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



Redwood top, looking good.


Ok.  I’m calling the french polish on number 2 done.  I’m fairly happy with this.  The grain and little rays on this redwood is really nice.  Its come a long way from the old fence board.  Shellac curing and oiling the fingerboard for a few days.  I think once I put the bridge on and polish it up it will look good.

Number one is another story.  I wasn’t happy with a few spots on the top and was trying to get them to look nice.  Well… then i put a big scratch in the top with my fingernail.  So… I sanded it down again!  This may have been a blessing because I could correct the spots I didn’t like.  I’m getting close to finishing my third attempt at that top.  If all goes well, just another few sessions and I’ll be done.  It is looking much better already.

I will put the bridge on number one before I try the second one, even though guitar number two briefly pulled ahead in progress.  I can’t wait to be done with these.  Excited to hear how they sound.  Maybe more excited to start something else.

Guitar back mit braces glued on


I spared everyone the layout and clamping process this time.

Backs are looking good.  Hope to have the braces carved down tomorrow.  I like the walnut with the redwood center strip.  The braces are mahogany from a porch, which you can see on the untouched exposed side, but they will finish up nicely.  I think a bit of shellac just on the braces and back strip once they are carved and sanded.

Then on to the sides.  Bending them on a hot pipe should be an adventure, that is after a lot of planing to thickness.

Soundboard progress


Today’s progress…

Laid out, fit, and glued the pads and fan braces to the second soundboard.  Carved the braces on the first.  Just a chisel seems to be the way to go and the hemlock carved really nicely.  Back hurts from hunching over and carving this morning.  Came back to finish up tonight and figured out a much better method.  I think the second one will be easier.

Two rosettes…at last!


This gallery contains 2 photos.

Two rosettes are installed! Didn’t get a lot of time to work on things this week.  But the second rosette went in easier than the first.  Both planed and scraped flush with the tops.  For my first guitars and first … Continue reading

First rosette in first soundboard


This gallery contains 2 photos.

Phew!  One rosette in.  Just a bit more to clean up, mostly with the scraper.  A couple little chips in the mosaic I need to fill.  Pretty pleased so far.  I was a bit worried as my purfling is cut … Continue reading

Rosette test fit, take one


Rosette trial dry fit

One more test in the redwood.  New blade for the cutter worked well.  Quick coat of shellac on the top helped with tear out.  Recorded all the measurements on my cutter, which I set with my caliper.  Need to go a hair deeper on the real thing.

Came out ok.  Segments matched up better with one purfling strip on the inside as opposed to two, so I’ll go with that.  Wasn’t happy with my walnut strip on the outside, so I cut and bent more.  These segments are delicate!  A few little pieces came off just with handling.  I’ll probably cut and add little bits as I install.

Now on to the real soundboards.

Thickness planing backs and tops


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Prior plans of planing proceeding presently! Two redwood tops close to final thickness at around .105”-.110”.  I’ll scrape more after the rosettes are installed. One walnut back getting close and one more that hasn’t been started yet. Some areas of these were … Continue reading