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.



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.



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.



Then the logs were sliced and sorted.



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



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.



Inside and outside sanding block to fit.



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.


Then a chisel, followed by a mini router plane.  




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.



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



First rosette done and scraped close to flush.



Second rosette installed.  This one in a cedar top.



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



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

Should be closing these up soon.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



Inside detail of finished rim.



Finished rim.  Minus soundport.



The tops and backs were joined.

The bracing was split and prepped.


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.



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.



And purfling.



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.


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.

IMG_8813 IMG_9177

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.

IMG_9181 IMG_9180


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.


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.


Last of the rosette nonsense.

I was pretty happy with the last two rosettes.  Especially the channels, which came out really clean.  I’m not sure if I could have done any better with a router.

Nice and clean, all with hand tools.

Nice and clean, all with hand tools.

Oh, and what do I see… another tiny plane….giggles… how cute!  Despite how damn adorable these are, they are real tools.  Used the block plane to flatten out the bulk.  It was like pushing a toy car around a racetrack.  Sharp little sucker made some nice shavings.

Precious little sharp cutie!

Close up of the last rosette.  Only difference with this one is the cherry purfling to match the cherry guitar.  The others were flamed maple.  This shows the lutz spruce a bit better, which is absolutely gorgeous.  Tight grain, nice medullary rays.  I hope my finish will do it justice.

3rd rosette

And a pic of all three before final sanding to thickness and cutting out the soundholes.

Three tops

On to the bracing now.  I’d love to say I split it all, but there were a few minor knots to work around.  Split bracing ensures quartered grain, which is the stiffest and most stable, and is very important on braces which need to be as light and as strong as possible.  I split the billet along a grain line, planed the side flat, and used that side to band saw my brace material with the proper grain orientation.

splitting bracing

I hope to have these tops braced up, or almost all braced up by early next week.

The stuff that dreams… I mean… rosettes are made of.

All my binding, purfling and rosette materials are cut.  I’ll probably need to build a scraping fixture to get some of them to perfect dimension.



Here is the rosewood binding.

Rosewood binding

Starting to work on the tops.  The adirondack top (from the stash of Martin wood) was fairly even in thickness, so that one is gluing up first.  I’ll need to even out the lutz spruce tops before I join those.

adirondack top

I think I have my binding scheme worked out.  Thinking about the rosettes, which will be pretty simple compared to the last ones I did, these are my top choices.

For the flamed maple guitars: BWB/maple/rosewood/maple/BWB

Rosette scheme- maple

For the cherry guitar: BWB/cherry/rosewood/cherry/BWB

Rosette scheme-cherry

The other option I looked at was the same pattern, but swapping out maple/cherry on the outside with rosewood, and doing maple/cherry in the center.  I think that may be a bit too dark, especially on the flamed maple.  Could be an option on the cherry one though.

This post is legally binding…

Ok, forget legally, its just about binding.

Last guitar I cut my own binding and purfling, which was fine, but they were thick a bit less detailed.  This time I ordered veneer to make my binding and purfling with.  This is the only semi-finished wood I’ve used so far and I’m feeling a bit guilty.  The veneers are either .020″ or .030″ thick, which would be tough to cut myself with the equipment I have.  At least I’m laminating it all as opposed to buying it pre-done, which is harder in some ways, and probably easier in others.


The easier part is that I can attach the side purfling right to the binding, therefore being able to bend and install it at the same time.  Purfling for the top and back still has to be done separately.

Here is how I did the binding for the flamed maple guitars.

I had some 1″ thick flamed maple left over, so I cut it in half, leaving approx 5/16″ high by 1″ wide x 32″ long strips.  The grain in this was flat, which is perfect because when cut it from the side it shows the quartersawn face which will have the most flame.  Then I cut strips of veneer (.020 black, .030 white and .020 black) and laminated them to the bottom of the flamed maple, essentially making a sandwich.

veneer stackingclamping

This is where I used a heat and water proof glue as opposed to hide glue, as these will be bent later.  Then I planed each side flat and cut .080″ wide pieces on the bandsaw.  This left a planed side on each piece.  Then I did the same till the sandwich was all cut.

More fun shavings Flamed maple BWB binding

This was definitely fun.  I never really knew how all that detail was done before I started investigating.  I’m keeping this pretty simple and standard on these.  The hard part is getting all the purfling to line up properly and mitering around corners, etc… thats where the challenge will be.

I’m gluing up the binding for the cherry guitar now.  Then I just need to make purfling strips for the tops, backs and rosettes.

Got some exciting mail today…

The tops for the Gibson build arrived.  I got three sets of Lutz spruce for these, though I will only use two.  This comes from British Columbia.  The supplier I bought from gives a name to all the trees that he cuts from and each tree has different qualities.  This one is called “palladium”, some is on the redder side in color.  This is fairly fresh, and even thought they are 3/16″ thick,  I’ll have to dry them in the oven.  Cooking at 200 degrees for about an hour simulates years of aging and is a common technique.

Lutz Spruce tops

To make the shipping worthwhile I added some very nice choco-cedar tops to my order.  Not sure what I’ll make with these but I’ll hold on to them.  They are really high grade tops and I got them for a great price.

Choco Cedar tops

Under all the tops is spruce billets for bracing.  This is lutz spruce as well.  Supposedly the sapwood makes the strongest braces, that’s why you see the bark on them.

New stack of tonewood

I’m super excited about this stuff, minus the Martin stuff I stumbled on, this is my first purchase of fine tonewood.  Now I need to make more shelving in the shop.  I plan on keeping all the tops in there.