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Exterior Mold Material
Author
Post
killin5

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 7
I am making an exterior mold this weekend. I was planning on using MDF for this. I will probably do 4 layer of 3/4" material. My question is, would it be better to use Birch Plywood instead of MDF and if so, is it worth the difference?

John

Apr 04, 08 | 12:40 pm
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
Not sure if it's "better" than MDF, but I used 3 layers of 3/4" 13-ply baltic birch for my external mold. It has worked great so far.

Apr 04, 08 | 1:41 pm
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
Baltic birch ply is much prettier than MDF and won't chip. But everything I have read regarding these materials for woodworking molds and machine accessories is that they are both highly structurally stable. This means the won't warp and are unlikely to change shape when pressure is applied. I used MDF on some of the molds I have built, and exterior plywood on the others. I have not used birch on any of them. None of my molds have caused me any issues.

If I had to guess I would say Baltic Birch is stronger, but if your putting enough pressure on the MDF to break it, the sides will probably go first.

Lance

Apr 04, 08 | 3:21 pm
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
I agree that you don't need the strength of 13-ply Baltic Birch plywood for making a mold. I used it because I happened to have it around (it works great for the bass guitar speaker cabinets I build) and I knew it would give me a nice, smooth edge on the mold. MDF will do the same thing.

Apr 04, 08 | 8:02 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
If you are looking for stability the baltic birch is the ply of choice. MDF is ok for a build or 2. There is more deflection there than you may realize but it will work.
Exterior ply may be fine for a guitar but will twist. In all you get what you pay for. Martin used baltic up till a few years ago and have switched to alot of cast / Machined aluminium. But they do build a few more guitars than we do
john hall

Apr 05, 08 | 4:51 pm
killin5

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 7
How is Oak ply compared to Balitic Birch? The Birch Ply they have at the hardware store looks to have some voids in it. The Oak looks to be a better quality. I decided to use MDF. I had already cut the sheet into pieces when I pulled out an older piece I had in the garage. It was starting to come apart in the middle. It could be the Florida humidity. It was a couple of years old and had been moved from one house to another. There is no telling exactly what caused it to do what it did, but I don't want to risk not being able to use the mold again.

Apr 05, 08 | 6:18 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
KMG has been using and selling MDF molds to pros and hobbist for a very long time. We are not aware of any durability or long term problems. While certainly not as rugged as plywood, Baltic birch or otherwise, three and four layer MDF molds hold up very well.

Another thought, back in the early 1990's I picked up a used mold from the Martin factory it was three layers, the inner core was plywood of some sort and the two outer layers were made of the old style "particle board". Sort of a cost compromise I guess. That mold was put into service in the mid seventies so it lasted a long time -- a lot of dents but still usable.

Ken

www.kennethmichaelguitars.com


Apr 05, 08 | 6:23 pm
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
The Baltic Birch ply I used was 13-ply and void-free. I happened to have some on hand because I use it to build bass guitar speaker cabinets. These cabinets have to be very rugged and cannot have any voids or loose plies, as that would cause the cabinet to rattle.

I agree with Ken that it's probably overkill. And it's also not cheap. Good plywood rarely is. But I know that my mold isn't going to flex or warp :-)

Apr 05, 08 | 6:27 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
Any good quality ply that is solid core will work.

Apr 08, 08 | 1:34 am
killin5

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 7
Thanks everyone. I didn't get as much done as I wanted last weeked. Hopefully by the end of this weekend I will have a mold.

Apr 08, 08 | 5:41 am
killin5

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 7
So I ended up buying 2 sheets of 2' x 4' oak ply from Lowes. I cut 4 pieces out of each sheet. I had made a template out of 1/4 inch hard board. I used that and my router to get the final shape into two pieces of the plywood. I have the rough shape cut out of the rest. I just need to glue and finish the routing. Then join the halves. This is turning out to be a good project. It is giving me time to get reaquainted with my tools and use some I have been picking up just for this project.

I think I can use the off cuts from the plywood to build a solid side bending form. That will be the next project. One day I will start actual work on the guitar.

John

Apr 14, 08 | 12:21 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
The more time you spend prepping your molds, tools, and skills, the better the build will go.

Its interesting.....I think that, by doing a lot of the work yourself, you become mouch more acquainted with your work than simply an assembler. You get a much better idea of what it can and can't do, and how the different components actually work together.

