This is How to Make an Acoustic Guitar – Part Twenty Seven – Peghead Veneer. In this part of the series I’ll show you how to add an attractive veneer over your peghead to cover up all of the joints and make the headstock look beautiful. Enjoy.
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Installing Peghead Vener
Peg head veneer is not really veneer in the way that you’re most likely thinking about it. Wood veneer is a very thin material, not much more than a dozen sheets of paper in total thickness. Peg head veneer is very different.
The purpose of this piece of wood is to cover up all of the joinery that is easily visible at the headstock of the guitar. This is from making a stacked neck blank, and from adding pieces of wood to the left and right sides to make it larger.
The piece of wood itself is about an eighth of an inch thick. This is much thicker than common wood veneer, and provides a similar solution by making the headstock look as if it was made from one piece of material.
It covers up all of the joints between the pieces underneath, and provides a uniform background for the tuning machines. It’s an easy part of the process, and though it’s mainly decorative, it’s worth your time to do it.
If you missed last week, check out Acoustic Guitar Making Part Twenty Six Here.
Preparing the Wood
If you want to skip the process of preparing a piece of wood for your pig head veneer, then just go to one of the online guitar making suppliers and buy one. There are a few different species that you can choose from, and it’ll come right to your door ready to use.
Making a piece yourself however is not that difficult. All you need to do is find a piece of wood that looks really nice, fillet a piece off of it, and then thickness it down to 1/8 of an inch. You can pick nearly any species you like, which is a bonus.
The nice thing about peg head veneer is that it’s flashy. You can pick any gorgeous piece of wood that you can find, and mill it down to the right size. At this point, your freedom of choice is nearly unlimited, and you can make a beautiful guitar with your own custom wood choices.
Preparing the Headstock
It’s worth taking a look at the headstock one last time just to make sure that the area is ready to be veneered. The main thing that you’re looking for at this point is flatness, so pay very close attention to that aspect of the headstock.
Use a straight edge, and make sure that there aren’t any gaps or humps in the middle of the headstock. If there are, address them now because it will be much more difficult to do it later once the veneer is in place.
If it’s extremely minor, just let it go. The biggest thing to look for is the edges where the joint between the veneer and the headstock will show. These need to be very flat and tight, and the headstock will look excellent.
See Also: Acoustic Guitar Making For Beginners
Dry Run Without Glue
Now that the two pieces have been fully prepped and inspected, it’s time for the real test. A dry run is where you pretend that you’re gluing your pieces together and go through the entire process just as if the glue were between them, but you don’t actually use any glue.
What this does is reveal any shortcomings that you might not have noticed. It shows you where the mistakes are before they are covered with glue, and it gives you an opportunity to correct them before it’s too late.
So, clamp everything together and do the steps just as if your pieces were covered in glue. Place that headstock veneer carefully, making sure not to smear your imaginary glue, and clamp it down carefully.
Check your joints, and look at all of your seams. Make sure that everything looks good and that the process didn’t reveal anything that you need to go back and take care of.
If something was difficult, or you didn’t have enough clamps, get all of that fixed before you actually use any glue. Anything you find at this point as a gift, because you didn’t have to scrape wet glue off anything to receive it.
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Grain Alignment Considerations
When it comes to headstock veneer, typically the grain goes in the same direction as the neck. This is not a requirement, because the headstock veneer is only for aesthetics, but it’s a good guide to look at.
In general, lining up the grain of the veneer with the direction of the neck will give it a pleasing look, and it will not stick out on the guitar. However, if you’re looking for something to stick out, you can always break the rule.
Especially in the case of a really interesting wood species, or a piece that really doesn’t have a easily identifiable grain direction, put it on in the way that looks the best. In the end, the way it looks is going to be how it makes you happy.
See Also: 25 Best Guitar Making Tips For Beginners
Gluing the Veneer in Place
Now that you’re ready to glue down the veneer, and you have all of your supplies ready, and you’ve done your dry run, you should be very confident in knowing that the process will be successful. Here’s how you get it started.
Using a roller, or a finger with a glove, spread a thin layer of wood glue on the bottom of the veneer and the top of the peg head. Then, bring the two pieces together, and slide them back-and-forth a little bit to spread the glue.
Bring over your clamps, and start placing them one at a time. Ratchet up the pressure evenly, so that way your piece doesn’t slide around. Keep adding clamps in the same way, and keep the pressure even.
It’s important to pay extra attention to the edges of your peghead veneer. This is where any lifting can reveal a big gap, and it won’t look nice on the finished project. Place your clamps strategically near the edges of the peg head, and you can avoid that problem when the glue dries.
Coming Up Next Week
Next week, the how to make an acoustic guitar series continues with roughing out the neck. This is where the shaping of the neck begins, and the part itself starts to look more like an actual guitar neck from a real guitar.
This is a lot easier than it looks, and with the right tools you can also take some of the hard work out of the process. I’ll show you how to do it by hand, because not everybody has an expensive spindle molder, and neither do I.
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