Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cutting Binding Rabbets

I do a fair amount of rework. No one ever has so much experience that he can do things right all the time. I tell my students, "The difference between good work and ordinary work is rework." Sometimes people will say, " Oh my, that's beautiful. How do you do it?" I reply that I do it over and over and over."

Eugene Clark, luthier, "Building with the Spanish Solera" 2004 lecture



Today I got at routing the binding rebates (channels) in the maple guitar. I used my trusty Dremel with base to rout out the rebates and you can see in the bottom photo I added a base to the base, a piece of rosewood adjusted to compensate for the doming in the top and back of the guitar. The idea is that the router bit can address the side of the guitar at a right angle, not canted because the dome pushes the front of the router up. When that happens you end up scraping away most of the bindings because the bindings lean out at the top. I did that on my 3rd guitar. Well, the idea sort of worked, thank goodness I have the skills to use hand tools to finish the rebates (rebate is the British version of rabbet). One of these days I'll have to ante up and buy a laminate trimmer and some jig to hold it.


It seems like that every luthierie article or book I read the author is saying that the only way to build a guitar is to have lots and lots of power tools and jigs. I didn't take shop in high school, my training was at a shaving mare with an 8 inch "Lakeside" draw knife learning the ends and out of traditional wood work. I was a high end finish carpenter for seven years before I went back to the National Park Service and I had over $3000 worth of power tools in the back of my pickup to help me with trim/cabinet installations. For what I did those tools did exactly what I wanted, but I have discovered when I do true high end craft work, power tools bite back because they represent speed and money. I want to point out that those old masters-Fleta, Simplicio, Barbero, Panormo, Lacote and Ramirez used hand tools, not Black and Decker, and they had to crank out guitars to make money. Even 200 years ago time was money. Today there are makers in Spain that use hand tools exclusively and crank out 2 to 3 guitars a month! I have the luxury at the moment to take my time and do things by hand, what a wonderful way to continue to improve my skills!

My attempt at an improvement without having to drop $400 on a binding router jig.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sending me the link to your beautiful blog. It's fascinating to see all the bits and pieces that go into making something so lovely.
    -Lala

    ReplyDelete

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