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Building a kit in garage?
Author
Post
Bugeyed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 6

I have a Martin HD28 kit & soon after getting it I moved & no longer have a workspace with decent temp/humid control. Temp/humid varies from 78/65 to 85/60 this summer. I would like to make some progress toward completing this kit & would like some guidance on what I can get done in this shop environment without compromising quality. I have already made several tools like the work board, some clamps etc. I have most of the power tools I will need. There is a possibility to do some work in the main house, but it would have to be clean & odorless work.
I have several books on the subject & have done sooo much reading here & on Frets.com that I am anxious to put some of this knowledge & energy into some actual wood. Any insight is appreciated. Oh, I happen to have a really poorly made Rogue OO guitar that I plan to use to practice doing stuff to. Like refretting, nut & saddle work, adding a sound port & maybe even dis assembly to practice shaping the braces.
Thanks,
kev

Aug 08, 09 | 7:17 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hi Kevin -- Welcome to the forum!

This is a continuing problem. Several people through the years have shared their solutions. If you do a search on the home page with something like "high humidity" or "dehumidifier" -- terms that would definitely show up -- you can probably find some of the posts.

The latest -- and probably most entertaining to follow -- is Adaboy's solution. He's building the guitar in a very large Ziploc bag with silica gel packets inside. Ingenious!

Bill

Aug 08, 09 | 8:04 am
Hugh

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
Is the idea that you build a guitar in a controlled environment, then play it in a controlled environment, and then store it in a controlled environment? That's a lot of control.

Aug 08, 09 | 8:50 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
That's not exactly the idea. The thing is, humidity in most of the places we live varies with a midpoint of about 45%. Down to 25% and up to 65%, a guitar can remain pretty stable if it's not exposed for too long. If it dries out at 25%, it can be rejuvenated. If it gets too "wet" at 65% or so, it can be dried out or even kept drier with silica gel.

So, the idea of bilding at about 45% is just to stabilized the wood and joints at a midpoint. some people go overboard, trying to keep their guitars at exactly 45-50% all the time, forgetting that wood breathes and moves -- up to a point. Too much in either direction, for too long, can crack the wood or pop a glue joint.

Aug 08, 09 | 11:27 am
Hugh

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
Thanks, Bill. I suspected something like that, but had never had it explained in a real-life, practical way.

Aug 08, 09 | 12:45 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I live in the suburbs of New York City and do not have room for a workshop in my climate controlled house. I have a detached garage that has room for me to work in, but is not climate controlled. I do not think it is feasible for me to build my kit out there in the dead of winter when its 25degrees and no humidity or in the summer when its 90degrees and 70% humidity. I assume anyone who has tried this would agree with me, but I would appreciate any input. Otherwise my wife is going to have to deal with me building it in the house. I have a room in the basement we use for storage and I could probably clear out space in there so I am not scratching up the new dining room table.

Aug 10, 09 | 6:15 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Jim Howell built his first guitar (A Martin-style 00 from John Hall) in the corner of his bedroom, and he did an absolutely great job. Look him up in the Members List (link at top of page) and email him. (Click his name beside any post to email him through the forum mailing program.)

I imagine his wife has some misgivings at the beginning, but he's still building, so she didn't excommunicate him!

Bill

Aug 10, 09 | 7:10 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Jim's membername is jhowell. Find him in the "J"s in the Member list.

Aug 10, 09 | 7:11 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Wood swells in high humidity and shrinks in low humidity........but the length changes hardly at all along the length of the grain.

When you glue braces on the soundboard, you glue them cross grain. What ever humidity you have when the braces are glued is like the "normal" level where the soundboard doesn't have built-in stress due to hunidity changes. If the humidity raises or lowers from this level, the soundboard shape changes.

If you build at a moderate humidity level, then the soundboard won't change change shape drastically when the humidity level hits the extremes.

