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This page outlines the guitar making class that started March 8, 2008. Classes are on going throughout the year, please contact us for further information.
We start off with John, Frank, and Bill, routing their rosette slots. We use a simple circle jig attached to a laminate trimmer.
In the meantime, Diana is showing Jay, Theo, and Madison (L-R) the side benders in preparation for getting sides bent to shape. We have 3 benders, so three students can be bending sides at a time. Note, the instructors pre-bend all cutaways in advance, and the students bend the “normal” sides.
Once the sides are in the benders, Madison, Jay and Theo work with Diana to get their backs glued together.
Next, Jay and Theo can be seen taking their sides out of the benders, and clamping them into the molds (with a little help from Diana).
While Jay, Theo and Madison work on their sides, John, Frank, and Bill finish inlaying their rosettes.
After getting their rosettes scraped down, Bill, John, and Frank work with Diana to get their tops sanded down to proper thickness.
After tops and backs are sanded to thickness, sides clamped into molds, Bill and Frank can be seen with their headblocks and endblocks all clamped up.
The last thing for the day, was to get back strips glued to the inside of the backs. This sets up next week to have everybody working on getting braces prepared, glued down, and started into carving. Here we can see John and Madison getting their back strips put into the go-bar decks.
The second day is the day all braces get glued down, sides get profiled, and we start carving braces–and get as far as we can…
Here, Theo is gluing his back braces onto the back of his guitar. This is done using a 15′ hollow mold form in the go-bar deck. He is cleaning up the glue squeezeout using a glue scraper.
Here is Dick–who missed the first session, but came in one day during the week to catch up. He has completed the notch in his x-braces, and is laying out the braces, getting ready to glue.
Frank and John are carving out notches in their back strips (they both have 3-piece backs), in preparation for gluing down their back braces. Note Frank has a 3-piece mahogany back, and John has a center wedge of indian rosewood between two mahogany pieces. Both guitars are OM’s with single cutaways.
Bill is carving his back braces using a curved sole plane. His guitar is a beautiful flame maple grand concert.
Frank and Jay are using a hollow mold form with sandpaper to profile the sides of their guitars, while their back braces are gluing up.
John is taking the ribs off his mold, so he can profile his sides down to their proper shape and size.
Madison is making the notch in his x-brace, before gluing up his top braces.
As the second day winds down, John is applying glue to his top braces (with a little help from Diana), as he puts them into the go-bar deck.
The second day ends with all sides profiled, almost all braces glued, and most of the braces carved. Next: kerf, final brace carving, and preparing to glue on tops and backs….
Day 3 begins with Bill, Frank and Dick, getting ready to glue kerf onto their sides.
In the meantime, The rest of the class (Theo, Madison, Jay, and John) work on carving braces. George is checking out Theo’s brace carving, while Madison, Jay, and John take measurements during the carving process.
Here’s a great shot of (L-R) Theo, Jay, Frank, and Bill, working at their benches.
Bill and Frank are making great progress with their kerf. Dick, who has left his bench for a minute, has finished up.
Once the Kerf is complete, the roles reverse. Here are Dick, Bill, and Frank-carving braces.
In the meantime, Theo, John, Jay, and Madison start working on their kerf.
Bill is first done with kerf and brace carving, so he re-contours his sides–now with the kerf, then he is shown marking his kerf (with a little help from Diana), getting ready to glue down his back.
As day 3 ends, we see Theo, measuring and carving the notches into his kerf, preparing to glue down his back. you can see the notches in the kerf. Next time…we make some guitar bodies!
Day 4 begins, and the class is getting to the point where things are pretty intense, so a few of the guys came in for a couple of hours during the week, to catch up. Here, we see Dick, who now has his top and back glued on, sanding the guitar body with a sanding block.
Frank came in during the week and got his back glued on, so now, he is preparing to glue on his top.
John is using a curved sole plane to work on his top braces.
Jay and Madison, having finished gluing and sanding their kerf, are cutting the slots, preparing to glue down the top and back.
Diana is preparing the jig we use for cutting end grafts for Frank’s guitar. First, she sets the width of the cut, then she clamps the jig onto the guitar.
Here are a couple of top views of the jig–ready to start cutting.
Here, Diana starts cutting.
Here is the cut made by the jig–then the end graft is placed into the cut to check for fit.
Next, Frank inserts a couple of black-white-black pieces of purfling, glues it all down, then he scrapes and sands the end graft flat.—looks pretty good…
Next, Bill gets his end graft glued in, and begins scraping it. He is using an end graft of macassar ebony.
After getting his end graft done, Frank starts sanding his sides, in preparation for cutting the slots for his bindings.
Bill starts routing his binding slots.
George takes a look at John’s top bracing
Here, Dick is routing his binding slots.
Frank has finished cutting his binding slots, and Diana is helping him glue and tape down his back binding and purfling.
Here are Madison’s and Jay’s guitars–backs all glued on–tops waiting on the shelves below the benches.
John has his top braces all done, and Diana is helping him mark the position of his back braces–in preparation to glue on his back.
While waiting for their backs to dry, Jay and Madison get the bindings glued onto their fingerboards.
Jay and Madison both get their tops glued on.
