Making a couple rosettes

Hey, I have some time, so I’m catching up.

Here is how I made the rosettes for these two guitars.  I went with a geometric style.  Very similar to my first rosettes.

Started with humble beginnings of walnut, cherry and flamed maple.  These were glued up as you see here.

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Then I used an incredibly high tech fixture to cut 45 and 42.5 degree angles on each piece.  The goal being 7.5 degree segments.

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These segments were glued into logs.  Notice the “sorting matrix”.  This helped keep the pieces separate.  There were three different variations of wood placement and each of those had opposite angles on each side.

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Then the logs were sliced and sorted.

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Then I played with some variations of patterns.  There were a ton of permutations.

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I picked two of my favorites.  Then I cut a test channel into a piece of scrap and bent up the purflings.  Fitting these was very low tech.  Cut to approximate size.

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Inside and outside sanding block to fit.

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Then I cut the channels into the real tops.  Used a home made circle scribe.  Now that I’ve done at least 12 channels with this scribe (7 for guitars and at least 5 tests), I should really take my time and make a nicer one on a mill.  This one was made with a hack saw, files, a drill press, and some taps and dies.  The only thing I would add is a dial height adjustment for the blade.  I made the blade, a spear point with  W1 tool steel that I sharpened, hardened and annealed.

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Then a chisel, followed by a mini router plane.  

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These are my 6th and 7th rosettes.  I’ve never used a power tool for this.  Cutting a .050″ deep, accurate channel, in a .095″ thick piece of soft wood was really intimidating at first.  After the first one, I loved it.  Its really one of my favorite parts.  I like the peace and quiet, as well as the clean cuts, when using hand tools.  

The first rosette ready to install.

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This is my favorite part.  Planing and scraping down after the glue has cured.

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First rosette done and scraped close to flush.

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Second rosette installed.  This one in a cedar top.

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This is where the guitars stood just prior to bracing the tops.

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Ok.  Last two posts almost caught up to where I am now.

Should be closing these up soon.

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A bit late on guitar updates

I’ve been really bad at keeping this up to date.  There are probably about 15 posts I could make at this point, but I’ll keep it short and post a pictoral update.

I actually made a test guitar body to try a few things out.  I’ll skip all that stuff and move to the real guitars.

For these two, I wanted to try laminated linings, made of basswood and walnut in this case.  After one other attempt in laminating right on the guitar form, I made some simple fixtures and roped them together.  This worked really well.

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These will be my first cutaways.  The sides were thicknessed, primarily with the drum sander, then switching to a scraper.  The bass side was a simple bending operation.  The treble side was a bit more complicated.  I bent the waist and lower bout, then cut the side at the start of the cutaway and bent the remainder in reverse.  All this to get a good match on the wood grain and ambrosia stripe.

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The match was good enough that I decided to try to miter the point and skip binding it.  Worst case is if it didn’t turn out, I could resort to binding.

Mitered the tip.

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Came out nicely.  I even wrapped the side over the neck block, simply because I didn’t decide on a final style for the heel yet.

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Back to the linings.  Rather than just radius the inside corner, I had a scratch stock that I made.  I used it to dress the profile.  Came out well and probably didn’t take any longer than a simple radius.

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Inside detail of finished rim.

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Finished rim.  Minus soundport.

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The tops and backs were joined.

The bracing was split and prepped.

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I did a fairly tight radius on the backs.  This led to a rather unorthodox clamping method, both for the changing radii and for a quick glue up with hot hide glue,

Trial fixture.

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Better final fixture.

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I also made all the binding from raw wood as well as the rosette.

Here is the binding.

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And purfling.

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I’ll make a separate post on the rosette.

Thats about it for now.  Short post for a lot of work.

Starting a couple more guitars

After a brief hiatus and doing a bunch of small projects for the shop and in the house, I decided to start a couple more guitars.  On the subject of shop projects, I should post those soon.  I just haven’t felt much like writing these days.

So… the guitars.  Going for a couple OO size again.  This time with a cutaway, 14 fret neck, one with a spruce top, one with cedar.  Other options might be a sound port and a slotted peghead.

Start with design.  I wanted to make my own shape.  Started with a list of standard dimensions from OO and OM size guitars and drew my own.  Used the bent stick method of drawing curves.

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Made about 4 versions and picked one I liked.  I did a full scale drawing and I’m still kicking around what I want to do for bracing.

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I made the form.

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As far as wood goes, I bought a board of ambrosia maple that had some nice flame in it.  I marked off the pieces that I wanted and resawed it to size.  Finally got to use my new bandsaw for something heavy duty, and it worked like a champ.  I cut a total of 4 sets from this board.

