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Showing posts from December, 2014

Making an Antonio Torres Style Guitar: Top Bracing, Attaching Top to Neck and Bending Sides by Hand

A truly great guitar needs the human touch, intuition, and insight; therefore, I still primarily use hand tools so that I may feel the wood as I work with it.

Dake Traphagen, Master Luthier


Last posting of 2014!

Thanks to all of you who have visited my blog and those who have left comments!

Thank You to Paul and Joseph Sellers (I hope I got that right!) for keeping Unplugged Shop going and posting my blog posts on it.

Thank You to Luke Townsley for starting Unplugged Shop.

Thank You Leif at Norse Woodsmith for his aggregator.

Here's a photo essay with captions of my process of creating a copy of Antonio Torres' FE 19 1864 "La Suprema" guitar. This guitar is for a young, up and coming classic guitarist in the Denver, Colorado area.

The body shape is a copy of FE 19 as drawn by Neil Ostberg, click here for his site, but the top bracing is based upon a guitar made by the great Santos Hernandez in the 1920's.




Braces are glued on with hot hide glue, the clamps are not cl…

My Chair Maker's Bottoming Iron

The term 'Bottoming Iron' was used for a curved Shave for taking out the Adze marks on Windsor seats.

R.A. Salaman, Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, 1989




I have an order to make a close copy of a 1930 Santos Hernandez guitar and since its plantilla, or outline, is a little different than the one used by Antonio Torres, another solera, or workboard, is needed to build this guitar. Once the top is glued to the neck, all the work done to assemble the guitar will be done on this work board.

The soleras that I use are scooped out to create a dish so that when the braces are glued onto the guitar's top the braces will hold that arch once the glue dries. A domed top gives a guitar a real voice, one that has volume and lyricism.





I usually use a curved bottom plane to hog out most of the material, but this time I pulled out a "travisher" that I made quite a few years ago, back when I thought I could make some extra money selling Welsh stick chairs.





I bought the blade from…

How I Made an Eight Inch English Layout Square

The Joiners Square is a tool used in the production of right angles, either in the drawing of lines or in the planing up of stuff...

George Ellis, Modern Practical Joinery, 1902



I've been using a 4 inch drafting square that I bought in a hobby store 20 years ago to do the layout for transverse braces on guitar tops and backs. It's not the squarest square anymore and I use a 12 inch steel ruler to extend the line off the square when I use it and I've noticed that those lines often are truly square to the center line drawn on the top or back. I correct it by pulling a 3-4-5 measurement to check the squareness.

I rarely make tools for my luthier work anymore, making a tool takes away from spent at the bench creating a guitar, but I'm getting a little tired of fighting that little square.

So I made a layout square based upon the old English layout square that seems to be every where on the wood working internet these days.

I hope many of you have made this English layout s…

On Being Vise-less, Paring Chisels and Carving Guitar Necks

Straight end chisels must be "squared up" on the grinder and shaped to the correct bevel.

Lester Griswold, Handicraft, 1951




I've noticed lately that there are several wood workers in the world of Internet wood work blogging that are bragging about being "vise-less".

Good for you!

I've used hold fasts almost exclusively on my bench for that last twenty years or so, hold fasts are cheap compared to a metal vise and I never got along well with leg vises. I don't make boxes or cut dovetails anymore, I make classical guitars which need much different clamping devices than say, oh, a Federal highboy.

Don't get me wrong, I do need to use a vise for some tasks.



One thing I enjoy about using holdfasts is how quickly you can hold a piece of wood and you don't have to use a pretty piece of wood as a clamping caul.




Hold fasts are efficient for most tasks, they are great for holding guitar necks!



Smoothing the slots in the head stock

I do own and use a Shop…