View Full Version : Need advice on which way to saw the neck out of a chunk of mahogany

Vespa Bob
05-24-2016, 07:08 PM
I ordered a mahogany neck blank for a guitar from Stewmac hoping to cut out a few ukulele necks from it. When it arrived I realized that I hadn't a clue how to go about it, my knowledge of wood being about zero! I reckon that whether I cut out complete necks and headstocks, or resaw it down into 7/8" strips for built up necks, the most I'll get out of the 26 1/2" x 2 1/2" x 3 3/4" is four necks, which is OK. My problem is not knowing the correct orientation of the wood relative to the cut. In other words, do I resaw 7/8" strips across the narrow width (2 1/2") or the wider (3 3/4") width for a built up neck? Or, for a one piece neck, do I lay out the shape on the wider or narrower width? I hope this makes sense. Here are a few pics showing the end grain pattern, which I know is the crux of the matter. Thanks in advance.


05-24-2016, 10:34 PM
I cut all my necks from larger blocks. You will bet the best yield by planning on a scarf head stock and stacked heel.

If your neck is tapered in depth from nut to heel transition, then you should taper them right from the get go. You will likely get one and perhaps 2 extra necks out of the billet.

I use a taper jig on my bandsaw to cut a taper from 10 mm at one end to about 18mm at the other end. Then flip the block end for end so that the next cut will cut the reverse taper and thus square up your block again. It also helps keep everything reasonably consistent and not compounding an error in the squareness of the tape etc. Then repeat.

I'm presuming that the timber is long enough for the following operations. Be sure to work out your cuts first. The scarf joint can be tricky to determine how much you need in order to make up your peg head.

First cut the scarf joint for the head stock. I do mine so it joins under the peg head veneer. NOT under the fret board.

Then the other end you trim off pieces to make up your stacked heel. If you number them and glue them up as they come off, the grain orientation will be about as good as you are going to get.

05-24-2016, 10:40 PM
I'd make a couple of templates side and top profile out of cardboard or something like that .. and juggle them around to see if i can get 4 one piece necks out of it.

Vespa Bob
05-25-2016, 07:01 AM
Thank you, gentleman, for taking the time to respond, most appreciated. Allen, since I normally build a stacked heel and scarf jointed headstock, I like your idea of sawing the depth taper initially. My main concern, however and perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough, is which way to saw the billet relative to the grain direction. I think the best way is to make my cuts across the narrower width, but I'd like to know for sure.:confused:


05-25-2016, 08:11 AM
Grain orientation should be perpendicular to the soundboard. This makes for a much stronger neck than if the grain is parallel to the soundboard, in which case tapering can result in run out.

05-25-2016, 10:33 AM
Ideally you want the grain running perpendicular to the fret board. Just like you would have with the soundboard.

Vespa Bob
05-25-2016, 10:38 AM
Thank you, thank you, that's exactly what I need to know. Now that I know, it;s quite obvious!:o


chuck in ny
05-25-2016, 01:25 PM
i wanted to know this as well, and suspected that the neck should be quarter sawn as well as the soundboard. prettier as well. every component is important and deserves thought and care. details.

Vespa Bob
05-25-2016, 05:40 PM
Thanks, Chuck, I don't feel so bad now.


Beau Hannam Ukuleles
05-26-2016, 06:29 AM
Here is a video i did on this


Really, the grain orientation doesn't matter with uke string tension and a carbon fiber reinforcement but 1/4 sawn is desirable for a few reasons.