|Building my 2nd
Acoustic Guitar - Page 5
June 21, 2008 continued
SCREWUP ALERT SCREWUP ALERT
Sadly, I wasn't careful enough when I was routing
the binding ledges, and/or I wasn't careful enough
when I was cleaning them up, and/or I wasn't
careful enough when I was test-fitting the
bindings, because I ended up with some gaps
between the binding and the sides. I filled these
with a brown glue/sawdust mixture, which I then
sanded out. The gaps are still visible but at least
they're level, and they should become less
conspicuous over time as the mahogany darkens.
Also, when I was flush-trimming the binding a
chunk of the maple binding kicked off and I had to
glue in a splinter or two to level it out (the tape at
More work on the neck and headstock. First, I attached 'ears' to the headstock to make it wide
enough for the pattern. I just used mahogany scraps because it will be covered by a mahogany
headplate veneer, which is the brown piece leaning up agains the neck.
Then I prepared the veneer by crosscutting one end at a 15 degree angle. This edge will go right at
the apex of the neck/headstock angle and form the back edge of the nut slot. The plan for this guitar
has the nut resting on the headstock, with the end of the fingerboard being just at the apex of the
headstock angle. This means that the nut has to be angled. I decided to move the nut forward onto
the flat part of the neck. This effectively makes the neck (though not the scale) 1/4 inch longer but
simplifies the nut considerably.
To glue on the headstock veneer I clamped a square at the apex of the angle (where the back side of
the nut will go) and butted the veneer against it to resister it. I clamped the veneer pretty
comprehensively with three handscrews.
Then I used some of the Lexan left over from my body and side templates to make a headstock
profile. I traced it onto the Lexan with a sharpie and cut it out on the bandsaw. I have altered the
squared off design of the original by radiusing the end, and I'll cut the 'keyhole' in it as I did with my
first acoustic. Also, a small detail: My headstock template includes the area shown on the plan as the
nut because of my decision to put the nut on the flat part of the neck..
As with my other Lexan templates, I cleaned up the bandsawed edges with a block plane and files.
And here's how the headstock will go... I drew a centerline on the template and also on the neck so
that I could be sure to align the template properly when I mark the profile. I marked it on the front,
then transferred the horizontal lines to the back of the headstock using a small square and marked
the profile there--it will be easier to cut the headstock if it is flat on the face.
July 4, 2008
Then I worked on the heel some. First, I measured very carefully the distance from the nut to the end of
the tenon-to be and trimmed the heel end of the neck. I used my table saw set at about 1.25 degrees to
establish the overall set of the neck (so the string angle will be proper, since the bridge is on the 'belly' of
the guitar). Then I established the length of the tenon itself with cross-grain cuts. and then I started
cutting out the tenon itself. I measured very carefully the interior dimensions of my mortise and set up
my cuts...at this point I have revealed one side of the mortise and made the longitudinal cut for the other
side. I am about to continue the crossgrain cut that begun on the tablesaw, carefully hand-sawing down
to the tenon cheek cut.
Now both sides of the tenon are revealed. The vertical 'seam' you can see on the shoulder is the leftover
line of the tablesaw from the initial shoulder-defining cut.
And then I cut away some of the waste from the shoulders to make it easier to fit the tenon to the mortise.
And after endless fiddling with the mortise and tenon (including gluing on shims, etc.), I was satisfied with
the heel joint. Then I thought OK! Let's knock out that heastock! I did some work (without taking
documentary photos, sorry), and finished up with this beautiful job:
Let us enumerate the ways in which I screwed up this headstock:
TWO: I couldn't think of a good
way to rout the slots. The sides
of the headstock are angled out,
which precludes use of the
router table, and the headstock
itself is too small for regular
routing. So I drilled down the
line and trimmed with
chisels...but when I chiseled the
sides of the slots blew out some,
and when I tried to file/sand out
those errors...well you can see
for yourself. This is the back of
course...the front doesn't look
quite this bad, so I was going to
suck it up and live with it this
ONE: I was very careful to
line up the holes. Really, I
was. I marked a stick and
everything. Because if the
holes are't aligned right on a
slot head, it's OBVIOUS
because the tuner posts
should 'meet' in the center.
But I got them wrong.
Apparently I measured from
the top corners, and my
curve was not fair. So I put
in dowels and redrilled. You
can see the crescents on the
first and third holes (both
inner and outer). Unsightly
but bearable, I thought....
THREE: I messed up the
'keyhole' decoration. I drilled the
hole and inlaid the pearl dots,
but when I cut the slot one of
my cuts down to the circle was
too far outboard. The slot
should be narrower. Here I
have started filing down the left
side to try to get it even but
aesthetically it's just too wide
and it's going to get wider
before it's symmetrical..
FOUR: Adding insult to injury,
after making the key slot cuts
on the bandsaw and cursing
because of error Three, I
bumped the headstock into the
still-running blade and made a
deep gouge along the top. The
notch you can see just to the
left of the slot is after I filed
down the top curve trying to
remove the gouge. I hadn't
quite completed that task
FIVE: The heastock split
under the side-to-side
movement of the file. I glued
it back as you can see here,
and sanded down it would be
practically invisible, but by that
time the magic had gone and I
decided that a headstock with
misaligned holes, wonky slots,
a too-wide key, shorter than I
wanted, and with a repaired
split was just not what I am
looking for on this guitar.
Now that the binding is all done, I can open up the mortise with hand saw and chisels. By the way,
here's something I have now learned: always put a black purfling layer next to the spruce top. As you
can see here, I used a maple outer binding and then b/w/b/w purfling. I did that to maximize the
number of layers (and thus the perceived fanciness), but as you can see in the upper left corner, a
small gap is easily spotted. If the inner purfling layer were black that gap wouldn't be noticeable.
SCREWUP ALERT SCREWUP ALERT
SCREWUP ALERT SCREWUP ALERT