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J-185 Progress
Author
Post
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 558
Had some time this week to get back to the claro walnut J-185. I installed the bindings on Wednesday and scraped them down yesterday. I had used CA glue for my previous guitars but noticed it seemed to darken the ends of the bindings near the end grain on lighter woods, so I decided to use Titebond III on this one just to mix things up a bit. I used the III variation as it supposed to have a longer working time. Work quite well. I got nice tight joints all the way around the guitar.

I noticed when scraping it down that the 15' radius in the back had dropped to about a 40' radius, and my 40' radius top had dropped to zero. My humidity gauge shows around 50% RH, and it may have been braced around 60%. I'm surprised that little of a change in humidity would suck that much moisture out of the wood. I had exposed end grain for a long time. Hopefully now I have the bindings on, the moisture in the wood will stabilize. I haven't worried much about humidity in the past. We do have a humidifier on the furnace, but perhaps I need a little extra kick in the basement.

I also thicknessed, slotted, and cut to size a nice piece of madagascar rw for the fingerboard. I was going to bind it today, but took the day off! I'll probably get to it tomorrow.



Bindings are curly Koa and the purflings are maple/fiber/maple:


Ken


Dec 25, 09 | 7:11 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Gorgeous! I love the wood choices, and the execution looks fantastic. Can't wait to hear it!

Dec 26, 09 | 5:45 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Finished up the madagascar rosewood fingerboard this afternoon. Also put the 1/2" resaw blade on the bandsaw and sliced up a bunch of maple to use as headplate veneers. Ran them through the thickness sander to get them down to .02" and laminated the ebony headplate this evening. If my wife will give me a couple of hours tomorrow, I can glue on the headplate and fingerboard. Wooo...whoooo!! Really starting to look like a guitar.

What a great way to spend a week off work!!

Ken




Dec 28, 09 | 4:42 pm
John S.

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 94
Another beauty, Ken. Great job on the mitered side & graft purflings. Who carries the maple/fiber/maple purflings? In the right setting (like this one) they are easier on the eye than b/w/b.

John

Dec 28, 09 | 6:39 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thanks John. The purflings came from Grizzly.

Dec 28, 09 | 8:28 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
I like those purflings too. They look a lot cleaner installed than the photo on the grizzly site. I don't think I would have tried them just from that photo.



nice grain on the fingerboard!

Dec 29, 09 | 8:58 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
I had never ordered guitar supplies from Grizzly before, but I wanted w/b/w purflings for this guitar with maple instead of white fiber. LMII had w/b/w with white fiber but not maple. I found some at Stewmac, but also stumbled across Grizzly while searching. Their pricing and shipping was reasonable so I thought I'd give it a go. I got some of their very thin w/b/w purflings as well. I used the w/b/w all around the guitar except for the top, which has w/b/w/b.

Here is a close up of the purfling:



Dec 29, 09 | 11:13 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
GREAT JOB! I really like your fingerboard, gorgeous!

Dec 29, 09 | 2:38 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Haven't posted an update for awhile. Need to fret, make my bridge, and install a neck heel cap, then onto finishing! Getting closer!

Ken






Jan 11, 10 | 6:12 pm
Laurent

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 109
Woah, that back and neck, incredibly beautiful!

Jan 12, 10 | 9:12 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Ken,
That is just looking fantastic. You like that Jumbo design don't you.
The madagascar rosewood fingerboard goes perfect with the walnut.
I have a very nice of walnut waiting to become an OM, but it is probably about 2 years away :>(
Can't wait to see this one under a finish.

Kevin

Jan 12, 10 | 12:24 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Man, that sure is nice. You should apply for a table at the Healdsburg fest.

Jan 12, 10 | 2:58 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thanks!

Kevin, I do like this shape and always have. The first one I built was given away, so I had to build one for myself ;) I have an OM to build next, but then my brother wants a J-185, also in claro walnut, so this one will have a cousin eventually.

Bill, appreciate the thought, but fear mine wouldn't measure up to what folks take to those festivals. I have never been to one, but I imagine the best luthiers with their best guitars. Would be interesting, though, to meet with some local luthiers and compare.

Spent the evening tinkering with a new bridge design. Got it slotted and the pin holes drilled, but need to do the final shaping and sanding on it yet. Was hoping to get it done tonight, but I spent too much time on layout, jigs, and setup. The next ones will go more quickly.

