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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 Country Workshops, and I followed the instructions for making a chair bottoming iron that is in Drew Langsner's great book, The Chairmaker's Workshop. The book is still available but Country Workshops no longer carries any kind of curved spokeshave blades.





The body was sawn from a chunk of maple that I purchased from Loren at the Wood Emporium in Loveland, Colorado...





The blade is held in place with just a few washers and screws.

I've never had the blade come lose or change position while working with it.






I re-shaped the area in front of the mouth and it works even better than it did when I first made it 17 years ago.

The dish on the work board is completed, I just need to give the pieces a bunch of coats of shellac, as much as the MDF will hold, to help stabilize the material. How I make a work board will be another posting.

Merry Christmas, everyone!



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