Archive for August, 2008

Dreadnought OM OOO

August 24, 2008

I was briefly waylaid by adapting a keyboard shelf in the kitchen to hold our DVR and DVD player.  I had three of my guitars in the room side by side and thought it made a good comparison photo of the differences in guitar sizes.

On the left is my 1972 Martin D-35, a dreadnought.  Center is the recently finished OM, 14 fret model.  And, on the right, the 12-fret OOO.


Guitar 803 – Resume

August 21, 2008

Now it’s time to resume multitasking and go back to working on Larry’s OM Maple, and the Koa Parlor.  My first guitar took 3 months to complete, but that was done without distractions of multiple guitars in progress.  It’s been 5 months since I finished guitar number 1, but I can’t say that’s how long it takes to build one guitar.  I’m 75% done with the OM Maple, and about 25% done with the Koa Parlor, and I’m sure I’ll have them both finished before the end of the year, which is still about a guitar every 3 month pace.  Don’t forget I have a full time job, a family, a dog, and an active golf habit.  If I could dedicate my entire day to working on guitars, it would be weeks instead of months to complete.

So off to restart my work on the OM Maple.  I’m ready to set the neck angle and route out the tenon on the neck.  The last guitar was constructed with an incorrect neck angle and I had to compensate by installing a very tall saddle.  I know better now, and the neck angle on this guitar will be PERFECT.

Guitar 802 – FINISHED!

August 21, 2008

5 months after starting my second guitar, I’m essentially finished.  I’ve got to clean up some polishing dust, trim back the nut a little on the treble side, and install a strap button on the neck heel.  But, I raised the bridge a skosh, polished the frets, laid down a little lemon oil on the ebony, strung it back up……..and it plays beautifully.  Yes, the sound is different than my D-35 and the OOO, but, I’m very pleased with the results.  I think it truly could be a bit bolder, but I attribute that to leaving a bit too much material on the braces.  And I mean, just a bit.  I don’t have the opportunity to go back and shave extra material from this guitar, or Larry’s OM Maple, but I will certainly move more toward the petite on the Parlor.

As I mentioned, I decided to give this one to my daughter, and to her, it’s a damn sight better than the Stella she learned on.  I’m partial to the “learn on a Stella” path, as that is exactly how I started playing guitar 43 years ago.  Rachel can’t wait to return to school (NYU – Tisch) and take her new sMg guitar with her.  She’s pleased, I’m pleased, so pleeeeaase… me do, oh oh, love me do.



Guitar 802 – It’s Strung

August 20, 2008

Well, after much polishing, fret levelling, bridge slotting, saddle shaping, and stringing I now have a completed guitar.  But…the neck angle is seriously wrong, and even with the monster tall saddle, the strings are too close to the frets.  I can alleviate it further by installing an even taller bridge, or adding a shim underneath.  I’m going to give the strings a bit of time to settle in before I raise the saddle and before I announce my feelings about the sound.  Suffice it to say, it’s not as nice and full sounding as my OOO.  But because the strings buzz right now, I’m not really banging on it to test drive the drive.




Guitar 802 – Level frets, locate bridge, glue down

August 14, 2008

After fret levelling, carefully measured and positioned bridge. Held bridge tightly against top while scoring line around perimeter with Xacto knife. Laid down several layers of tape to create bed for the bridge.


Received a Fox Bridge Clamp from LMI today. After clamping bridge in place with newly minted caul underneath, drilled out the two outside pin holes, through bridge plate. Removed clamps, and caul, sanded and roughed cavity inside tape lines, then removed the tape. Applied glue to top and back of bridge and set in place over newly drilled holes. Attached bridge clamp, and removed glue squeeze out.


Waited 20 minutes then scraped remaining glue squeeze out as it turned harder and more like leather. After several hours of drying, removed the clamp, reinstalled and clamped the under bridge plate caul, and drilled out the remaining string peg holes. Measured center on the butt block and drilled for the end pin.


Tomorrow I will ream out the pin holes, saw string grooves in the bridge and install new high saddle (neck set is a little “down”). I’ll crown the levelled frets, shape the nut, slot for strings, install tuners and take a first check of the action/string height.

I still need to go back and do one more round of wet sanding and buffing after the first round of string install.  The headstock should be cured enough to sand and buff.

Guitar 802 – Finishing continues

August 9, 2008

Sanded all the way to 1000 grit wet, then used Larry’s auto buffer to do the medium then fine polishing.  Essentially, the buffing looks great.  There’s still some streaks and dimples, but I think one more buff cycle will bring it down to mirror smooth.

The headstock, although, got buffed through to the wood.  Applied 9 coats of nitrocelulose to recoat.  I’ll have to let this cure for at least a week until I sand and buff.  In the meantime, I can start the fret levelling and prepping for the bridge install.


Banjo Refret – Veneer glued on, fret slots cut

August 9, 2008

Glued on the the rosewood veneer, sanded down and located the fret locations referencing the original old slots. Rigged up a cutting guide in the vise and using the .020″ saw carefully reslotted the neck. Did a test fret set to make sure all saw depths and widths were OK. Looks good!


Dry set the fret dots and star on the fretboard. Question, how to center the fret dot on the 5th fret, as that is the location of the 5th string tuning peg. I’ll check my banjo to see how Stelling did the fret marker settings. Also, need to think about a finish on the fretboard rosewood. I’m thinking a simple sanding sealer lacquer, just to seal/protect, not to buff and shine.


Regrooved the bridge slot, purchased a 3/4″ forstner bit to make the hole for the penny Tom provided for the headstock.

Guitar 804 – Spruce Top Profiled

August 9, 2008

Traced and cut out the profile for the spruce top.


Guitar 802 – Prepping for buffing

August 2, 2008

Finished the jig/vise which I will use to hold a guitar body upright. I built this in anticipation of having to sand the rim to smooth down flat before buffing.


I added a radius to the boards to compensate for the arch in the top and back.


The braces under the bench were 3/4″ too close to the bench top, so had to add a filler piece between the bench and the vise boards.


Finished it up by gluing carpet pieces to the inside for protection of guitar surface when clamping into vise.

It’s a nice day out today, so rather than use my newly crafted vise, I sat outside and held the guitar in my lap while I ran 600 grit sandpaper over the guitar, getting down to the brush stroke channels, and removing drips and dribble streaks. Next, 800 grit, then 1000/1200 wet sanding before I try out the buffer. I’ll definitely use the new vise for the buffing operation.


Guitar 802 – Building a bench vise

August 1, 2008

I’ve got to finish this second guitar.  I have promised to give it to my daughter Rachel, and I have been avoiding the task of sanding and buffing the finish.  I’m at the point where I need to secure the guitar so I can dig into the rim/sides.  I decided to build a bench mounted vise much like the one I saw at Charles Fox’s workshop.


I purchased two 7″ hardware kits, essentially press screws on plates, and attached radiused boards like in the photo, and will mount to my small workbench against the west wall.  Once I get it installed, I’ll post a photo.