I will do my best to stay away from any intended or unintended sir-mix-alot reference in this post. Wish me luck…

Lets just say that my first steel string has a rear exterior.  

Or as some more experienced than myself would say, “its a box”.

I spared you the pics of bracing the back.  Looks very similar to how the front is done, just less complicated.  The center strip goes on first, in this case redwood.  For strength, the grain in the center strip is perpendicular to the grain in the back, which would be impossible with a single piece.  So the center strip is made of multiple short pieces with the seams strategically placed where the back braces cross.  Seems logical to put them on after the braces, right?  Nope, If you want them perfectly straight, its easiest to put them on first, aligned with a straightedge, then notch and chisel out the sections where the braces cross.  Back braces are planed to a very slight arch and this time I glued them up with a stiff piece of foam as a backer so it would flex to the brace contour.

The rim is sanded flat on a big MDF board with sandpaper attached.  Front on these is flat, the back is at an angle, but still sanded flat.  Lots of guitars are sanded to a radius, typically 15’ on the back and 28’ on the front.  This Gibson style is a bit older school and there is minimal doming, which is made simply by the arching of the braces alone.   The rim (sides) are then notched to fit the bracing.  This is also done for the front prior to glue up.

Last glimpse inside the first Gibson OO.

Last glimpse inside the first Gibson OO.

Glued this up on a work board.  Didn’t have the balls to use hot hide glue. I think I need much more experience before I’d feel confident to do a large glue up like this with hot hide glue.  Titebond for the front and the back, I say!  Used clamps on the heel and tail block.  Roped the rest of it down.  I still think that roping is one of the best ways to get even pressure all the way around, and I get a kick out of doing it.

I did sign and date the inside under the soundboard, as this is the last time that’s possible.  No pic of that.  Nobody needs to see my chicken scratch.

All wrapped up like a xmas present.  I’ll open it tomorrow.  The others just need the back braces carved and the rim prepared and I can glue those up.

guitar in bondage

 

 

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Brace yourself for another cheesy headline…

Wait, I used “brace yourself” already.  Damn it.  Oh well.  I need to work on my delivery.

Got some decent shop time in this weekend.  Lots of bracing going on.

I must say, working on three is a bit much.  Some of these steps can get a bit tedious, but there are a few new operations that I haven’t done, and by the third one, I usually find a way that works well for me.

Cut all my braces, planed them to size and started rotating the tops through the go bar deck.

box o bracesgo bar bracing

Hadn’t done an x brace before.  Wasn’t too bad as far as layout goes. Fairly happy with how they came out.  Using HHG was a bit of a challenge with the X braces.  The first one I did in two pieces.  It came out OK, but the alignment could have been a bit better.  It wasn’t bad enough that I had to redo it, but I wanted to get it as close to perfect as I could.

x brace lap joint

For the second two I glued the x first then glued the whole assembly on. That’s a decent amount of gluing surface, so I heated the top with a heat gun.  I also tried putting the x under a heating pad, which wasn’t necessary.  I ended up just using the heat gun on the last one.

My glue up sequence: Short braces first.  Then some shaping  before I added the X brace.  Then I added the bridge plate, tone bar and remaining little brace above the rosette.

brace sequence

I have the upper cross brace on the adirondack top.  Just need to add those to the second two palladium tops and they all should be ready to carve.  I guess I could call it voicing the top, but since I really don’t know exactly what I’m doing, I’m gonna stick with calling it brace carving.

These tops are surprisingly bright and tight sounding right now.  I’m going to be interested to see how that changes as I carve.

Oh and I needed to make two brackets for the wall.  Thought it was a good opportunity to play with finishes a bit.   I made this stain from black walnut hulls last fall.  This bracket has one coat of fresh stain, which will lighten up when it dries.  I’ve done a couple samples before that I liked. One coat, then sand, second coat, then boiled linseed oil. Then I’d need to add a seal coat of shellac.  It really seems to pop the grain well.  This is what I’m thinking about using under the finish on the flamed maple guitars.

stain samples

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.