3 tone sunburst tele style electric guitar with white binding and maple neck

“Model-T Custom”- 3 Tone Burst with Body Binding

A New Model-T Build

When I was thinking about the concept for this build, I decided I wanted to do a Model-T with body binding and a burst. The process was rather enjoyable, and also quite tricky. I also wanted to improve my sunburst skills. I wanted this Model-T to be light so I went to my trusty stock of 8/4 13 inch wide alder slabs.

Since I have covered body and neck fabrication I didn’t take too many photos of that part. I rough cut the body blank on the band saw, sanded flush to the template using the robosander, and then trimmed smooth with a spiral cut bit on the router table. The next photo is the truss rod installation through the headstock. I had to toss a neck where I screwed up the hole through to the truss channel. I built a better jig for the job after that.


Installing Binding

I picked up this router bit set that I used to route the channel for the binding. Then I cut the channel on the router table. The channel depth and height must precisely match the size of the binding. I started out using CA glue or “Superglue” on the binding. You need to quickly tape the binding to the body after glueing which was pretty tricky.

I then started using acetone with bits of plastic binding dissolved in the mix instead of glue. The acetone melts the plastic, causing it to adhere to the wood without glue. I don’t recommend using masking tape to hold the binding since it isn’t very strong and tears easy. Next time I will use ribbed packing tape for strength and flexibility. Duct tape worked pretty well.


Here is a shot of the body after the binding is applied. The neck pocket and control cavities are also routed. The neck was shaped, radiused, and fretted. The plug for the truss rod anchor was walnut, and the skunk stripe rosewood. I decided to use the fret cutting jig to move the neck in a straight line to drill the fret marker holes on the drill press. I did the side dots in a similiar manner.


I spray the body with sanding sealer. I used CA glue to fill the tiny cracks at the butt of the body.


Shooting the Burst

The body was sprayed with an amber base coat for the sunburst. I scraped the amber coat off of the binding. Next time i’ll do only one scraping after all color coats are done. You can see the difference in color on the binding that was scraped. I used a razor blade with masking tape as a guide to scrape off the lacquer. Then I sprayed the tobacco and black to complete the burst, then scraped off the lacquer again. I learned the setup of the hvlp gun is critical for getting a good burst. The fan is pretty tight and the spray is very light. I make sure that with trigger fully pressed the gun won’t overspray unless I hold it still for a few seconds.


I sprayed 3 clear coats and put the body on the shelf to cure for two weeks. Here is a shot of a pickup that I messed up on the winder. Then I cut the wire off the chassis to try again, and the wire makes a big tangled mess. I’ve figured out that the sweet spot for my winder setup is at about 600rpm. I find I can go up to 1000rpm but it will be more likely to break the wire.


Installing Ferrules

I had some issues with the tuner ferrules but I was pretty happy with how they turned out this time. The string goes through a 1/8 inch hole. Then I drill the ferrule holes with an 11/32 inch bit. Then the lip of the ferrule needs to be flush with the body, so it is countersunk with a 3/8″ bit. Alignment is pretty critical on the countersunk part. I use the drill press to insert the ferrules.

When I press the ferrules most of the way in, I stop and set up the soldering iron. I heat the lip of the ferrule for 10 seconds, and press the ferrule in the rest of the way, both pulling on the press and holding the iron in place. The ferrules melt right into the finish for a nice looking fit. If the lacquer isn’t softened with heat it can chip. Just don’t let the iron slip and burn the finish.

Then I wet sanded and buffed using my new makeshift buffer. It took some tweaking but I got the buffer working pretty well. So far it has been working best to wet sand the finish to a flat satin look, then buffing with medium, then fine compound. I recommend a respirator because the buffer throws fluff and dust everywhere.


Final Assembly

I started using a smaller clamp that lets me install the 6th and 1st string while holding the neck in place. This ensures the neck is lined up correctly before drilling pilot holes and neck screws. Then I put the rest of the guitar together, soldering the controls and installing pickups. I got the stew mac tele jack installation tool. It is pretty nifty.


The last thing I did was apply swirl mark remover and wax the guitar to bring out the deep gloss. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get a nice shine without silicon. My current finishing schedule looks like this…

  • Spray lacquer and cure two weeks->
  • wet sand with 400 grit->
  • wet sand with 1000 grit->
  • buff with medium menzerna compound->
  • buff with fine menzerna compound->
  • Apply meguires m0916 professional swirl remover 2.0 with foam polishing pad->
  • Apply meguires m0716 professional show car glaze with foam polishing pad->
  • Buff on Griot’s Best in Show Wax (silicon free carnauba wax)->
  • Buff out wax with dry microfiber towel by hand
  • Apply and buff mothers professional (silicon free) instant detailer to clean and add shine and remove smudges


Thanks for reading!


Update 5-22-16

I finally got around to doing a demo video. First I had to set up my audio interface and mic. I’m overall pretty happy with the audio quality. It’s good enough to give you a good sense of the tonal qualities of both guitars.

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