One week into my acoustic guitar build and I am already finding myself dreading the weekends, i would rather keep working. Its amazing how fast the day flies by when you are building. Over the three week winter break I left my materials to acclimate in the lab environment. I chose to build a Larson Brothers Orchestra Model with a sitka spruce top, Honduras mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, Indian rosewood bridge and head cap veneer.
The first week of Acoustic Construction Lab was spent building our workstations, templates and laying out our desired neck dimensions on the blueprints. We then moved ahead with jointing and thickness sanding our tops. Having never used hot hide glue before, I decided to use it for this process. With such a small window of time before the glue begins to set, getting the two pieces placed together and clamped in under a minute and thirty seconds was a bit of a challenge. In the end it worked out just fine for me, and I am happy that I took the time to gain some experience using the hide glue as I intend to continue to use it for various glue joints throughout my build.
Next I cut out my body shape leaving the wood slightly oversized. I laid out the rosette in pencil, and sealed it with a coat of lacquer to help prevent end-grain splits while routing.
I have become comfortable with most of the powertools that we have available at the school, but a router is the one that I have the least experience with. The thought of cutting a series of perfect circle groves into my freshly joined and sanded spruce top was a little scary at first. I picked out a classic herringbone rosette and decided to add an inner ring by inlaying two purfling strips together for my desired thickness. I took my time measuring my cuts, practicing on a piece of scrap wood. When I made my final cuts, it worked out just as I had planned and the inlay was complete.
I used a thin bead of glue in the bottom before inlaying the rosette and ring, clamped it and let it dry. I then used scrapers to remove the excess height, bringing it down to the top level and finished by sanding it out.
After this process I took the top back to the router and cut out my sound hole. With the rosette completed, I started laying out the bracing on the inside of the top. I am bracing my guitar in the style of the Larson Brothers, and I made my marks by using a templet and cross referencing my blueprint. I made a cut list of dimensions and began cutting my bracing stock using quartered adirondack spruce, with a rosewood laminate for the upper transverse and X-braces.
Just like that, week one has come to an end. Week two will be spent bracing the top, and getting the back and sides joined and thickness sanded. It is starting to take the shape of a guitar.
- Justin Ness