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Shaping heal of Spanish style neck (Read 5560 times)
mblue
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Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Feb 23rd, 2009 at 3:10am
 
I am really having a hard time with shaping the heal.
Shaping the length of the neck, in general was almost easy using a Microplane. However, because of the head block being attached to the heal it is completely different. It seems like it would be so much easier to shape if it were not Spanish style... So, does anyone have any tricks to shaping the heal of a spanish style neck? Thanks...
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #1 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 5:08am
 
The best approach is to follow the process in the Hana Lima manual and use a table saw and sled to nibble out the heel shape.  While this can be done without power tools, it is a lot easier with the table saw.

If you don't have the Hana Lima manual -- GET ONE.  They are worth their weight in gold.

Don
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mblue
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #2 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 6:12am
 
Thanks Don.. Yes, I have the manual. And I did the shaping of the sides of the heal with the table saw.
Even with that much done, I am still having a difficult time creating the compound curves in the heal.
I just imagine that if that head block was not there, I could use some nice long strokes with the Microplane and sanding sticks..
Thanks.
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #3 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 12:37pm
 
Okay, with the heel taper with the table saw done the best way to cut the heel curve is on a band saw with a narrow blade.  If you don't have a band saw available a drill press with sanding drum loaded with course sandpaper or a micro-plane drum works well for removing most of the excess material to the curve line (you may want to cut some of the excess away with a coping saw first).  After that a sharp chisel works well for rounding the shape of the heel.  Remember this is a free hand curve and can be changed to fit whatever your desires dictate (meaning there are no mistakes only happy revisions).

Don
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Wood_Butcher
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #4 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 1:15pm
 
m (don't be) blue,

Just got done shaping some necks out of cherry.

After nibbling the heel as described in the manual, I use a small sanding drum in a variable speed Dremel at a medium to high speed. †I just start at a 45 degree angle and make a bevel along the curve of the heel. †Then start making sweeps along the entire curve to break down the edges of the bevel and create a smooth roundover.

You will develop a smooth round over as you go and will see the shape of the heel develop. †Keep an eye on the bottom face of the heel to make sure you are developing the shape you desire.

Once you get it close to where you want the heel to be, you can hold the dremel parallel with the neck and start cleaning up sides of the heel ( back to the 3 degree heel cut).

Just be sure to work slowly as you get close to final shape, as it is real hard to put wood back on!

Also you will have a lot better access to the upper area of the heel if you rough shape the rest of the neck. I use a 12" wood rasp. †Have to be careful with that bad boy, because those coarse teeth can easily leave a scratch that is deeper than you expect. †Don't ask how I know.

Another thing I've run into is when you get up close to the fingerboard area, the neck will make you tend to dig in with the end of the drum. †Once you get to that point, just set the Dremel aside.

A trick I have picked up for that hard to reach spot is to use a piece of broken window glass as a scraper. †Cheap and sharp as heck. †The end grain on the heel is hard to scrape, so it is better to use 80 grit paper and an eraser for cleaning that area.

I also use the broken glass †for cleaning the rasp marks out of the entire length of the neck.

Experiment with different pieces of glass. †shorter edges and curved edges will sometimes fit into a part of the curve to produce the perfect goblet shape.

Once you see a well proportioned heel develop it becomes a lot of fun.


Mark
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Thanks, Mike and Asa!
 
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mblue
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #5 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 2:31pm
 
Thank you Don and Mark. Those sound like great ideas!
Using the bandsaw to get the rough shape a bit closer sounds good.
I had been thinking about a Dremel, and almost bought one at Home Depot on Sunday. I will go back tonight and get one.
It does seem like a combination of tools is probably best for someone like me who doesn't really have any experience with wood chisels, or wood carving in general.
It was kind of sad this past weekend, as I made what I am sure looked like random stabs at my neck with the chisel. (The uke neck, not my neck).
At least now I have some more options. I know that after I have done 3 or so of them, I will come up with a technique.
Thanks.
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konacat
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #6 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 2:46pm
 
Donít sweat it too much since the shape of the heel on a Spanish heel neck is not as important as other style necks. The heel on the Spanish style neck doesnít need to support any form of neck attachment   as the sides are connected directly into the neck. Since no screws, inserts, or hangers are used the heel area can be a bit smaller. Why donít you try it a bit different and start with the heel cap area. Draw an outline of heel cap that you would like and that will give you a starting point. You can use a chisel just outside your lines of the heel cap and carve down and out (towards head stock). You just need to curve it match up with the surface on the bottom of the neck. Try it on some scrap first. Itís not that hard if you have a starting point. It is easiest to take square corners down a bit first.  Take the large corners and cut chisel the corners down so there is a flat area where the corner was. This creates two new corners on either side of your cut. You then cut the two new corners the same way then just keep going like that. This will allow you to develop the base for the heel pretty easily. It pretty much starts forming the heel shape immediately. Again, a little time on a practice piece can really pay off later.

Philip
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #7 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 3:50pm
 
The key to carving with a chisel is to have it very SHARP.  A brand new chisel will not be as sharp as it needs to be.  There are a lot of good articles out there on chisel and plane sharpening.  One of the lowest cost methods is a glass plate and super fine wet/dry sandpaper along with a honing guide.  Sounds like your chisel may need some sharpening.  The best part about a sharp chisel is that you are far less likely to injure yourself with a sharp tool because you can control the cut so much better.

Don
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konacat
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #8 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 8:45pm
 
Here is a link to photos of the scary sharp system and it's use. I believe if you search "scary sharp" on youtube there is a video available but I could never get it to play on my laptop.

Again, Don is correct when he talks about using sharp tools. I for one didn't have a clue on sharpening but now I do pretty good.  It is a world of difference using a sharp chisel vs. a dull one.  A sharp tool lets you use the tool effectivly without trying to force the use of a dull blade.

http://www.luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10102&t=10234&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&...

Philip

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jack
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #9 - Feb 23rd, 2009 at 11:53pm
 
I have been a wood carver for more than 20 years, and don't feel bad, I spend as much time finishing the heel as making the neck.  I would echo the above comments about sharp tools.  The reason it is so difficult, is due to the drastic variation of grain in the heel, side grain, end grain, etc.  In the early stages I use chisels and a mallet, as it is easier to control the tool is you are not pushing with all your weight.  Take your time, and make the heal your own design.
Jack
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Don_Orgeman
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #10 - Feb 24th, 2009 at 3:32am
 
Thanks Philip:

You found a link for the exact system I was recommending.  Use spray on adhesive to hold the sandpaper to the glass.  You will have to go to an auto store to get the ultra-fine grits -- they sell it for auto body work.

Don
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #11 - Feb 24th, 2009 at 5:31am
 
I also have been a crver for many years.  I have found that the heal carves very easily with the Nicholson Cabinetmakers files #49 and #50 (first cut and second cut).  These files are pricey but worth every penny.  Sometimes you can find them discounted at boatmakers suppliers (Jamestown Distributers).These files make for a one stroke cut around the curve of the heel.
The chisel method works great too. However, I'd rather use the Nicholson file and not have to sharpen the chisel.
I also use the round microplane.  If you slide it rather than push/pull it you can cut the curve in one stroke and then come back through and clean it up with the Nicholson.
Hope that helps.
Lori
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mblue
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Re: Shaping heal of Spanish style neck
Reply #12 - Feb 24th, 2009 at 7:39am
 
When I posted this request for help with heal shaping, I had no idea that it would result in so much information, and so many great ideas!
And I am going to try every one of these techniques to determine what works for me.
Thank you all very much.
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