The only way to get good at it is to make a lot of them. I carved many by hand before the CNC. I still do a considerable amount of finish carving by hand; The reason is simple. I like to leave extra material around the neck contours. When the fret boards attached, the back of the neck, heel, and head stock transition are shaped simultaneously. Creating a natural flow and feel to the part.

The way I work may not be the most efficient, and that’s OK. I’m trying to make precise parts. Production speed is not my goal. Take your time and do the job right the first time. It takes a lot less energy and is more satisfying, not to mention faster. I thickness sand the stock required in the Fusion360 setup. I run it through the joiner on one edge. this creates three accurate surfaces to indicate from. I roughly cut the scarf joint on the band saw and set up the stock up to mill the scarf joint on the CNC with a 3/4″ ball mill. I finish the surface by hand before the glue-up. Because the scarf joint faces are CNC milled with the lumber on access, I can recreate precise angles. I have learned to be patient with these gluing procedures. It takes some experience to know how much glue to use and how long to wait for the tack. I get better at these with each attempt. You might notice the use of salt to help keep the faces from sliding under claiming pressure. I have abandoned this practice. It’s a more reliable joint if you give the glue a few minutes to tack before applying full clamping pressure. The overhang on the joint is intentional. I mill off the extra to create a perfect scarf angle and parallel peg-head face. Then I attach the peg-head veneer and manually remove the excess. I won’t go into all the details of my milling procedure. Refer to 4:17 in the video for this explanation.

This process is frustrating, and more than once, I have ripped a failed milling operation from the spoil board and tested its rebound capacities off of a shop wall. If you want to become proficient, you are going to need to fail. Keep at it, and it will become easier. I learn with each attempt. I milled this neck over six months ago, and I have learned a lot about this process since. In the end, the journey is far more interesting than the result.

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