Ken

Jan 12, 10 | 7:39 pm
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Ken, beautiful guitar! I love walnut.....may try to use it some day on a smaller guitar.

It has been very cold here for 3 weeks......in the single digits and teens (finally warmed up some this week). Anyhow, the last 3 weeks the humidity has been in the 20's. My back and top aren't yet glued to the rims and both now have a reverse dome (was 16ft and 28ft radius). I was ready to glue the back but decided to wait till the humidity gets in a normal range and the dome goes back to a normal shape.

Jan 13, 10 | 5:15 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Nice. That fingerboard is so damn nice! I am awaiting the arrival of my figured walnut kit from KMG. I have heard good things about walnut guitars.

Jan 13, 10 | 7:17 pm
John S.

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 94
Hi, Ken,

With all the color changes on the fretboard, what did you use to fill gaps around the pearl inlays? (with your skill maybe there weren't any!).

John

Jan 15, 10 | 6:14 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Oh John, you are very kind! I usually use black tinted epoxy to fill, but this wood was much lighter, so I went the CA route. I simply gathered up sawdust from radiusing the board, packed it into the gaps, and seeped in thin CA. Yeah, the gap lines in the lighter wood are a little dark, but probably not as dark as they'd be if I had used black epoxy. I knew this would be an issue, so I tried to keep the gaps as small as possible. Below is a close up of one of the inlays so you can see a bit how the CA and sawdust worked. Very hard to see the gaps unless the f/b is inspected quite closely.




I think the board will look cool with a matching mad rose bridge. Below is my original design. It doesn't vary a whole lot from others out there. Hard to be completely original without it looking to unorthodox.



Ken

Jan 15, 10 | 7:54 pm
John S.

Total Topics: 16
Total Posts: 94
Looks fine when the gap is a consistent width-- not the easiest thing to do, so I may stick with ebony for awhile! Was your fretboard radiused when you did the inlay? I've only inlayed radiused. Small markers were fine, but I found the more elaborate ones (similar to yours above) to be much more difficult to scribe/mark accurately, leading to inconsistent gapping.
John

Jan 16, 10 | 4:04 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
John, yes the f/b was radiused when I routed the recess. It is such a small radius, it really doesn't impact me much when routing. I have to watch that I don't rotate the base of my inlay tool too much or it can cut a deeper slot. I love inlaying in ebony, takes me less than half the time as I don't have to be as concerned with the gaps.

Finished the construction on the J-185 today. I installed the frets, inlayed the fleur de lis in the headstock, and put on the neck heel graft. Yeah! I need to final sand then comes my least favorite part of this process--Pore filling.

Ken

Jan 16, 10 | 4:50 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Ken,
That is a sweet bridge. Great design, and man does that madagascar look nice. I might have to consider using that on my walnut OM (when ever I get around to that one).
By the way, I am thinking of binding the fretboard on this Cocobolo dred I'm working on. The fretboard is a nice purply EIR that should look nice with the Coco. I'm binding with Koa...not fancy, just plain, but the color contrast is nice.
You have done a bunch of these. Have you had a issues on any of them that I might watch out for. I can't see how it could be much trouble, but just thought I'd pick your brain. I will definitely mitre the corners. The Koa is softer than the EIR so I can imagine I'll have to be more carefull sanding the edges of the binding. Also, I think I can pretty easily grind off the fret tangs on the ends to fit the slots okay.
What do you think?

Kevin

Jan 16, 10 | 6:52 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Kevin,

I am a big fan of bound fingerboards. The first one I bound was the coco f/b on the maple SJ. It looked so good when it was done that I have bound the last two as well.

Binding a f/b is really easy and takes very little time. I don't know how most people do it. I bind after radiusing because I radius my boards by running them through the thickness sander using a jig I made. This jig requires the board be a constant width. If I am going to bind, I have to be really careful when putting the final radius on the f/b with the sanding block so I don't roll the edges.

To glue on the binding, I start with the end of the board on f/b extension. I cut that piece and put miters on each end. I then put miters on two long strips of binding material. Once I have checked the fit and am happy with it, I hold the end piece on and wick in CA, let it sit for a few seconds then shoot it with accelerator. Then I grab one of the long sections, hold the mitered joint together tightly by hand and wick in more CA. I then work my way up that side of the f/b towards the nut, wicking in CA and giving the occasional shot of accelerator. I then repeat with the other side.

