Wednesday, December 31, 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 clamping the braces, but holding the top to the shape of the scooped out work board. The hide glue dries in under four minutes, no need for clamps!



My glue pot. Available here.



Glueing on the transverse braces. Note the slanted, or angled, lower brace, this is some that Santos did on some of his guitars with the idea that this would tighten up the treble area of the top, to help the treble strings be as loud and even as the bass strings.





Glueing on the last transverse brace.




Granadillo sides, this wood is a bear to bend!




Electric bending iron and the sides in the background. I will touch up the sides before I attach them to the top.




My Stanley No. 271 router that I use to clean up the shelf on the heel where the top attaches...




Getting ready to apply the glue to the neck/heel union. The straight edge aligns the neck and top center line, I nail the top to the heel with three nails...




Waiting for the glue to harden...




In this photo I had just glued the end block on to the top. The next step is to attach the sides!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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!



Monday, December 22, 2014

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 square, it's awfully pretty and appealing.

The square I made doesn't have the fancy ogees that are on the Schwarz-ian square, just simple ogees and partial circles.

The wood that I used was some California laurel (umbellularia californica), click here to learn more about this gorgeous wood, that I have on hand.

I apologize if some of these photos are a little blurry, I used my iPhone to take several of the shots and didn't pay enough attention on the area where the camera was focusing.


I drew a simple ogee on the legs, roughed that out with a sloyd knife and then refined the shape on small sanding drum chucked into the drill press.




The half lap joints were sawn and then finished with a chisel, the blade on my Stanley No.271 router plane needed sharpening, again I didn't want to take the time, a sharp chisel and a safety edge file cleaned up the joints.





Laying out where the brace cross member goes...





All the pieces ready to be glued...



..and the glue up!






The finished square! I squared it off the edge of a piece of foam board.

Why an eight inch square? The classic guitar models I make are usually no wider than 15 inches.

The area inside the legs and brace reminds me of a gable on the Rouen Cathedral...




The square in use. It should make work a little easier!


Here's Isabelle Selder, enjoy!



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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 Fox brand vise that I bought from Grizzly some ten-eleven years because it was cheap and I needed a better way of holding certain objects.



One inch wide chisel on the left with a 30 degree bevel, 7/8 inch chisel on right with 20 degree bevel

While carving the heel of a guitar neck the other day, I notice how the steep bevel of my one inch chisel kept bumping the chisel out of the cut. I was using the chisel with its belly down.

Hmm.

Most of my chisels are ground to a 30 degree bevel, this is left over from the days when I did chop dovetails and mortises, so I thought I would take one chisel and experiment with a 20 degree bevel.

I took my 7/8 inch Stanley No.720 chisel to the grinder and then locked it in my old Eclipse 36 Made in England honing guide.




A close copy of a Santos Hernandez guitar heel

The 20 degree bevel worked like a charm, now I want to experiment with a 15 degree bevel, but, again, the amount of time I have in the shop grows short.

I have two orders for custom classical guitars, a router table is waiting to be built so I can make muntin, rail and stile stock for eight sashes for the new porch enclosure which that also needs to be finish before winter really sets in.

Did I mention that our water heater developed a good leak the other day?

It's going to be a busy winter!


Another YouTube of Isabella Selder, enjoy!

Building an 1830's René Lacôte "Legnani Model" Guitar

I made this little guitar about ten years ago, it is based upon an original 1830's "Legnani Model" guitar made in the René Lac...