I have been working in architecture, then engineering for the last 18 years, as a draftsman, then a mechanical engineer, and now a sales engineer working on the design side, and I have seen a real shift in the capabilities of the people working today. Computer aided design (and I am a computer geek myself) has not really helped us as much as it could, and here is why I think that is:

I see todays new engineers working with incredible solid model software that allows someone to design and build something digitally, but have no idea about how things work in the real manufacturing environment. Some of the parts they design are far too complex to be accurately drawn by hand, yet they are also not buildable. They don't understand that tools actually have to be able to get to the areas that need to be machined, that molds actually have to be able to be pulled apart so the part can come out. Part of the problem as I see it is that a part or product can be designed so quickly that the engineer doesn't really fully understand what they have created.

When I first started, all the guys I worked with drew by hand, and they almost NEVER made a mistake. Everything they drew worked, fit the assemblies, and came together as a system, and I think it is because, while they have to actually set up a line, feather it in, and then actually draw it, make it intersect the next line, set up a proper curve, all on paper by hand, they are actually spending time THINKING about what they are doing, building the whole thing in their head, but concentrating on each part minutely, and asking themselves how this part will affect everything around it. There is an attention to detail that these guys paid that the younger computer generation didn't, and I was one of the younger guys. I was fortunately trained both ways, but it took some time to gain the perpspective I have now.

I think the same thing applies to our little hobby, as it might in many other cases as well. As we spend more time building jigs, making sure they are perfect, we gain a better understanding as to what the purpose of the jig is, and why it is so critical that it perform properly. We start to understand our tools better, what they are capable of, what their short comings are, what their tendencies are, and the end result is a much better product, and a greater appreciation for the efforts of our peers. K, I'm done now.

Apr 15, 08 | 6:35 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Very well said and well founded. We see that in every field, I think, all the way from writing for communication and teaching, to photography, to graphics, to music ...

Everything "seems" so easy when done on a computer, and it happens so quickly, that the details are no longer considered.

I think that's also the reason why there is so much miscommunication on forums and in emails, and why it's difficult to find a well-written assembly manual for a kit guitar!



Apr 15, 08 | 10:11 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
Ken , it seems we are following parallel paths. I to ended up in engineering . I am in mechanical and industrial where we design and build progressive dies and injection molds. CAD helps in so many ways to simplify design and drawing , but it takes away from the hands on learning and understanding of what you are trying to accomplish.
The new generation of cad designers can do wonders with the technology but not understand the true mechanics of what they design. While building jigs can be fun , it can also be frustrating to some with minimal skills and tooling. This is not to say you can't build with simple jigs . A process when broken into its most basic tasks can become very simple with minimal skills. It is the knowing how to break it down that is key.

Apr 18, 08 | 9:21 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I agree, and yes, we seem to follow similar paths. Thing is, I am getting out of manufacturing. It sucks in this country, and is only getting worse. I started a real estate investment company, and am working in conjunction with a few other investors. believe me, this will be the smartest thing I have ever done. The projects we are currently working on are astonishing in returns, and we just can't answer the phone fast enough with new leads. The systems we have developed are in place and proving real, sustainable profits, I simply have to finish off a few obligations I made before starting my company. I will then have more time to devote to this little hobby of ours. Anyway, sorry to hijack this thread.

Apr 18, 08 | 10:44 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Sounds a little like “Grumpy Old Men “ to me -- I tip my hat to the youth of today and the knowledge and creativity they bring and share. Remember, our “hands on” is not their “hands on”.

Ken

www.kennethmichaelguitars.com

Apr 18, 08 | 1:10 pm
killin5

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 7
The exterior mold is complete. It came out pretty good. The next one I make will be great (or at least a little better). I ended up using 3 layers of Oak ¾” Plywood. I'm ready to move on to the solid form and the fox style bender.

As for the other direction this topic has gone I have to agree with all the comments. I started my professional career as a technical writer. I have since moved on into the compute field. The younger generation I see coming into the work force is full of ideas. Creative ideas and new approaches that at times blow you away. However, they have a hard time conveying and selling those ideas because they don’t have the skills to properly present the ideas. I don’t know how many times I have read something that someone has given me to look over and it does not have punctuation. I mean in most cases you should at least have a period at the end of a sentence. If you are presenting to an executive, your proposal probably shouldn’t read like a text message.

However, accepting my role as one of the old guys at work, I see part of my role as filling the gaps so the new ideas will see light. The new generation hasn’t been taught that they should know better. That is what the old guys are for. I’m glad there is a place for me.

Apr 29, 08 | 12:37 pm
Norman

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 26
I never espected to read so much philosophy of the ages in a guitar thread, but it sure is fun to read. My LMI Serviced kit will be here Friday. My first. I have got to start building my exterior mold, but I need to wait for the full scvale outline.

Jul 16, 08 | 10:07 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Maybe it is "Grumpy Old Men," but there is a ton of badly written, incorrectly punctuated, spelling "challenged" work on the internet that people pass off as acceptable. We Grumpy Old Men have a point -- and regardless of whether the writer is about 60 or is about 22, he or she should know how to punctuate, spell, and clearly state an idea so that the reader "gets it" without additional clarification.

