Saturday, September 5, 2020

Laminating Classical Guitar Sides

I showed my guitar to the Maestro (Andres Segovia), pointing out that I was not looking for kind words, but rather his most severe criticism to help me to excel in my work.

Jose Ramirez III, Things About the Guitar, 1990

About six or seven years ago, I laminated a set of guitar sides, East Indian rosewood with Alaska yellow cedar veneer, using Titebond, an external mode and a seemingly unlimited amount of clamps. When the glue dried I removed the sides and was shocked to discover the sides “sprung in” (the opposite of “spring back”!) nearly one inch at ends of the bouts. It took some pressure and more than a few clamps to hold the sides in place on the guitar top while I glued the kerfing blocks to top and sides. Even if I had used an external mold many clamps would have been involved.

I never gave up on the idea of making or using laminated sides, they are stiff and can help improve the sound of a guitar. A guitar is similar to a banjo in that the top is attached and anchored to stiff sides (think of a drum).

After buying and using a vacuum pump and clamp to glue on guitar bridges, I thought I would explore using vacuum bags for laminating guitar sides. After searching on the Internet, I decided to purchase a vacuum bag kit from Roarockit, they also sell kits to make skate boards, and give laminated guitar sides another chance. I made an external guitar mold, a matching work board and purchased slow cure epoxy.

To use the bag method, I still had to bend the sides and laminations (birch and curly maple) to shape on my electric bending iron.






Then I carefully placed the laminations between two sheets of 1/16” thick styrene and somehow get all of that into the vacuum bag. The kit comes with a handy vacuum pump the allows you to pull out all the air and then I clamped the bag with sides onto a mold.



Twenty four hours later I removed the side and wow! 





No spring back, spring in and the sides fit the mold with minimal clamping!

If you are interested in experimenting with a vacuum bag without investing in an expensive vacuum pump, visit Roarockit’s website and take a look at their products and videos.

I’m ready to use a bigger vacuum bag with my vacuum pump so I don’t have to clamp the sides to the mold, I want the mold and sides in the bag! 

Now, turn off your computer and get yourself out to the workshop and make something. 

1 comment:

  1. Cool to see it all resting in the mould with a perfect fit. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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