Diana helps Frank get his top binding and purfling glued and taped
Just before the end of the day, John gets his back notches carved, and his back glued on.
As day 5 begins, Bill is scraping his bindings..
And John gets his top glued on, so his box is together.
Theo is flush cutting his top with a laminate trimmer
Here are Theo and Jay, sanding their sides, getting ready to make their binding and purfling cuts.
Theo is now making his binding cuts…
Jay is taping down his binding
As day 5 comes to a close, George is working with john to get his bindings glued down.
As day 6 begins, John and Theo are un-taping their bindings…
Frank and John are scraping their bindings.
Diana is showing Theo some tips on using the scraper…
Dick has his bindings all scraped down, and Diana is working with him to route out the slot for his truss rod. Then, he starts to do his neck fit. We’ll do most of the fitting before we glue on the fingerboard, then do a final fit.
Here’s a great shot of John, Theo, Jay, and Madison, all scraping.
Diana works with Bill on his neck fit, then Bill starts to work on his neck angle.
Dick is working on his neck fit first, with a chisel, then with sandpaper.
Bill and Dick get together as they do some sanding
As day 6 comes to a close, Madison is marking the end of his fingerboard, preparing it for sanding
Day 7 starts, and John and Frank can be seen getting their necks pre-fit (before their fingerboards are glued on). They are pulling sandpaper between the heel of the neck, and the body of the guitar to get a close fit. The final fit will be done after the fingerboard is glued to the neck.
George does a brief demo of doing inlay–which will be the next step for much of the class.
Jay and Dick get started with their inlay work…
Theo’s headstock inlay starts to take shape.
Madison is working on his neck fit
John gets his fingerboard glued and clamped to his neck. You can see Theo’s fingerboard clamped in the foreground. In the next frame, Frank gets his fingerboard glued down.
As day 7 ends, Dick gets started carving his neck–He is using a coarse rasp.
Day 8 begins with Bill, Madison, and John getting started on their inlays.
Theo is nearly done carving his neck. He’s working on his heel.
Hey–This thing is starting to look like a guitar!
George shows Jay how to glue down his heel cap. Then, while his heel cap is drying, Jay steps outside to do the final sanding on his body in the sunlight.
As day 8 ends, Here’s John’s inlay–all done–Not too bad…
Here’s Frank’s inlay–before and after–also not bad…These must be due to fantastic instruction….
Theo had a chance to come in for a couple of hours during the week, and got his shellac sprayed on. Here he can be seen at the beginning of day 9, starting to spray his water-base lacquer, KTM-9
Jay and Madison are doing their final neck fitting, just before they prepare to spray shellac.
John, getting ready to carve his neck, starts working on his moves….(we think he had waay too much Dr. Pepper at lunch).
Frank is carving his heel…
Jay gets those parts of his neck taped up–that he doesn’t want to get shellac or lacquer on. He’s just about to start spraying.
John has his heel cap gluing, and is working on carving his neck with a file in the meantime.
As Day 9 ends, we have Madison, spraying shellac on his guitar body. We use shellac for 2 reasons. First, as a sealer. Second, it gives a good aging tone to the wood, since the lacquer won’t yellow over time.
Day 10 begins, with several of the students spraying coats of lacquer on their guitars. While they wait for their coats to dry, Theo and Madison do some playing to pass a little time.
Here are Theo’s, Jay’s, and Madison’s guitar bodies, clamped horizontally, so lacquer will not drip off the top or back, drying–waiting for the next coat.
Here is Bill, who missed a couple of weeks—carving his neck. He’ll catch up pretty quickly.
Day 10 ends as Dick gets into the mix–spraying lacquer.
Jay has finished his spraying, has sanded his finish up to abut 3200 grit using micromesh, and has buffed out his guitar on the buffer. He then cut the tape from under the bridge and neck, and sraped away all the lacquer remaining, so the entire bridge and neck will glue directly to the top. Here, Diana is helping him to glue and clamp on the neck.
Here, Frank is leveling his fingerboard, using a curved sanding caul. The fingerboards were originally shaped to a 16 in. radius, but we like to re-level the board after the neck is together, and glued to the body. We find it makes a difference for our action, playability–the basic feel that makes our guitars and our students’ guitars play great.
Theo is hammering in his frets…
Jay is filing the edges of his frets.
Frets in, and edges filed, Madison is leveling his frets using a board with plate glass glued to one side–and very light sandpaper on it.
Dick is taping off his fingerboard between the frets to protect the board. He has already leveled his frets, and will now crown them, using a diamond crowning file. He will then sand the frets with micromesh, starting with 1500, and going to 1800, 2400, and finally 3200. At this point, the frets will shine like little mirrors.
Frets all done, Diana is helping Dick string up his guitar.
Dick has won the race, and is done with his guitar first, however several more of the guys were done on the same day. Here is George, helping Dick with his setup…measuring the distance between the top of the frets and the bottom of the strings using a scale with 1/64 in. marks.
Here are the final “Graduation photos” (both fronts and backs of their gutiars) of this class. Dick couldn’t make the party, thrown by Bill, but the rest of the group is shown below. Back row Left-Right: Jay, Frank, John, Madison. Front row: Diana, Bill, Theo, George.