I always leave the f/b a little long at the nut end until I have bound the fingerboard, so when binding I just run the binding a little long then cut the board off at the nut after binding.

If you don't have much experience with CA, be careful as you wick it in as it will travel further up the f/b than you may think. If you are not holding the binding tight against the board an inch or two away from where you wicked in the CA, the CA could travel up the joint and set, leaving you with a permanent gap. So just work slowly, making sure the binding is well seated against the f/b a good two to three inches ahead of where you apply the glue. Also make sure you keep enough binding at the bottom of f/b so you won't have a gap when you glue the f/b on the neck. I also use my compressor to blow out any dust remaining in the fret slots prior to gluing, so glue doesn't wick in there and close the slot. Glue can still get in the slots if you aren't careful. I generally put a dab of thin CA between the fret slots when gluing the binding on. Then when all glued up, I'll run a bead down the back.

If you use CA, the whole binding process takes about 30 minutes! The joints are amazingly tight. In fact, the curly koa I glued on the mad rose in some areas is the same color as the mad rose. The joint line is hard to see and there are no gaps. Binding a fingerboard is a great use for CA.

I use a block plane to take the binding down close to the f/b then clean up with my radiused sanding block. I use a long flat sanding block to clean up the bottom of the f/b.

Fretting is a little more work with a bound fingerboard. With the first two, I cut each fret to length, nipped the tangs, and shaped the ends. I then pressed them into the slots. This resulted in beautiful fret ends, but if I looked down the f/b edge from one end, the fret ends didn't quite line up. Close, but not perfect. So with this one, I cut the frets a little long, removed the tangs, pressed the frets in, filed the edges flush, then shaped the ends with a file.

I remove the tangs using a Klein nibbler I modified myself. I think I have a posting in the Tools and Jigs forum showing the modified tool. I nip the tang then use a small flat file to remove what is left of the tang. Also I don't know whether you run a small triangular file over the top of your fret slots. I picked up this trick somewhere a while ago. Breaking off the top edges of the fret slots provides a little more clearance for the fret to seat firmly against the board.

If you like the look of bound fretboards, do it! It isn't hard and really classes up a guitar. Let us know how it goes on your build thread.

Ken


Jan 17, 10 | 10:52 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Thanks for all the tips Ken. So you use CA....how many fingers have you glued to your fretboards? :<)

I am still contemplating. Not sure yet.

Kevin

Jan 17, 10 | 5:38 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
good info, Ken, thanks for the rundown...

Jan 17, 10 | 5:41 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
No fingers glued to the f/b yet. But back in model airplane building days, I glued my arm inside the fuselage of a plane one time!

Ken

Jan 17, 10 | 6:13 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Yeah, I used a small triange file to knock down the edges of the fret slots on my last build, and the frets went in much easier. Otherwise there is a good chance of chipping out some wood. Everyone should do it.

Kevin

Jan 18, 10 | 5:46 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I bound my fingerboard and its not that bad. Except I dont have a nibbler ot fret tang nipper. It was really hard to cut the tang off with wire cutters. But I got it done. I love the look of a bound FB so it was worth the effort to me. The maple binding was no problem at all to put on. I used titebond though.

Jan 18, 10 | 11:44 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Located the bridge this evening using Ken Cierp's bridge setter. Man, I love that thing! Got the guitar all ready for pore filling now. Hopefully I can get the bulk of that done this week. I have business trips for the next couple of weeks, so after this week, I won't be making much progress. Hopefully by the time the travels wrap up, I have it ready to spray.

Ken


Jan 18, 10 | 4:43 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Yeah! Pore filling is done! Sanded the guitar to 320g today then wiped it down with mineral spirits to make sure I had all the filler off the surface. The mineral spirits really lit it up! I think it is going to look great under finish, and I can't wait to start shooting the EM6000 again!

Ken

Jan 23, 10 | 6:14 pm
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Ken, what did you use to fill the pores?

Jan 23, 10 | 6:25 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
You are moving right along on this one. That is some of the purtiest walnut I've ever seen. Can't wait to see it finished.

Kevin

Jan 23, 10 | 6:56 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Gosh Ken, that sure is pretty. Nice work!

Jan 24, 10 | 5:08 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thx Kevin and Bill. Hard to believe that I almost have #5 done! Doesn't seem that long ago I was searching for help here on the quilted mahogany OMC I had picked up as my first kit! Crazy!

