8-Jan-2015 The theme for this guitar will take its inspiration from this graphic supplied by the customer. The Sailboat Guitar? Lots of ideas.
8-Jan-2015 Here is the material for the back and sides Walnut and top Sitka Spruce. In general we are going to favor Pacific NW woods in any feature or component where one is available and would be suitable for that role.
8-Jan-2015 To start this build I first reduce the thickness of the side blanks with my drum sander.
8-Jan-2015 I end up with about 100 mil thickness. 1mil = 1/1000 inch.
8-Jan-2015 The Sitka Spruce top gets dimensioned to about 150 mil. This will be further reduced to about 100 mil as I work on it.
8-Jan-2015 I am going to join together the two book matched halves of the top. To get a good joint the two joining edges need to be straight and square. Here I am using my edge squaring jig to prepare the blanks.
8-Jan-2015 A thin bead of glue goes on the edge.
8-Jan-2015 And then the two halves are joined in my joining jig. The wedges force the pieces together while the cross bars prevent the blanks from buckling.
8-Jan-2015 After the glue has set up.
8-Jan-2015 A closer look at the top.
8-Jan-2015 I use my belt sander to rough square the edges of the back set.
8-Jan-2015 And then the edges are squared in the jig..
8-Jan-2015 A bit of glue.
8-Jan-2015 And then the two halves are joined.
8-Jan-2015 A little bit of glue squeeze out is just right not too much not too little.
8-Jan-2015 And in the morning I pull the set out and take a look. It looks a little like the bow of a boat... no?
8-Jan-2015 Now on to bending the sides. Here I have laid out my side template on the side blanks.
8-Jan-2015 To bend the sides I will heat them in a flexible heating assembly. Sandwiched in between the aluminum flashing is a heating blanket. I lay the side blank out...
8-Jan-2015 and then lay out another piece of flashing and a thin sheet of spring steel all held together with clothespins. The spring steel sheet helps prevents the wood from buckling as it is bent. It turns out that wood is a highly sophisticated composite material that becomes pliant as the lignins that bind the cells together get hot like a thermoplastic.
OM 2.14.65 Build Pictures
8-Jan-2015 I cook the assembly for about ten minutes waiting for the steam to rise and the sound and smells to be just right. And then I press the waist into the form. I used to instrument this process with thermocouples and infrared thermometers have I mentioned I'm a measurement nut but I find the sights sounds smells and feel are just as good.
8-Jan-2015 Next I attach the front roller.
8-Jan-2015 And rollover the upper bout.
8-Jan-2015 And then I attach the lower roller and rollover the lower bout.
8-Jan-2015 After cooking for fifteen minutes I remove the top sheets and cook the side until it takes a set.
8-Jan-2015 And in the end I get a funny shaped piece of wood.
8-Jan-2015 To prevent spring back I put it in its side form for now.
8-Jan-2015 The second side gets the same treatment as the first.
8-Jan-2015 I use a reversed kerfing in most of my guitars. Here I have some strips I fabricated previously.
8-Jan-2015 These are strips of mahogany with a set of kerfs sliced across the grain. I add a bevel for looks.
8-Jan-2015 These kerfing strips get bent to shape in the bending machine.
8-Jan-2015 Now with the sides in their forms which have the same shape as the finished guitar I trace out the shape on the side pieces.
8-Jan-2015 I then open up my band saw and use this raised contoured platen to carefully cut out the side piece.
8-Jan-2015 Next I put the side piece in its form and apply masking tape where the heel and tail block will tie the two halves together. The masking tape makes it easy to remove the kerfing from the sides in these areas.
8-Jan-2015 While the kerfing sits on the bending form I apply a liberal amount of glue to the inside surface.
8-Jan-2015 And then I place the kerfing in the form. I then start apply some of my numerous clamps. If you noticed in picture 026 when the sides are initially bent they are a bit flexible. By using a reversed kerfing which has a solid strip of wood held away from the side by the kerf blocks we end up with something like a boat'sgunwalethat will make the sides very strong and stiff.
