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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:24 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 506
Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
I've decided to start the early phases of my third build. It will be a 000 traced from my Larrivee OM-03R ...

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... but with pre-machined 1/4" Martin X bracing:

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Pay no attention to the guitar carcass and blueprints . I was initially going to retop it with a student grade sitka tp from RC tonewoods but opted to just start from scratch instead. The top is a student grade sitka spruce unsanded top from RC Tonewoods; one of the $20 specials:

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What will make it a 000 is that the neck will be 24.9" scale with 1-3/4" wide nut and modified V neck profile and a dovetail joint. Special thanks again to John Hall for donating the neck with truss rod installed. I've been sitting on this one for 9 years now. I bought a serviced ebony fingerboard from LMI a few years ago and inlaid in the markers. My eyes are still crossed from the task! Afterwards I tapered it and added flamed maple binding. The neck already had positioning brads in it and I took the opportunity to align the fingerboard into position.

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Finally, I purchased a mahogany dovetail neck block for a 000 and an ebony bridge from the Guitar Maker's Connection at Martin - oh, and a set of black walnut from Stewart MacDonald that was on sale this week. I already have fret wire for both my builds waiting to be installed as well as a herringbone rosette. The only pieces missing are sitka ladder bracing for the back, kerfed lining, body binding, center strip and purfling and tuning machines.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2019 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 506
Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
ADDENDUM: I also made a shooting board and sharpened my cheap Harbor Freight bench plane:

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I also pieced together a rudimentary candling table - well, TBH it's a piece of 1/4" lexan suspended over a desk lamp but it does the job lol!

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I have to admit, I've already been working at the joint.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:49 pm
Posts: 227
Looks wonderful!

And I appreciate the tooling adaptations, workarounds, and use of inexpensive tools that are 'good enough' for the job. The purveyor of left-handed screwdrivers whose promotions are accepted as Gospel is nowhere in sight, a good sign of some learning going on.

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peter havriluk


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:10 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
LOL, Thx!

FWIW the "light table" is a bust: too much flex. That's OK because I didn't invest anything into it. I had the Lexan to protect windows from ornery children.

Also, the shooting board is helpful but I wish I had made it a little longer but I was trying to save resources. It's sufficient but I feel like a longer "stroke" would have helped me make consistent pressure per pass.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 2:51 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 1874
Neil, I've used what you've done on the shooting board.

Try using something longer, like a 24" straight edge with sandpaper. I know you need more shooting length to use a plane, but you can use a longer straight edge, in a shorter area. I used a cheap level from HF with sandpaper on the solid side, until I made a longer shooting board.

I'm all about repurposing or making specialty tools for next to nothing!


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:10 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
Posts: 506
Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
Thx, Diane. I'm finding that using a shooting board is an exercise in patience and restraint. Any change in pressure will alter the depth that the blade will "bite" into the material and leave gaps/"high" points, but I'm finding that a sharp blade, doing only 1-2 strokes at a time and marking lightly with a pencil where to concentrate is a prudent tactic.

Meanwhile, for $20 I am actually quite pleased with the quality of the sitka. There is some slight silking and very little runout.

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I'm about 99% there. The only reason I haven't joined the plates is because we had a severe swing in temperature and my humidifier is struggling to keep up. 35% RH is the lowest I am comfortable with; it went down to 28% according to my workbench hygrometer. Fortunately, the wood itself remains stable with minimal (if any) "potato chip" distortion. As you can see from a previous picture I keep it stored appropriately suspended on "sticker" blocks over a shelf that is slotted to allow for good air circulation.

Meanwhile, the walnut remains sealed in its plastic packaging until I'm ready to work with it.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:32 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
They say a picture tells a thousand words:

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The joint looks good but I need to hydrate before I do any work with this. I spent $30 at Harbor Freight for equipment to measure deflection and referred to my Larrivee OM-03R for soundhole and rosette location but it will have to wait. Even with the humidifier the weather is just too crazy right now.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:54 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 1874
Nice looking top Neil. The humidity is giving me fits too. I'm doing a balance dance between my dehumidifier and humidifiers in the shop. I don't glue much under 45%, but I have the luxury of having the dehumidifier and 2 humidifiers in my workshop.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:13 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
One step forward, two steps back. I couldn’t wait. I should have. Long story short, I cut the outline of the top and began working with my hand planes to reduce thickness.

The problem: dull blades and tear out. If I were able to even if all out the remaining top would be too floppy and less than .1” thick.

The lesson: sharpen your blades well and work on a smooth stroke. Other than that, I followed Cumpiano and Natelson’s text to follow the methodology. I used a notched blade on a smoothing plane and art up a space on the corner of my work bench. I believe my mistake was in attacking the grain at too sharp an orientation and too much of the blade exposed beyond the sole. I also sharpened the blade and smoothed the sole on my small block plane; I feel more comfortable working one handed relying on finesse than using two and being tempted to power through.

At $20 it’s an expensive lesson (I made the same mistake on a donated Carpathian top) but still worth it IMO. I will be ordering another “student grade” Sitka top - or two. Practice makes perfect.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 3:59 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
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nkwak wrote:
One step forward, two steps back. I couldn’t wait. I should have. Long story short, I cut the outline of the top and began working with my hand planes to reduce thickness.

The problem: dull blades and tear out. If I were able to even if all out the remaining top would be too floppy and less than .1” thick.

The lesson: sharpen your blades well and work on a smooth stroke. Other than that, I followed Cumpiano and Natelson’s text to follow the methodology. I used a notched blade on a smoothing plane and art up a space on the corner of my work bench. I believe my mistake was in attacking the grain at too sharp an orientation and too much of the blade exposed beyond the sole. I also sharpened the blade and smoothed the sole on my small block plane; I feel more comfortable working one handed relying on finesse than using two and being tempted to power through.

At $20 it’s an expensive lesson (I made the same mistake on a donated Carpathian top) but still worth it IMO. I will be ordering another “student grade” Sitka top - or two. Practice makes perfect.


I've been there and done that, so don't feel bad. But, better a student grade top than a really expensive top. I like the student grade tops; they sound great.

Razor sharp and sometimes at a slight angle to the grain helps. It takes practice to thickness your tops with a plane. My only success has been with a low angle plane though, sharp enough to shave. Honestly, I had more luck with my 6" low angle hand plane, than with a regular jack plane. I've not tried thicknessing with my new low angle smooth plane, but I suspect it would do a good job too. The low angle gives you much less tear out.

You're right about shaving just a very small amount a time.


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