Archive for the 'Guitar 903 – Walnut OM' Category

Guitar 903 – Out the door!

September 4, 2011

Devin and I finished his guitar yesterday.  Finished enough to where I could send it home with him.  Boy howdy, does that guitar sound good.  Strong balanced tone and damn if I didn’t get the fret leveling done right the first time.  Maybe all that practice has proven useful.



Devin will need to bring it back to apply finishing cosmetic touches.  Polish the nut and saddle, dress and polish the frets, blacken the fretboard, install a strap peg and the pick guard.

Regroup – Laying Out What’s Next

August 22, 2011

The past year has gone by rapidly and I have engaged in many endeavors which little resembled guitar building.  I started and completed a program which garnered me a secondary teaching certificate.  I have accepted a job as a High School math teacher, and my first day with the students is September 7th.  All my concentration on becoming a math teacher has eaten into my time building guitars.  My 2011 output has been well below my previous years, yet I still continued to gain commissions for guitars and ukes and have created quite a backlog.

I realize that I need to analyze and prioritize my pending work and set out a semblance of a plan to organize.

Uke 1001 – Bubinga Tenor: This, my first uke, has been sitting with 12 coats of lacquer, waiting to accept more lacquer.  My original intention was to piggy back on the lacquer work for Uke 1101.  Once the lacquer has been applied and cured, I will be able to quickly finish with the following:  Install bridge, saddle, nut, end pin and tuning machines.  Level frets and do setup.

Uke 1101 – Koa Tenor: I have taken this uke on a grand tour, displaying it at a cousin reunion and guitar camp.  It needs minor filing of the binding, a bit more neck shaping, then aggressive final sanding before the sanding sealer, pore filling, and application of lacquer (together with Uke 1001).  This uke, for Cynthia, is priority number 1, and I intend to start back on Tuesday of this week.

New:  Uke 1201 – Koa Tenor 2: I have all components on hand to build another Koa Tenor Uke.  A man has to build himself a uke.  This lands as priority number 5.

Guitar 903 – Walnut OM: Devin’s guitar (my apprentice).  Devin took the summer off and only recently has returned to finish his guitar.  The bridge is mounted, and the remaining work includes saddle shaping, bridge shaping/notching/installing, fret leveling/polishing/truss rod tweaking culminating in stringing and setup.  He is days away from walking home with his finished guitar.

Guitar 1002 – Hybrid Cutaway: I have been ignoring the ukes by dabbling away with this Macaferri style nylon string cutaway for Jim.  I have been shaping the neck and heel and dreaming of bending the cutaway side for the past months.  Before I proceed I need to resolve the dimensions of the neck, and how the cutaway will join and transition into the neck heel.  The top and back are braced but still need further shaping/sanding before I’m ready to join the neck to the top for insertion into the new workboard.  This work is priority number 2.

New:  Guitar 1201 – Myrtle Parlor: I have a gorgeous piece of California Myrtle which will be the showcase for a new parlor for Rachel.  I already have an Engleman Spruce top which has been joined with rosette installed.  I have all components on hand and still need to decide appointments.  Priority number 3.

New:  Guitar 1202 – Indian Rosewood OM: This guitar has been commissioned by Susan as a gift for Bob.  Gonna get that name Bob into the fretboard inlay design somehow.  I always wanted to inlay the word Bob.  This, along with guitar 1203 are priority number 4.

New:  Guitar 1203 – Devil Parlor: I call this the Devil Parlor as it will have a double cutaway.  This is a commission for Emily and shares priority number 4 with Guitar 1202.  I’m using Peruvian Walnut and Engelman Spruce.  I’m considering a black lacquer back and sides and am going to attempt a sunburst top.  Ivroid binding.  Somebody tell me how I’m going to do that please.

I have numbered the new instruments with a 12 prefix, anticipating that these will be completed in 2012.

Still on hand, and available for future guitars:  Sitka Spruce, Bearclaw Sitka Spruce, Ziricote, Ovangkol, Master Grade Claro Walnut (2 sets).

Guitar 903 – Finish Line

August 14, 2011

Devin dropped in today to start to put the finishing touches on his Walnut OM.  It’s been several weeks since this guitar has been addressed as summer has messed up both out schedules.  Today we set the neck, shaped the saddle and the nut, and installed the tuners.  He’s returning on Friday to mount the bridge and dress the frets.

Guitar 903 and 1001 Lacquered

April 10, 2011

Guitar 903, the Walnut OM, and Guitar 1001, the Koa Dreadnought, have received their fair share of lacquer coats (12 to 20) and are resting for two weeks to cure.




The lacquer needs at least two weeks to develop a hardness which is appropriate for the final knockdown and buffing.  Neck install, bridge install and setup will finalize.

Spray Day – 6 of 12 and a little 3

March 11, 2011

Spray day today.  Added 3 more coats to Guitar 903, and Uke 1001 bringing them to 6.  Striving for 12.



Applied the first three coats to the neck for Guitar 1001 while the pore filler dries on the box.


