Neck to body dovetail joint

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matt301273

Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by matt301273 »

Hi Everyone,

I am building my first steel string acoustic and I am coming up to making the nect to body dovetail joint. I am using Kinkead's book which is very good but has not allowed me to get a completely clear picture of the making of the joint. Can anyone recommend a really clear guide to how to do this? At the moment I specifically want to know if the dovetail pin tapers along its side (as well as on its face) due to the cut at an angle to get the correct neck angle...

Any advice would be appreciated

Cheers

Matt

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Charlie Schultz
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Charlie Schultz »

Hi Matt and welcome to the forum! Please note that we require the use of full (first & last) names here. Please PM me or one of the mods and we can update your registration, thanks.

I'm not familiar with Kinkead's book, though I'm sure we have members that are and hopefully can answer your questions soon.

Chris Lounsbury
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Chris Lounsbury »

Matt, the protrusion on the end of the neck is actually the 'tail' of the joint but of course the terminology is not important to your question. Personally I establish the neck angle on the heel before cutting the tail, so though of course it tapers from wider (soundboard end) to narrower (end adjacent to the guitar's back), the depth of the tail is consistent. Now, if you started with a square heel and then laid out and cut the neck angle and dovetail at once, you would end up with a tail that is less deep at the soundboard end and more deep at the 'back' end, but the angles on the tail's side surfaces should be the same either way.

I prefer that the tail be the same depth along its length, as this creates an even space between it and the inside face of its mortise in the heel block. I also prefer to know already that the neck angles (both pitch and yaw) are all correct before proceeding to cut the dovetail.

EDIT: I looked at Kinkead's book and he also establishes neck pitch first. The last sentence on page 105 directs the builder to cut the heel at an angle earlier determined by placing the neck and body together and aiming the neck for a certain height above the soundboard at the bridge location. Then, the tail will have consistent depth along its length.
Last edited by Chris Lounsbury on Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Rodger Knox
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Rodger Knox »

Is there a reason that you want to use a dovetail for that connection, other than it is the method in the book you're following? It is the traditional joint for that connection, but there are several much easier ways that are widely used by handbuilders and manufacturers.
Taylor uses a simple bolted butt joint, and many handbuilders use that or a bolted mortise and tenion joint.
I'd recomend the bolted mortise and tenion use by William Cumpiano.

http://www.cumpiano.com/Home/Articles/S ... block.html
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

I concur with Rodger - the hardware based joints are much more practical than the dovetail, however...
I'm also not familiar with the book, but If the book does not give very detailed, step-by-step, illustrated instructions on cutting the joint, then I suggest you either:
1) find good instructions online (they MUST exist on Youtube or elsewhere), OR
2) Buy the jigs from Stew-Mac that are designed to cut this joint with a router. Stew-Mac will give the instructions.
Likes to drink Rosewood Juice

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Ryan Mazzocco
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Ryan Mazzocco »

I was also going to recommend StewMac's router jigs, but Chuck beat me to the punch.

Gilbert Fredrickson
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Gilbert Fredrickson »

Google "cutting dovetail neck joint" and go to Steve Steven's tutorial. It's the greatest thing ever printed!

Chuck Tweedy
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Chuck Tweedy »

Well, there ya' go.
My claim is: "If it exists, it is on the interwebs ... plus a lot of stuff that does not exist as well"
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Michael Lewis
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Michael Lewis »

First, I am not trying to dissuade you from using a dovetail neck joint, I use them and like them very much. But, the first (and second and third, etc.) are likely to be a giant frustration until you get your mind wrapped around what has to fit and how it goes through the process. Treat it as an educational experience and move on to making great guitars. Get some scrap construction material, 2 X 4s etc. and practice making the joint a few times before you risk your guitar wood. I know, it's a hassle to go through all that process and frustration, but it will be well worth the time and effort you spend learning how to do it well if you intend making good guitars.

Nick Dingle
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Nick Dingle »

I used Kinkade for me first and second. He explains the dove tial joint pretty well. As Michael suggests, I made up a couple jigs and practised on scraps for a while until the cuts were close, then I searched around the net for info BluesCreek has a nice bit on the fitting the joint, that took alot of the mystery out of it. My first took a long time and a couple of shim sessions to get right. The second was easier, and perfect. My last is pretty good, but not perfect. Definitely takes practise, practise, practise, but it's easy enough to uderstand once you get your head around it...

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L3YJh9OT4mw there are 4 videos in all, I'd watch them all first, then use each again once you get going

Good luck. You'll get a great "AHAH moment" when it fits properly

John Hall
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by John Hall »

I am a traditionalist and use dovetails. I think most people way over think this joint. It matters not , Bolt on , Dowel , Dovetail , they neck mating still has to be done to establish the neck angle between the neck heel and the sides of the guitar at the neck block. The one major advantage to a dovetail joint is that it is the only joint that can be self supporting. Yes a bolt on will work but I have seen many bolt ons that needed the bolts tightened.
If we are speaking glued bolt on , using 1 bolt as in the Martin style a dovetail is much better. With 2 bolts you have double the mechanical hold but still the glue is in shear. In a dovetail the glue joint is in compression.
Still as long as the joint is clean and strong they will do the job.
John Hall

Learn from others mistakes, You can't make them all yourself

Gilbert Fredrickson
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Re: Neck to body dovetail joint

Post by Gilbert Fredrickson »

It would be nice if someone would open a discussion topic on neck and heel to body joints and the evolution of these joints "throughout the ages."

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