StewMac tools

maple neck grain orientation

Ask your wood and other materials questions here. Please DO NOT post pictures and ask us to identify your wood, we have found that accurate ID is nearly impossible, and such discussions will be deleted. Thanks.

maple neck grain orientation

Postby Brian Evans » Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:18 pm

I have a piece of maple for a neck blank. It's quartersawn, with some flame to it. It's big enough to do a one piece neck if I stack the heel and do a little scarf joint to extend the headstock. I can't decide if I should do a one piece neck, cut it and laminate it so it is effectively flat sawn with a stripe of purpleheart, or cut it, laminate it quartersawn with a stripe (and the stacked heel and the scarfed headstock). I am leaning towards the one piece neck for the nice pop of flame on the back of the neck, the flat sawn with the stripe might be more stable, or go nuts and do both. I have heard to avoid one piece maple necks, yet so many are made (D'Aquisto famously used one piece necks, so it is said).

What to do?
Brian Evans
 
Posts: 530
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:26 am
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Gordon Bellerose » Tue Dec 13, 2016 4:49 pm

I have made necks a few different ways.
I have "one piece" (finger board is second piece) flat sawn maple necks that are extremely stable.
I have quarter sawn "one piece" maple necks that are very stable too.

I also have made necks that are quarter sawn, and 5 piece. (maple, padauk, maple, padauk, maple).
These are the most stable and the strongest. The flame still shows on the sides.

The important thing is "How stiff is the piece of wood"?
I need your help. I can't possibly make all the mistakes myself!
Gordon Bellerose
 
Posts: 946
Joined: Wed May 30, 2012 11:47 pm
Location: Edmonton AB. Canada

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:03 am

So my research into this (it never came up before because I never had a neck blank suitable for a one piece neck) implies that D'Angelico and D'Aquisto both used one piece necks and they were very stable. D'Aquisto said that laminated necks were more for visual appeal than structural necessity. You can make a three piece neck from a far more readily available and less costly 3/4" thick board, and a two piece neck with center laminations from a 1" thick board. You about need a 4" by 4" to make a one piece neck. So much of what is written about this seems made-up and self-justifying. Grain orientation - flat sawn vs quarter sawn - quite a few people said quarter sawn wood was denser and had finer grain. Density and grain has nothing to do with how you saw the wood. Take a flat sawn board and stand it on it's edge, hey presto, now it's quarter sawn. Apparently the engineering boffins have determined that a given piece of wood will be stiffer if flat sawn than quarter sawn, which is the opposite of what is usually said. I read that engineering-wise the reason braces are made from quarter sawn spruce is not because the brace is stiffer, it's because the wood is far easier to shape and plane once it's glued in place. I know from race car work that if I am making a composite layup that has to be stiff my laminations are laid in the equivalent of flat sawn grain with filler in between.

So now I still can't make up my mind. I'll go look at that chunk of wood for a while. When I pick it up and head to a saw I'll know. If I head to a mitre saw it will be one piece, if I head to a band saw it will be laminated... :)
Brian Evans
 
Posts: 530
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:26 am
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Alan Carruth » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:39 pm

There's no reason I can think of for wood to always be stiffer along the grain in one orientation. I've seen, and done, measurements of stiffness of brace stock both ways: if it's different in one direction it's not usually by much, and seems to vary pretty much at random. The one circumstance that would tend to make bracing that was sawn with the glue surface flat cut stiffer would be if the grain was open, with prominent ring lines and it ended up with hard latewood lines at the top and bottom of the brace. In that case you have something like an I-beam.

Wood tends to shrink and swell more tangentially than radially: a flat cut board will likely change in width more than a quartered one. If the ring lines are curved on the end of the board it is also more likely to cup for the same reason. Different species vary in regard to all of this. Which grain orientation will work better in a particular instance thus might have to do with the circumstances. Ebony has relatively high cross grain shrinkage, and some folks claim that it actually works better to glue it to a flat cut surface, as that's more likely to match. If neck blank was cut so that the fingerboard surface is flat cut, and the grain curves a lot, you could end up with the fingerboard radius changing. Curl figure shows up best on a quartered surface, so book matching two pieces from a flat cut curly board such that the fingerboard side is quartered usually makes a nice looking neck. Birdseye shows up better on a flat cut surface. And so on.
Alan Carruth
 
Posts: 747
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:11 pm

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Brian Evans » Wed Dec 14, 2016 4:46 pm

I'm having a hard time finding alternate sources to back up that stiffness difference opinion. What I am finding is that while the ultimate yield strength might be different quarter sawn to flat sawn, the stiffness is virtually identical, as Alan says. I found data that suggested the load to break a stick in half might be around 60% greater for flatsawn. Stiffness is a totally different thing than yield strength. I ended up going with a quartersawn one piece neck, with a stacked heel. Good enough for the D'A's, good enough for me.
Brian Evans
 
Posts: 530
Joined: Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:26 am
Location: Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed Dec 14, 2016 5:23 pm

I've never heard any claims of stiffness/strength variations in flat-sawn vs quarter-sawn stock, but from a wood movement perspective I'd say the important thing is keeping the growth-ring orientation to the FB symmetrical about the neck/FB centerline. Most any movement would either have minimal effect, or be correctable, but if the growth rings are in any way asymmetrical to the centerline, any seasonal wood movement would be more prone to introducing a twist, and much more difficult to correct.

Not speaking from experience in building necks here, just from designing stuff to take the inevitable wood movement into account.
==Steve==
User avatar
Steve Sawyer
 
Posts: 381
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Detroit, Michigan

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Bob Howell » Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:08 pm

I started building my first guitars last summer and got out a an 8/4 curly soft maple board for the neck. I cut up 3 neck blanks to start off but I lost track of grain orientation and later found all resulted in flat grain necks. I set them aside and made other necks out of quarter sawn walnut; but those necks sure look good, just flat sawn. I am now moving to my 3rd om and wondering about what I read here about maple. I have 2 beautiful necks all glued up but flat sawn. What risk am I running to use them?
Bob Howell
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:23 am
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Mario Proulx » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:08 pm

Use them. There are millions of Telecasters and their ilk with flatsawn maple necks doing just fine....
Mario Proulx
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:08 pm

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Mark Swanson » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:17 pm

Agree, as long as the wood is stable you'll be just fine!
    Mark Swanson, guitarist, MIMForum Staff
User avatar
Mark Swanson
 
Posts: 1914
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 11:11 am
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan USA

Re: maple neck grain orientation

Postby Bob Howell » Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:29 am

That's great to hear. It has bugged me to make this mistake and I like the look of a light color like maple for some variation.
Bob Howell
 
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:23 am
Location: Atlanta, GA


Return to Wood and Materials Q&A

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Your purchase from these sites helps support the MIMForum, but only if you start at the links below!!!
Amazon music     Amazon books     Amazon tools     Rockler tools     Office Depot    

The MIMF is a member-supported forum, please consider supporting us with a donation, thanks!
 • Book store • Tool store • Links •