For Hawaiian Guitar
A Tapered Steel
© Frank Ford, 2006; Photos by FF

My old pal, Al Dodge, asked me if I could make a tapered steel to match an old original one he'd had for years.  We decided on 304 stainless steel, and, armed with a nice drawing, I went out to my shop to give it a try.  The idea is to make these in batches so we can offer them for sale at Gryphon.

First, I spent some time and set my lathe's taper attachment to produce a taper of .067"/inch.  Once I had that dialed in, I turned an appropriate length to achieve a diameter of 5/8" at a point 5/16" from the narrow end:


That way,  I could use my 5/6" radius bit to round over the end to a nice hemispherical shape, just like the original example:

With the lathe running at about 2500 RPM, I polished up my taper and rounded end with some 1200 grit waterproof paper:


Then, I parted off to the finished length of 3.10"


With the taper attachment still set to the same angle, I bored an emergency collet using an upside down boring bar, being quite careful to set it precisely on center so I'd have a collet with a taper to match my steel's taper:

Now, with the steel held in the collet, I plunged a one-inch ball end mill 1/8" into the end of the steel, to form that little thumb grip area:


A 3/32" radius tool set an angle gave me the necessary round-over:


A minute or two on a ten-inch cotton buff and some stainless compound gave me a nice high shine:


Here's the finished item:


Now that I have my routine worked out, I'll have to make some more and time my operations to calculate what we'd have to charge for these things. . .


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