The worst case seems to be building at a high humidity level as there is a risk that the soundboard may split in the winter when the humidity is very low. Why? Remember that wood hardly changes shape along the length of the grain (so a tree doesn't get taller/shorter with changes in humidity) but it does change shape across the grain. So when the humidity drops real low, the soundboard tries to shrink side to side......but the length of the braces doesn't change. This puts stress in the top and if the humidity drops down low for enough time, the top may split. Same applies for the back but it usually has more of a dome so may be able to shrink more before splitting.

Aug 10, 09 | 7:43 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Darryl -- I'm curious -- did you store the braces in the bag with the top for awhile before you started gluing? Or do you have a second bag with silica gels and parts stored in it?

Aug 10, 09 | 7:48 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Hi Kev,

Clean and odorless...hmmm. That creates a bit of a challenge, but you still may be able to do the bulk of your assembly in your house. You wander out to your garage when a bandsaw, table saw or router is needed or for the heavy sanding. When done, the pieces go back into the house.

I live in Michigan, and all my nice power tools sit in my unheated, non-climate controlled garage. I have a finished basement in the house and have carved out part of it as my luthier station. I keep all my woods, basic tools, and work in progress in that part of the house. Yeah, I have to make several trips to the garage when the power tools are needed, but for the most part, all assembly is done in the basement. The plus side is the space is heated, air conditioned, and has a nice audio system ;) As all the cutting and routing take place in the garage, I don't have much issue with odors or dust. My workpieces are rarely in the garage for more than 15-30 minutes, and generally only for a couple of minutes before returning to the house.

The one area where I get stuck is finishing. I spray so once cool weather hits, my ability to spray ends. I then have to wait for spring for the garage to heat up enough to break out the spray equipment. Last winter I built two guitars and sprayed them both late spring.

Ken

Aug 10, 09 | 7:49 am
Hugh

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
How long does it generally take for a change in humidity to work it's magic on a guitar? Here in Portland we had 2 weeks of cold dry weather and I had sharp frets, sunken tops, separated backs, etc. I have not seen increased humidity hurt the tops and backs.

Aug 10, 09 | 9:09 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hugh -- I've heard many different statements on that -- how long it takes. I have no reason for thinking this, but I figure a week in 25% dryness is safe. However, if I went from 45% in my basement to Death Valley and 7%, I'd probably give it a day at most!

At the risk of sounding like a Lawyer ... I'd have to guess "it depends."


Aug 10, 09 | 12:56 pm
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Quote: "Darryl -- I'm curious -- did you store the braces in the bag with the top for awhile before you started gluing? Or do you have a second bag with silica gels and parts stored in it?"

Yes, I stored all the braces that will be glued to the top in the same bag as the top. Then I moved the other braces to a second bag while I glued the X-braces to the top in the original bag. So I did both.

Right now I'm waiting on the De-Glue Goo to arrive so I can clean the glue squeeze-out. I wanted to glue the maple bridge plate in next but the glue is so tough to remove, I was afraid I would damage the top. Hope the De-Glue Goo arrives before next weekend so I can continue on.

Aug 10, 09 | 1:56 pm
Gregg C

Total Topics: 23
Total Posts: 88
Hi guys,
I build in my garage shop, it's 1200 sqft,
I purchased a kenmore humidifier and placed it on a shelf next to the sink and just a bit higher than the sink. Inside the humidifier I determined where the water level stays during normal operation, I then drilled a 1/4" hole at that level and inserted a 1/4" water line and ran it to the sink for over flow (stand pipe) drainage.
Now for a water source, I have a RO system hooked up to the cold water line under the sink, the RO waste water is drained to the sink and the RO water output is run to the top of the humidifier.
So what I have here is a continuous supply of RO water to the humidifier with a drain line to maintain the correct level, this allows the humidifier to run 24/7 and I don't have to maintain or refill it !!!!
Set it and forget it !!!
My shop stays at 40% - 45%....perfect !!!
Here in ABQ its not unusual for the humidity to be under 15%, no problem in my shop now.

