Archive for May, 2011

Guitar 1002 – Plates

May 30, 2011

I used the drum sander to bring the back plates down to .090″ then jointed and joined in the spanish joiner jig.


After drying, the joint was sanded, a protective posterboard cover was taped to the outside, and the center strip was glued using the go-bar clamp.



The top was similarly protected with posterboard (I’ve dinged too many top plates) and the bracing pattern was pencilled in.


Guitar 1002 – Soundhole Reposted

May 30, 2011

I am having problems with Linksalpha.  This is a test to see if it posts to facebook.

Guitar 1002 – Soundhole

May 30, 2011

After installing the rosette and sanding it down flush, the soundhole has been opened.


Guitar 1002 – Join Top Add Rosette

May 29, 2011

Planed the top plates down to .115″, jointed, then joined.  Routed for the rosette, then proceeded to glue it in upside down.  Really?  Pulled it out quickly, reversed it, and pushed it back in right side up.  Everything looks a bit wonky from all the glue about, but experience shows that scraping and sanding cleans it all up beautifully.



Uke 1101 – Fretboard Installed

May 28, 2011

Using the rubber band/index pin method, the fretboard has been installed.


Ovation Repair – Head Reattached

May 28, 2011

The neck clamp has been removed and the glue squeeze out sanded away.  The finish is wonky on the face of the headstock and will require extensive filling.


The crack is visible on the backside due to stress of the finish pulling away from the surface.


If the customer wants, I can stop here and restring.  To complete refinishing and buffing and polishing will take another two weeks due to curing time.

The Curious Case of the Severed Head

May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

A colleague has requested a repair of his 12-string Ovation which has the sad malady of a severed head.

Fortunately, the break was clean, along grain, and in a location which will be easy to clamp.

A bit of cleanup on the center lamination, then a dry fit clamping to test crack closure before gluing up and clamping to set overnight.

The time consuming portion of this repair will be in cleaning up the finish and filling the gaps.  Still it should come in well under the estimate.





Moving Forward

May 15, 2011

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.  He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.  He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”  St. Francis of Assisi.

Is there any significance to May 15th?  Half way into the 5th month of the 11th year of the 21st century?  Maybe.  The significance for me is that I’m done with my student teaching, and I will be co-teaching at my high school only until June 8th.  On that date I will submit my portfolio to CityU, and they will go through the process of confirming all my requirements in order to issue a certificate of completion so the state can provide me with my teaching certificate.  Then I can start looking for a job teaching high school mathematics.  The prospects are dismal.  In 1978 I was granted an elementary education teaching certificate in an era very much like this one.  Tenured teachers were sitting on the bench waiting for job openings, and no jobs were being offered to the newly minted teachers like myself.  That’s when I got into Information Technology, into which I dallied and tarried for the subsequent 30 years.  Deja vu all over again.

I ventured into guitar building in 2008, not to support myself financially, but to leave something behind and to find my inner artist.  I come from a family of very much NON artists.  Our upbringing did not emphasize artistic exploration, and none of us siblings showed any signs of artistic expression.  At least, that’s how I saw it until my sister Cyndy exploded with prolific artistic output that made me question where it came from.  Maybe there was some of that artist in me too.  Thus began the artistic investigation through guitar building.

My building fills many holes I suspected needing filling.  Manipulative skill and craftsmanship have always been important to me.  Music has been part of my life since I was a teenager.  And, beauty.  This guitar building adventure has been filling those holes in a very satisfying way, and I can always find better instruments and other equipment at sites like   I have to eat, support a family, and keep the dog alive.  Building won’t satisfy those requirements, hence the teaching as income endeavor.

So, the path is defined for employment for income (OK, I do like teaching and math).  But the path for craftsmanship and artistry is also defined, and I am planning my journey, which includes:

1.  Finish Uke number 1.

2.  Finish Uke number 2.

3.  Help Devin finish his Walnut OM and watch him leave with a guitar and a smile.

4.  Start/Finish Jim’s Hybrid Macaferri.

5.  Design a new guitar for my daughter Rachel.  She keeps playing Carol’s parlor.  The most beautiful guitar in the world is worth shit if you don’t play it.

6.  Start another Uke.

7.  Plan the next 3 guitars (which is two less than the number of back and side sets I have waiting in the wings).

Guitar 1001 – Ready for Delivery

May 14, 2011

What with going to school and learning to teach, and actually then teaching, I have seen serious erosion of my time available to devote to building.  So it has been almost a year in elapsed time since I started this Koa Dreadnought.

Today, it is finished.  I have contacted the client to arrange pickup.  He can take his time, as I will get to play it more the longer he waits.  It’s hard to give up these guitars, I want to keep them all, but I have too many anyway to begin with.

Today I crept down into the shop, trying not to wake my sleeping son who was crashed in the basement after his night out at the prom.  Dress the frets, polish the saddle and nut, oil the fretboard, install the pickguard, put the strings back on, whoops, clean out the ort from inside the box, install the label, then put the strings back on.  Tune it, play it, smile, weep, move on.



I like this little rosewood veneer backing.




Guitar 1001 – Moments from Completion

May 13, 2011

I predicted I would be done with the Koa Dreadnought by Sunday, and I even stuck my neck out and told the customer.  So damnit, I will finish it by Sunday.  The frets have been levelled and sanded as well as tapered.  The nut and saddle have been roughed out to approximate shape and dry fit onto the guitar.  The bridge pin holes have been tapered and string slots have been sawn in.


I have employed Professor Cuthbert Calculus to do some work for me as you can see in the photo above.

I strung it up, tuned it and let the strings settle in.  To my amazement, my rough setup work was perfect.  The saddle is the proper height, the nut string slots are at the perfect depth, and the fret levelling was flawless.  I think all those previous guitar setups have proven to be useful.  Perhaps I now know what I’m doing.  Nice bold sound, as is the custom for a dreadnought.


So, I’ll let it settle overnight, then tomorrow I’ll hit the punch list:

1.  Install sMg label after blowing out all the crud inside the box.

2.  Final buffing.

3.  Shape then polish nut, glue to neck.

4.  Shape then polish saddle, place in bridge.

5.  Dress frets and fretboard.

6.  Tighten truss rod for miniscule concave setting.

7.  Install pick guard.

8.  Clean case and attach sMg Guitars label.

9.  Call Steve and have him come pick it up.

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