Dreadnought for me?

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Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
edited August 3 in Making & Modding
I've got a (welcome) gap between commissioned builds.  I have a rebody of a Cort Curbow coming up but, in the scheme of things, that isn't a major undertaking.

One of the things I've been doing in the extra time is sorting out a better arrangement with routing - I've invested in a self-assembled foldaway router table and am currently building a thicknessing rig but I've also been looking at the crazy amount of 'oooh that looks nice' wood that I've acquired over the past few years.

In amongst it is this - some of which isn't faring well in my far-from-perfect wood storage:


On the left is a sister set of back and sides lacewood and mahogany/walnut neck offcut from Chris's (our band's vocalist) dreadnought that I built him in 2015:




Next to that is another neck offcut - maple /walnut and lastly an offcut of Macassar ebony fretboard from my recent 6-string electric build.


Well....that's most of the wood for a dreadnought - with a choice of neck to boot!


And I've got a bit of time on my hands


And I've got a few new things in the workshop that need testing out.


And I've always wanted, and never had, a dreadnought.


Hmmmm….it's tempting!


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  • SporkySporky Frets: 13560
    That 2015 one is beeyootiful. 
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    Sporky said:
    That 2015 one is beeyootiful. 
    You are very kind :)
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  • paulnb57paulnb57 Frets: 1145
    Do it Andy!
    Stranger from another planet welcome to our hole - Just strap on your guitar and we'll play some rock 'n' roll

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  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 525
    I really like the choice of wood for the sides of your previous build!
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    In the early stages, my approach on this will be a bit brutal.  The storage of the back and side wood has been poor - there's been a bit of dishing and there's been a bit of what looks like water damage on one of the edges of the sides set that was there when I bought it.  

    So basically, rather than hours of planning, scraping and sanding - only to find out that there is not enough usable area - it's doing what you should never do with figured woods - through the Makita thicknesser down from about 7mm to 2mm at 0.5mm a time.


    And I've sort of got away with it so far.  I say sort of because at the last pass of the last back piece like an eejit, I sent the panel through the other way round - and got some pretty impressive tearout!  The other side is perfect, despite being reduced through a very, very harsh process.  The sides too:

     

    I've lost a couple of inches off the length of the sides due to the unavoidable snipe of this type of thicknesser but - and I will check later today - this should still give me adequate length for a dreadnought

    The water (?) damage on the sides is on the opposite side to the bookmatch join and should be well within the trim allowance of the sides.  Again, I will check later today the usable dimensions.  



    So, assuming that the dimensions are usable, the next proper job is going to be bending the sides.  If they bend OK, we have a live project, if they don't I'll use up the wood for headstock plates/inlay fills, etc..

    Whatever, this will be a background project as it's only for my own use so may take some time! ;)


     
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    I really like the choice of wood for the sides of your previous build!

    Thanks! :)   The pieces for this project are another two slices from the same cut so should be pretty identical - assuming, ref my comments above, they are actually usable.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796

    OK - rapidly onto the go/no-go stage.

    Basically, if I split the sides when bending them, then the project is dead.  So I'm going to do that early on.

    A few tips if anyone is thinking of tackling their first acoustic guitar:

    • There are lots of 'I didn't know that' factors
    • There are lots of things that aren't as they seem
    • Such as that a flat-top guitar is usually not flat.  Almost all of them have a slight dish - typically 25 feet radius
    • The backs are also not flat.  These are usually dished to around 15 feet radius
    • There are lots of pretty essential jigs you need to make.  Body mould; radius dishes (25' & 15'); go-bar deck to mould backs and tops to their respective radii
    • Martin made a bracing pattern in the 30's (?) that happened to work and 90+ % of acoustic guitars use this EXACT pattern
    • I follow every single hint and tip that successful luthiers here and elsewhere suggest.  No rebellious-against-convention Rogers for acoustics!

    So - the sides.  First, I found my dreadnought mould that I knocked together for Chris's build.  I then put a card former in with the back and front dimensions marked in a straight line:

    9gIlkFVljpg

    C0SemYAljpg

     

    OK - so that's easy.  So just cut the blank with that straight taper, right?

