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Shop Made Cutter Gauges

Everything popular is wrong.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895



I spent a couple of hours today and made a pair of gramils, or cutting gauges, for making the binding ledge on a classical guitar. I made these out of some black walnut that I had on hand and after completing them I realized I have some wonderful CSA rosewood in the attic that would make a great set of gauges.


A pair of walnut gramils with the metal gramils in the foreground

Those of you who follow my blog know that I dislike using power tools in making a guitar, I have nothing against power tools, I use them in my day job as a historic preservation carpenter.

I gave up trying to use a router to cut the binding ledges and went back to hand tools: two gramils, chisels and files.

I own two gramils that were purchased from Luthiers Mercantile, they are nice to use, but I have to be really careful with them because slot that for set screw that holds the blade in place can really mar the guitar's wood.

I am hoping that wooden gramils will not mar the wood, at least as badly has the metal gramils can.



Brass strips need to be inlaid into the gramils' arms and sharpen the cutter blades need to be shaped and sharpened. These I cut out of a old card scraper that I purchased from Frog Tool Company over 20 years ago. The scraper logo claims that it is Sheffield Silver Steel, all I know is that it holds a decent cutting edge.

The redwood/Indian rosewood copy of a 1968 Hernandez y Aguado guitar is hanging from a hook in my studio waiting for me to finish the binding ledges and to glue in place the ebony bindings with curly maple fillets. It is becoming impatient. That is another reason why I made these gramils.

Many people think that using hand tools for this operation, cutting binding ledges, by hand is a waste of time, I look at it as another skill to perfect. And the noise that a gramil makes as it slices into the wood is a far more romantic sound then the whine of a Bosch brand router, and is easier on my ears.



Comments

  1. I'm a fan of doing many things by hand as well. I like the peace, quiet, and contemplation that goes with using my hands and a sharp tool. I also find that once I get enough experience with some tasks the time I could save by using a loud, messy machine is often relatively insignificant and I enjoy the ride more!

    I'm enjoying your blog!

    Doug

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for visiting my blog, Doug! It's nice to a have a fellow luthier agree with me about having peace and quiet in the shop. By the way, your dulcimers are incredibly beautiful! Glad are making them!

    ReplyDelete

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