8-Jan-2015 I continue applying clamps until I have covered the full length of the sides. When the side is initially bent it has the approximate shape of the guitar but not quite perfect. By pressing the kerfing into place while the side is in the form the considerable clamp pressure insures that the final shape of the sides will match the shape of the form which does have the right shape and the reverse kerfing locks everything into place.
8-Jan-2015 I clean up the squeeze out...
8-Jan-2015 and then blow out the glue from between the kerf slots.
8-Jan-2015 I then repeat the process on the second edge.
8-Jan-2015 Lots of clamps.
OM 2.14.65 Build Pictures
20-Jan-15 After the glue has set up overnight I pull the sides out of the forms.
20-Jan-15 The side pieces are very strong and stiff now due to the gunwale like kerfing.
20-Jan-15 There are a few places where the kerfing needs to be trimmed off.
20-Jan-15 I use a pneumatic sanding drum to clean up the inside surfaces. I won't do anything to the outside surface until the binding is installed.
20-Jan-15 A little hand sanding is required to get it right.
20-Jan-15 The two halves of the sides will be held together with the heel block and the tail block. Since the front and tail of the rim have a curve I have to shape the blocks to match it. I use this jig that has the same shape as the rim to guide the sanding of the heel block.
20-Jan-15 The bottom plate of the jig is pressed up against a metal lip that limits how far in the jig can move.
20-Jan-15 When the belt stops removing material the blocks have the right shape.
20-Jan-15 The ends of the side pieces need to be trimmed to the form. After mounting the sides in the form I use my multi tool with a saw blade attached to trim off the end pieces.
20-Jan-15 The edge of the form guides the blade so I get a good square cut.
20-Jan-15 I next tape the two halves together. I have started to do this so that when I glue the two halves together the squeeze out doesn't get into space between the form halves dry and make it hard to break the rim out of the form. little improvements to process one at a time.
20-Jan-15 The proto-rim goes into the form...
20-Jan-15 and gets clamped into place.
20-Jan-15 I position the heel block on top of the kerfing and clamp the guide rails in place.
20-Jan-15 Using the rails as guides I cut of the kerfing.
20-Jan-15 The blue tape I laid down twenty four pictures ago makes it easy to pry up the kerfing.
20-Jan-15 Now the bottom of the shaped heel block fits right into place.
20-Jan-15 I have started to install a cross grain insert into the tail block to help prevent it splitting should the guitar get dropped... that would never happen would it?
20-Jan-15 I like to put a bevel on the edges to match the kerfing height.
20-Jan-15 Now I use the same technique as I did with the heel block.
20-Jan-15 And I have a channel for the tail block.
20-Jan-15 Perfect fit.
20-Jan-15 A bit of glue...
20-Jan-15 and a few clamps.
20-Jan-15 I like to clean up the glue squeeze out before it sets.
20-Jan-15 The rim primordial.
20-Jan-15 The edges of rim needs to be sanded to the shape of the top and back. Here I am using the belt sander to do a little of the heavy lifting.
20-Jan-15 This is my top sanding form. It has a depression in the top that has the same shape as I want the top to have. The shape is a modified bowl with a radius of 20 feet.
20-Jan-15 A piece of sand paper goes on the top.
20-Jan-15 And then the rim is mounted in the side form.
20-Jan-15 I mark the edge.
20-Jan-15 Turn it over and apply a little pressure and then shove the stack back and forth... puff puff puff.
20-Jan-15 When all of the marker has been removed the edge has the same shape as the sanding form. After I make the top in the same form the top and the rim will match up nicely.
20-Jan-15 A little bit of fine tuning is required. In my guitars the top is a straight line rather than a bowl from the front edge to the bridge. Here I am making sure the top of the heel block lines up properly.
20-Jan-15 Using the bottom sanding form the bottom edge of the rim gets the same treatment as the top edge .
20-Jan-15 The bottom form is a bowl with a 16 foot radius.
