Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls PowerDork
10/23/17 6:13 p.m.

It is time. I can't put it off any longer. This itch has been wanting a good scratching since I was 16. I have modified instruments. I have refinished them. I have built up parts guitars. I have built a few crazy contraptions like an upright bass banjo with a 22" kick drum and an acoustic long necked dulcimer. Actually when I bought this house in 2003 the plan was to set up the garage as a wood shop but cars got in the way. Now I do all my car stuff at work so the garage is free again.


So it's gonna happen. I subscribe to a lot of weird/fetish guitar groups on instagram and facebook and a few months ago I saw one that was new to me that made me gasp a little. The Magnatone Mark VIII designed by Paul Barth before he went to Rickenbaker and made legendary stuff.

It's got a little bit of the little Ricky solid body thing, a bit of Tele and even some Les Paul Jr in there. High quirk factor, but not too alien like the Wandre stuff I also love.

I found a good head on photo and massaged it in MS paint long enough to get an outline and then dug out this strange projector thing I probably purchased just because it bears a strong resemblance to the laser in "Real Genius"

I then made two lines 24.75" inches apart on a sheet of paper and enlarged the image on it until the marks lined up with the nut and bridge and started penciling it out.

Turned the lights on and 

Close enough. Some time with the french curves got it smoothed out. Then I flopped a sheet of acrylic over that and transferred it with a sharpie.

Then I could use the acrylic over full size gibson plans to get a better idea of scale and see if any parts of an existing template set could work. The answer was no. frown

But it does show just how similar the Magnatone shape is to the Junior/special shape that I love so much. Interesting to note the Magnatone neck is offset about 3/8" from the centerline. I think that is what gives it the "quirky" feeling. If I center it up things feel a bit more normal


So as of right now I am planning two guitars. a Junior style with a single P90, wraparound bridge and Kluson 3 on a plate tuners. And a fuller featured one with a Gibson Classic 57 in the bridge, a P94 in the neck and some Schaller tuners. 

A lot of time will probably be wasted tuning up my hand planes that haven't been touched in a decade or more... and bandsaw mods... and other tool acquisitions or builds. I have no idea how long this will take.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
10/23/17 7:45 p.m.

In reply to Jumper K. Balls :


Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls PowerDork
10/24/17 12:23 a.m.
Jumper K. Balls said:


Some silver spray paint and I have an excellent Halloween costume prop here 

LanEvo HalfDork
10/24/17 2:04 p.m.

I love P90s and wrap-tail bridges. Can’t go wrong. Here’s my main player: a Custom Shop Les Paul Jr. with one-off paint job:

The body you’ve come up with kind of reminds me of a ‘63 Gretsch Corvette I used to have. Mine was modified by Jim Mouradian with dual P90s and Tune-o-Matic bridge:

Ransom PowerDork
10/24/17 5:07 p.m.

This was going to be awesome even before the Real Genius reference...

Ever play around with the "scary sharp" method for sharpening planes and chisels? I'm no connoisseur, but I was pretty impressed after trying it out. Not that I had a ton to compare it to. I don't recall which how-to I used, but there are a number out there; guessing you can just pick the most-readable.

Anyhow, subscribed!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/24/17 5:16 p.m.

I play with Very Sharp Knives for kitchen use, and it seems that a lot of the information comes from guys with wood chisels or straight razors. My choice is Japanese waterstones, BTW.

This is going to be fun.

Jumper K. Balls
Jumper K. Balls PowerDork
10/27/17 8:21 p.m.

.... uhh.


It's a damn shame when folks be ruining a perfectly good work surface like that


Lets back up.

I guess I will start by introducing you to my "router table".

I know, I know. It's a travesty. I bolted that old ass router to a chunk of plywood some years ago. I mean... I own a vertical mill so my slotting needs are pretty much covered, right? I have screwed that "router table" to the picnic table in the back yard when the need arose and it kinda did the job.

On a separate tangent. How did I end up with a collection of 60's and 70's vintage routers? I mean, I can not ever remember buying one, yet there are like 4 in my garage!  

