Monday, November 30, 2009

No camera

Uh, our digital camera got shut in a car door over the weekend. But work continues. I've got a neck now. A rosewood veneer has been glued to the front of the headstock. The top bracing is nearly finished. And shellac is being applied to scrap pieces of mahogany in order to do some finishing tests.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cheap Homemade Tools

While waiting for the neck and neck block to arrive, I started building a binding jig. The binding jig I am building has two parts to it. First, there's a cradle which holds the body of the guitar. Second there is a doohickey that holds a laminate trimmer, and which will go up and down. When the cradle holding the body is run under the trimmer, and the trimmer will "ride" on the edge of the body in a perpendicular fashion, and will make clean binding channels.

I got the cradle finished today:

I was really pleased because it only cost a couple of bucks to make. Here's a detail of one of the corners.

Those corners are screwed to plywood in the shape of a guitar body. That plywood is the scrap from when I made the body mold from my last guitar, a 000. Underneath of the cradle, I've got pieces of felt arranged so that the whole thing will slide easily on a countertop.

As long as I'm posting pics here, there are a number of things I've made for nothing or next-to-nothing. All of this stuff, you could pay big bucks for. I have no idea why. Guitarmakers oughta be crafty, right?

Here's the mold I made that I used for my first guitar, the 000.

The whole mold was made out of a single long piece of plywood, about 10" wide, that my neighbor gave me. The only cost involved was the brass hardware. ($0.50 at a yard sale.)

This is my go-bar deck.

This too was made out of free scrap. I had those little "L" shaped pieces and the screws, but I can't imagine those cost very much.

And here are my go bars. They are just dowels cut a little short of 24".

These 2"x2"s have radii cut into them.

One is 15' and the other is 25'. When I turn the 15' radiused piece on its side...

... I've got a fret holder.

I'm actually planning yet another use for these two 2"x2"s. I have a piece of pipe and a flange that I will mount to a board. When the rim is built, I'll drill a hole in the center of each of the 2"x2"s, so that they can spin on the piece of pipe. I'll use this to sand the rims, transferring the proper radius to both top and back.

This piece of poplar has been trimmed for most of its length, so that it is the same shape as a fingerboard that is 24.9" scale and 1 11/16" wide at the nut.

When it is strapped to the fingerboard, the other end has a mark that should fall right in the center of the body.

Here's my version of a jig used to glue the bridge down. Again, it only cost me the price of the screws.

And last but not least, and probably most controversial of all, are my homemade nut files.

These are just pieces of string superglued to popsicle sticks. It is slow working with them, but they give you a perfectly round groove, the same size as your string, for sure.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

End graft

While waiting for the neck and neck block to arrive in the mail, I've gotten started on the rim anyway. I glued in the tail block...

...and installed an end graft. I used an offcut from the peghead veneer. It's East Indian rosewood. I was really interested to get an idea of how it will look, because the binding will also be EIR.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thinking ahead about the finish

Here's a pic I found of a lightly figured African Mahogany guitar with dark bindings and a pointy headstock. Rosette looks really similar too. But it's a 12 fret. How does it look?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Starting the rim

I ordered a 00 sized mold and it arrived in the mail yesterday, from my friend Ken of KMG. On my last guitar (which was also my first guitar), I made my own mold. That old homemade mold wasn't very symmetrical.

I've got the sides trimmed so that they fit in the mold nicely. I used the $6 hobby shop xacto razor saw.

Headstock shapes

While waiting for the rim and neck block to arrive, I plan to cut out my headstock from the rosewood faceplate. I have a template that resembles the 30's Martin below, but I could easily leave the top corners pointy for a stately early look, as represented below by the Tony Rice model. Any preferences?

30's Martin

Santa Cruz Tony Rice

To cut out the headstock, I'm first gluing a paper template to the rosewood faceplate. I'll cut this out using a coping saw with a fine toothed blade. Then I'll glue that to the neck's headstock (once I have it), and cut it out using a bandsaw. After that, I'll sand the sides smooth.

Re-thinking the top bracing

So I glued down the bridge plate and the transverse-brace-above-the-soundhole-with-the-hole-in-it-for-the-truss-rod-wrench-to-go-thru. After doing this, I layed down the bridge and the fingerboard to see how things were going to line up. I cut the bridgeplate to the size of the drawing on the top. And I put the bridge right in the middle of the bridgeplate.

When I do this, the edge of the fingerboard winds up being a half inch away from the soundhole.

