Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2015

Building an Antonio Torres SE 117 Guitar: Full Size Drawings to Start

What I can never doubt, or help admitting, is that the guitars constructed by Antonio Torres are the achievement of the highest degree of guitar lutherie.

Manual Rodriguez, The Art and Craft of Making Classical Guitars, 2003


I have a soft spot for small guitars, the first two guitars I made were based upon an 1816 Jose Martinez guitar which isn't much bigger than a baritone ukulele. Though small, these guitars have a loud, lyrical voice and are quite fun to play.

Two guitars made by Antonio Torres, his SE117 and SE151a have always intrigued me - they were both made with the same plantilla, or shape, both have bodies that are 17 inches long. SE117 has a 604mm, (23.750") string length and SE151a has a 610mm (24") string length. Compare that to the 1816 Martinez guitar which has a 616mm (24.25") string length and its body is just over 16 inches long!

The Martinez is a great sounding little guitar, I figure that with a larger body the Torres style guitars should be even…

Wide Cherry Boards

Black-or wild-cherry trees do not like competition for sunlight from other trees.

Roy Underhill, The Woodwright's Shop, 1981



This morning I took a trip to a local Home Depot to see if I could find some nice Douglas fir to use in the rehabilitation of my old workbench. (More on that in other post!) I found only four boards that were really usable, I wanted more so I thought I would head over to Lowe's to check out their inventory.

On the way to Lowe's, I stopped at a local flea market to see what hard wood they had on hand, all I wanted to find was some nearly quarter sawn cherry for a guitar neck or two.

I walked back to the stacks of walnut, cherry and oak and when I saw what was there I knew I'd never get to Lowe's...


...this is what I found!

I have never run across cherry boards this wide here in Colorado.

The first one was fifteen inches wide, the second one, in the above photo, was sixteen inches...


...the third one was 18 inches wide! Another was at the very …

What I've Learned About Woodworking - Hand Tools and Machines

Modern technology, with its vast capacity to produce cheaply everything needed by a burgeoning world population, has replaced the hand tools and the hand craftsmen which have attended mankind since its earliest days.

Alex W. Bealer, Old Ways of Working Wood, 1980


Perhaps I could cut out the back of the bubinga/ebony guitar faster with a bandsaw, but the coping saw makes me be aware of the wood and when I am done with this task the coping saw will hang on a peg.

A bandsaw makes noise, requires more space and electricity. I get to burn a few calories using a coping saw.

Now, if I were making doors and sashes for a living I would have shop full of power woodworking machines, I see their value in speed and efficiency for that kind of wood working.

I don't make doors and sashes for a living, I make guitars in a small shop.

Hand tools best suit my work...




...because they allow me to be intimate with the wood.

A guitar is a very intimate instrument, especially for the player.

Yes, I kno…

Another Use for Cam Clamps

There is quite a variety of clamps to meet the needs of the various kinds of work to be clamped.

Harry F. Ulrey, Audel's Carpenters and Builders Library No.1, 1965




There are days when I dislike using my Shop Fox vise to hold thin pieces of wood and today I needed to taper down a piece of ebony that is going to be inserted into a bubinga guitar back.

I used a technique that I figured out a while ago to hold the wood, a cam clamp front and back on the piece.

The clamp in the front gets butted up against the bench stop and the clamp on the back helps steady the piece while I plane away with my no.7 jointer plane.



This is what the back will look like, I still need to joint all edges before I proceed with the glueing process.

Yes, I do use exotic woods, but Auburn Hardwoods, where I got the bubinga and Luthiers Mercantile International, the ebony, both assured me that both woods were from sustainable sources.

Now, turn off the computer, get into your shop and do some work! I'm go…

A Monumental Tree

You have heard people say, "He cannot see the woods for the trees." Meaning, that he cannot grasp the meaning of the big thing because a part of the thing holds all of his attention. This could apply to the average man's understanding of the importance of forests. The average man does not see the forests except as so many trees.


Ned H. Dearborn, Once in a Lifetime: A Guide to the CCC Camp, 1935



I enjoy collecting photos of a photographer who worked out of Susanville, California in the early decades of the last century. I am always looking for postcards of the logging scenes that he captured with his camera, especially those that he took near where I was born and raised in Northern California.



I recently acquired this postcard, it's a great shot of two loggers preparing to fall a huge ponderosa pine.

The logger on the left has a Puget Sound style double bit axe, the logger on the right has a "misery whip", a two man crosscut saw over his shoulder and is hold…

When the Wood Tells You What to Make

I always think of wood as being alive.

James Krenov, A Cabinetmaker's Notebook, 1976





I ordered one piece of West African Ebony from Luthiers Mercantile International to cover the headstock on a Spanish cedar guitar neck, it was going to be a great contrast for the bubinga back and sides.

The headstock veneer fell to the floor and cracked, not a large crack and I was able to glue and clamp it together. When I was getting ready to dry fit the piece onto the headstock the ebony split full length when I was drilling a hole for one of the registering pins.

I guess this piece of ebony didn't want to cover the entire headstock.

I took one step back from the bench and recalled some advice that my father said to me when I young...

Sometimes the wood tells you what you should do.




The back of this guitar is going to have a tapered fillet of ebony down the middle, it seemed best to me to match that with a mirror image in the headstock veneer. This photo shows a piece of West African ebon…

Classical Guitar Necks: Black Cherry and Spanish Cedar

I believe in tradition as long as it doesn't interfere with some of my ideas. First, I differ in the kind of wood that I use to make my guitar necks.

Arthur E. Overholtzer, Classic Guitar Making, 1974

I was busy last week.

First, I joined a western red cedar top, inlayed the rosette and then thinned the top down to about 2mm thick.

I want to experiment with the so-called fan/lattice bracing that is very popular right now amongst classic guitar makers.

The idea is to have a very, very thin top that is reinforced with an ultra strong, ultra light style of bracing, the concept is similar how the drum head on a banjo works.

These days young classical guitarists who compete in guitar competitions are playing the loudest guitars they can get their hands on. Some folks call these guitars "uber guitars", others call them "Australian guitars". These guitars are very loud and some don't sound like a guitar at all, they are very controversial right now in the class…