20-Jan-15 After a little more huffing and puffing I get a nice clean edge.
20-Jan-15 The rim.
OM 2.14.65 Build Pictures
11-Feb-2015 I have mounted the rim in this fixture which has a template in the base with the shape of the heel of the neck.
11-Feb-2015 I use my router table to route out the channel for the heel of the neck and the attachment hardware.
11-Feb-2015 When I am finished the channel has the same shape as the template and the heel of the neck.
11-Feb-2015 I use the same fixture to make a channel for the tail graft.
11-Feb-2015 The heel channel will have a variety of holes drilled and hardware installed. When the guitar is finished none of this will be visible.
11-Feb-2015 And the tail channel which will get an inlay yet to be designed.
11-Feb-2015 Here I have set up my CNC Router with a maple blank to create an interdigitated wave back strip.
11-Feb-2015 The inlay strip has a very small repeating detail needing a 0.025 inch end mill. With such a small end mill I have to go very slowly. The machine took about an hour and a half to cut the inlay out... I went out and worked in the garden while it was busy.
11-Feb-2015 The joined back plate gets a pocked routed out for the inlay. I used a 0.063 in end mill for this job so it didn't take too long to complete this job.
11-Feb-2015 Here is the inlay strip and the pocket. They fit together quite snuggly.
11-Feb-2015 A bit of glue...
11-Feb-2015 And a little persuasion...
11-Feb-2015 And the inlay fits in perfectly.
11-Feb-2015 Now on to the rosette. Here I am routing out the waves in a burled maple blank. I missed taking a few pictures but...
11-Feb-2015 ... after a little more work the rosette takes shape.
11-Feb-2015 Now I have set up the Sitka Spruce top plate to route out the channel for the rosette.
11-Feb-2015 The rosette and its channel. This method allows for very tight fitting inlays although the set up can take a bit of time.
11-Feb-2015 The rosette gets glued in place and then the sound hole gets routed out. By maintaining the registration of the piece the sound hole gets routed out dead center in the rosette.
11-Feb-2015 Finally the rosette gets sanded flush to the top and then the snowboard is reduced to its working thickness 110 mil by sanding material off of the back.
11-Feb-2015 The finished product.
11-Feb-2015 Now on to the contra-rosette. Martin gave me a file with a sketch of the design he created. I used my drafting package to lay out the design and extract the vectors that guide the CNC router. Here I am routing out the sails.
11-Feb-2015 I used padauk for the sky... red sky at night sailor's delight.
11-Feb-2015 And then I used burled maple for the water and waves. The sails get installed as an onlay.
11-Feb-2015 This picture has the contra-rosette pressed up behind the rosette for a clear view.
OM 2.14.65 Build Pictures
12-Mar-2015 Now on to making the braces. I have set up my brace sanding fixture in this picture. I tilt it so I use all of the sanding belt rather than a thin band.
12-Mar-2015 The backs of my guitars have a bowl shape and the tops have a unique modified bowl shape... the secret sauce if you will. To make the the braces I first created a template that matches the bowl shaped sanding plate. The sanding plates have the shape I want the top and back to take on. I attach the brace blank to the template.
12-Mar-2015 You can see here that the brace blank attached to the back of the template in this picture overhangs the template by a bit.
12-Mar-2015 When the template pushes up against the aluminum edge band on the white platen it can go no further toward the sanding belt. The overhanging brace blank then takes on the shape of the template as I sand along the length of the blank. I have different templates for the various braces.
12-Mar-2015 This blank contains both legs of the x-brace. I use the sanding plate to fine tune the shape of the blank.
12-Mar-2015 Next I drill holes in the brace blanks to remove unnecessary mass.
12-Mar-2015 And then I use my router table to create channels in the sides to further reduce the mass of the braces. Mass bad stiffness good.
12-Mar-2015 Now with the blanks ready I layout the brace pattern on the back plate.
12-Mar-2015 After marking the precise length of the braces on the blanks I sand the braces to size and shape.
