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Building my first kit - Kovacik 000-28FK

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 671
Having just finished my first kit guitar I thought I would share a few pictures to inspire others who might be thinking about it.

First my disclaimer - I am not a woodworker and do not have a fancy shop. I own and play several very nice guitars and really didn't need another, but I'm facinated by how things are made and how they work. I chose to build a kit to eliminate a few critical operations that I figured I could really botch up. I spent about 6 months researching everything I could - both on line and in books, and finally settled on a rosewood 000 sized 12 fret slot head with basically Martin style 28 detail from Steve Kovacik. As work went along I added a few of my personal touches. I have written up my notes and would be happy to share them with anyone who is interested.

Here are a few pictures and comments. I really wasn't trying to document the proceedure but just snapped a couple pics from time to time. OK, here goes

I chose a traditional dovetail neck joint. This is what the parts looked like out of the box. At this point I figured I had made a mistake and e-mailed Steve. He assured me that everything would be OK...

Here is the neck and fretboard - Martin style truss rod and roll pins and style 21 snowflakes

Braced the back (one brace slipped while clamping)

Braced and scalloped the top - tone tapped too

Simple little pressboard mold and spreader - body is kerfed

Routed the back for binding

And the top

The binding process is pretty messy

Body and neck ready for finish

I used rattle cans of StewMac lacquer

Fitting the dovetail neck joint. This took a good six hours

Yea, baby! I had just paid a luther to reset necks on two old Martins - now I know why it costs so much.

Back - nice EIRW with style 28 center stripe and binding

Front - Steve picked a piece of spruce with beautiful bear claw

The headstock with my initial in MOP

Soundhole - abalone rosette and a home made label

Please feel free to e-mail or PM me if you have any questions. It really play beautifully - huge sound for a little guitar. I'm currently working on number 2, an LMI classical and will post pictures of it too when I get done.


Mar 14, 06 | 2:23 pm

Total Topics: 19
Total Posts: 244
KILLER LOOKING Keller! THANKS for sharing...sned more!!!

Mar 14, 06 | 4:54 pm

Total Topics: 19
Total Posts: 244
OR send more...(maybe I SHOULD use the PREVIW FUNCTION?)

It's STILL a really nice looking guitar! Is there a website Link for Steve Kovacik?

Mar 14, 06 | 4:56 pm

Total Topics: 25
Total Posts: 113

Great work!

Three questions:

1. How difficult to get the mold shape correct? (Please share any construction tips)
2. Are you pleased with the results of using teh spray can lacquer? Would you use this approach again?
3. Did you order the MOP 'K' or hand make it (very nice touch!)?

Also, if it's not too much trouble to post your construction notes, they would be appreciated.



Mar 14, 06 | 5:55 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hi Keller -- I've moved this over here because this forum is the one more devoted to following projects, etc. Hope that's okay with you.

Kevin -- Steve Kovacik's web address is --

That'a a beautiful job Keller -- It's always amazing t me how horrid a body can look with the bindings just glued on, glue all over it, tape all over it -- and then emerge as such a good-looking instrument! You did a great job on the guitar. Thanks for posting it!

Mar 15, 06 | 7:56 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Bill, I just learned another little problem. I typed out a nice long reply to Ejko's questions, Previewed it, the software told me it was too many characters and the Back button brought me to a blank screen. The Preview function take you back to the original message. Anyway, I'll break my reply up.

Mar 15, 06 | 9:40 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Thanks, Ejko.

First, the mold. There seems to be a lot of ways to do this - Cumpiano doesn't use a mold, StewMac uses the internal cardboard thingie, but most pro builders use some sort of plywood or press board external mold. Mine was pretty simple - I copied the full size plans and cut out 1/2 of the guitar. I traced that onto 3/4 partical board and cut out with a band saw (a saber saw would work). I used that as a pattern for three more (cut and sand them together). I used pieces of partical board along the sides and end to space the other pieces out - the whole thing is 2-1/4 thick. The end pieces also tie the sides together so I can split it.

The waist expander was made from the scrap cut out of the sides (it would be be the perfect shape). I glued two pieced together, chisled a notch in the center for a turn buckle and used it to hold the sides in the mold.

