Building a Classical Guitar #3: The heel

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Blog entry by kem posted 10-04-2008 05:19 AM 17595 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: The neck and headstock Part 3 of Building a Classical Guitar series Part 4: The sides »

The next step in the construction of the neck blank is attaching a heel block.

In this guitar, we are using a Spanish heel to attach the neck to the body of the guitar. The Spanish heel uses two slots separated by about 11 mm in the sides of the heel block. The guitar sides will then be inserted in these slots. You can see the slot in the next photo, but this will become clearer when we attach the sides.

In roughing out the shape of the heel of the guitar, the first cut (done with a bandsaw) is the curve shown above. The second cut with the bandsaw forms a ramp on the side of the heel.

At this point, I finished shaping the end of the heel block which will be inside the guitar. Then, I sealed the end grain with shellac.

In this picture, you can also see a wide rabbet on the end of the heel block. This is where the top will be glued onto the heel block.

Back to carving the heel, the third step is to put a curve into the ramp that was formed in the second cut above. This was done using chisels. I used a little template to help me make this slight curve the same on both sides of the neck.

The primary facet was then carved. I tried to make the facet look the same on both sides of the neck.

Secondary facets were then carved on both sides of the primary facet and from there it was a simple matter of smoothing everything out.

This was my first experience carving wood and it felt good being close to the wood with just a chisel. This mahogany was really nice to work with.

I’m done with the neck blank for now. I’ll finish carving the neck once the guitar body and fingerboard are attached.

-- Kevin

3 comments so far

View WhattheChuck's profile


313 posts in 3587 days

#1 posted 10-04-2008 05:33 PM


Your series just rocks!

Keep it up!


-- Chuck, Pullman, WA

View Rick's profile


19 posts in 3762 days

#2 posted 02-04-2011 06:22 AM

Yes I’m really enjoying this – very informative and well done- thinking of making one myself.

View cymro's profile


1 post in 2650 days

#3 posted 03-21-2011 12:06 PM

Hi, great series – thanks.

I’m about to embark on my first guitar build – it’s going to be a flamenca blanca – and I’m collecting tools prior to starting anything. I tend to buy them secondhand from yard sales etc. but it helps if you know what to look for rather than just buying anything.

I have a pretty good selection of firmer and bevel edge chisels but have never tried carving so have no gouges which I will obviously need for this stage of the build. Don’t understand gouges (in-cannel, out-cannel, spoon, cranked . . . . ???)

Can anybody please tell me what gouges I would need as a bare minimum – sizes, types and anything else which would help in buying?

Thanks – cymro

PS – Even when I’ve got everything I need I’m not going to dive right in – I need plenty of practice on scrap wood first!!

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