This was a week of burgeoning design ideas, project planning and finally getting round to bending the sides of the acoustic build….AND making a back and sound board for the mandolin, which will be the next build. Plus I took a little detour into researching the world of period instruments, and ended up designing a ‘lira da Braccio’. That is a project that will give me a chance to try many new wood working techniques. I had some serious issues with a Luthier supply company in England, who shall remain nameless, that failed to post tools to me in a timely fashion. When they did arrive the tools were of poor or average quality. This little spat distracted me from the present build. I have to admit, I unconsciously used the issue to prevaricate and put off the moment when I had to bite the bullet and start bending the sides.
Well, I am hardly skilled at using the bending iron yet, but things pretty much went to plan. I did my little circle of binding to get some practice with the hot iron last week, then moved up to a larger piece of ‘scrap’ paduk, to get used to bending thicker pieces and learn a bit about the properties of the particular wood I am using on the sides of this guitar
Then I build a platform to go around the bending iron, so I would have a flat surface to work on. The bending was grand, but paduk is a ‘brittle’ wood, and seems to split easily. I just managed to spot a slit in the edge of one side before it ran too far. I was able to just cut across the sliver of wood and arrest the progression of the split. I had given myself about 4mm of scrap wood on the open side for fitting of the top, so the split stayed in the scrap section. (See left).
Today I finished fixing the kerflings to the joint, (see below), and am about ready to go back to the neck and start shaping the heal and dove tail tenon for fitting. The sound board is stalled. I bought a new tool from LMI, in the U.S., who are a great supplier of Luthiery tools. It is a jig for cutting sound holes and sound hole perflings channels.
I had made my own tools, but when I used it on a practice piece of wood, I discovered it just wasn’t as accurate as I would like, so now I have to wait another few days for the right tool to arrive in the post. Next blog will be all about cutting the sound hole and perfling channels…..thought this blog would be about that…..!
These last few pictures are of the sound board and back I made for the mandolin. The top is larch. It is really strong and very flexible and has a good even close grain. I feel sure I will get a good sound board from it. It is about 4mm thich now that I joined it and planed it flat. You can see the join line due to the different wood colours from the two, non book matched pieces. The join itself is flawless…even though I say so myself. No harm in being proud of work that goes well, I say. The cedar I used for the back is a beautiful piece of wood. The two bits I used for this back were, again, two non book matched pieces, and I think they lined up really nicely . I love the red/orange/chocolate tinges through the grain. I have plenty more of this stuff, that is book matched for other projects. I was tempted to use it for sound boards because it looks so good, but maybe for a more experimental project. The grain isn’t particularly dense or even. It might work well on a semi-acoustic guitar, maybe. Either way, the wood I bough is shaping up to be very useable and good looking. I have about ten new projects in my head, and the shop is full of tools for accomplishing most tasks and luthiery now; Onwards! Does it ever end!