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Bracing Back and Sound board..Technique Question.
Joe Noll

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Hello, new user building my first kit; a Martin OM. I have a question about bracing. I've read a few books that detail this, along with the very informative Building a Martin Kit publication. There seems to be a few ways to do this.

1. Go-Bar and Radius dish. (I don't have either so this is out.)

2. Caul that matches bracing radius and clamps. Very do-able, but do I hae to have enough cauls to do all bracing at once or can I do it piecemeal? Also how do you do this with the x-bracing for the sound board?

3. A shim with a raised edge that suspends the plate being braced off the workboard / surface so that it can freely curve. How sucessful is this method? I read it in the Guitarmaking bood suggested by C.F. Martin.

Thanks in advance.

Jan 11, 10 | 8:38 am

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Total Posts: 309
I routinely do one brace at a time. With the x brace be sure to do the right one first. I think I've understood your question.

Jan 11, 10 | 8:47 am

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Go to this site. Easiest way.

Jan 11, 10 | 8:55 am

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Total Posts: 668
I made a few radiused cauls (15 and 25 foot) for my first build and clamped against them. One minor problem will be having enough deep clamps to do the center braces. You can do the back one brace at a time.

You can do the top one brace at a time with one caul, but it is probably easier to do the Kenneth Michael method with the stack of buisness cards. Again, futzing around with a lot of deep clamps is a real hassle, consider following StewMac's instructions for building a go-bar and using the card trick. I finally made one out of 1/2" conduit, some readi-rod and MDF - and it is amazing how much I use if for clamping things.

btw - if you don't have a radius dish, the long radiused cauls will have lots of uses - sanding your braces and sanding your kerfing and rims before gluing the plates on. I use mine a lot. I made a pattern using Autocad to draw arcs of that radius, but maybe an easier way is to calculate the chord of your arc (simple geometry) and mark the center and end points on the material you are going to use. Take a flexible batten and bend it to those three points, trace with a pencil, cut out on a band saw and Presto! - clamping/sanding cauls.

Jan 11, 10 | 11:22 am

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Total Posts: 67
Another vote for Ken's card caul system. Works a treat.



Jan 11, 10 | 11:25 am

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Total Posts: 668
I'll add one more comment about clamping braces against a caul. They tend to want to skate around on the slippery glue surface and can be a real hassle getting them aligned and snugly clamped. With a go bar I can put little pieces of wood next to the line on the back or top and hold them in place with one or two bars (dry), then use these to hold the brace in alignment while I apply the bars to the brace. Then I pull the little guide piece and clean up the squeeze out.

Jan 11, 10 | 12:00 pm

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Total Posts: 448
I did not pre-shape my top braces before I glued them simply because I am inexperienced and thought it was easier to work without cauls.
I used Ken's index card method for cauls under the sound board and back plate and glued one brace at a time on both plates. Whats the rush to do them quickly? LOL
I am building a KMG kit, which I decided to purchase because of the straight forward, common sense instructions on Ken's site.
I had very few clamps as well.

Jan 11, 10 | 7:43 pm
Joe Noll

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Total Posts: 1
Thanks for the info. For this my first guitar, I may just try the notecard method. Seem simple enough.

Jan 12, 10 | 4:09 pm

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