Gregg

Aug 11, 09 | 5:30 am
Bugeyed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 6
I am in Conroe (just north of Houston) & my humidifier is the window, Open = humid closed with window unit ON can't get better than 80-85 deg/65%. Installing another window unit, but the garage is soooo leaky that it will be a struggle. That's with outside temps around 95 - 100.
I'd love to make a "wood strip" hygrometer for the real world graphic effect. With a wooden indicator, it would be easy to understand just what the guitar parts are feeling. I like the idea of the idea of wood "talking" to me instead of an LCD.
Any cool ideas for such a device would be appreciated.
kev

Aug 11, 09 | 6:00 am
Bugeyed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 6
Oh, just to add to the above. I don't currently have any scrap tonewood or actual guitar wood cutoffs, as I haven't started building my kit. Any suggestions for materials for the wooden hygrometer?
Thanks,
kev

Aug 11, 09 | 6:04 am
Hugh

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 309
Carleen Hutchins had a strip about an inch wide that had been cut off the side of a piece of plywood. She milled off the outer lamination, which left two, one along the strip and one across. This was mounted on the wall in her shop, with one end screwed to a block and the other free. The free end would float up and down with changes in humidity. Since her shop was in the garage all she had to do was listen to the weather report on a day when she'd had the door open, and mark the wall where the pointer was for that R.H. It didn't take long to get it calibrated.

Aug 11, 09 | 9:08 am
Bugeyed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 6
Hey, maybe I will get some of the thin wood that is available at Hobby Lobby. They have balsa & basswood I think. Which would be best for a hygrometer? Any clue how basswood compares to spruce in hardness? Would it be better to use different wood for the lamination or just the same wood @ 90deg.? I'm going to try several versions & see what happens. I just think it's a cool project!

Aug 11, 09 | 10:06 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
My shop



So far I have built 6 instruments there, mostly during PNW winters when it tends to be pretty humid (we bring the cars in covered with snow and they sit there dripping while I'm building). My little Planet Waves hygrometer indicated between 55 and 65% RH.

I will, however comment that one guitar, the little parlor that I built for my daughter, did crack when I brought it inside after finishing, however I did the worst possible thing and put it on a stand in the house with central heat and RH around 35%, way too much of a shock. However everything else has worked out fine.

My dream when I finally retire is to build a separate shop with better humidity control, but this winter I will once again be out in the old garage

Aug 11, 09 | 10:45 am
Bugeyed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 6
For the love the craft!!
Thanks for sharing. I think I will be in good shape with the extra A/C unit & a little care.
Thanks,
kev

Aug 11, 09 | 10:51 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Hey Kev, welcome to the communty!

I have built in my garage for four years now, sarting with a Martin Jumbo.

http://www.nocturnalguitars.com/nocturnal_guitars_jumbo_guitar_process.html

This was my first, started in January, finished in May, in my garage, coated in my house. Never had any problems cracking that weren't caused by blunt force trauma.

Some of my electrics that have been in process for 1.5 years have definitely been effected, so if this is going to take a LONG time to build, store it inside. They handled the humidity swings, it was the freezing they couldn't.

None of the acoustics I have built have had a problem with structurally humidity no matter when I built them. Finishing, however.....if you are going to finish int he winter, plan on hand applying and hand sanding and polishing unles syou can spray, sand, and polish inside. I had issues with cold checking and crazing within a week of buffing.

Aug 11, 09 | 10:53 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Ken, what part of the country do you live in? I looked up the RH in New York, because thats where I live, and two different sites put the RH at about 60-65% in January-March which is when I would think its the lowest.
In any event, if I had to build outside, you say the humidity swings caused less problems than freezing. I guess if push comes to shove, I can build in my garage then? Its not climate controlled and is detached from the house.
I appreciate any help.

