Shaping up

Took a trip to a really good local wood supplier this week. Tim refurbishes industrial wood working machinery, lathes, thicknessers, jointer/planers, that type of thing. He also fells trees and has a massive stock of really interesting high quality hardwoods. I have previously bought Ash, Elm and Beech and Maple and Cedar from him. On this visit I was looking for some close grained Cedar to get some sound boards out of. I also wanted to source some interestingly figured woods for backs and sides, and on top of that, look into what he had by way of dense, even grained stock that I could use for neck blanks.

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Pulling apart the stacks with a fork lift so I can scramble around looking for the good stuff

I’m lucky to have stumbled on Tim’s warehouse, because he also has the facilities for cutting the lumber down to my specs. It’s almost the case that there is too much choice, but Tim seems to have a really good memory for what types and quality of wood are in each of the many stacks. Also, my experience and knowledge of many varieties is limited so Tim is an invaluable help when it come to letting me know what would be possible with each selection of lumber.

The reason I am buying more wood, is mainly because I am running out. I have started building the arch top acoustic and will have very little stock left afterwards. The back and soundboard of that build are now shaped and I am trying to decide how to brace them. I was really pleased with how the planing went. I had good fun shaping the ‘bell’ in each piece, and I got to use the fine, curved bottomed, violin plane for the first time.

The process was a little nerve racking as I managed to get down to about 2.5mm thickness on the sound board, which made me constantly paranoid about putting a hole in the material as I worked. Using this unconventional piece of wood as a sound board is very much an experiment, but I have been talking to a good few Luthiers on line and in the locality, and they all say that while the standards like sitka spruce and cedar are the preferred woods for sound boards, due to their strength and flexibility, much of the stuff said about tonal quality in woods is very notional and many good sounding instruments come from unconventional materials, so……I’m gonna keep going.

The wood I finally selected form Tim was varied in colour but all heavy, close, clean and straight grained Elm, Cedar and Maple. I should have about twelve book matched electric guitar tops from beautifully figured Elm. Also about sixteen book matched very clean and even grained cedar sound boards, along with some spalted beech for electric body blanks and about ten to fifteen neck blanks from some very nice Maple Tim dug out for me. Here is the pile of lumber, uncut. I hope by this time next week I can publish a picture of the stuff cut down, ready to put into my stock.

For now I will carry on researching the best way to brace this guitar build and measure and cut the fret slots in the finger board. Just have to hope those tools I ordered arrive soon, or the project will grind to a halt again.

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