Online Apprentice-
Slot and Carve the Heel Block


In this lesson we will learn how to slot and carve the heel block.


Mark the outline of the heel onto both sides of the heel block.

Make a mark about 2mm towards the nut side of the 12th fret mark on the centerline.From this mark draw a line to the intersection of the fingerboard outline and the 12th fret line.

Cut out the heel and foot profile.

Use a rasp and sanding block to shape the profile to the line.

Now we need to extend the centerline around the heel and foot. Lay the neck on it's side. Cut a piece of scrap wood that is the distance from the benchtop to the centerline.

Use this scrap wood as a guide to mark the centerline around the heel and foot.

Mark the foot centerline.

Mark the bottom of the foot...

...and the heel.

On the bottom of the foot mark the 12 fret position and the 2mm mark and connect the lines at the edge.

Now it is time to slot the heel. Take two pieces of scrap wood that have a straight edge to them and clamp them onto the neck as shown in the photo. These guide boards follow the angled line for the side slots. The cut is also tapered. The top cut,fingerboard side, is about 15mm from the centerline on each side for a total of 30mm. The heel cut is 2.5mm from each side of the centerline for a total of 5mm. Make a mark and cut the slot to these points. (See photos 15 and 16 below)

Top view of the neck and saw set-up.

Top view.

Depending upon the kerf of your saw you may have to widen the slot. We want our slot to be about 2.1mm or .083" wide. I use 60 grit sandpaper attached to a metal ruler with double stick carpet tape and pull it through the slot. Do this ONLY on the heel block side of the slot!!!

PHOTO 15. Here you can see the 30mm mark between the two slots.(15mm on each side of the centerline) I over shot it a little which is ok as long as it isn't excessive.

PHOTO 16. Here is the heel block 5mm mark.

Now we cut out the heel block. Mark the vertical lines on the face of the block. Continue with the taper of the foot as shown on the plan.

Bevel the edges of the block and foot.

Draw the heel cap onto the heel. Use a chisel and bevel the heel starting from 2mm from the fingerboard edge to the heel cap outline.

Slowly chisel away the curve of the heel. Use a template and a sanding stick cut to the curve shown in the plan to get the correct curve of the heel.

Check frequently with the template.

Draw a line on the top of the heel with a straight edge that is as close to the shape as possible. Using a compass we will set it so the point rides along the side profile of the heel and the pencil end is set to the possition where the straight line meets the side of the heel. Follow the side profile on each side of the heel.

Now reverse it. The pointer is now following the line we just drew and the pencil marks the face of the heel. Do this on both sides.

Here is a close-up of the starting point.

It might show up a little rough like this. Don't worry about it. This line is just a basic guide to help rough out the heel.

The real "McCoy". Use this as a model and inspiration for your heel carving.

Use a chisel and a knife to carve away the excess material between the lines we just drew.

Carve both sides.

We repeat the lay-out process by making another straight line on the heel cap starting from the tip to where the line meets the new side of the heel. The pointer touches the centerline and the pencil touches the line where it meets the side.

Follow the edge with the pointer and mark the side of the heel with the pencil.

Reverse it. Now the pointer is guided by the line we just drew and the pencil starts at the centerline.

Like this.

Now carve away the excess material.

Create a fresh burr on your scraper so it is nice and sharp. Use the scraper to do the final shaping of the heel.

With a nice sharp scraper you can shape the heel quite easily. In this photo no sandpaper has been used to shape the heel. It is all done with a scraper.Sandpeper will be used when we get to the last stages of shaping the neck.

A completed heel at this stage. Again, no sandpaper was used. The final finish shaping will come later.

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