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Showing posts from January, 2012

Making Slots in a Classical Guitar Peghead

When I was a boy my father had horses, over a hundred of them, some of them rank, and I sat them well.

Mark Spragg, Where Rivers Change Direction, 1999



Was looking at my last post, I love stirring the pot.




I cleaned my workbench after breakfast, but it didn't stay clean for long. I worked on making the slots in the peghead for a copy of a Hernandez y Aguado guitar (earlier post of rosette in redwood top). I drilled out holes at either end of the slot and cut out the remainder with a coping saw.




I forgot that I could use the vise jaws to help me file the edges of the slots true and square, I wish I had remembered it earlier. Once everything is finally sanded I need to do some carving and texturing to make the peghead look like this:

What a Workbench Should Really Look Like

Home. Home. I knew it entering.

Richard Hugo, "The Only Bar in Dixon", The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir, 1973


Sorry for the teaser of a title. It's 6:22am and it is still dark outside, the sun won't be up for almost another hour. Today will be a busy day, calls to make, errands to the flatlands and then work on guitars and the garage floor.

My workbench, simple and efficient for what I do. That is what a work bench should be.


My workbench on a good day

If my bench isn't cluttered it means that I'm not working, I get so involved with what I'm doing that I don't take time to put things away as I go. I know this is heresy in the woodworking world. My dad, who was a wonderful mechanic, always told me to never take a car to a mechanic who has a clean shop and clean hands, that means that he isn't getting customers or he spends more time cleaning then working. I've read that most musicians who become woodworkers tend to keep scrupulously clean shop…

Inlaying a Guitar Rosette

The world is made of stories. Good stories are hard to come by, and a good story that you can honestly call your own is an incredible gift. These stories are part of a bigger story that connects us all.

Gary Synder, Back on the Fire and Other Essays, 2007


Sorry to post again so soon, but I installed a rosette in a spruce top yesterday. Today, before I head down the hill to Home Depot for lumber to start framing the floor in the garage, I wanted to inlay a rosette on a redwood top. David Schramm has a great article on his website for inlaying a rosette, it's quite detailed and I highly recommend reading it.


Here I've finished routing out the channel, the scariest part is not making it too wide, at the inside and outside edge I'd take less than a 64th of an inch at a time. The rosette was purchased from Luthiers Mercantile International, Inc. (LMI), it was made in Russia and goes well with the redwood.


The channel is completed and the rosette fits well.

Yesterday, when I w…

What I Forgot about Guitar Making

Though he lived for years in a Farnham alley, he failed to pick up any of the manner even of a little country town. He was all rustic.

George Sturt, The Wheelwright's Shop, 1923





Yesterday's sunrise. I had to scramble to find the camera.


A friend of mine once told me that he didn't get up early enough to watch the sunrise until his daughter was born. Then he got up to feed her and realized what he had been missing by sleeping in past the sun's greeting to the day. Now he doesn't miss one.


What I forgot about guitar making. I made a beginner's mistake yesterday. I spent about an hour sanding in the profile on the fretboard of the spruce/walnut guitar, I like to sand all the way to 2000 grit so your fingers slip on the ebony. The profile was gorgeous, but I forgot to check across the fretboard for flatness. The mistake. I cut 2 pieces of fret wire and set them, then realized if the board was going to have an arch it needed to be uniform. I pulled the frets and, as…

Cutting Slots in a Classical Guitar Bridge

The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.

Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It, 1976


More wind today, gusts up to 80mph, all of us who live here at the headwaters of St. Vrain Creek have been wondering when it was going to get breezy.


I don't know why I spend so much time on this blog, there is work to be done. Today was a day to make another bridge, this time for the Douglas Fir/Maple Martinez copy that I really need to finish and get out of the studio. Another piece of padauk, a small back saw, a clamp and a piece of Spanish cedar for a straight edge.



I am duplicating a modern style bridge that I had on the guitar, but the top was starting to cave-in, I had glued it on incorrectly the first time.



A few licks with the saw and a chisel or two and the slots are done. Yesterday, I cut the slots with a table saw, which always bothers me because of the noise and the chance of a digit engaging the saw blade. I decided tha…

Drilling String Holes in a Classical Guitar Bridge

It would be possible for an expert joiner to purchase the steel blades and make his own wooden planes; but I feel that it is due to what may be termed "Craft Masonry"-the recognition and respect for skilled workmanship-that makes him reluctant to do so and, instead, to purchase the tools that an unknown fellow-worker has prepared for him with such infinite care.

Walter Rose, The Village Carpenter, 1937



I'm making a bridge for the spruce/walnut guitar out of paduak, it's nice and light and stiff, I read somewhere that luthiers Jeff Redgate and Greg Smallman use padauk for the bridges on their guitars. I would have posted more photos of actually drilling the holes, but it is 12 degrees outside with wind gusts up to 34mph making the wind chill down to minus 10 degrees. My hands were getting chilblained from touching the metal of the drill press, I need to find my gloves!




I made a little block that I attach the bridge to with double sided tape that keeps the bridge at th…

The 10 String Classical Guitar-My Latest Obsesssion

In the works of the Cubists the stringed instrument-notably the guitar-quickly became a popular motif. Why? Because it was there.

Gregory d'Alessio, Pablo Picasso, Monument or Mountebank, Guitar Review 46, 1979



Snow today, I just heard that the visibility at Denver International Airport is only 1 mile, the snow here is coming down sideways. Today is a good day to work on guitars.

Speaking of guitars, here's my latest obsession, the 10 string classical guitar.

Standard Tuning for a 10 string classic guitar.



The great guitar maker Jose Ramirez was always searching to make a better guitar. In Things About the Guitar he wrote

An obsession with achieving an enriched sound in the guitar led me to study an old, obsolete instrument: the viola d'amore, which has a very interesting feature. There are as many strings on the inside of this viola as there are on the outside, which are the ones that are played. The inner strings vibrate sympathetically and, together with the outer ones, …

A "Mae West" Style Lacote Guitar, Part 3

I have had three wives and three legitimate guitars, flirting, however, with many others.

Andres Segovia, "A Conversation", Guitar Review 43, 1978




Work goes slowly on the Mae West Lacote. I decided to install the bridge before I complete the french polish, before that I needed to see what thickness to make the bridge. I put a straight edge on the fingerboard and discovered there was a huge back bow. I spent about 40 minutes sharpening the irons for a block plane and a No.3 smoothing plane and then got to work.




You can see how much wood I had to remove to make the fingerboard straight, well, I did put a little dip in it between frets #7-#12. After I install the bridge, I will sand it smooth and then install the frets. As I was planing the fingerboard I discovered that I had failed to orient the grain direction of the ebony so I could plane from sound hole to peg head. The way that it was probably was the best, I butted the box of the guitar up to the stop and planed away. Ebo…