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What'd I Do Wrong?
Author
Post
penndan

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 57
00 14 fret kit from eBay. Got it at a really good price. Sides were already glued to end blocks. I braced the top for a 25 ft. arch. Glued it to the sides and this is what turned up.



I've got some arch longitudinally, but across the top it is lower in the middle than at the sides.
What went wrong? Will the strings pull some arch into the top? What do I do to correct this? Where does your lap go when you stand up? (This last question is more philisophical than technical.)

Feb 28, 10 | 7:12 am
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
I don't see the strings helping pull the top into place. My guess is something is wrong with the braces.
When you put the arch on the braces, did you use a lot of pressure while sanding or routing?
Did you verify the arch on the braces before installing?
Do you have the same issue just above the sound hole?
You may need to remove the top and put on new braces. There may be a work around that will be less invasive like a thicker bridge.
As I always say with something like this, walk away and think before doing anything. Also, wait for more responses before deciding what is best for you.
Good luck. Lance.

Feb 28, 10 | 7:27 am
penndan

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 57
I'm in extreme southern Texas. It's been on and off rainy and dry here. If the top plate was wetter when I glued the braces on and it's drier now, could the shrinkage of the top draw the 25 ft. radius out of the bracing?

Feb 28, 10 | 7:45 am
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
I'm not an enigineer, but I would say yes. It could also lead to cracking of the top, this I have seen on my first two guitars.

Feb 28, 10 | 7:53 am
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
How did you contour the braces to 25' -- what method?

What kind of clamping caul and method did you use to glue the braces to the top?

What's the humidity now (when the picture was taken?

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978


Feb 28, 10 | 9:30 am
penndan

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 57
53% humidity today in Harlingen, TX.

I didn't use a dish. I used a board with a 25 ft. radius cut into it.

I routed the braces with a brace shaping jig made by Luthier Suppliers.

Feb 28, 10 | 11:59 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
You may have braced it when the humidity was higher than normal. Very likely if have been experiencing heavy rains. Now your humidity is back to 50% the top has sunken in.

Ken

Feb 28, 10 | 12:29 pm
penndan

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 57
You're probably right about the humidity. The back has flattened out from a 15 ft. radius till it's about a 25 ft. radius.
I've been living in a trailer here for the last two months and have been doing a lot of the work on a picnic table under my awning. I think I'll wait till I get home in a month to deal with this where I can have a more stable humidity situation..

I have my 00 12 fret koa kit in the final stages of finishing. A little level sanding, a few more coats of Tru-Oil, glue the bridge, and Bob's your uncle. And I have a few banjo necks that need some attention.

Feb 28, 10 | 1:41 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Same thing happened to me recently on a spruce top. A day after glue-up, using cauls, it was fine -- 28' radius. Two days later, mistakenly left in a cold, dry garage (Colorado 21% RH @ 20-30F), it had done exactly what yours did. I humidified it at 45-50% for a week and the top came back to the proper radius. I'm being careful with it now and haven't had any more problems.

Bill

Feb 28, 10 | 3:00 pm
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
I'm assuming you radiused your braces correctly. If so, whatever humidity level you are at when you glue-up the cross grain braces becomes the "normal" level......meaning your top or back will have the correct radius at that humidity level. If you get higher humidity, the radius will get smaller (meaning more radiused) and if the humidity gets below the "normal" level, the radius will get larger (meaning the top/back will flatten).

With that in mind, the humidty level when you choose to make these cross-grain glue-ups is very important. If you aren't controlling the humidity, then you either have to wait till it gets in an accpetable range to glue the braces or do something like I did where I glued the braces in a humidity controlled bag. (do a search if you want more info).

Mar 01, 10 | 9:05 am
penndan

Total Topics: 15
Total Posts: 57
Yup, that's what I didn't pay attention to, but I will the next time. I'll remove the top, plane off the X braces and do it again.
Thanks, everybody, for the diagnosis and advice.

Mar 01, 10 | 9:24 am
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Oh Boy.. now I'm really confused.
If humidity is this touchy, how does anyone KNOW when it's "Right" to glue up these braces..??
I mean, if you maintain say... 47% @72 degrees IN YOUR SHOP all the time,
and you glue up...then you can never take the guitar out of that environment?
In the real world, sometimes, humidity and temp can vary widely day and even hour to hour ..depending on the weather and location.
Or are we talking about exacting control until construction is finished ?