12-Mar-2015 Laying them out to make sure they fit... actually I just like to see the pattern and admire my work. I call this fondling the wood.
12-Mar-2015 A bit of hand sanding to smooth everything out.
12-Mar-2015 Next I check the outline of the rim on the back plate.
12-Mar-2015 And when I am confident everything is ready I cut the back plate out. I leave a bit of extra wood around the edge just to give myself a little tolerance.
12-Mar-2015 And into the go-box. I use bendable go-sticks to apply force to the part and help make a good joint.
12-Mar-2015 More sticks...
12-Mar-2015 I clean up the glue squeeze out before it sets.
12-Mar-2015 This is the result of the first pass in the go-box.
12-Mar-2015 Here I am putting a bevel on the seam reenforcing strip.
12-Mar-2015 And then I install the rest of the parts.
12-Mar-2015 Now I cut out the X-braces from the worked brace blank.
12-Mar-2015 I use this setup to sand the two legs to the same height.
12-Mar-2015 And then I use the band saw an a tilted platen to cut the scarf joint into the two legs.
12-Mar-2015 They fit together with a tight fit and at the correct angle 93 degs in this case.
12-Mar-2015 And I trim them up to shape.
12-Mar-2015 The treble side of the x-brace is taller and stiffer than the tapered bass side of the brace. This is intended to spread out the resonance of the top.
12-Mar-2015 The finger braces get shaped.
12-Mar-2015 And made into I-beams to reduce mass.
12-Mar-2015 The assembly scheme I use depends on placing the braces accurately so I use fiducial buttons to guide their placement. I have drilled a hole in the bottom of the brace put a small dowel in the hole and then put a drop of glue on the end.
12-Mar-2015 When I place the brace on the back of the top in the right place and let the glue dry the button sticks to the top. So now I can return the brace to its proper position.
12-Mar-2015 A bit of sanding to get rid of the spruce fuzz.
12-Mar-2015 Laying it out.
12-Mar-2015 I make the bridge plate out of Indian Rosewood.
12-Mar-2015 Now With the x-braces in place I lay the rim on top of the braces and mark where they intersect.
12-Mar-2015 I trim the ends of the braces and then the rim will slide right into place. This fit is important as I can't see any of this when I glue the top to the rim.
12-Mar-2015 Now I cut the top plate out.
12-Mar-2015 And fashion the sound hole rim from the excess spruce.
12-Mar-2015 I glue the braces and other parts into place with the go box.
12-Mar-2015 After the glue has set I clean everything up with a bit of hand sanding.
12-Mar-2015 The sound hole ring gets trimmed...
12-Mar-2015 ... and shaped.
12-Mar-2015 The rim get a set of vertical braces. These have no acoustic function but rather are there to help prevent the sides from cracking.
12-Mar-2015 I have fashioned the tail graft insert out of a piece of burled maple to match the rosette.
12-Mar-2015 Pressed and glued into place.
12-Mar-2015 This will get sanded flush.
12-Mar-2015 To glue the back to the rim I start by applying a layer of glue to the edge of the rim. One of the reasons we use kerfing is to give enough surface area to make a good joint.
12-Mar-2015 I place the flange and bolt it down. This technique applies even pressure around the rim.
12-Mar-2015 When it comes out of the form the back over hangs the rim.
12-Mar-2015 I trim off the excess.
12-Mar-2015 Before I glue the top on I install the hardware for the neck attachment.
12-Mar-2015 The two top inserts will hold set screws that act as the fulcrum for the tilting neck and allow me to adjust the yaw of the neck so I can get the strings to follow center line of the neck. The bottom insert will accept the neck angle adjustment bolt. And the top center is the hole for the bolt that holds the neck to the body.
12-Mar-2015 The label out of the way so you don't have to look at it if you don't want to. The center hole is for the attachment bolt and the small side holes are for set screw access.
12-Mar-2015 The top gets glued on to the rim.
12-Mar-2015 And a clamp to make sure the top makes a good joint with the heel block.
