February, 2019

     February was a short and simple month. I think that it rained 17 of 28 days which made staying in the shop and building a new guitar seem like the thing to do.

     In January Woody created and inlaid rosettes and braced up some tops and backs.  Thus began the construction of four guitars, each built of different combinations of wood.  Likewise, each guitar will have different features. One will have a cutaway, one will be a mini, one will have a maple neck, and one will be a straight rosewood dreadnought.  It's more fun that way.

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Who is the man in the photo?


Gluing Down the Bridge

     It's always a good feeling to reach this point in the build. I include these photos because I still use Wallo bridge clamps seen here on the left and right wings of the bridge.


     Joseph Wallo was a luthiery tool creator, violin/cello repairman and classical guitar builder in the 1960s and 70s. The Wallo clamps are cast aluminum.  They are very light and perfect for gluing down the bridge. I've found none better in 40 years. I'm sure that's part of the reason that I like acoustic luthiery... it's very slow to change.



Truss Rod

     The photo shows a two-way adjustable truss rod. The truss rod is set into a 1/4" (6.35 mm) slot routed into the neck. A silicone caulking is applied to ensure against rattling. Woody prefers to tape over the threads to keep them clean during this process.

     Also note the maple strips inlaid on both sides of the truss rod.  These strips are inlaid nearly as deep as the neck is thick.  They create a lamination that strengthens the neck considerably. On previous guitars I used carbon fiber for these strips. I felt that the neck was almost TOO stiff when carbon fiber is used. It made it more difficult to get the proper neck relief. So, back to maple.


First of Four

     In February the first guitar was worked on intensely. It's a mahogany dreadnought with an Adirondack spruce top. It has custom mother of pearl inlays that Woody cut and inlaid with the CNC. Using the CNC to design and execute inlays confidently is no casual undertaking. It is very satisfying, however, to improve control over this aspect of guitar building.

    The first of the four guitars is now completely built except for the final fretboard set up. The final act will be the set up of the guitar after finishing. A lacquer finish will be applied this spring. 

     The photos below start with the guitar completed this month. 


Second of Four (the Mini)

Bending the Sides 

     There are more than a few side bending machines and jigs available on the market. The Woody shop uses an LMI side bender which I have discussed previously. (see Luthier's Journal November, December 2015)

      The Mini that Woody builds has been created somewhat on the fly.  The first two wJs Minis were built a couple of years ago, partly because I had some wood that I wanted to use, but mostly just for the fun of it. I had no mold or fixed dimensions in mind but just wanted to build a smaller guitar.  So, I settled on the idea a small dreadnought (24" scale) and a body of approximately 90% of the standard dreadnought dimensions. 


     As a result of the unique size and dimensions, the sides have to be bent on a pipe...the old-fashioned way as the LMI machine is set up for standard D dimensions.  I also had to make up something to hold the sides in shape until I can glue them up with the blocks, lining and top. A mold made from styrofoam works well enough. 



(Guitar linings used to strengthen the glue joint between the top or back plates and the sides of the guitar.)

    Finally, one little quirk on the Mini that is under construction. I've never been satisfied with putting the kerfed linings on the rim and then notching them to accept the top and back brace ends. It often seems like the notch in the lining ends up a bit over-sized because it has to be laid out somewhat in the blind (particularly in regard to the angle that it crosses through the lining.

     On the Mini I decided, "What the heck, I'm going to put the lining in one piece (several kerfs) at a time like I learned to do with tentalones when building a classical guitar.  These would be kerfed tentalones.

     The system I came up for gluing and clalmping was to use a 'go-stick' for pressing in the short lengths of kerfing while the glue dried.  That way I would have a much tighter joint because I would be setting the tentalone directly on top of the brace end and pressing it down with the go stick.

     Long story short:  When I finished, I gave the soundboard the tap test.  It rings like a bell.

 See you next month,


February 2019

  • New Guitar & Inlay

  • Truss Rod

  • ​Bridge Clamps

  • Side Bending

  • The Mini Mold

  • Tentalones