Monday, April 30, 2007

Neck fitting......

Today after work (yes Ted, I really do have a job!) I spent some time working on the neck, specifically the heel and neck joint. Although I had the neck pretty much shaped, I still needed to do a little bit of work at the heal to get the shape I wanted. I used my small sanding drum on my cordless drill, files, and sandpaper to shape it to a nice curve that kind of has an hourglass shape. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture looking at the back side of the heel so none of these pictures really show what I am talking about. I will just say that instead of the edge of the heel from the cap to the fingerboard being in a straight line, it is in a curve which gives it that hourglass look. With that and the over curved inside cut, I am very happy with the look of the heel. It is quite different from the majority of neck heels. Next time out, I will get a good picture of it so you can see what I am talking about.

After that, I decided it was time to fit then neck joint. With this being a scratch built neck, it took a bit more time to get it to the correct angles and sitting flat on the body, but I finally got it. I had to file the end of the tenon a bit because it was hitting the back of the mortise but other than that, it really wasn't much harder than the pre-carved necks. I still need to do the edge markers, put the last frets on, and flatten the top where the fingerboard extension goes but other than that, the guitar is ready for finish sanding and then off to the spray booth. Oh, and I also need to get the tuners so I can make sure I have the holes correct before I finish too. I went with the specs of the tuner post dimensions on Stewmac's site so I hope they are correct! I drilled 1/4" holes for the tuners.

I spent some time playing with the kit wizard again. This time I want to build a jumbo out of bearclaw and Camatillo Rosewood. I have looked at a few guitars built with it and it really is a spectacular looking wood, and the price is reasonable which is always a big plus. Once I get this one sanded and pore filled, I will be making an order.

It took a bit of work to get the angle correct but I finally got it so the straight edge just skims over the bridge. If you remember, way back when I cut the neck tenon, I mentioned that I couldn't figure out how to get the 1 1/2 degree angle in the cheek cuts. I really wished that I had figured that out when it came time to fit the neck!

Here is the heel cap joint wetted with naphtha. If you look closely, you can kind of see the shadow line of the hourglass shape I did. I still need to do a bit of fine tuning on the shape of the heel cap. In this picture I can see that it is not perfectly symetric.

One side of the neck joint.

The other side of the neck joint. That black line is not a gap, I think it is a trick the camera is doing with the wetted woods. You can also see the curve a bit here by looking at the curve of the joint. That is not a curve in the side, it is a curve in the neck.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I had a visitor to my shop today.........

I didn't spend a lot of time in the shop today, but I did un-tape the top binding and perfling. I also sanded it to see how it turned out. I am happy to say that it turned out very nice. I have a couple of spots where I need to fill some small gaps, but they should be easy to hide with some glue and sawdust.

It was interesting up there today. All during the time I was working, I kept hearing a squeaking sound. With it being spring time, I just assumed that it was a birds nest in the corner of the eaves where the birds build nests every year. I would hear the squeak and try and pinpoint where it was coming from. I never could find it. Just before turning off the lights, I looked over to the work bench and there on the floor was something small and moving. I went over and there was a tiny baby mouse that had gotten out of its nest. I am guessing that there must be a mouse nest in the ceiling insulation, and since my ceiling is covered with nothing more than tarp material, it must have crawled down and fallen through seam between tarps. I guess it must have heard that I build guitars and it wanted to check them out. Good thing it couldn't open it's eyes yet! I took a picture of it and then put it outside. I am know it won't live, but I sure don't want to go looking for the rest of the nest and I really don't want more of them running around the shop! I guess it that time of year that I need to set up some traps.

The body after a bit of scraping and sanding. I like the contrast of the red binding, black perfling and light colored top.

This is the only gap I have on the top. I have a couple of small gaps on the side too but this is the biggest one.

The sides. Sigh.... I really wish I didn't have that black piece of filler on the back.

The end graft and binding joints. They turned out pretty nicely.

I like how the color choices are coming together. The reason for the blue tape around the sound hole is so I don't get the end grain dirty while working the neck bolts. With the really thin piece of spruce next to the black perfling strip, I don't have much wood to sand off to clean it.

Here is the little visitor I had in my shop today.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Top binding and a lot of pictures....

I didn't spend a lot of time working on the guitar today, but I did get the top binding and perfling glued in. The binding was tight at the waist, and one piece started to crack as I was test fitting it so I hit it with some CA at the waist part of the bend to strengthen it for the installation. Other than getting glue everywhere, it went fine and without any problems. I will let it dry over night before I remove the tape to check it. Hopefully it looks fine when I take the tape off. The thin-ness of the perfling ledge made it kind of difficult to get it all in and tight so I hope I don't have any gaps when I sand it down.

I did spend some time with my other two guitars, polishing and buffing them all to a shiny finish so I could take some nice photographs of them. I am working on building a website and would like to have some good pictures of my guitars for it. I am going to post several pictures of each of them for people who are new, or haven't seen them.

Warning: this post has a lot of pictures! Sorry to all the dial-up readers.

The bloodwood binding tight bend. I decided to hit both of these with a little CA to strengthen them before trying to force them in the waist curves.

The top all glued up and taped.

My super high end photographic studio. Nothing more than a white sheet, a shelf, and a lot of light.

Now, on to pictures of my completed guitars. First, the dreadnought I finished in December of '06

Sitka spruce top
Honduran mahogany back and sides
Rosewood peg head and fingerboard
Ebony bridge
White pearl dots
Black plastic bindings, end graft, and heel cap
Gotoh 16:1 gold tuners
Target USL water based lacquer finish

Front whole body picture.

The headstock is rosewood. Tuners are Gotoh gold 16:1

Angled body picture

Back of the neck.

