make the gluing of the headstock much easier in our next step. When you set both the neck and the headstock on either edge, all the veneers should line up exactly. If they do not, you have some trimming to do. Rework the widths until you get a perfect match.

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