The video and computer generation have lost much of the ability to read, conceptualize from the written word, and communicate accurately in writing to others. This is a major concern at colleges these days. It doesn't stop with the "youth," either. Many of their ideas might be good, though they are not always new or fresh, yet they poo-poo the idea that the written word should be respected.

As a writer, that is a major thing to me: Would Acoustic Guitar or other magazines publish my writing if it came to them with all the clarity of an 8th grade book report? Doubtful. Yet, it has to be written at an 8th grade reading level (same as Time magazine and Reader's Digest), because that is the average reading level of the American public these days. It's not easy to lower the reading level of a piece without making it sound oversimplified. (By the way, this post is at about the 12th grade reading level.)

Bill

Norm, that's great that your kit will arrive soon. Didn't mean to hijack the thread with such a rant ... Before you use the plan for your mold, be sure to check its accuracy, testing the numbers against your own measurements of the plan itself. LMI's plans, in my experience, vary in actual measurement by as much as 10% from the numbers written on the plan. And, acclimate your wood to the building environment for a week or so.

Bill

Jul 16, 08 | 11:48 am
John S.

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 94
Call me Grumpy, but I have to agree with Bill. I spend much (too much) of my time editing and rehabilitating manuscripts written by very intelligent people who have not had the benefit of an education that included spelling and proper grammar. Are the youth of today creative and talented? Abundantly so. But if you can't clearly and concisely communicate your information, be it related to guitar building or anything else, then it might just as well not exist. Just my continually devaluing 2 cents.

Jul 16, 08 | 1:51 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Grumpy, maybe, but at 37, I hate to be called old......lol. Everyone here has made good points. I think there is an element of awareness and self respect that is missing from a lot of the younger crowd that we continually find ourselves "editing". How you communicate represents a lot of who you are....it shows how you speak, how you think, and how you problem solve. It also is your image in many situations. As a sales person, it is also either an incredible sales tool, or a sure deal killer. The Devil is in the Details, and if you don't get it right, you will either be called on it, or have to suffer the consequences of closing a deal with a mistake in the paperwork.

With texting, gaming, forums, and all other styles of digital communications, it is too easy to just put words out there and let everyone else figure out what you mean. I certainly am guilty of typing faster than I think sometimes, and after I have posted something, have been appalled at my typos, and I neither type nor think quickly as it is. But to younger generations who grow up with this kind of communication as a general norm, the lack of attention to details becomes a normal way of life, and I think it really is detrimental.

Norman, glad your kit got there, and Bill is right. Measure everything, and let it climatize a bit before working on it. Good luck, and keep us in the know.

Jul 17, 08 | 6:21 am
Norman

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 26
I think we need a new heading. Maybe it should be something like "Younger Generation Kit Guitar Builders". Unfortunately, it's not just the young among us, even though I agree with everything said so far.

About writing, how often do we all see the word "your", as an example, "your going to the movies. I even see journalists using your instead of "you're".

In speaking, what happened to you're welcome? Even "your welcome" would be acceptable. Instead we get "No problem". That phrase is a complete reversal of what "you're welcome" means. No problem translates to "you didn't bother me a bit" . You're welcome means I appreciate your "thank you".

Sorry guys, I'm 73 and old fashioned. I hate to see us lose so much of our spoken and written quality.

Jul 17, 08 | 4:51 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
So John, how is that mold coming along....;)?

Jul 18, 08 | 6:09 am
killin5

Total Topics: 3
Total Posts: 7
The mold is done. I was also able to use the off cuts to make a solid form mold for side bending. I just need to make my spreaders and a bending machine.

Jul 19, 08 | 7:37 am
Norman

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 26
Bill: I just received my serviced Classical kit from LMI today. Everything is open and laid out in my building room which is 49 degrees. The tuners are missing and aren't I supposed to have a full size plan?

They even include a cover letter referring to the plans and the fact that the measurements are accurate but that the plan may be off caused during the printing process.


Jul 19, 08 | 9:20 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Norm -- Yes, you certainly should have a full-size plan if it was part of the original order. You might want to warm up your bulding room some and check that the humidity is around 40 to 50% RH when you get it warm.

Jul 19, 08 | 9:31 am
Norman

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 26
Bill: Strike the plans problem. I had not opened the Segovia package that I thought was a dvd. The plans are here and I am about to measure them and take them to the copy shop.

Talk about not being able to write. My basement building room is 49% humidity not 49 degrees. Temp is in mid 70's and very constant.

Thyanks for the response.

Jul 19, 08 | 9:46 am



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