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Telecaster Style Body

Last weekend I put my light box to use piecing together a Telecaster style guitar body drawing. Instead of having a reproduction service print the full-sized PDF drawing, I zoomed in on just the body and printed the view as a poster which printed on 4 pages. I enabled the cut marks to make lining up the pieces easier.

Templates on light box

My new light box’s first service .

I used a hobby knife to cut out the body and then taped up both the positive and the negative bits. Moving the negative around on my body blank helped me decide where to cut.

By moving the outline I was able to select the best place to cut.

Although not strictly necessary, I wanted to keep the glue line of the book matched pieces the center-line of the guitar. After tracing the outline on to my blank, I took it over  to the band saw for rough cutting.

A week or so ago I had actually made a telecaster body template out of 1/2″ MDF, not from this drawing but by actually tracing my made in Japan Telecaster we shall just call “Rose”.

Made in Japan Telecaster - "Rose"

Made in Japan Telecaster – “Rose”

Prepping the template was the process I used to prep the body, trace the outline, rough cut at the band saw and fair the lines by mechanical and hand sanding until perfect. Your fingers are extremely sensitive and by running them along a surface it is quite easy to detect imperfections. I kept working until I couldn’t find any.


Template traced from”Rose”.

I was ready to attach the template to the roughed out body and attempted to do so with some thing double-sided tape. I attempted twice and it didn’t hold at all. I decided to hold the template on with screws so I overlaid the drawing to locate a safe place to drive screws into the body. I selected areas that would become the two pickup and control cavities. I pre-drilled for 4 screws and everything seemed very secure.

Using my new Whiteside pattern routing bit on the router table I carefully routed the body edge. My bit has a depth of cut of 1″ so I had to route the first pass with the pattern attached, then I removed the template and used the newly routed edge as the guide for the second pass. This bit was awesome but I now want one that is 2″ long so I can do this in one pass.

Needless to say, there was a lot of hand work that was needed even after routing. The area that will become the neck pocket was too tight and I didn’t feel comfortable routing all the way around so handwork was necessary. I used rasps, chisels and my oscillating spindle sander to fair the lines.

Once I was happy with the body, I loaded up my 1/8″ round-over bit at the router table and rounded over the edges top and bottom. Once again those areas that were difficult to reach with the router bit were worked by hand. The body looks great and I’m now ready to begin work on the neck.


Black limba T-style blank is ready for the next step.

I’ll wait until the neck is constructed to route the neck pocket. Once I get a good fit on the neck I can determine where the bridge should be located, then pickups and control cavities. It’s a process.

I’m so excited to be working on my first instrument projects. This is the reason I have spent the last 3 years learning to woodwork and setting up a shop and it feels great to actually be here!

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