12-Mar-2015 After it comes out of the form the excess overhang top material gets trimmed off.
12-Mar-2015 To create the Cantilevered Fretboard Support Channel I use this template...
12-Mar-2015 ... and the template fixture on my router.
12-Mar-2015 And here are all of the body side features of the neck attachment system.
12-Mar-2015 One last detail is to reinforce the underside of the hidy-wing with a small fillet. The hidy-wing shields the space between the neck and the body from view.
OM 2.14.65 Build Pictures
13-Apr-2015 This is the tool I use to carve a compound radius surface on the fretboard. This guitar will have a radius of curvature ROC at the 12th fret of 16 inches. Since the fretboard is a cone section due to its taper the ROC at the nut is 12.75 inches and at the saddle it is 19.25 inches. This tool is essentially an asymmetric double poll pendulum mounted on a slide.
13-Apr-2015 The fretboard gets taped to the underside of the crossbar.
13-Apr-2015 And then slid over the router bit. Since the pendulum has arms of different length it sweeps out a section of a cone... exactly what we want. By adjusting the length of the arms I can change the desired radius of curvature.
13-Apr-2015 I check for lengthwise flatness with a straight edge and a feeler gauge. If this isn't flat one or more frets will sit proud and cause buzz.
13-Apr-2015 I use my CNC tool with a slit saw to create the fret slots.
13-Apr-2015 And then I change tools and use an itty bitty mill end to route the inset for the fret inlays.
13-Apr-2015 After careful measurement I trim the fretboard to size.
13-Apr-2015 I fine tune the dimensions with the belt sander.
13-Apr-2015 And now I can start to install the binding.
13-Apr-2015 Here are some of the tools and material to do the fret job.
13-Apr-2015 First I cut a set of frets oversized a bit.
13-Apr-2015 And then I use a small belt sander and jig to remove the fretwire tang where it overlaps the binding.
13-Apr-2015 And then I hammer in the fretwire.
13-Apr-2015 I mount the fretboard in a vise to insure the ends of the fretwire are in good contact with the surface and then I apply a drop of CA glue to stabilize everything.
13-Apr-2015 I then trim then ends of the fretwire.
13-Apr-2015 Now onto the neck. I have a maple neck blank here. I start by drilling the holes for the central neck attachment hardware.
13-Apr-2015 Then I use the router table to create a channel for the two way truss rod.
13-Apr-2015 Now I mount the neck blank in this special fixture that has the heel shaped template on the bottom.
13-Apr-2015 I use a long router bit to shape the heel.
13-Apr-2015 The milling machine is used to create the channels for the cantilevered fretboard support plate and the hidy wings.
13-Apr-2015 This is the first time the neck is mounted on the body.
13-Apr-2015 To carry forward the black/white/black pin-striping from the body to the neck I use a sandwich of b/w/b fiber sheets under the fretboard. Although expensive in terms of the use of the fiber sheets this method results in a pinstripe that goes all of the way around the neck without a seam. Here I am gluing the sheets together.
13-Apr-2015 Now I start dimensioning the neck with the milling machine.
13-Apr-2015 And working on the head stock.
13-Apr-2015 The volute requires special care.
13-Apr-2015 The ebony head stock veneer is shaped using a template and router table.
13-Apr-2015 And it is bound with bloodwood.
13-Apr-2015 To start the assembly process I apply glue to the bottom of the fretboard...
13-Apr-2015 and glue it to the b/w/b sheet.
13-Apr-2015 A rough trim job.
13-Apr-2015 Now I have to get everything positioned correctly. I use the small wooden pegs to register the assembly to the neck blank.
13-Apr-2015 Here I have installed the cantilevered fretboard support plate.
13-Apr-2015 I trim the back of the heel to 3 degs to give a little extra adjustment room in the heel channel.
13-Apr-2015 Ready to go.
13-Apr-2015 A bit of glue...
13-Apr-2015 ... and lots of clamps.

OM 2.14.65 Build Pictures