The warmer/ dryer months here on the East Coast are when Woody tries to get the lacquer finishing done on the guitars built in the winter. I thought that I might start those procedures last month.
Then other things happen (what an understatement!).
Cutting the Inlay Pockets
Hog Out the bulk of the pockets with (in this case) a 0.125" (1/8") bit. Then, come back with a very small (0.025") bit to allow for the sharp points in the MOP design. Two different toolpaths, two different bits.
Woody orders mini bits (0.015” - 0.0625”, 3 flutes) from Southwest Tool; Roanoke, VA (distributor for Harvey Tools) and Precise Bits; Palmer Lake, CO.
Scrape and Sand
Scrape to change dimensions, sand with blocks to flatten and true the curved planes. Keep an eye on symmetry. Start with finished neck dimensions in mind (like at the 2nd, 5th and 10th fret). Check for symmetry often.
(May 29) The "tricks" that I am talking about are really just explanations of the "why" and "how" the home-shop guitar builder can produce excellent results with the aid of a CNC machine.
First: I have no relationship with any of the commercial companies mentioned on this website... none, as in zero.
The Woody CNC cost $3,000 and I bought it locally at a Woodcraft Supply store. The CNC is made by Next Wave and the model is a Shark HD4. It comes with Vectric software which I have found to be clear and useful in it's tutorial videos. There is no way around the fact that one has to put the time_ in learning different techniques and how to execute them on the CNC.
For the money, the Shark is (IMO) the best CNC for the home-shop guitar maker. It is essentially a 2-D carving system (i.e. X and Y planes). It could possibly carve a violin top but the software is not set up to easily configure toolpaths with a continuously varying Z component.
For guitars, the Shark can cut inlay pockets and cut the inlay material to go into those pockets. It will drill bridge pin holes cleanly and accurately; rout fret slots; sweep surfaces and precisely rout micro slots for splint repairs, and more.
Check Dimensions and Symmetry (Often)
RE-Shaping (and Re-Finishing) the Neck
May is always a month of transition from spring to summer. Likewise, Woody's time invariably is split between luthiery projects and lawn & landscape work around the yard. So, Woody's agenda for May is always somewhat random. The weather becomes a major factor.
This is a new topic for Woody to write about. Not that violin repair and restoration are new for the Woody Strings shop.
What's new is writing about violins. There is a plethora of literature on line regarding violin set up, repair, finishing, string tension, etc. Whether it is video, still photos are just text in a blog, it's is hard to tell who knows what they're talking about and who doesn't.
By being open to the walk-in public for many years Woody has learned that every violin and everyone who plays violin is different... often significantly different.
So, that's where I'm coming from... my observations gained from serving the public as a luthier for many years, and from playing fiddle as an amateur folk musician... like most of us are.
The last thing that you want to do is to create more work than is necessary. Mask everything first with cheap poster board. If you have plastic bindings on the fretboard... that's a problem. Mask them with tape. Chemical strippers will attack plastic. You can scrape the finish off the bindings later.
Re-Carving and Refinishing a Guitar Neck