Ok, back on topic. And as you might have guessed that topic is routers. Through a strange Craigslist barter I got a brute of a router.  A 3 1/2 hp Porter Cable in it's box with everything. It is a nice enough thing.

The sticker on the top proclaims it to be "proudly made in the USA". Now when I worked in manufacturing "pride" is the last thing I would describe my American coworkers as having in their work, It was more "seething resentment" than pride. Maybe that was just my facility. But I digress.

I found a Porter Cable "shaper table" as defined by the sticker on the side

And snapped that up thinking I would be as set up as I could be for my upcoming adventures in templates and pattern bits.  Sweet!

Aww bugger. The brute is a bit girthier than intended for this table and without any suitable 2X4's to make base risers I did what anyone with a new router that they had yet to use and the finest conference table one could get at a thrift store for $20.

Was this the right decision? I dunno . Was it fun? Yeah at first, but it took an awful long time with the 1/4" bit I was using. I was losing interest after a while. It's ok though. I stuck with it and was rewarded with a fit I can only describe as Okayish.

Also it is backwards and I need to hog out a lot more of the plywood understucture to get it to flip around. I guess I also need to hit the lathe and machine up some clearance inserts of various IDs.

But before that I need to sit down with myself and have a serious conversation about dust collection because this....

Is about 20% of what I made today and I am still prepping tools. Cutting lumber is later!

It is the weekend. I hope to get some work done.

RossD MegaDork
10/27/17 9:13 p.m.


Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/27/17 10:19 p.m.

Routers are designed to aerosolize wood. It's spectacular. I've never made a faster mess that didn't involve an antifreeze spill.

Recon1342 Reader
10/28/17 2:14 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I’ve never heard it described that way, but I agree with your conclusion.

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
11/19/17 6:32 p.m.

Had some things that kept me out of the garage. An extended trip to Seattle, some family obligations, some unprecedented downpours of rain during the prime hours to play which led to a backlog of chores when it wasn't pissing down.

I played on the mill at my shop and created a tapered jig for cutting the neck pocket at 3 degrees. A Saf-T planer on a mill is a powerful thing. I dig it and wonder why more folks don't do stuff like this. Perhaps most woodworkers don't have access to 2500lb industrial machine tools.


I set the tilt table at 3 degrees and made a 1/2" chunk of MDF  into a wedge.

And then cut a 2"X4" pocket out of it. This can now be affixed to the body and used to cut an accurate angled mortise with the router.

I also picked up the cheapest planer on CL. An 80's vintage Ryobi 10". It's probably too small and underpowered but it is mine. So I built a quick 4 foot infeed/outfeed table for it

The table works very well. And chucking that weathered piece of mahogany through it a few dozen times revealed actual nice looking stuff.

It also revealed some chips in the blades, so new ones are on order.

In my "new planer owner" frenzy I ran upstairs and found some Myrtlewood my grandfather used to cut down on his property in the 80's and I have been storing since the late 90's.

Some interesting figure there.  I will have to think of a project for it.

I also managed to change the tires on the bandsaw (and also get dust on the lens)

So armed with new tires and a new blade I found a scrap of Luan and decided to try out the template... or at least part of it. It was a small scrap

Roughly bandsawn

Template adhered


And a pass with the roundover bit.

So I have proven that even I am capable of following the necessary steps in the proper order. Looks like it should go well enough.

I did manage to score a rad Shopsmith dust collector system yesterday at the swap meet. Sadly it was too big to fit in my E28 so I have to wait for my Pop to bring it 50 miles from his place.


Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
11/26/17 9:36 p.m.

When last I checked in, the rough sawn plank was planed down. It revealed some checks and cracks. I laid the plexiglass template on and was able to do some rough planning.  I cut off the section that will become neck and set that aside. 

So on to the body portion. First step is prepare the wood for glue up. I actually have a jointer. It is an old 50's craftsman and is in a few dozen pieces awaiting new bearings and for me to machine some replacement parts.  I didn't want to be doing that this weekend. So I called up craigslist to see what they had in stock and was rewarded with a cheap Record #7 jointer plane. 