    Wrong.

    Look at what a straight taper does seen from the front:

    EE2jLYhljpg

     

    Imagine the left side doing the same thing and you have a 'v' shaped back

    So the shape of the sides needs to be more like this:

    lop9Brzljpg

     

    I will fine tune it with some sand paper on the radius dish (don't worry - I will explain if it gets that far!)

    But the next stage is cut the sides to that paper template:

    Io82MKHljpg

     

    And soak them.  

    CTu1q36ljpg

    Am I using MrsAndyjr1515's leftover bubble bath water?

    No - I am following a respected acoustic luthier's conviction that fabric softener make a big difference to the bendability of figured woods.  I question not.  I just follow.

    And on goes the bending iron:

    ZIb1NKAljpg

     

    And a few hours later we have the bent sides, clamped in the moulds until they are fully dry and, hopefully, the shape is set fast:

    So, based on that the sides didn't snap, looks like we have a live project :)



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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    edited August 6

    Sides trimmed and mahogany front and back blocks glued on:

    fyNbWRBljpg

    And the (unsanded) back also cut - leaving it oversize to allow both wiggle room and for the contraction when it is dished to its 15 foot radius: 


    Much of the build will be done with the sides remaining in the mould:

    wVy6Yexljpg

    The top wood (sitka spruce) and bracing / kerfing wood is on order so not much more can be done on the body at the moment.  While I'm waiting for the wood to arrive, I'll start on the neck and fretboard.  Busy tomorrow but I should be able to make some progress on Wednesday

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  • stevebrumstevebrum Frets: 4059
    Great stuff - thanks for sharing. I love build threads.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    edited August 7
    stevebrum said:
    Great stuff - thanks for sharing. I love build threads.
    Thanks!   
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  • BigMonkaBigMonka Frets: 1510
    Epic Andy! Can’t wait to see the build unfold, thank you for taking the time to write up and document it all for us!
    Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman, in which case always be Batman.
    My boss told me "dress for the job you want, not the job you have"... now I'm sat in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Batman.
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  • dwheeldodwheeldo Frets: 54
    I’ve never really thought much about the mechanics of building acoustics before, so I’m watching this with interest. Good luck with the build.
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    My home made radiusing rig isn't brilliant, but it does the job.  I've clearly got something horribly wrong with my geometry because I have to offset the blank by 10mm off centre to get it to rout evenly on both sides of the radius :)

    FUzFaDtljpg

    Still - with that tweak it works well enough to be able to just finish it off with 15mins of a radius block after 20 mins or so routing down to final size.  

    Based on that it used to take me a couple of days to radius a fretboard - and the radius was often highly suspect even after that - it's still progress and was well worth the time to draw it out and make it 

    5Dsb394ljpg

     

    Then onto the G&W mitre box.  Theoretically the scale should be 25 3/8" but I have a 25 1/2" template already - should be close enough as the guitar is going to be for my own use.

    o55Ldzaljpg

    Folks may have seen one of my previous threads where I scrapped a fretboard using this rig the very first time but, now that I've found a decent method of setting it up and securing everything from moving, it works well.

    So, I have a radiused and slotted fretboard:

    HE2Tp3Zljpg

     

    Next job is the neck, using the maple/walnut/maple offcut I found in my bits box.  I'm hoping the soundboard spruce and bracing / kerfing wood will be arriving later today or tomorrow :)


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  • AustrianJohnAustrianJohn Frets: 394
    Thanks for the build diary - very timely as my own first acoustic build is under way (albeit rather slower than you).
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    Thanks for the build diary - very timely as my own first acoustic build is under way (albeit rather slower than you).
    Sounds good news :)
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796

    I'm not certain yet that I will go for the maple neck but have started to work on it. 