The one I made for the classical is slightly different because of the Spanish heel neck - I made the sides thinner for more clamping clearance but it makes them weaker. Would be OK with plywood but not partical board.

Pretty simple, but seemed to work fine

Mar 15, 06 | 9:50 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Question two - am I happy with the finish? Yes, it is not professional but it looks better than most home wood workers finishes of any sorts. I'm an old hot rodder so I know that most lacquer goes on the floor. I have access to both a little home compressor and an industrial paint booth, but the rattle cans are so easy and I am using them again on the classical.

Basic steps - (1) coat everything you don't want stained with shellac (bindings, etc). The classical has spruce in the binding and I don't want that darkened. That is also a cool trick to reduce tear out when routing (2) Stain the mahogany neck to match the r/w (I'm not staining the classical for contrast) (3) Grain fill the mahogany and r/w (not the spruce) (4) a couple of coats of sanding sealer (4) any stains like sunburst (5) many coats of lacquer - 24 on the back and 18 on the top - sanded to 400/600 between each 3, (6) final coat gets sanded to 1500 and polished with StewMac medium and fine.

I went back two weeks later and redid the color sanding and polish - there were a few fish eyes and a little orange peel. I'll probably do it again in a few months.

Mar 15, 06 | 10:00 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hi Freeman -- The limit for entries is 5000 characters.

Mar 15, 06 | 10:16 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Question three - the MOP inlay. As this thing started looking less like a canoe paddle and more like I was going to be proud of it I started considering personalizing it. Actually I had been thinking about that from the beginning but.....

Original plan was to buy some abalone or pearl sheets, learn how to cut them, etc but I found Andy DePaule

Since I didn't know if I wanted abalone or pearl, or if I wanted two initials or one, I ordered four total letters from Andy - a wopping total of ten bucks! I decided I liked the pearl better against the dark rosewood and only the K would fit. I was going to make a pattern on our CNC laser but it was over Christmas break so I simply copied the K on a copy machine and made a template. I used a little router base for my Dremel tool, practiced on some scrap, and routed the headstock by hand.

The trick for any inlay is to make a powder by sanding a scrap of the base wood and mix that into the epoxy - that way any tiny voids are filled with the correct color material. Scrape, sand, and presto - a presonalized canoe paddle.

Mar 15, 06 | 10:17 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Thanks, Bill.

Last comment - since my notes are several pages long they probably would exceed the limit. If Ejko would like a copy send me an e-mail address and I'll mail them to you. There is a pretty good list of the references I used at the end. I'll get my personal profile set up so you can PM me there but in the mean time my addy is

freeman.keller AT

Mar 15, 06 | 10:20 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Freeman, VERY nicely done guitar! I love the bearclaw! And great site for the pearl too! I may use that guy in the near future!

Mar 18, 06 | 8:49 pm

Total Topics: 19
Total Posts: 244
Excellant tip on using the cut-outs to make your spreaders, THANKS! I keep thinking the turnbuckles would look SO much nicer with some shaped wood covers on the centers. They would look so much more Craftsman-like and protect the wood surface should they ever get dropped in the guitar!

Maybe just route the center out of a large dowel (cut in half) and glue them together over the tops?

I KNOW, maybe I'm to pickey?

P.S. Bill, can we get a spell checker? I can spill...I jest can't tipe!

Mar 20, 06 | 8:30 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Kthom, I took the guitar in and out of the mold several times so I needed access to the turnbuckle. After I was done gluing the back and top on I had to reach inside the sound hole to loosen the turnbuckle and remove the spreader (a good reason to make sure everything will fit thru the soundhole BEFORE you glue the top on.

I had too many other things to worry about than covers over the turnbuckle <g>

Mar 20, 06 | 1:39 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
The guitar is very nice. The fret board inlay is not 42 but square diamond. The mold is one of the most important tools one can have when building. If you are looking for pearl Custom Pearl inlay is also out there for custom pearl work at affordable prices
A guitar is not as easy as a bird house but it alot more fun
john hall
blues creek guitars

Mar 26, 06 | 5:31 am

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