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.

 

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The necks are neck and neck… and neck?

Jeez, did I just type that?  And will I leave it in?  If so, pardon me,  I’m tired and delirious.

Necks.  Yes.  Almost there.

Bullet point list to reduce potential risk for bad puns:

– laminated 3 strips of mahogany for each neck board.  Did that sometime earlier.  Maybe when tops were drying?

Neck boards

– Laid out the board for scale length, etc… not exciting, picture a board with lines drawn on it.*

– Made a very fancy and elaborate jig for the band saw to cut a 14 degree scarf joint.  I did the last ones with hand tools.

Fancy jig

– Once cut, the cut pieces are placed on top of one another and trued up or flattened (being square is given in all these steps).  Cut was smooth, so sandpaper worked pretty quickly to level everything.  Hand plane is another way to go.

Flattening

– Short piece of the scarf joint is flipped over and put under the longer side, thus making an angled peg head.  Clamped and glued ON the bench.  Use wax paper underneath to avoid gluing TO the bench.**  Stops on the bench placed to keep the joint from sliding out of place.

Scarf gluing

– Excess length on the long end of the neck is cut down into shorter sections and stacked to make the heel.  This is then glued into place at the proper spot.*  Lots of things clamped down to keep things from sliding.  Glue is surprisingly slippery.

Heel stack

– Neck blanks are ready to be cut to the proper angle to the body and dovetailed in.  I’m not so ready.  Need a fresh start for that.  Also need to make dovetail templates.

Neck blanks

* There is obviously a lot of detail skipped here.  If you want to know how this works… don’t ask me.  Read a book, research online, see how the pros do it, that’s what I do.

** I say this not because I actually glued something to my bench.  Notice that I use clamp cauls in these glue ups.  I usually have one side covered in clear tape to keep glue from sticking to it.  I did have one of these flipped today.  One stuck to the face of the one of the headstocks.  Luckily there was little squeeze out and it knocked right off.  I’m just cautioning…Don’t glue anything down to your bench!

Ok, stop typing and go to bed…

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.

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.

veneers

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.

Back in action! (or some other cheesy tag line of a similar nature)

 

back?shooting boardwhat was I doing here?

Back??

I was actually fairly unproductive this weekend compared to some.  But I did get a few things done.

Looked at the maple I cut for the backs and decided what grain orientation I liked.  Traced on the pattern and joined the edges.  Object is to see no light through the joint, which is not easy to do.  Joined… then held up to the window… then saw where the light was, touched up, back to window… saw where the light was…  Well, it took a few tries but I got one.

Using hot hide glue has been interesting.  You have less than a minute to spread glue, assemble and clamp.  Maybe more time if the room is hot, so that means I have less time.  Figured my best method was to get one side in place, spread glue on the other, wedge them together and weight the joint so it was even.  I think it looks odd, but worked.  A bonus is that I briefly got to use my other passion… random heavy industrial metal parts.

Tonight I cut out the shape and started to thickness.  I’ve only done this a couple times, but each time I think “damn you, asshole… learn to resaw better!”  I guess I can see why people use drum sanders.  I would imagine most mechanically inclined persons could a set a machine to a specific depth and push a button.  But it takes a very stubborn person to set up a plane and push it 15,000 times.  But its ok, I kind of like spending that kind of time on something, just looking, cutting, sweating, cutting, swearing, feeling, cutting, sweating… It was a good workout too.

Still more to go on this one.  Then, two more… Yay!

Apologies for going off a bit.  I think I’m dehydrated.

Wood shopping trip…

My dad and I went to the local saw mill.  This is what I picked up.  More flamed maple, two boards.  One big board of flamed ambrosia maple.  One board of amazon mahogany, and a big chunk of basswood.

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The maple I picked up last time was flat sawn, which I will use for laminated necks.

I love the local sawmill.  Its so inexpensive.  The ambrosia maple is about 1″ x 12″ x 8’ long.  It has some nice figure, which is hard to photograph.  I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to use it, but it was 14 bucks!

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This time I was trying to find pieces of flamed maple that had some decent quartered grain in it for backs and sides.  Both boards have a mix of grain.  One thing I realized… new band saw blades are definitely needed!  I think I’ll order a couple carbide tipped blades before I try to saw any more.  That and I need a few good hours to really set up the band saw.  Then I can go at it and resaw all my backs and sides.  I somewhat successfully resawed a section of the smaller board.  Despite the poor saw job, it looks like it will work.

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I made the piece long enough for sides.  Worst case, I’ll cut them down to side width.  Took a pic with the template for my classical on top.  Next guitars will be OO size, but the template is close enough for now, just to see how it would look.

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