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Lacote V-Neck Joint

Lacote V-Neck Joint: Part 1

I started working on necks for 5 Lacotes and would like to share my technique for rough cutting the V-joints used to attach the neck shaft and headstock. While I believe I may be able to leverage my CNC machine to create at least part of this joint, these particular necks are going to be a manual effort with the help of both my table and bandsaws.

I started out with some Curly Maple neck blanks. The blanks were taken out of a 6 inch x 5/4 board which was flat sawn. I was able to get close to quartered (probably more like rift) pieces out of the board by cutting each blank as one piece and then ripping it down the middle and bookmatching it. This worked out very well and I have a very attractive curl showing all the way down the neck shaft.

I didn’t bother scribing the mortise or tenon. I just used a sharp pencil to lay the out the stock as I created a stop for my tablesaw and a sliding jig for my band saw to cut both the the the male and female V’s, they really do all of the work making this a fairly mindless task. All I needed were some lines to act as guide letting my primitive tooling guide the cuts.

VJoint1

My next step was make the side cuts on the neck blank using the table saw. I set up stop on my fence to ensure both cuts lined up as I don’t want to have to tweak those surfaces which will mate with the headstock piece. These cuts also enabled me to get a nice clean corner when I cut out the V tenon on the bandsaw.

VJoint2

I did all 5 neck blanks which gave me the consistency I wanted from neck to neck

VJoint3

The next step involved cutting the actual V tenon which I did on my bandsaw. I fashioned an angled piece of birch plywood which rides along my fence and give me the correct cut angle. All I really needed to do line up the entry point of the cut with the saw blade, hold the neck blank firmly against the angled piece of plywood and push both through to make the cut. I can make this foolproof by installing a stop on the plywood but I was able to hold both the plywood and neck blank together so I didn’t bother. Perhaps on my next run I’ll add the stop.

VJoint4

I’ll add more to this post as I progress with work on the joints. Creating accurate V cuts is really not that hard. The real challenges arise with the fitting/fine-tuning of the joint itself.

Lacote Neck Joint: Part 2

I wanted to continue where I left off with my last entry on this post and share some photos and jigs I have been using to cut the V mortise in the headstock piece. As I mentioned earlier, I fashioned a simple sliding jig which was nothing more than an angled piece of birch ply which enabled me to cut the angled tenon on one end of the neck. As I surfed the web I came across another post on a forum which outlined several useful jigs which allows for more control and precision cutting these joints. Thanks to Johann (Hans) Brentrup for sharing his approach on making these V joints. I’ll share his homepage address with you at the end of this post. He’s a great builder and I definitely recommend you visit his site to take a look at his guitars and mandolins.

These sliding jigs are pretty simple to make. I made them in an hour and some change out of a couple of scraps of MDF and hardwood. Obviously, take your time building them as your cuts are only going to be as accurate the jigs. The hardwood slats fit into the fence guides on my bandsaw. These are a lot easier to manage than the angled piece of plywood I used originally to cut the neck tenons shown in my first entry.

V-Joint Setup 3

I’ll share how these tenons would have been cut if I had used Han’s jigs. It’s actually pretty neat. First the left side. The new jigs accommodated clamps easily so holding the work steady was a non-issue. I really had to stay on my toes to keep the work piece from moving using my original jig as there was no easy way to clamp the piece to the jig.

V-joint setup 1

Next the right side of the tenon

V-joint setup 2

I hadn’t angled the face or cut the V mortise in the headstock or so I was able to leverage Han’s jig for them. I made two of these ramps as he recommended. One for creating the angled face of the headstock that is glued to the neck and the other for cutting the mortise. Frankly, I use one ramp for both operations giving me a spare in case I mess up the one I’m currently using. As this whole process is new to me, that’s probably the best approach.

Hans uses a stationary disc sander to create the angled face on the headstock. I opted to try my table saw which gives me a great cut. The only problem with the table saw is it is really difficult to take off minute amounts of wood to make the final adjustment to make the V joint fit properly. For that reason I only prepared one headstock face joint using the table saw and purchased a sander to finish the others. It’s really the way to go.

Headstock Angle

The next step is to cut the V mortise on the bandsaw using the ramp and the two sliding jigs. I believe the photo illustrate how everything works. The clamps made it very easy to hold everything together for a nice clean set of cuts. Both the ramp and the sliding jig move together to create the cut.

V-joint setup 5

The rough fitting of the V joint is really not as rough as one might think. It fits fairly tight. Most of the work is going to be shaving down the face of the headstock that gets glued to the neck.

Here’s the bottom view of the rough fit joint:

HeadstockFitBottom

Top view of the joint:

HeadstockFitTop_alt

The headstock will be faced in ebony, both back and front to fill it out to its final thickness.

If you’re interested in getting another perspective on how this V-joint is created, you can do so at www.mandolincafe.com/forum/showthread.php?56520-Spanish-V-Joint. Hans’ website is at www.brentrup.com. Check out his work…really nice!

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6 comments

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  1. valerio d'souza

    exelente esplanação sobre v joint!! eu agradeço a postagem que muito ajuda aos luthier principiantes!

  2. Chuck

    Hello Valerio, thanks for the acknowledgement regarding the V joint. Please do stay in touch as I have some new and improved approaches for V joint construction that I will be sharing soon. Sorry that I do not speak Portuguese so we could carry on a dialogue.

    Chuck Marfione

  3. valerio d'souza

    continuo admirando seu trabalho. muito obrigado .mesmo sem falar ingles !!he he h e tudo que postar eu seguirei .é sempre bom encontrar explanações, sou um luthier por hoby.seu gabarito me ajudaram muito.

    1. Chuck

      Thanks Valerio, There’s more to come. I have just been so busy building and designing that Blogging has not been first on my list. Hopefully soon more info will be available.

      Chuck Marfione

  4. Graham

    Hi, I want to use the v joint on a steel string acoustic I’m making, am I ok to take the head angle to 15 degrees? I’ve noticed this joint is used for the classical guitar, how we’ll does it work on the steel strings? Thx

    Graham

    1. Chuck

      Hi Graham,
      In my opinion your should probably be ok, especially if you have a really tight joint with a fair amount of gluing surface area. You will most likely have a thicker headstock so that will give you the extra gluing surface area you will want to compensate for the added stress that the steel strings and increased headstock angle will put on the joint. Like all of us you need to experiment! Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Chuck

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