Sep 122012
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I’m working on a Les Paul style electric guitar build. Many guitars have tops that are somewhat flat, but in contrast, most Les Paul guitars have curves and angles that make them fairly sexy. One of these angles is on the front portion of the top, and I cut it with a router and special home-made jig. This approximately 5 degree angle works together with a neck angle to create a slight backward slope for the neck and strings.

To create this angle, I made a box out of plywood, to fit closely to the body of the guitar. All sides are the same height, and the tops of these sides are in the same plane. I attached the box to a plywood base, using two door hinges.

This allows me to change the angle of the box, relative to the guitar body. I also cut two wedges of wood, which can be slid under the two long sides of the box. This ultimately adjusts and retains the angle I set.

To determine the exact angle, I use a digital angle gauge. The body of the guitar is placed on the plywood base, inside the box frame, using some double-sided tape, so it doesn’t move around.

Next I cut a piece of MDF long enough to slide back and forth over the box, without slipping off, while also wide enough to house my router. I removed the plastic base from my router, and using it as a template, marked the MDF for the screw holes and the center collet opening. After measuring the screws that hold the original plate to the router, I marked the MDF as to how deep I needed to drill for the screw heads to be recessed below the surface, and still hold the new base firmly.

After making the necessary holes and counter sinks, I put the new base on my router, and tested to make sure the screws solidly engaged. I was shocked when the screws lined up, but wouldn’t grab enough thread to hold. Just before going back to the drill press, I took another look to make sure I wasn’t missing something. I have a Triton 2 1/4 HP router, and they have two silver spring-loaded bolt heads that are not flush with the metal base, even though they sit below the plastic base. I had initially missed these, since they are normally out of the way. These two bolt heads are used to connect the router to a separate fence system. Well, they were just high enough above the metal base, to prevent the small screws from working. After removing both bolts, the new MDF base sat flat, and the screws did their job. If I hadn’t noticed this router’s unique feature, I very likely would have removed more material at the drill press, and possibly weakened the MDF to the point of failure.

It’s always a good idea to take an extra moment to reassess before deciding to remove more material, as we all know it’s much harder to put it back on. I’m glad to share this almost mishap, so that hopefully everyone’s awareness is raised a couple of notches.

Stay safe, keep making shavings and let me know if you have any questions.

Lee Laird has enjoyed woodworking for over 20 years. He is retired from the U.S.P.S. and works for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks as a show staff member, demonstrating tools and training customers. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter at

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