"Reclaimed" Spalted Maple Jazzmaster

bmpietras

New member
Messages
9
Hey everyone - joined recently and have been lurking in the DIY Finishing section for a while as I work on this project.

My family has a decent property out in NJ farmland and a nasty beetle infestation has downed a lot of their old growth trees. The first was a maple and i think they’re going to be cutting down some dead ash and walnut trees soon - future builds!

This is my first-ever build, and learned quite a bit along the way. Lots of mistakes…but that’s how you learn! We were able to cut ~3-4” thick blanks out of the center of the tree which was just wide enough for a single-piece body blank.

The maple had been sitting for some time and beetles had done a really good job of chewing small channels throughout (I think of it as weight relief) but the real challenge was planing the wood down to 1.75” by hand - no access to a planet and I was being quoted more than the price of a new body blank from warmoth from local shops. So, said eff it and did it by hand, which took the better part of a day. Ironically, we were gifted a 12” planer after I finished so the next build will be a 2-piece, looking forward to that!

Not much to be said about the shaping and drilling. I’ve never actually held a jazzmaster in person, and NONE of the shops within an hour of me have any in stock (COVID) so i had to guess a great deal based off of photos and CAD files. The one area that I found difficult to get right was the front body contour: some photos seem to imply it’s a level cut but others sit looks like a gentle curve, similar to the Strat I have in hand. I wound up going with the latter. In the process, learned that getting a japanese saw to remove material quickly will be a good investment for the future…

Last but not least, a very light stain with minwax golden mahogany (I wanted to just give a touch of amber without concealing any of the spalting) followed by about 10 coats of tru oil.

TIP: Have all of your metal/plastic pieces on hand to double check measurements…template did NOT match the 62 AVRI tort pick guard. Bridge placement was off by about 1/8” requiring me to redrill the holes (you can see the full evident in the last photo)

THANK YOU to everyone in the forums who has posted extensive guides to finishing with TO - enormously helpful even if i didn’t think to look until halfway through the process. Finish isn’t perfect, but neither is the wood!

Thanks for looking - following up with some more assembly photos (bridge just came in, electronics next month, neck/finishing end of year). Neck will be maple as well with black gloss headstock/decal, back of headstock gloss and colored to match body with TO for the rest similar to the Music Man necks.
 

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mayfly

Senior member
Messages
8,228
That is awesome!  Nice job on that for sure!

Can't believe you levelled that with a chisel!  In the future you might want to get a nice scrub-plane for that kind of thing.


 

bmpietras

New member
Messages
9
Thanks all! Yeah i seriously overestimated how much material I would need in order to plane down properly. Lots of sweat and only a little blood  :glasses10: Lesson learned! I’ll look into that kind of planer - had to start this build on a slim budget but hoping to invest in some equipment for future projects.
 

bmpietras

New member
Messages
9
Mayfly said:
That is awesome!  Nice job on that for sure!

Can't believe you levelled that with a chisel!  In the future you might want to get a nice scrub-plane for that kind of thing.

Ah yes we actually had a 4” machine hand planer but it was only useful for the last 1/4” or so of material, followed by a lot of sanding and level-checking with a straight edge. No photos of that stage unfortunately but it wasn’t very exciting
 

DieterDeux

Active member
Messages
69
That’s pretty cool! Curious, don’t you usually have to let the wood dry out for a year or two indoors after cutting down? Feel like i’ve seen that when reading about wood turning, etc. Hopefully that body doesn’t warp on you after all that work!
I’m envious though. Would love to try a scratch build and you did pretty great for a first attempt.
 

bmpietras

New member
Messages
9
DieterDeux said:
That’s pretty cool! Curious, don’t you usually have to let the wood dry out for a year or two indoors after cutting down? Feel like i’ve seen that when reading about wood turning, etc. Hopefully that body doesn’t warp on you after all that work!
I’m envious though. Would love to try a scratch build and you did pretty great for a first attempt.

Thanks DieterDeux! I forgot to mention that once the rough blanks were cut from the log they sat in a barn for a few months, then I “roasted” the blank for several hours at progressively higher temperature (starting at 250 to max 375 I think, following the advice gleaned from another forum). It’s not a proper “roasted maple” as done in a vacuum kiln but I wanted to ensure there wasn’t too much moisture trapped in the wood that could cause warping as you suggest. The blank did indeed warp slightly in the oven and darkened a bit but since it was about 4” thick it was no problem to (after another month or so indoors) trim down to 1.75”. It lost about 5-10% of its initial weight after drying as well.  It then sat for another couple of weeks before I could start shaping and finishing. It’s been a long process!
 

bmpietras

New member
Messages
9
Also - warmoth neck arriving in the mail next week! Following up soon with details on how that’ll be finished.
 