Full back shot

A shot showing the reflection in the back.

The tail graft.

This shows that the sides have some grain that projected through. Although it wasn't planned, I like how it looks and am not going to "fix" it.

The top showing the reflection. It is kind of hard to photograph because of the light wood color.

The neck joint. This is a dovetail neck joint.

This is my OM that I finished at the end of March '07.

Bearclaw Sitka spruce top
Granadillo back and sides
Figured maple bindings, heel cap, end graft.
Ebony fingerboard
Mahogany neck
Gold pearl dots and custom inlay
Rosewood bridge and peg head
Gotoh 16:1 gold tuners
Target USL water based lacquer finish

Full front shot

Angled front shot

Angled front shot

Rope perflings

Perfling at the bottom

Angled back shot

Angled back shot

Heel cap is figured maple

Neck is mahogany. Fingerboard is bound with figured maple.

Neck joint. This neck is a bolt on mortise and tenon.

Neck joint

Reflection in the back finish

Reflection in the bearclaw top.

Peg head with handmade custom gold pearl inlay.

Rosewood bridge and bridge pins.

Figured maple tail graft and bindings.

Down the neck

The OM back showing the light reflection. The lights are about 7' above the guitar.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Distaster, almost.............

Today was a day that almost ended up in disaster. I had a major catastrophe with my binding but I will get on to that later.

First thing I did today was un-clamp the fingerboard and end graft. I sanded the graft flat and am very pleased with the outcome. It turned out very nicely. I then did some glue cleanup and sanding on the neck. I did notice one thing, for some reason the LMI glue that squeezed out on the fingerboard turned black in a few places. I am not sure if it was some kind of a reaction with the rubber band or bloodwood but it had me a bit nervous that it would stain the wood. After sanding though, the black went away so it was just in the glue. I spent some time re-shaping the neck as it was way too thick. I sanded a flat spot all down the back of the neck until I had the correct thickness at the 1'st and 8'th frets. Once that was done, I shaped the rest of the neck until the outside of the curve was at the flat spot I had sanded. It took a while but the neck feels a lot better. I still have some fine tuning to do, but I will do that when I get to the finish sanding of the neck.

I decided to go ahead and start the binding. The top binding and perfling is just the bloodwood binding with a .020" black strip on the top for a line to match the sound hole. This meant that I needed a really thin perfling ledge. I guess in my head I knew this, but it wasn't until I actually cut it before I realized just how thin this ledge is. I cleaned up these channels and decided to go ahead and route the back binding channel while I had the router set up.

This is where the disaster happened. Somehow, (and I really don't know how) the bit moved up the collet in my router by approx. 1/8". If I was thinking right, I would have done a quick test on some scrap before routing, however since I had just routed the top binding I didn't bother re-testing. Big mistake! I routed the entire back not even noticing that it was taking out so much more wood. After I routed it out, I put the piece of binding on it and almost fainted right there on the spot. The channel was .10" too wide meaning I would have needed a piece of binding .10" wider than standard. After I regained my composure, I decided that I would see what I could do with what I had. I had a dozen strips of .10"x.020" black, and 4 strips of maple. I also had 2 strips of bloodwood, but that stuff was too brittle to bend that tight. One piece was broken in shipment so I decided against it right away. I stacked 2 pieces of maple and 3 pieces of black to get a piece as thick as the binding and set it in the channel next to the binding. It looked okay, and more importantly, it filled the gap. I proceeded to tape the back bindings and fillers down allowing spaces between the tapes. I then flooded it with thin CA and let it cure. Then I removed the tapes, re applied the CA and let it cure again. After that, I scraped and sanded it to see how it looked. I have to say, I am pleasantly happy with it. The only problem I have with it is that if I would have known this was going to happen, I would have done a black line around the end graft, and the top binding. I can still do the top, but I think I will leave it without it.

So, catastrophe was averted and a big lesson was learned. ALWAYS check the router before going at the guitar with it, even if I just used it. Bits can move.

The tail graft and neck after removing the clamps.

The tail graft after sanding. I wiped it with naphtha to make it easier to see. I am very happy with how it turned out. If I would have known yesterday what little adventure I was going to have today, I would have done a black binding strip around it.

These are the spots where the glue squeeze out turned black. I have no idea why that happened.

A poser picture. It's starting to look like a guitar!

Here is the top binding and perfling channel. That little edge is .020" wide. Really a thin little edge to try and clean up.

This is the big oops for the day. You can see the back binding ledge is way too wide for the binding material.

After a lot of head scratching (and kicking myself in the rear) this was the solution I came up with. Binding and a stack of 5 pieces of .020'x.1" perfling material.

This is what it will look like. The black is just a bit taller than the bloodwood making it look like a gap. It is actually just a shadow line.

This is the CA method in action. Tape the binding all down with gaps in the tape about the same width as the tape. Flood the material with thin CA and let it cure. Remove the tape and move it over the glued parts and repeat with the CA. Once it is dry all the tapes are removed. I used this method on my Dreadnought but since this was wood binding I was planning on using LMI glue. Oh well, plans change.

A big note of caution here, when doing this on light colored woods, or on the top seal the end grain of the wood with thinned shellac before hitting it with CA. The CA will soak into the end grain and stain the light colored wood. Since this was dark rosewood, I didn't need to seal the end grain.

Here it is all glued up and cured. It looks like a mess now, but after a bit of scraping and sanding it cleans up nicely.

Here is the cleaned up binding. I think it will look fine with the black strip. I still have a little more sanding to do, but for the most part the CA glue scraped right off. I think that I could actually get away with telling people it is an experimental design feature, but we all know better now don't we!