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Grooving Planes, Saw Sharpening and Splitting Black Walnut

Torres invariably used rosewood for his bridges, even for those of his cheaper guitars...

Jose L. Romanillos, Antonio Torres, Guitar Maker- His LIfe and Work, 1987

I use a table saw to cut the saddle slot for the bridges I make for my guitars, I have a DeWalt construction table saw, it's accurate enough especially when I use blade stabilizers on the saw blade. However, even with a good sharp blade I don't like the quality of the kerf that it cuts.

I decided to make some grooving plans and have the 1/8 inch irons on order from Lie Nielsen. Click here for the irons and to see the plans for these planes. The more guitars I make the more I want to get away from using power tools, grooving plans seems like a better solution for cutting the bridge slot. I have cut it with a saw and a chisel but the results always left something to be desired.

Today, I dimensioned some black walnut and bubinga for the grooving planes. All work was done by hand using the following tools:
No. 3 smoothing plane
No. 5 jack plane
No. 192 rabbet plane
Back saw
1/2 chisel

I'll post more about these little planes after I get the irons and get them made.

My Disston rip saw was a little dull for ripping so I decided to touch it up a little before ripping commenced.

All of my saw files are dull!

Well, guess I had better order some more.

I recently got to see what happens to a guitar bridge when the wood it is made from fails. I've had bridges on my own earlier guitars pop off completely right after I installed new strings, but this was complete wood failure! A few bits and pieces are left of this bridge, so the owner and I decided to make a new bridge out of black walnut. I know that the late John Gilbert used walnut for his guitar bridges, it is a strong wood and fairly light. At least, this gives me a quick side job with a little bit of money.

To make sure that I have a strong piece of wood, I split some 12/4 walnut I had on hand. I should've gone out to the workshop to grab my froe, but a big registered mortising chisel also does the trick.

Oh, how I miss processing lumber from a tree that I cut down myself. That way I knew exactly what I was getting.

I also realized today that it is time to let my Pentax K100 DSLR go to a better place, it is time to buy a new camera to take photos of my work.

Here is a video that the Granada guitar maker, John Ray, has posted on his website trying to drum up business for a book on the school of Granada guitar makers. I think I am going to ask Strings by Mail if they would order this book for me.


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