10. Fitting the Neck

The body is finished as is the neck. Now it’s time to join the two.

The first thing I do is to hold the neck in position with all the centerlines lined up. Take a chisel and score a line on both sides of the neck.

I saw through the purfling and chip out the wood between the saw cuts... so the

neck can drop right in place. Now I can measure how far in it needs to be set.

While it’s in place, I take a sharp knife and score both sides of the ribs where the neck contacts.

Taking my depth measurement (9 mm), I cut through the top at that point using a tool that will give me a line perpendicular to the tops center joint.

Cut, cut, cut... or use a knife. It’s necessary to cut through the ribs or you might have splintering when it’s chiseled out.

I’m deepening the edge here.

Dig it out checking the neck fit every so often.

The “projection” is the extension of the fingerboard to the line between the f-hole nicks, or the “stop”. On a new, instrument I set my necks high... in this case 86 mm.
Over the first year or two this can drop as much as 5 mm with the instrument under tension undergoing seasonal changes.

I’m targeting 22 mm. from the edge of the top to the fingerboard.

With this inexpensive tool, I can check alignment with the center of the top. Got some adjustment left to do here.

If I’m feeling insecure, the chalk will come out for a better fit. Most of the fine tuning is done with an array of rasps and files.

The final fit of the heel to the tongue is done with a plane. I want this joint as perfect as possible. It is what holds things together as most of the other gluing surfaces are end-grain.

Here’s my clamping set up. Heat the wood under a lamp first, apply strong hot hide glue, squeeze the neck in. I tighten the strap first, then the clamp.

When it’s all dry, clean up the work. I finish the neck with 320 grit sandpaper.

I fit a saddle leaving a little space on each side for expansion. I also fit the endpin most of the way at this time. I grab the fingerboard and rip it off. If I’m lucky, it’ll just pop right off...

then glue a flat piece of wood in it’s place to hold the neck shape while varnishing.

Into the light box for 7-10 days. The lights will burn your retina... but not a picture of the lights. It’s safe to look at them now.
I put a tin of water for humidity at the bottom of the box.
The bulbs I’m using are Sylvania 350 Blacklight, F30T8/350BL. 30W.
I built the box with the ballasts outside. It still generates a lot of heat. There is a sliding wall I use when I’m irradiating a violin.

There is a bathroom fan on top with a three way switch to keep things cool. All the lights are individually switched. When things get real stinky the drier vent attachment sends the nasty fumes to the garage. Lucy and the cats appreciate that part...

Well, the cello is going to sit for a while and develop a beautiful tan. It would be quicker if I bought a new set of bulbs. I hear these lose effectiveness after a while.

It’s a good time to set up the varnish, maybe read a good book.

Stay tuned.....