DangerousR6

Senior member
Messages
15,456
Awesome project, spalted maple I think is one of the most striking, but especially cool to have a whole solid chunk of it to make a body.
:kewlpics:
 

bmpietras

New member
Messages
9
Neck has arrived! Bought it off of the showcase: Vintage Modern, Dark Rosewood/Maple, SS 6105 frets. Finishing with tru oil to a satin finish on the back of the neck and gloss on the front of the headstock.

A quick rundown of the finishing schedule:

DAY 1
1. Raise grain on unfinished neck (assuming sanded to 220 from shop).
2. Sanded to 400
3. Sanded to 600, first coat of tru oil. Dry overnight.

Day 2
4. 1x coat of tru oil in morning (2nd total), let dry 12 hours
5. Light sand with 800 grit
6. 1x coat of tru oil (3rd total)

Day 3 [CURRENT]
7. 1 coat of tru oil in AM (4th total). Let dry 12 hours.
8. 1 coat of tru oil in PM (5th total). Let dry 1 week.

9. Apply decals to headstock. 

10. Continue tru oil pattern for about 10-12 coats total.

Question at this point is how many coats to put on: should I leave the back of the neck at ~5–6 coats and steel wool to satin finish, while the heavier build-up is saved for the gloss portion of the headstock? Or do 10-12 for the entire neck and buff down to a satin finish on the back and sides? I’ve read years of posts on the forums on this issue, seems like everyone still does it differently!

Also: should I be so concerned with taping off the side portions of the rosewood? Under the impression I shouldn’t get any tru oil on it (obviously not the face of the fretboard), but the few coats that are covering the rosewood behind the nut look pretty nice. Just curious as this is my first time finishing a neck by hand. Can’t really tell if the legit fender neck I have as a reference has the sides oversprayed.

Photos of the process coming soon, forum is irritatingly sensitive about jpeg vs jpg…

EDIT: I’m now 99% convinced that Fender over sprayed the sides of the rosewood fretboard on my Strat, considering now rolling the edges and fret finishing before the final few coats of oil on the back/sides.
 

Rick

Senior member
Messages
4,311
Q1  I do the entire neck --- headstock and back with at least 15 total coats of tru-oil.  After 3 coats I thin the tru-oil to 50% with naptha.  Let dry 24 hours between coats.  Mistakes are easy to fix with tru-oil.  Also, make sure to wipe off all the dust between coats with a paper towel soaked in naptha.  Also, let dry a month after final coat and then buff with scratch X.

Q2  I tape off the sides of the fret board.  Behind the nut on the headstock no.
 

stratamania

Senior member
Messages
9,205
At the end of the day the process of applying Tru-oil etc other than general guidelines it is also a bit of a feel thing and art as well as craft involved.  You should not need to raise grain on Warmoth necks as they are usually already smooth.

You should not need any steel wool, just don't go for as much gloss on the neck shaft as you might want on the headstock.

How long for each application to dry again can vary dependent on how much was applied (generally thinner is better) and also temperature and humidity of room etc.

Per the sides of the fretboard. I apply Tru oil to the neck shaft including the sides of the fretboard and the transition behind the nut to the headstock face. This is the same as a neck would be done in nitro for example. I do not personally mask off the face of the fretboard as I find I do not need to, but it would be an idea to do so if you feel more comfortable that way. The reason I put it on the sides of the board as well as for aesthetics is that I do not want a slight ridge of finish where the neck shaft joins the board in the middle of what is effectively or should be one smooth surface.

Per decals, not all are compatible with Tru Oil, so you might want to test that before committing to an actual decal. A possible workaround is to apply a mist coat or two of nitro to the decal and let it dry prior to application so that it acts as a barrier between the decal and the tru-oil.

 

bmpietras

New member
Messages
9
Thanks for the advice rick2 and stratamania. Tested the tru oil on a scrap decal I had and no adverse effects so I think it will work fine. Neck is up to five coats of tru oil now and just about getting to the point where the finish is becoming specular. Not sure I want the back of the neck to get too glossy so I'm going to sit on it for a few days and think about how I want to proceed.

For the headstock, I'll let the finish cure for a few days and then apply the first decal. I might end up designing my own which will take a couple weeks to do + shipping time, so I can let the majority of the neck cure up properly before applying that decal and the final coats too the front of the headstock.

here are some photos of the work in progress! These are a couple of days behind, with two coats of oil applied. You can just about see the gloss appearing in the right light. I'm really pleased with the quality of the rosewood and the maple alike: the rosewood is a very consistent dark chocolate color with very fine grain, and the maple has a scattering of subtle birdseye and nice flourishes in the grain that the tru oil is really bringing out.

 

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