Walnut Bass - Preparing The Body Blank

The Ziricote fretless bass is now complete (see Gallery), along with the Box Elder 5 string (photos coming soon), so it's time to start my next build. I'm still deciding on the details, so I'll post a full specification at a later date, but to start things off I thought I'd show the preparation of the body blank.

These photos were taken several months ago. Although all the wood use I use is dry and well acclimatized, I like to plane and glue up my blanks ahead of time, so that any slight movement in the wood can be taken care of before the body is cut.

Typically the wood I buy for bodies comes rough sawn, so planing on both the faces and sides is needed. I do have a fairly large powered planer/thicknesser but these days I tend to use a hand plane to do the work.. less noise, less mess and less chance of slicing my finger tips off. To thickness the wood, I tend to use my drum sander.

The wood is clamped in the workbench and I begin planing, using a straight edge or the edge of the plane to show my progress and check for high spots. I should mention that the jointer plane I'm using is probably not the ideal choice for this. At 22'' long and 7 1/2 lbs, it makes for a good workout, but a smaller jack plane would be better suited.. I'll be adding one to my plane collection shortly.

Once I have a flat surface, I run the piece of wood through the drum sander which sands the opposite face flat and parallel to the side I've just planed. I don't remove a lot of wood at this point, the piece is left oversized as it will be sanded again when the pieces have been joined.

The next job is to joint the edges. Again, I use my no7 plane to plane both edges perfectly flat. I use a fence attached to the plane, which makes sure I'm planing at a 90 degree angle.

The two halves are then ready to be glued up. I apply some Titebond Original glue and using a couple of small F-clamps to keep the faces aligned, the body is joined using 3 clamps.

The glue squeeze out is wiped off with a rag before it has time to fully dry, any hard to reach areas are cleaned up once the clamps have been removed, using my home made chisel plane.

Once the glue has fully cured, the blank is run through the drum sander again, ensuring it's perfectly flat on both sides. It's now ready to be stored until I'm ready to start work.