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Looking good! How did you find using the spiral bit? A bit more aggressive on the cuts? I'm guessing you just used the blank part of it as a guide?

Yeah, my straight template bit has been out of commission since I chambered some rock-hard walnut and bent it pretty out of shape. The only issue with the spiral bit was that the 6.35mm shaft was more like 6.34mm, which meant that the up-cut flutes pulled the bit down. In the end I went with a straight 1/2" bit using the same technique, and it turned out just fine and dandy.
A spiral bit just pulls all the wood chips out of the routed channel, so is better if you don't pre-drill your cavities (like me). The helical flutes also mean that the cutting edge is constantly in contact with the wood, so supposedly gives a smoother finish.
Opinion time! A had a few stains arrive in the mail today, so got some options together for comparison. The photo doesn't show them that well, I'm thinking I'll go with the LH one (2 drops vintage amber per 30mL water):

The two right-hand squares are the varnish alone.

I also finished off the neck shaping - just the sanding and gluing to go now. The heel and headstock transition:

I had planned to get the neck all finished off over the Christmas - New Years break. Unfortunately I had some acquisition problems with the trapezium inlays, so my progress has been a little limited.

I got the fretboard marked and cut to shape:

Then radiused with a 12" sanding block (this took freaking ages, I think I'll need to make a sledge for future fretboards):

Resawed the fret slots to follow the radius, using a depth-stop on the saw:

There were a couple of frets I wasn't happy with, so it was out with the epoxy and rosewood sawdust:

Then a quick application to the aforementioned misbehaving cuts:

Once that was sanded and re-cut, I maked the inlays out using a craft knife:

Then, slowly and carefully, I took out the material with a small, razor-sharp chisel and a craft knife blade for the corners (it turns out that the corners are the perfect angle for the blade tip):

The result:

Then it was a simple matter of setting the MoP inlays in with epoxy, and clamping them with the radius block to get them seated evenly:

Radiused flush with fine-grit sandpaper (you really want to wear protection when sanding Mother of Pearl, that stuff is nasty):

I'm pretty pleased with the result, tbh. It'll need some tidying up with epoxy and sawdust, but overall a pretty tidy fit:

I also got a bit of minor bodywork done. I drilled the selector switch and pot holes through, and countersunk the reverse side to get them sitting nice and square to the surface of the body:

A quick test fit:

I also started making a negative of the control plate template to get it as near as possible. First step was to make a rough copy (deliberately on the small side):

Then water down some filler to get it nice and flowing:

I put the filler goop in around the bottom edge of the template, using gladwrap (or cling film to the uneducated) to release it later. Then when you press the rough negative into the cavity, the filler pushes its way up the sides and starts to come out the top:

But that's not allowed. I capped the top then clamped it down, forcing the filler to push down into the corners and hopefully minimising the wrinkling from the gladwrap:

Turns out that I overestimated the mechanical properties of gladwrap, and now have a nice pool of filler accumulating on my garage floor. It should still work alright though (hopefully). Plus, I now have one less hole in my bench to worry about:

I've seen that trick used before to make negative and positive templates match, hopefully it works out well! Where I saw it they used wax for the sides, but hey whatever works!

I wondered about using Plaster of Paris, but thought that mdf and filler would probably stand up to router vibration a little better. Plus it's a whole lot easier to screw a plastic blank into mdf for routing than it is into plaster.
Oh no I meant waxing the sides of the outside template instead of using gladwrap to stop the plaster sticking, could stop some of those possible crinkles if you ever try it again

if this is your first build you should be very pleased with yourself. Are you still going to work on the neck pocket?
Also, the spalted maple will take any stain irregularily, so I suggest sealing it with tung oil or something, then "glazing" it with the amber tone so its all even, unless of course you want it to be unique as the wood. You can then put poly/nitro/laquer over it and get it to a glossy finish.
Just call me Julius, J, etc.
Taking an Internet break for a while, will come on when I can.
Thanks nowa, this is my second body, but my first build entirely from scratch. It's a good point about the stain, though I imagine sealing it will mean that the flame in the wood won't come out as well. I've tried a couple of stains mixed into the lacquer as well, which seemed to come out pretty well and would give a more even tint.
Jason, I did impregnate it with diluted lacquer, but that's all pretty much been sanded away now so I don't think that would be an issue. Then again, it only takes one spot to ruin the whole stain, so it may not be worth the risk.

Thanks for all the input guys, it's got me thinking a bit further ahead - keep it coming
The flame should still work. I know some acoustic builders use Epoxy and squegee it on as a pore sealer. I've only dont clear on spalted maple, but I know it's spunky and would take color weirdly. Best is to put a layer or two of laquer on it, spray/apply some stain,then finish it as you like. I'm sure stain will go on epoxy, try it first.
Just call me Julius, J, etc.
Taking an Internet break for a while, will come on when I can.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing this build with us all. I know a lot of us really appreciate it. Im very impressed with it's outcome so far.
Apologies if this was discussed before, but did you have issues when sanding the archtop? it seems the wood would have a different hardness in certain spots making it a pain to sand evenly.
The reverse template for the control plate was a success. I ended up routing a second MDF template from the original filler one, as I have doubts about the sticking power of bog to MDF. A quick test fit of the new, more robust model:

And on to the real deal, followed by another test fit:

So with that sorted, it was time to think about the fretboard again. Personally, I think that the Stew Mac radiusing jigs are the most overpriced piece of kit on the site, so I opted for a No. 8 wire approach. Step one: cut some wheels:

Step 2: Put a groove in said wheels using a drill press and rough saw:

Step 3: Bolt 'em all together:

The result (with 12" rule to show the 12" radius):

I also made a fair bit of headway with the fretboard. Here she is, all filled and sanded:

Frets cut and ready to go:

Then glued, pressed and filed square:

I picked up a new toy a couple of weeks ago, so naturally I had to build a cab to go with it (with a greenback thrown in for good measure):

Setting the fretboard binding with an ABS-acetone glue:

That stuff dries bloody quick, I barely had time to get it all taped up before it set. A few minutes later, with the base scraped flush:

Then scraped the top down until it was roughly level with the frets:

Then using a clever trick to radius the fret edges - learnt, like most of my clever tricks, from Preeb's '59 build:

The result:

Rinse and repeat:

Then finally, after careful scraping and filing, one completed fretboard:

Oh yeah, and I got the veneer glued up for the headstock. The end is getting nearer

It was really the easiest way in the long run; trying to centre the fretboard without it meeting the edge of the neck (ie. without the binding), followed by all the fine work with the board fixed to the guitar, would have made things a whole lot harder. There's really not a whole lot of bowing, so I think I should be safe.
Do you have any measurements for your fret bending jig you can share? Or a way to figure the positioning of the wheels? I tried making one exactly the same as you a while ago and it did not work at all.
I actually ended up unbolting the top wheel, then fixing it with a G-clamp. The fretwire still slides through, but you can adjust the height incrementally to get the radius you want. No measurements though I'm afraid, it's been decomissioned now.