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PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:31 pm 
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
Diane Kauffmds wrote:
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.


Actually, I found that the notched jack plane blade didn't tear out the wood nearly as much as the un-notched one. OTOH, a small block plane turned to a 45 degree angle during the stroke - and at a slight angle to the grain also reduced tearout somewhat. I'll have to practice on some scrap.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:44 am 
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
The more I work with this top, the less scared I am. It's weird. Yes, there are bad gouges in certain areas but it's still 1.2" thick in some places.

That being said, I opted to route for the herringbone rosette. My circle cutter jig is ... adequate.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:32 pm 
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Good job! The more experience you get, the less intimidating it is. It becomes more enjoyable.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:51 am 
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
Yeah, I'm back on the fence with regards to this top. I'm looking forward to starting over with a new top. If it turns out better then I don't have to worry about "wasting" that precut bracing.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:47 am 
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
I ordered the new top and it came a couple of days ago. While it has much nicer silking the previous top was much more straight grained. I don't think that included a worse amount of runout but that just means that the boards aren't rectangular; it's sort of skewed where I need to plane.

I'm confident I'll figure it out.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 2:56 pm 
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nkwak wrote:
I ordered the new top and it came a couple of days ago. While it has much nicer silking the previous top was much more straight grained. I don't think that included a worse amount of runout but that just means that the boards aren't rectangular; it's sort of skewed where I need to plane.

I'm confident I'll figure it out.

That happens; it's one reason why they've labeled it as student grade. I just stack them together and plane the center edge so that it's fairly straight of grain, before shooting together.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:44 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
The weather is crazy this year. Despite the humidifier the RH in my workshop dropped below 30% and the dry skin on our hands tells me that it's probably a better time of year to do painting projects around the house. I've been up on the ladder caulking gaps in crown molding and need to clean up my sloppiness.

That being said, I continue to "play" with the first Sitka top. I cut out the sound hole and the thickness around the sound hole averages around .11". I marked a spot 1" from the edge of the soundhole and mapped out the X bracing and bridge patch.

I don't pretend to know anything about measuring deflection and my reference weight is unknown (I'm using a brick but am unable to weigh it accurately) but my initial attempt at measuring the top's deflection lead me to believe that it's deflecting roughly around .26".

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:14 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:55 pm
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Location: Pittsburgh PA suburbs
To quote the infamous Homer J Simpson: "DOH!"

I've posted a question in the Beginner's section but I've done a little digging and thinking about what I've done and if my bacon is salvageable.

The soundhole is 3-7/8" (which from what I understand is about what Martin specifies for their 14 fret 000/OM) but the Larrivee scale length is 25.5" and I'm building a guitar with 24.9" scale. What that means is that there is about 3/8" between the end of the fingerboard and the rim of the soundhole - and the inner purfling ring exposed.

It's not so dire because I've almost written off this top and plan on working another - but maybe that's a bit premature.

I cut the outline of the top about 3/8"-1/2" outside the lines - and that doesn't count the additional material that will come off when I route for binding and purfling. If I "slide" the outline 1/4" toward the neck joint then I'll still have a little bit of excess.

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