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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Finished Guitars

Gallery

This gallery contains 14 photos.

I guess I neglect to update every so often. My first three steel string guitars, and my 3rd, 4th and 5th total, are finished.  Took quite a while.  I used micro mesh to polish out the lacquer after it cured. … Continue reading

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

Spruce… its what’s for dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or at least it looks that way.  It was recommended to cook the new spruce tops at 200 degrees for an hour.  Then freeze, then cook again.  This sets the pitch (sap) in the wood, basically artificially aging it.

PIcked a set of adirondack out of the stack and cooked it as well.  Choice was easy.  I used the smallest set, which was plenty big for these OOs.

Adirondack spruce tops

Stickered all the wood between sheets of ply and tied it up.  Bought a cheap oven thermometer because I have a gas oven and wasn’t confident on the setting being correct.

cooking spruce

Decided at last minute to use the digital meat thermometer as well.  Set it to alarm at 203.  Went of twice until I got the oven dialed in properly.  Note the most important tool of all in the background.

low tech temp monitor

Now to freeze it for a few days and then cook one more time.  I can work on the backs and necks in the mean time.

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.

 

 

Wood score- not unpacked yet

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All of a sudden I seem to have a wood storage issue.  My new shop area is just being set up.

Last week I regretted not buying some old Martin Guitar wood that I stumbled upon at a workshop clean out.  A couple emails over the week and today I got everything except a couple neatly stacked bundles of rosewood which went to a Ukelele maker.  I’ll find out who got that shortly.

I just semi split it up.  If its all decent, and I think most is, there is enough adirondack spruce for 15-17 full guitar tops. Probably enough mahogany for 5 to 10 backs, maybe some sides.  Plenty of rosewood, maybe some guitar size.  I’d be set if I wanted to try to make ukeleles or mandolins.  Plus a ton of small pieces of rosewood, a bunch of cherry, a bit of curly koa and some random oak.

I think this was a score.  I paid a few bucks each for the spruce and mahogany and rounded up to take everything else.  Probably helped that the shelf was a complete mess and it was hard to tell what was there.  Total cost for all of it would equal about 4 to 5 mid grade book matched spruce tops at current retail prices.

How do things like this fall in my lap? Sometimes I just think about something and it happens.  Like the anvil I was given after I thought about trying out blacksmithing for a few months.

All the wood is sitting in the shop acclimating, I was going sticker and weight the guitar size stuff in a built in cabinet. No Idea where I’m going to put the rest, but I have some thoughts.  Some of it is warped from poor storage, but I think may be able to be flattened.  Any suggestions welcome.

I’ll post pics when there is better light.