Thanks,
Ray

Mar 01, 10 | 1:39 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
The best way to to know is to have a stable 45-50% RH at 70 (or comparable RH at a lower or higher temp). That was the mistake I made, and it was the only time I had done it. All the other guitars were just fine, and all of them were built with a continuously stable RH and temp. (Temperature, by itself, isn't a big deal, but the amount of moisture the air can hold changes with changes in temperature, so inasmuch as it affects Relative Humidity, temperature can be a big deal.)

I got lax in the fundamentals. Deadly.

Bill

Mar 01, 10 | 1:57 pm
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Thanks Bill.. :)

Mar 02, 10 | 9:35 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I try and glue up at 45%. You have to be aware of your local humidity cycles. There is no 1 right answer here. A builder in Arizona will have different RH requirements than one in Florida.

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Mar 02, 10 | 2:10 pm
RayRay

Total Topics: 21
Total Posts: 190
Ok John...thanks..:)

Mar 02, 10 | 2:59 pm
eljefe829

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 22
I had this EXACT same problem with my StewMac 000. There were 2 factors that caused it:

1. I glued up in the wintertime when the RH in my house was low due to the heater being on. When it returned to normal, the top bowed back as yours did.

2. The procedure for gluing the top braces in the stewmac instruction book is flawed IMHO. For the bottom I used Ken C's simple and ingenious index card method and it worked like a champ.

I don't think all is lost for you. After a lot of hand wringing I went ahead and glued up the box. Although I'm not done with the guitar, I test fit the bridge, and with a small amount of neck angle tweaking I was able to get the proper clearance over the bridge with a straightedge. I think it will end up being fine.

For controlling humidity, here's an easy way that works for me. If any of you smoke cigars this may sound familiar. You'll need:

-A Rubbermaid container big enough for all of your parts
-A digital hygrometer
-A block of green oasis foam (from the flower shop); about 4x4x2 inches
-A Gladware container big enough to hold the foam

Drill holes in the gladware container. Put the oasis foam in it, and pour on about 1/2 cup of distilled water. Store your partly finished guitar and all of the wood parts in the container. Keep an eye on the hygrometer. If it is over 50%, leave the lid cracked a little bit. If it is under 45%, add a little more water and/or use a bigger block of foam. Take the guitar out when you work on it, and replace it when you are done.

When you are gluing critical parts, put a large trash bag over everything and seal tightly whle the glue sets overnight. Return to the box the next day.

The only problem is when you are hanging the guitar to let the finish cure. You may need to try this same method with a small closet for those couple of weeks. I have yet to cross that bridge but it is coming.

I haven't had to worry about dehumidifying. If humidity >50% is your problem, there are several commercial dehumidifying agents available which you can experiment with.

I know some of you may take issue with this method, but humidifying/dehumidifying your whole home or shop just isn't feasible for the hobbyist.

Have fun!!

Jeffrey

Mar 05, 10 | 1:55 pm
deadedith

Total Topics: 34
Total Posts: 165
Jeffrey - I DO smoke cigars and am familiar with your method! Now, either I can give up the cigars and use the set-up for guitar parts, or I can put together a separate set-up. Hmmm....I better think this over while I have a smoke (El Rey del Mundo) :-)
Dave

Mar 05, 10 | 3:53 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
You guys gotta try the Rocky Patel Aged 10 years.....far better than the 12 years, and one of the best cigars for the price!

Mar 06, 10 | 11:04 am
Gregg C

Total Topics: 23
Total Posts: 88
The majority of the time where I live the RH is 20% or less, should I be gluing braces at that RH ??
It seems to me that a builder would look for the lower range of RH to glue, then worse case scenario as the RH increases the top and back wont tend to flattten out. If you glue at the average RH and the RH lowers then there is the possibility that the top and back will flatten out. Yes / no ??

Mar 06, 10 | 10:47 pm
Gregg C

Total Topics: 23
Total Posts: 88
I have two tops that are braced but not yet glued on, they both have lost there radius to some degree.
Is there a way to "re radius" a top without disassembling it ?

Mar 06, 10 | 10:52 pm
eljefe829

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 22
I looked into "re radiusing" when I had the problem, and the only solution was to shave off the braces and start over. Most things I've read recommend assembling the box as soon as possible after gluing the top and bottom braces.

ps -- my stogie of choice is Hoyo de Monterrey Robusto.

Mar 08, 10 | 6:41 am



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