Skip to main content

Making a Copy of a 1929 Santos Hernandez Guitar, Old Brown Glue--or, Sometimes You Just Gotta Glue Something Together!

copy |ˈkäpē|
noun ( pl. copies)
a thing made to be similar or identical to another : the problem is telling which is the original document and which the copy.

replica |ˈreplikə|
noun
an exact copy or model of something, esp. one on a smaller scale : a replica of the Empire State Building.
a duplicate of an original artistic work.

verb (copies, copied) [ trans. ]
make a similar or identical version of; reproduce.


A couple of years ago, I ran across a classical guitar maker's blog or a guitar makers' forum that discussed the topic of "replica" versus "copy". One maker said that he doesn't make replica's, because it is impossible to make a true replica of a famous luthier's guitar. I agree, because any guitar I make will sound like I made it, no matter how true I try to stay to the original it won't sound like a guitar made by the great Santos Hernandez. I hope, however, the guitar will sound close to what Santos wanted it to sound like.

Did you notice that the only difference between "copy" and "replica" is the word "artistic"?




The other day I took the plunge and started making a copy of a 1929 Santos Hernandez guitar, not a replica, but a copy because I don't have access to the original Santos Hernandez guitar.

I cut the head stock from the neck blank (click here to see that posting) and made the scarf joint. I glued the joint together with W. Patrick Edward's Old Brown Glue, since he was kind enough to send me a free bottle of the glue for me to try again. Everything went well.




Then I really got crazy! I edge jointed this Sitka spruce top, with just the right amount of bear claw, that I've had in my wood cache for the last five years or so and I have been dying to make a guitar with it! I used Old Brown Glue to glue the two pieces together. It's holding together and it should.

I will admit that I just ordered a brass glue pot from Hank Levin at MusiCaravan because I make hide glue to use when I glue the bracing on to the guitar top. I ordered the pot because I am tired of using a hot pot that isn't that controllable and I find the other glue pots that are available from LMII, Stew-Mac and Tools For Woodworking a little too ugly to grace a studio. As Hank Levin says, he was "esthetically and financially repelled by electric glue pots"!

I also downloaded two little booklets on using hide glue from Toolemera Press, The Glue Handbook: The Keystone Glue Co. c1930 and
Doing The Gluing: The Keystone Glue Co. c1930
, the type face print of the original is a little fuzzy, but it looks like there is a lot of great information to be had! When you go to Toolemera's website don't forget to download Charles Hayward's sweet little book, How to Make Woodwork Tools! You gotta love a book that has a chapter on "Eleven Handy Tools" and a "Home Made Smoothing Plane" made from a single block of wood to look like a Spiers smoothing plane.

Remember, get out into the shop and make something!










Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised

Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979


So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice


Why these books by Mr. Underhill? You will learn valuable wood working techniques if you make any of his projects. The dovetail joints used to join a drawer together are far mor…

The Guitar Maker's Backsaw for Cutting Fret Slots

The overall correct process of placing frets in a guitar fingerboard ("fretting"), is far less straight forward than most people believe. A perfect job, for perfect playability, requires some careful preparation.

Anthony Lintner, guitar maker



Twenty five years ago, I bought my first fretting saw from Luthiers Mercantile. It was made in Germany and had a straight handle on it, basically it was a gent's saw.

First thing I did to the saw was to take off the straight handle and make a nice handle for it from some wonderful Claro walnut that came from a Cottonwood Creek bottom wild grown walnut. I used it to cut fret slots in dulcimer and classical guitar fret boards. The saw served me well for several years until I made the mistake of cutting some brass with it.

Well, I never did get around to sharpening the thing.

The blade is .015 of an inch thick with the teeth set at .022-.023 of an inch. I think it has 22 teeth per inch. It is a great saw and I was very sad to see that…