Archive for April, 2009

Guitar 904 – Plan in Place

April 21, 2009

It’s official, Beth and I have agreed upon a design and woods and style.  I have ordered (and partially received) the components to build Beth a Koa OM.  Today, I received the Koa, from Notable Woods, and Beth is pleased with the choice.



I showed in an earlier post some design considerations, and with only some slight alterations, we will proceed with ebony binding and BWB purfling with the koa and spruce body.  Lots of opportunity to adapt along the way and make this a really special guitar.  I’m even entertaining a koa headstock with a real groovy shape (for those of you who don’t know, groovy means cool).


I warned Beth that it will take some months before completion, to which she replied, “But I’m playing in a wedding in June!”.

She was joking.

Guitar 902 – Progress on Parlor

April 21, 2009

Oooh, I’ve been lax in posting.  But progress is being made.  I have spent quite some time working the neck joint and getting the neck angle right and fine tuning the fit between the neck and body.  I also installed the neck bolt inserts and aligned/enlarged the truss rod access hole.  I think I’m close to the end result.


Also, I glued the fretboard on and began trimming the joint between the neck and the fretboard.  Next step is to get the neck a bit thinner.


Spent a lot of time bringing down the surface to a baby butt smooth state.  I still have some discernable gaps between body and binding that I need to devise a fill for before (or after?) I put down the first lacquer coats.



Guitar 904 – Design sketches

April 18, 2009

Did a few sketches of the binding and purfling for Beth’s OM.  She is interested in “upgrading” the back and sides, so we’ll discuss the options Tuesday.



April 15, 2009

I have reached out to my friend Beth and offered to make her a guitar at cost (of materials).  We met tonight to begin the design process.  Looks like a rosewood OM will be on the workbench in the coming days.  Very excited.

The Phinney Neighborhood Center auction is coming in a few weeks, where I’ll hopefully have the chance to start building 905.

I’m beginning to wonder how many available hours there are in a day to build guitars.

Guitar 902 – Looking Swell

April 15, 2009

The parlor with the mahogany top is really shaping up well.  I sat and pondered (yes, I ponder) last night and seriously questioned how all this came about.  How did I get to the point where I could actually construct a thing as nice to look at as this.  And, which will eventually sound (approximately) what I want it to sound like.  My sister, Cyndy, embarked upon a serious artistic journey wherein she has produced art that surprised me.  Surprised, because I never thought of us (myself and my sisters) as possessing quality artistic capabilities.  But there she went, creating and putting out stuff that I had no clue where it came from.  Whatever that muse was that was in my sister I think lives, partially, in me too.  I don’t claim to have one tenth of the artistic talent of my sister, but I think whatever it was that gave her that gift, rubbed off on me.

So, here’s what I was looking at when I had this self indulgent moment of pride in what I’m creating.



Guitar 903 – Ovangkol OM

April 11, 2009

Thursday evenings I am visiting Rob Girdis in his shop for some master oversight.  He suggested I start a new guitar and work through the process with him for advice, alternate ways of working, etc.  I have a very nice Sitka spruce top, and Ovangkol back and sides so arrived with these and my bench plane to join then thickness.

What we really did on Thursday was prep my bench plane.  Although it is new, it needed a bit of setup to really be and effective tool.  We took it apart, adjusted the frog, reversed the upside down cutting blade, sharpened, and then trued the base.  Aside from having a properly sharpened blade, truing the base made all the difference in making this tool work for me.

We jointed the top with the plane, then joined.  Rob’s jig is quite different than mine, and he has a railroad rail for weighing down the joined plates.

Off to home to work in my own shop and try the plane on the back, then join in my jig.


Lookee.  That’s what a true and sharp plane can produce.  Curly fries!


Note there is no backstrip.  Rob suggested joining then routing out a shallow channel for the backstrip, gluing in and trimming back down to the back surface.  He suggests this is a stronger joint.

Guitar 902 – Slow Weekend

April 5, 2009

This weekend yielded very little progress.  I spent many hours in the workshop staring at my tools, staring at the workbench, sitting on my stool, listening to American Roots, and trying to unhinge myself to do some work.  Eventually I started back by restaining the Zebrez to fix some glue spots, then getting into working on the neck and fretboard for the parlor.

The parlor is really a nice little guitar.  It has lots of contrast and as I bang on the box, it gives some sweet resonance.  Girdis warned me that it may be a bit heavy on the top, and the bass may be lacking.  I’ll try and sand the box aggressively and bring down the thickness slightly in an attempt to boost the bass.  We’ll see.

I installed the neck heel laminate (maple, ebony, maple) and did some trimming.  I cut the fretboard to the neck dimensions and see that the neck is still a bit wide.  I can certainly work toward a narrower neck as too wide is easier to compensate for than too narrow.  The neck plus fretboard is at 26mm, which I will have to bring down to 22mm if I want the lean mean neck I’m striving for.

I may have mentioned the fretboard scale is not equal to the scale defined in the plans, but the bridge location will account for the difference.  It’s not much, so I’m not concerned with the variance.


It’s quite a stunning guitar.  Once I get the neck width and thickness dialed in, I’m ready for the finish work.  I’ve got the binding/pufling trimmed down to where the sides are square and the BWB is exposed nicely.  I’m going to use very small paua dots for the fretboard, which I’ll have to order, to keep the look simple and uncluttered.  I’ve decided to NOT bind the fretboard with ivroid as I’m thinking it already has enough contrast and appropriate decor.

Guitar 902 – What it will look like

April 2, 2009

Spent a few hours in Ron Girdis’ workshop this evening.  He helped me with burnishing my cabinet scraper (the best little tool in the toolbox).  I continue to work on improving my binding skills, and the aggressive scraping I’m doing now is due to not quite getting the bindings fitted properly  the first time.

I scraped away, and am getting closer to a nice finish.  What follows is the guitar with generous swabbing of Naptha to give it the appearance of a finished lacquer.