Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 2013

A Blonde Guitar - Making a Copy of the FE 19 Guitar by Antonio Torres: The Fretboard

The left hand should always approach the fretboard in a position that allows each finger equal access to every string...

Pepe Romero, La Guitarra: A Comprehensive Study of Classical Guitar Technique and Guide to Performing, 2012


Back at the workbench...





Final shaping of the ebony fret board for "Amparo". I want the width at the nut to be 52mm and at the 12th fret 62mm, I don't know who established this relationship, but the fretboards on all the historic guitars, whose measured drawings that I have studied, are like that. After planing down this fretboard, I discovered that I need to flatten the sole of my No. 7 jointer! It's fine to use until I do, I just have to be very careful about setting the blade and using it.





The fretboard held in place with some brass brads so I can mark the sound hole location. Then I carefully cut the half moon out with a coping saw, ebony is brittle wood and I don't want to chip it!

This is Macassar ebony that I purchased from LMI and…

The Best Wood

In North America, the pine family is represented by 64 species of pines, spruces, firs, hemlocks, larches and Douglas-firs. Thirty-two of those species are found growing wild somewhere in California...

Ronald M. Lanner, Conifers of California, 1999



I regard both the Picea Abies and the Thuja Plicata as two beautiful sisters - one blonde and the other brunette; one European and the other American, although I confess that I have a soft spot for the brunette...

Jose Ramirez III, Things About the Guitar, 1990


I lost a potential client because I make guitars with black walnut backs and sides.

This person thought that walnut is good only for "student guitars".

Once again, this shows you how effect marketing done by the big name luthiers and guitar manufacturers has succeeded in making players believe that only the most expensive exotic woods make the best guitars.

I can buy a curly walnut back/side set from Allied Lutherie from $220 to $300, and that is paying for one board foot

A Blonde Guitar - Making a Copy of the FE 19 Guitar by Antonio Torres: Routing the Binding Ledges

No other instrument - struck, plucked, strummed, bowed, blown - is so strongly bound emotionally with a Spaniard as is the guitar.

Gregory d'Alessio, Guitar Review #46, 1979





I bought a new Bosch router and a very expensive binding routing jig from Luthier Tool just so I could make better, more even binding ledges/rabbets.

I am use to using a Dremel to rout these rabbets, the Bosch is quite a bit bigger and heavier and the router attachment isn't the most comfortable thing to hold onto. The thing about this jig is that the lowest roller bearing must be in contact with the side at all times! I found this out the hard way! Thankfully I was able to rout out the mistake in successive passes. This task of routing was a very scary experience, my heart was in my throat the whole operation!

The jig did work well, one turn of the adjustment knob moves the bit in to or out of the cut exactly 3/32nd's of an inch. Impressive. The downcut spiral router bit produced a smooth and clean …

A Blonde Guitar - Making a Copy of the FE 19 Guitar by Antonio Torres: Binding and Purfling

With the final shape of the violin complete, Stradivari applied his last piece of artistry: the purfling.

Toby Faber, Stradivari's Genius, 2004




"Amparo", Engelmann spruce/California laurel, based on guitar FE 19 made by Antonio de Torres.

Did I mention that this guitar is for sale?



Ebony and Manzanita Thumb Plane, Ebony/Bubinga End Graft and Bindings


Yesterday was spent thicknessing strips of bubinga with a hand made tool for such a task, bubinga is tough wood, I had to put my foot against the work bench to get enough power to pull the strips through! Today was spent preparing the ebony binding for this Torres copy. I thicknessed the ebony and then glued simple lines of bubinga to buffer the contrast of ebony on California laurel.



Click here to read more about this tool





The end graft applied.

Tomorrow I will rout out the binding ledges and hope all goes well! I got a new binding jig from Luthier Tool Company for my new Bosch Pony router and a brand new up spiral bit! I wi…

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…

A Blonde Guitar - Making a Copy of the FE 19 Guitar by Antonio Torres

Many stories are still told about the lure that Torres' guitars had for enthusiasts who heard them being played.

Jose Romanillos, Antonio de Torres, Guitar Maker-His Life & Work, 1987



I am out of practice.

I've almost chained myself to the workbench to get this guitar done, just so I can remember what I forgot.

How did I assemble the last guitar?

How thick or thin should I make the hide glue to perform at its best?

Is this how I clamp the sides down to the top?

Now, how is it that I can bend wood?

So many things.



This isn't an exact copy of Torres' famous FE 19 guitar (FE stands for First Epoch, these are the guitars Torres made before he gave up guitar making and opened a store to sell china), as you can see I am using a parallel bracing on the top instead of the "Torres kite" or fan bracing. The crest on the head stock is not a Torres design; it is based on Daniel Friederich's crest; the top is Engelmann spruce and the top bracing is Sitka spruce…

A New Workbench, Part 1, or No More Tool Chests in My Studio!

An early form of Woodworker's Bench used by the Romans consisted of a stout plank on four splayed legs.

R.A. Salaman, Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, 1975




I am a little tired of my tool chest.

As soon as I close the lid things magically appear on top of it.

I remove these items so I can rummage through the chest to find what I need.

And the stuff reappears once the lid goes back down. I think the wood working elves are having fun with me.

I work in a small studio, it's 10'x11' and is between our bedroom and kitchen. I have some storage with shelves, but I desperately need another work surface for finishing my guitars.




I spent most of last week working on building the carcass (yes, I am using the American form of the word) for a new work bench. I sawed out the tenons by hand, I drilled all the mortises with a brace and bit. While doing all that I remembered why I never got into furniture making, I really don't enjoy making squares and rectangles. When you make a…

When Things Go Wrong-Fixing Holes in a Classical Guitar Headstock

Measure twice, cut once, but make sure you cut on the correct line.

Merle Burnham, my father, 1976




This is a neck for a copy of a 1929 Santos Hernandez guitar, it's all glued up from heel block to head stock. In this photo I am adjusted the sides of the neck with a draw knife so I can carefully plane the sides of the head stock perfectly square so the tuning machines can have some where to sit.

What happened next is that I drilled all six holes in the head stock only to find out that I had laid out the positions for the holes using the wrong reference line. Whoops!

Spanish cedar is getting scarce, I bought this blank from Stew-Mac just before they stopped selling Spanish cedar neck blanks. I didn't want to throw it into the wood stove, I owe it to the Universe to persevere and use this neck.




With my trusty knife, block plane, Porter Cable 14 volt drill and a 13/32 inch hole drilled into a piece of bubinga, I made three dowels from a scrap piece of Spanish cedar. Some fish gl…