    First time in real terms using the router table.  Fantastic!  Neatest truss rod channel yet (small beginnings, but beginnings nevertheless! )

    v1dKgxEljpg

    And then the side profile band-sawn:

    mIgK37gljpg

     

    The heel will have to have an extension added whatever, but the maple blank isn't deep enough to do that with just one - it will end up being a three piece heel.  I'll have a think whether I can add a contrasting wood in there or whether that would look naff.  If so, I'll revert to the mahogany / walnut blank I've also got and which is a touch deeper and would do achieve a two piece heel.

    I tell you what, after the recent spate of neck through basses, these necks are TIDDLY!


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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796

    The top wood has arrived (some lovely AAA grade sitka spruce from David Dyke) so I've planed the joining edges using the 'offset fence' technique on the router table and now am gluing it prior to thicknessing it from 5mm down to 2.5 - 3mm.

    Now it's down in the cellar being glued:

    OJD7pl9ljpg  

     

    The only clamps applying any pressure are the three sash clamps - two on the bottom and one on the top.  The rest of the clamps are just gently holding the cauls, top and bottom to prevent it bowing or twisting.

    I will be doing the thicknessing using hand planes and cabinet scrapers (gulp) once the glue has fully dried overnight.  I think this afternoon will be taken up with me honing plane blades and burnishing scrapers! 

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    edited August 12

    There are various ways of thicknessing an acoustic top.  In the end, I used a similar method to one or two classical guitar builders I've seen in various places.  Sounds surprising, but it uses a block plane!

    First cross grain, then diagonal and then with the grain:

    Ox3zd6yljpg

     

    I did sharpen the blade before I started, and these are SUPER thin shavings, but this is the best surface I've ever managed with a block plane!  This is straight off the plane:

    Xi12l33ljpg

     

     

    When I was about 3.6mm, I moved onto the scrapers.  This is now down to 3.3mm and I will move to a large sanding block to drop it down to about 2.9mm.  I say about, because I am using the tap tone approach (great video on one of Robert O'Brian's 'Luthier Tips du Jour' videos, although he uses a thicknesser sander) rather than aiming for a specific thickness.  I will not, however, drop below 2.7mm tap tone or not!

    4JI0QbOljpg

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796

    And in the meantime, the first length of kerfing strip goes on.  This is the strip that the top and back will glue onto. 

    XeJ3SvFljpg

     

    It is set a mm or so higher than the sides because the top and back will be dished - the kerfing will be sanded down in the radius dish so that is ends as a close fit to the dished top and back before gluing - I'll explain that better when I have some photos to illustrate it! 

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    That's one side of the kerfing strip done.  Later today I'll do the other side.


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  • impmannimpmann Frets: 7353
    Superb as ever, Andy!
    Never Ever Bloody Anything Ever.

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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    impmann said:
    Superb as ever, Andy!
    You are most kind :)  
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  • TeyeplayerTeyeplayer Frets: 674
    Absolutely in awe of your skills. I thought the swift basses and @impmann ‘s alembic influenced build were fantastic but that acoustic! You keep surpassing yourself. I can see I’m going to have to start saving for a commission one of these days!
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    Absolutely in awe of your skills. I thought the swift basses and @impmann ‘s alembic influenced build were fantastic but that acoustic! You keep surpassing yourself. I can see I’m going to have to start saving for a commission one of these days!
    Sounds good to me ;)

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  • SporkySporky Frets: 13560
    How do you feel about making a cello? 
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    Sporky said:
    How do you feel about making a cello? 
    5th amendment?

    Actually, I've had a cello neck for years to make an electric one. But the proper ones - they are made by magicians and pixies.  They are not created from human hands - no way...not credible ;)
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  • SporkySporky Frets: 13560
    Have a wiz. 
    Be your own evil twin. 
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  • Andyjr1515Andyjr1515 Frets: 1796
    Sporky said:
    Have a wiz. 
    Have a LOL.
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  • mli3mli3 Frets: 81
    stevebrum said:
    Great stuff - thanks for sharing. I love build threads.
    Ditto! Thanks 
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  • Looking very nice Andy :)  It's amazing how much wood will bend when it's wet.

    @Sporky - are you suggesting the Sporkcello project is dead?  nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.....!
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