This is similar to a mistake I made when building my first guitar, I built a 000 using an OM top and as a result, the fingerboard wound up being 1/4" away from the soundhole. I like the look of having the fingerboard run right up to the soundhole, like this:

If I move the fingerboard close to the soundhole like in the picture above, the bridge winds up being off of the bridgeplate.

I removed the bridgeplate last night. I was careful not to let heat get near the center seam on the top. It was slow going but it worked.

I have a new plan. I'm going to build the rim first. Then I'll line up the 14th fret with the edge of the rim, and then figure out where my bridge plate should line up. The goal is to engineer the bracing so that it looks a lot like the 1933 00-18 pictured down below. That's the only example I've seen of a 14-fret 00 that has an X greater than 90 degrees on the lower bout, and one fingerbrace on each side of the X.

I was going by the bracing plan drawn on the top. But it looks like something was either drawn wrong, or I must have misinterpreted something. You'll know I'm building something when stuff gets undone and then re-done a couple of times.

I'm waiting on a 00 mold and a neck block to come in the mail, then I'll be able to work on the rim.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Top bracing

The X-bracing on the top has a 25' radius cut into it. But the bridge plate, the finger braces and the upper transverse brace are all flat. So I glued these down first, in order to get a nice flat surface for a better glue fit. On my first guitar, I did this backwards. I glued down the X-braces first, and fit the other pieces up against the X. When I did that, I was trying to glue flat pieces onto a curved surface.

Here's the bridge plate being glued down.

I could've done more than this all at once, but I like to just do just a little bit at a time so that I have good control, can clean up the glue squeeze out, and can make sure nothing is sliding around before the glue tacks.

Next I glued down the [whatever it's called] brace. The one with a hole in it that the truss rod wrench goes thru.


I use original Titebond. If it's good enough for Wayne Henderson, it's good enough for me!

Titebond has a shelf life. So I went out and picked up a fresh bottle before starting on this guitar.

A = Made in the U.S.
9 = 2009
0917 = September 17
0070 = Lot number

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Back bracing

On my first guitar, I glued the braces on first, and then cut the center strip into five sections, and glued it in-between the braces. The center strip didn't wind up being in exactly a straight line as a result.

On this guitar I thought I'd try gluing the center strip down, and then chisel out four sections for the braces to go thru.

Here's the center strip being glued down. I use popsicle sticks so my go bars don't dent the wooden parts. The back is resting on a 2"x2" that has a 15' radius cut into it, which matches the radius of the braces, so that the back will be arched.

And here is the center strip glued down. The edges of the center strip have been rounded. Gives it a more finished look. I did that with a piece of sandpaper glued to a little wood block.

Since I only have one 2"x2" with the back radius cut into it, I glue down the braces one at a time.

Here are all the back braces glued on.

Here's detail of the bracing that will show thru the soundhole.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Parts & getting started

Here's my work area in our basement. It's small and cramped but works out ok. I built my first guitar in this space, last winter. This guitar will be my second acoustic guitar build.

This is my makeshift go-bar deck. I just made it with scrap wood, using L-shaped hardware and small screws.

The kit guitar I'm building here came from John Hall / Blues Creek Guitars. John was nice enough to assemble a custom kit for me. The idea is to build something a lot like an early 30's Martin 00-17. John is quite the Martin historian and agreed to draw an appropriate bracing pattern on the underside of the top for me. Here's the bracing pattern he drew:

Some of the old 00's had one finger brace on each side of the "X", and some had two. Some had no popsicle brace. I'm not sure what the rhyme or reason is to any of it. I'm sure John gave me the right thing here for a early 30's 00-17. But I'd really like to go with no popsicle brace and one finger brace on each side. I want to brace the guitar lightly and see what happens.

John sent me some beautiful red spruce bracing, which he shaped and scalloped. Here's what the top bracing looks like, roughly laid in place on the top:

The top has some gorgeous figure to it:

Here's a detail of the rosette:

Cutting off the belly of a modern bridge and then rounding the back gives you the same thing, as the thin bridge like on a 00-17. John cut it and shaped it really close, and I've done a little more to it.

And even though it'll be a long while before I actually set up the guitar, I went ahead and rough-shaped the saddle just because it is so fun to do:

Here are the sides. The sides also have nice figuring:

Just look at how nicely bookmatched these are:

Here's what the back looks like. It was joined without a center strip, like I specified.

Here's a detail of some of the figure on the back:

The tuners are Grover sta-tite 18:1.

Bridge pins and end pin are ebony.

Bone nut blank:

Rosewood laminate cover for headstock:

Rosewood binding.