Aug 17, 09 | 5:43 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Sounds like my garage. I live in Chicago....north suburbs. Our RH is between 57-85% throughout the year. In the winter, I do the dusty work and power tool work. All clamping is done inside the next night...let the wood stabilize after you bring it in....also reach room temperature. Your glue will dry a bright crusty white outside if the temp is below 55 degrees, and it will never clarify.

It helps not to lay the wood flat when you bring it in....only one side will gain or lose moisture, so it cups. Sticker it or stand it (if you have already added braces) up so that both sides can climatize equally. Put the side braces on the sides right away when you put the rim in your mold, or the sides can start to cup. Don't let it get too dry inside either, or it will crack.

Aug 18, 09 | 10:58 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Hey another Kevin, Hi Kev,
Just to add here, I build in my garage. The humidity ranges from about 25% to 65% between Feb and Nov. I don't use any heat, a/c or humidification/dehumidification. I store and play the guitar in the house. So far, I have had no issues with the finished guitar. I did have some issues with the sitka top wood wanting to potato chip a bit, but was able to equalize the wood, getting it flat to join, brace and assemble to the rims.
I believe a controlled environment must be a better place to build, but I don't have the luxury. My second guitar is all built except for the finishing, and it has turned out fine also.
I wish you a good build!

Kevin

Aug 18, 09 | 11:19 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I was looking for a RH gauge,(hygrometer) and came across a ton made for humidors from as low as $9.99. I was wondering if anyone had used one of these for a large space like your shop or are the only accurate when contained in a humidor's small enclosure? I would imagine they would work anywhere, but I also imagine I am rich and good looking too, so as you can see, my imagination is working overtime already.


One more thing, if I do like Ken Hundley, and only do the noisy work outside in the uncontrolled environment, how long would I have before I should worry about the RH being too high/ low? For example, if I have the sound box all finished and I am going to rout for binding and purfling, should I try to limit my exposure to one hour or less? Two hours or less? 30 minutes? Any help would be appreciated. I will not be able to rout or cut indoors after 9PM most nights due to a sleeping child. If I only work indoors, I think it will take forever to finish the guitar. But I could be wrong. Just keeping my options open.

Aug 24, 09 | 7:35 am
Bugeyed

Total Topics: 2
Total Posts: 6
The ones I use are from Walmart & are $7.99. They have a large display & show Min/Max in the same screen. They are reasonably accurate, but for most of these cheap ones you need to use at least 2 & average the results. They should read the RH in the immediate environment. If you need to measure the whole space you need to have adequate air circulation to keep the temperature even. If, for example, the temp above 5' in the room is substantially warmer, the RH will be lower there. So keeping the temp even in the whole space will help keep the RH constant.

Aug 24, 09 | 7:44 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Thanks. I will get two and keep one on my bench so its at the same level as the wood I am working on, and one higher. Maybe get a fan too to keep the air moving. Although the fan on the dehumidifier should blow things around a bit.

Aug 24, 09 | 7:50 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I use the digital cigar type, I actually have 4. One in a humidor, two on a wall in my office, and one in the garage. I have two each of two different brands (can't remember what they were while I am at work) but there is a 10% swing between them. Those of one brand are consistent between the two, as are those of another brand, but there is a 10% swing between the two brands.

I am more concerned in the winter than anything else, I do the best I can to try to keep both of them above 40%. Then I kow I am ok.

Aug 24, 09 | 8:39 am
Jim_H

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
I have a temp/humidity controlled basement where my wood lives, and where I do my glue-ups, etc..

I have all of my power tools (drill press, sanders, band saw, etc... out in the garage, which is not temp/humidity controlled.

I just keep everything inside, and carry it out to the garage when I need to do something loud or messy. Then carry it back in when I'm done, after I've cleaned everything up.

This does not work for finishing of course, but since I've outsourced my finishing to the far away land of Indiana, I don't have to worry about that. :)

Aug 25, 09 | 6:52 pm



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