Aww man, this thing is probably gonna leak oil all over the garage, AND have electrical problems to boot.

After some sharpening it was making curls. I set it up shooting board style and spent the next hour sweating and swearing

Not sure what I was doing wrong. It SUCKED. I put the board on edge in the vise and it cut beautifully

And by adjusting the blade angle I was able to get it right on

Cut it in two and 


Not good enough (WTF phone! another blurry image!) But now that the pieces were shorter 3 passes on each with the #7 and the gap disappeared. 

So it is now in clamps and the glue is drying





JamesMcD SuperDork
11/26/17 10:10 p.m.
Jumper K. Balls said:
Jumper K. Balls said:


Some silver spray paint and I have an excellent Halloween costume prop here 


Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
12/5/17 12:08 p.m.

In the past I made up miter boxes with a 12" dial caliper to slot fretboards. I have done it the old "measure, scribe and cut by hand" method as well. The last few have been done this way and I freaking love it.

On the mill. 

How is that for accuracy? Surprisingly the tool supply shop I use had 0.023" end mills in stock.

Some quick math based on the scale length gave me the positions for the dot marker inlays. A quarter inch end mill was swapped in for that. It will receive mother of pearl dots.




barefootskater New Reader
12/5/17 12:57 p.m.

This is awesome. I've built bodies and helped friends build guitars and lost count of the kits and pieces ive bolted together. Building a complete guitar from scratch by myself is on my bucket list. Keep it up. Looks great so far.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
12/5/17 1:09 p.m.

So no binding down the side of the neck, I assume? Where did the fingerboard wood come from?

You're not making me want a mill any less.

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
12/5/17 1:22 p.m.

The rosewood came from my local woodcraft. They were moving to a new location and had unearthed some dusty old stuff from the deep recesses. When I paid for it the dude at the counter said he had been working there for 18 years and he remembered it being there when he started. 

The junior will not get binding. Not sure if the other will either. I have always been a fan of stripped down guitars. 

Recon1342 Reader
12/7/17 11:43 a.m.

Using an end mill to notch the neck was a genius move. It’s looking really nice so far!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
12/7/17 12:19 p.m.

I'm not sure how I missed this until now but it's berkeleying awesome.  I built a bass in high school and have modded a few guitars, but have always wanted to build more instruments... maybe some day.  

What kind of sound (generally speaking) are you aiming to get out of these two guitars?

GCrites80s Reader
12/7/17 8:22 p.m.

Call it the ABarth in honor of Mr. Barth. 

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
2/12/18 12:09 p.m.

Despite the holidays, influenza, weather, house projects and a 3 week streak of weather so unseasonably beautiful that I had to be out soaking it in, I have made some progress.


The fretboard had mother of pearl dots inlaid and was radiused to my preferred 12". I had to deepen the slots after

The neck pocket routing jig was applied  with the CNC masking tape and super glue trick

The 3 degree bevel applied as such


Upside down and blind on the router table

But all worked out

Then to the bandsaw to rough out the shape then the template was attached with the same masking tape and super glue method and routed

I got some wicked tearout on the lower horn that will need repair.

Nevertheless I could test the neck pocket fit and couldn't resist tossing the fingerboard on to make it look like a guitar


I did offset the centerline of the guitar 3/8" to match the Magnatone and am now unsure if I should have

It seems off in person. I could still change this at this point. Gotta think about that

And I managed to find a translucent tortoise shell product I think will look great. The original 59 Les Paul juniors have a distinctive pickguard that the reissues do not attempt to replicate. Modern tortoise pickguard material is nothing like it. Hours of googling netted me this stuff.

Which when you peel back the protective film looks great!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/12/18 1:25 p.m.

How does it feel to hold with the offset neck?

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
2/12/18 2:48 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Hard to tell with a square neck. Seems fine. Lots of access to the meedly frets. I'm not a meedly player though.

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
2/12/18 2:50 p.m.
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