Bob, I used Target's HSF thickened to a paste with silica powder. Two applications pretty much did the job, then I used some thick CA to finish off the remaining deeper pores. I used the HSF because I bought some a while ago to try with silica. It works okay, but is by no means the holy grail. I usually still end up doing a lot of drop fills around coat 6 of the top coats.

Ken

Jan 24, 10 | 10:16 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Hey, hey, hey! It's spray time!! Finally done with my business trips, so I have time to work on the J-185. Sprayed a couple of coats of TC amber shellac on the back, sides, and neck, then shot a couple of coats of EM6000. The picture below is after the shellac coats. Thought I'd shoot a picture before I lost all the light in the room.

I love this part of the process--laying on the lacquer and watching the wood come to life.

Ken



Feb 06, 10 | 1:56 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Shot three more coats of EM6000 this evening, but prior to breaking out the lacquer, I leveled all surfaces. I had shot the two coats of shellac and five coats of EM6000, and this was the first leveling. The finish was looking pretty good so I took the end graft up to 1500 grit for grins to see what I had. Despite having just 5 coats of lacquer, the finish was starting to show some depth. I snapped a picture, and am including it below. I then hit the end graft with 600g and shot the 3 coats of lacquer.

I feel I finally have enough experience with EM6000 to confidently work with it, and I really like it!

Ken


Feb 09, 10 | 7:01 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
WHOOO HOOOOO!

Feb 10, 10 | 6:02 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
That is really nice. Really, really nice.

Feb 10, 10 | 6:54 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Aw gee whiz. Your work is so nice it makes me sick. Really.

Sure is pretty and beautifuly made.

BIll

Feb 10, 10 | 9:24 am
DanB

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
That is insanely good.

Feb 10, 10 | 7:14 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
drooling all over... I can barely type. Nice work!

Feb 11, 10 | 5:13 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thanks Gents! Definately has me motivated to get the spraying done! I drop filled the few exposed pores last night. I find that even though EM6000 is thin, it does fill in smaller pores after about 9 coats. So I generally wait until then to drop fill. I can then level, shoot another half dozen coats on the back and sides, and call it good. We had some social plans for this evening get cancelled, so I'll just have to fire up the heater in the garage and shoot three more coats :)

Ken


Feb 11, 10 | 9:37 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
MORE PICS!!!!!

Feb 25, 10 | 7:00 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Tony, the J-185 has been curing. Actually, it is probably ready for final leveling and buffing, but the Olympics have totally messed up my guitar biz. Not this coming weekend, but likely the weekend after, I'll have it done and photographed.

Ken

Feb 25, 10 | 7:15 pm
DanB

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
Looking forward to it ;)

That will be one phenomenal guitar.

dan

Feb 25, 10 | 7:17 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I cant wait to see it Ken. Its looking amazing so far! Sorry for making demands. I was patient for long enough! LOL

Feb 25, 10 | 7:59 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Getting closer. Leveled the finish and sanded to 1000g. I had hoped to have it buffed it this weekend, but I hit the mountains with the boy today. Michigan doesn't offer much for skiing, but the snow was decent, we have had so much over the past couple of weeks. Should get the J-185 buffed out early this week. Getting antsy to get it done.

Ken

Feb 27, 10 | 5:52 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Ken C,
Blah, blah, blah. MORE PICS!!! LMAO
So you are a skier and a builder of fine stringed instruments, eh? Looks like we have the skiing part in common! lol
Glad you enjoyed the day with your son. Its late now and he should be sleeping. Get back to buffing!!

Tony

Feb 27, 10 | 6:55 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
She's all buffed up and closer to being a guitar! Glued the bridge on this evening and cleaned up the fingerboard and fret ends. One more good evening and she should have strings and a voice!

Ken



Mar 02, 10 | 6:55 pm
DanB

Total Topics: 50
Total Posts: 272
Ken, That looks ridiculously good... I would like to say, all of your guitars, are the only guitars on this forum that I have seen that are consistantly up to "factory" par. Your guitars are the guitars that would be in the locked display cases in guitar centers and what not.

Flawless work....