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There are also some orphan (non book matched) pieces, as I was able to get 5 slices from the thickness.  I will make a test guitar box with those so i can play with some new things Ive been thinking about, as well as some brace options. Here are the two sets I’ll use for these guitars.

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As far as the rest of the wood goes, I laid it all out.  Cherry for necks.  Basswood for neck and heel blocks as well as linings.  Walnut, cherry and maple for binding, purfling and rosette.  Of course the ambrosia back and sides.

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Looking at all of this, I realized that minus the cedar and spruce, which is from British Columbia, the rest of the wood is local.  That being the case, I may go for a local wood for the fretboards and bridges.  It would be cool for the majority of these guitars to be made from materials that came from within a 50 mile radius.

Ok.  More for next time.

 

Building bridges

I finally finished the lacquering on three guitars.  Now they need to cure before I can wet sand them.  I’ve been doing some odds and ends while I’m waiting.  Just a little guitar stuff, like the bridges.

I roughed out the bridge blanks a couple weeks ago.  To slot for the saddle I decided to make a fixture that held them at an angle.  The router sits in the fixture with very little play.  The length of cut is set by the stops on the end.  To hold the bridge in place I made a couple wedges.  Yes thats right folks… dual wedge action!

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Then I measured the nut and 19th fret on each guitar and laid them out on paper (they were pretty close) to make sure my string spacing was ok.  Since I had three, I made a drilling template.  Of course I used plexiglass, which seems to be my favorite.  For precision, I like to scribe things, and plexi scribes really well.  I laid out a center line and scribed distance from the rear of the bridge to the pin centers.  I used a drafting divider to scribe pin centers.  I used these from both outside strings to make sure they matched.  Then I lightly punched the centers and drilled with a brad point bit.

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To align the template, putting the scribe lines down, I matched the template and bridge center lines (this is why I like see through plexi) and made the rear flush, then clamped each end and drilled.

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To shape the wings, I contemplated using a small 1” belt sander I have, but I figured by the time I rigged something up to keep the bridges square, I could be finished.  So I just did them with a rasp and scraper.  It was quiet, no dust flying, and enjoyable.  Also got one of those gunstock vises.  It was really helpful for these.

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I was actually surprised how close I got three of them doing it essentially by eye, but I did gang them together to scrape and sand them even closer.

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I don’t have a countersink for wood, but I sharpened up my metal countersink with a file, then countersunk all the bridge pin holes.

I fit the saddles in place and the ends were marked with a drafting french curve so the saddle looked decent transitioning into the curvature of the bridge wings.

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Then I shaped the ends on a small sanding drum chucked in my drill press.

I sanded the bridges down to 1500 grit.  No finish on the rosewood.  The rest of the saddle shaping and polishing will come later during set up.

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I love the white (and semi dusty) window sill for pictures.  Too bad I can’t photograph anything much bigger than the bridges in there.

Now I wait for the finish to cure for a few more days.  This coming weekend should be two weeks, so I think I should be able to start wet sanding.

 

I never worry, but I have started to fret.

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Started fretting the guitars.  I have two done so far.  These were my first bound fretboards so I had to clip the tang off the fret to go over the binding.  I made a little device based on one I had seen, with some modifications.  I call it the Detanginator.  Worked really well to grind off the tang and dress the bottom.

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All the guitars have been oiled and sealed with shellac.

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One more to fret.  Then to build, locate and mask off the bridges.  Then I should be close to spraying lacquer.  That should be interesting as a first.

 

Neck shaping

Made a neck carving fixture. Got the idea from another luthier online.
It’s nice because you can clamp it horizontal to work on the fretboard edges.

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Then it clamps vertical in the vise and keeps it high enough to use a spokeshave.

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Got one neck pretty close. Need to drill the tuners and final sand before I put it on the guitar.

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Then two more necks to catch up on.

Necks and fingerboards

Made a prototype adjustable radius sanding block. Had to figure out how to radius these fretboards.

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 It worked well.  Sanded the fretboards down to 120.  I made a second block at the same time.  A bit more low profile.  I put 220 paper on there for use when everything is on the guitar.

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I have the headstocks thinned down and the veneers on all three.  They are all in semi different stages of preliminary carving.  The heel is the only thing that really needs to be pretty close at this point, just so the neck can be fit once more before the fretboard is attached.  Final carving won’t get done until the fingerboards are on.

I need to figure out what to do for the side markers.  Once they’re done, a fretboard can go on at least one of the necks.  The rest to follow shortly after.

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I just couldn’t resist laying one of the fingerboards on as I was checking the neck fit.  Seeing that makes me excited.  Also makes me thing of how much sanding i need to do, which always seems to wait till absolutely last minute.  It also makes me think about the damn finishing work!

Oh well.