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Day 3 - Hey, that's already starting to look like a guitar!

Had a great night's sleep last night; my usual 7.5 hours of continuous Z’s. I woke up totally refreshed and hit the workshop at 8am.

Day 3: We started the day shaping the top for thickness; lots of planing, scraping, and sanding. I’m surprised how much we rely on the little metal scraper. It’s a very refined and useful tool, if you keep it sharp. Mostly we worked the back of the top (i.e., interior side) to get it ready for gluing bracing, but also we cleaned up the top around the rosette (which we installed yesterday and let dry overnight). The top is thicker in the middle (around the soundhole and bridge) than on the outer edges, which need to be more flexible to promote bass response. For my 00-sized guitar, that is about 125/1000” and 100/1000”, respectively; for bigger guitars it would be a shade thicker, and for classical and parlor guitars it would be a bit lighter. Thicknessing the top makes a huge stack of shavings!

Once the top was the right thickness, we cut out soundhole using a router and a similar technique to cutting the channel for the rosette, only this time we cut all the way through. We also rough cut the top into shape of the guitar using a band saw. This freaked me out a bit, since any mistake could cause a nasty cut into your top! I was very conservative and didn’t cut right on the line. Instead, I was few millimeters outside (i.e., too big). No big deal (so I’m told)-- I’ll trim that up later.

We also did some trimming up of the headstock and made a template for the shape and layout (e.g., where tuning pegs will go). I had previously been working on a design for a Gibson-inspired headstock shape, but since I’ve switched over to a Martin-style body I’ve now reverted to a simple squared-off design. A few weeks ago I took careful measurements of my D-18 and made a detailed diagram. That came in useful today, and my headstock template came together pretty quickly once I figured out where my center line was (i.e, you have to keep track of the true center of the guitar, which can slip to a side if you’re not careful).

Today we also picked out the wood for the back of our guitars (sides will come shortly, and it’s assumed that they will be the same as the back, although I suppose someone could get creative about it!). I was debating between a striking piece of zebra wood (which, low an behold, is a relatively light colored wood with dark bands) and a really nice straight-grained piece of Indian rosewood. The traditionalist in me went for the rosewood. Like the top, the back is made from two pieces that are joined (glued) in the middle.

Left the workshop at 8pm; pasta for dinner.

Reader Comments (3)

Ben, your guitar looks amazing! I'm so inspired!

March 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaryhope

I don't understand any of the guitar or woodworking stuff you're talking about, but I love all of the pictures of you and your dad and your projects! :-)

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

Mh - Thanks; it's not much of a guitar yet, but it's coming along!

Abs - I feel the same way about your baking blog, although your final product probably tastes better :-)

March 25, 2011 | Registered CommenterBen

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