Between coats, I spent a wee bit of time inserting a temporary piece in the truss rod channel for Guitar 1002.  This is to assist in finding the centerline for the neck as I work on the taper.


Guitar 903 – Art Institute Design Fair

February 24, 2011

Devin is a student at the Seattle Art Institute studying Industrial Design.  His apprenticeship with me is a graduation requirement.  He and I have brought his guitar nearly to completion.  It’s finished enough to take on the road and display at his department’s grand opening party.  Students in the Industrial Design program will be displaying work from their portfolio, Devin’s being this guitar.

We just completed doing the pore fill step which precedes the final lacquer application.  We used Zpoxy as the pore filler, and it is just now dry enough to allow the guitar out of the shop and to go on display.



Devin was scheduled to come by last night and prep the guitar to bring to the design fair, yet we were hit by a snowstorm which slowed things down and actually closed my school today.  I prepped the guitar this morning and will take it down to the fair for display.

I removed all the masking (which will have to be replaced before lacquer spraying), installed the tuners and bolted on the neck, and taped on the bridge temporarily.  I slapped an sMg sticker on the case (for marketing purposes), and stuffed a polish rag and some scotchbrite into the case compartment to give Devin an opportunity to demonstrate his buffing skills during the fair.




Devin has accumulated enough hours to fulfill his apprenticeship, and we’ll work out remaining shop sessions to finish guitar 903, which coincidentally, has been transferred to Devin for his own.

Sanding Sealer

February 15, 2011

The spray odyssey begins.  One coat of sanding sealer (lacquer) before applying the pore filler.  The walnut OM color and grain is jumping out even with one coat.



The bubinga uke got the first spray treatment.  Some imperfections revealed themselves, but should be hidden once the 12th coat of lacquer gets applied.


The koa dreadnought is awaiting further sanding.  I am going to sand this guitar way too much vs. previous attempts to sand too little.

Flurry of Activity on the Horizon

February 13, 2011

The stage is set for the dreaded retreat to the spray booth.  Spraying lacquer is a process which is a whole lot of setup followed by very brief spraying sessions culminating in a necessary yet dreaded cleanup.  It behooves one to have several guitars ready for spraying at the same time.  I have delayed spraying the koa dreadnought to get the walnut OM and the bubinga tenor uke ready for spraying as well.  That’s three instruments staged for spraying at the same time.

I have traditionally used nitrocellulose lacquer, with excellent results but questionable effect on my respiratory system.  Even though I use a vented booth and a respirator mask, I have experienced deleterious effects from the nitrocellulose.  This round of spraying will employ a water based lacquer, KTM-9.  I have used KTM-9 in the past, and applied it with a brush, and the results were good, yet I anticipate the spray application to be excellent.

I have had mixed results with the pore filling steps, and this time am committed to ensuring the pore filling will be immaculate regardless of how many applications I need to fulfill a mirror surface on the back, sides and neck.

The proposed steps are:

1.  One coat of lacquer sanding sealer

2.  Several applications of pore filler, until smooth

3.  Sand until smooth without penetrating sanding sealer

4.  3 coats of lacquer applied every hour

5.  Cure 24 hours, scuff sand

6.  3 coats (that makes 6), cure 24 hours, scuff sand

7.  3 coats (that makes 9), cure 24 hours, scuff sand

8.  Determine need for 3 more coats or proceed to finish

9.  After 2 weeks of cure, progressive sanding, starting with 400 through 1200 wet sand

10.  Buff

These steps precede attaching the bridge, bolting on the neck and moving to final setup (fret dressing, nut and saddle shaping, install tuning machines).  Based on this schedule, I am about 3 weeks away from completion.

Spraying is a lot of hurrying to wait.  I can fill the gaps in time by continuing on construction of the hybrid Macaferri and the koa tenor uke.  Next week I will be receiving a cutaway ram to install on my side bending machine.  I have also devised a use for this ram on a side bending machine built purposely for uke sides.  Since my current machine is too large to properly bend uke sides, I am constructing a bending platform which will use the cutaway ram for the waist bend for uke sides.  Pictures coming later.

Guitar 903 – Binding complete

January 23, 2011

Devin and I have completed the binding of the body and the fretboard.


The body was bound with ebony and BWB purfling.  Additionally a brown/white/black rope purfling was used for the top.


The back is shown with naptha towelled on, which cleans, brings out the color, and indicates where excess glue needs to be sanded off.

The fretboard has been bound with ivroid.


Guitar 903 – Purfling

December 13, 2010

Apprentice Devin is taking 3 weeks off to visit family and still needs around 30 hours of shop time to fulfill his apprentice hours.  We’re making good progress and there should be enough time to finish this guitar in his remaining time.

The purple heart we originally selected to use to bind the body is too brittle and came out of the bender unusable.  We changed to ebony for binding, loaded it up in the bender and left to cool while we routed the channels for binding and purfling for the top.


The purfling, a brown/black/white ladder was also bent along with the binding.  It came out a wee bit wrinkled.  This fiber laminate is probably best hand bent.  We removed the wrinkled area and inserted a fresh piece which butts up invisibly.


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