Dan

Mar 02, 10 | 6:57 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Ken...I really hate to say this...but it looks like garbage. To minimize the ridicule you will receive for building such a...a...well I guess you could call it a guitar, I will take it off of your hands for you. I will even pay all costs for supplies so you can try again and hopefully come up with a decent guitar. On top of that, I noticed in the reflection that you dont seem to have any window treatments. Shame on you! Do you want the neighbors to see this abomination? I could be wrong because with all of the waviness in the finish its tough to tell what I am seeing.

OK...now that the jokes are out of the way, that is amazing! You sure have the finishing down pat. Smooth as glass. This is an amazing effort! I hope it sounds even half as good as it looks and you will be a happy man! Truly outstanding. If building guitars was an Olympic event, you would get 10 out of 10.

Mar 02, 10 | 7:34 pm
dviss

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 165
Really nice Ken. That sure sets the bar high for the rest of us... not much more to say! Just beautiful!

Mar 03, 10 | 4:34 am
John B

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 76
Ken,
It is very obvious you have your finishing process down! Would you share your buffing setup and the final finishing procedure? That is an area I would like to invest in to improve my finishes.
Thanks,
John

Mar 03, 10 | 8:28 am
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
I keep coming back and looking at this one. Its really fantastic. MORE PICS!!

Mar 03, 10 | 10:49 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
OH MY! Fabulous Ken. They just keep getting better and better.
Is my walnut going to look that good?

Kevin

Mar 03, 10 | 1:21 pm
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Mr. C, This just takes my breath away...what a phenomenal piece of workmanship...you are fast becoming a Master at what you do...you should be VERY proud!
I can't wait to hear the results!

Ray

Mar 03, 10 | 6:43 pm
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
Thanks Guys. You are all very generous with your compliments! Thanks for all the kind words! I spent a few more hours on it this evening leveling the fingerboard, installing the tuning machines, and roughing out a nut and saddle. Had hoped to get strings on this evening, but decided to work on the nut tomorrow.

Dan - I'd like to say it is flawless, but I won't say where the less than perfect areas are ;)

Darren - I've got guys I shoot for as well. Makes me try even harder to get it right. But I am probably my own worst critic.

John B - My buffing setup is pretty basic. I do my final leveling with 600g paper, followed by 800g and 1000g. I use Klingspor's good stearate paper. I have a 3" pneumatic polisher that I put on 4" foam pads. I first hit the entire surface with Menzernas 2L pre-polish paste on an orange pad then follow up with a medium light cut Menzerna's polish PO91E on a white pad. On this one I went even further and used Meznerna's Final polish. Under a single, dim light source, slight swirl marks are visible in the finish if inspected very closely. In daylight or a normally lit room, the swirls are completely invisible. I think the only way to avoid this is to use an arbor and buffing wheel, but I don't have those. I am sure everyone has their own approach. I use this approach because I already had some of the stuff for my cars. Though I have other Menzerna's polishes I use on my cars, the ones I use on the guitar came from Target Coatings. With my first guitar, I tried a number of my car polishes before getting the ones Target recommended. The actual polishing only takes an hour or two. I believe all the time leading up to it is what really makes the finish. I probably spend about 50 hours building the guitar and another 20-30 hours pore filling and finishing (this doesn't count time waiting for lacquer to cure). I use extreme care when preparing the wood for finish to make sure the surfaces are level, and then I use the same care when leveling throughout the finishing process. I hardly ever sand without a sanding block and though I have a nice orbital sander, I never use it except to clean up panels and rims after running through the thickness sander.

Tony - Sorry no more pix! This is the first real flat top I have built. Actually the top does have a very small radius, about 40', which makes the top look even more smooth. All my others have had a 28' radius on the top.

Kevin - I hope your walnut looks even better!! But first I want to see that coco!

RayRay - Yeah, you're exactly right. The proof is going to be in how she sounds. I can't wait either!

Ken

Mar 03, 10 | 7:35 pm
Tony_in_NYC

Total Topics: 29
Total Posts: 448
Damn you Ken C!!!
Sounds like you really take care to get the finish perfect. I have had a tendency in the past to be a little impatient. This is one step I will not be able to rush.
I am working on a KMG walnut kit right now and the wood is beautiful with a nice figure to it. Hopefully my finish will come out pretty nice...though I don't have your experience with finishing, the info you posted above should help get me going in the right direction.
I make jokes but this is one very nice guitar. Kudos sir. My hat is off to you.

Mar 04, 10 | 5:46 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
She is done!

Mar 07, 10 | 2:36 pm



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