Saturday, March 1, 2008

Guitar Assembly

Yesterday, I shaped the back braces and sanded them to 220 grit and established a back arch on the sides with a sanding board. Today, I mortised out the pockets in the back lining for the braces with a 1/4" mortise chisel. Using a mortise chisel is much easier than Cumpiano's method (whose book is still worth every cent if you want to make a guitar on your own), I got the idea to use a the chisel from luthier Clive Titmuss's website. It made sense to me and proved to be a faster and far cleaner technique. 

Working with the back today and trying to plane out the unconformity between the sides and the end blocks reinforced something that I have known for a long time-trust your intuition, trust your eyes and don't always trust the plans that you work with. I tried to make this a fairly close copy of a Lacote and tried to match the placement of the back bars with the plans I have. The brace closest to the tailblock is far too close and I had to lever the back down with clamps to meet the tailblock. The arch works, but when I first glued on the braces, my right brain kept trying to smack me to say that something wasn't right. I'll adjust next Lacote copy, but I am not going to try and slavishly copy a Lacote, all of his guitars were different from each other anyway. Though it is said that he rarely used any string length other than 630mm.

I wiped some Naptha on the back to try and pop some of the figure that is present in this laurel. I have really enjoyed using this wood, it is easier to bend than walnut and has a great tap tone. I can't wait to build with it again. Believe it or not these pieces are not truly book matched, they came from the outsides of the same board. I ripped the board on my table saw and ran into a little trouble, I got 2 nice book matched pieces from the inside of the board, but the outside boards were a little too narrow for a full sized classic guitar. Rarely can you get the outside boards to book match, but I took my time and ended up with a nice back.

Last winter I made 2 little planes, the one on the left is made out of Pacific dogwood that I harvested just up the road from me and the other is ebony. I turned the knobs on my spring pole lathe and shaped the dowels on the drill press. I made them to shave braces, they are fun and great conversation pieces.
Sunny and cooler today, had a snow flurry just a few minutes ago, back to sunshine.

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