Building an Acoustic Guitar - Page 4
March 13, 2006 continued.  I continued on with gluing binding and purfling, doing the
other side of the top, and voila:
Build Acoustic Page 1
Build Acoustic Page 2
Now it's on to binding the back.  I'll use identical maple binding as on the top, but narrower
purfling.  Then I'll fill in little gaps here and there with splinters of mahogany and spruce, and it
will be about time to fit the neck.  This is sort of scary because of the previously discussed issue
of which way it will point, but I'll worry about that later.
Build Acoustic Page 3
August 21, 2006 OK, I admit it.  I lost the will to blog for a while there.  Mostly because things
didn't seem to go so well for a while there.  More on that later.  Anyway, back in like, May, I
attached the neck to the body.  In the photo below you can see where I cut away the top from
the mortise and where the neck tenon fits into it.  I reinforced this joint with the dowels that you
see poking up; when the glue was dry of course I sawed and smothed them flush with the top.
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But it was after this that I had some more screwup alert screwup alert trouble, all of my own
making.  In my self-imposed tradition of full disclosure (so that others may learn from my mistakes),
here's where I really messed up.  When you glue the fretboard to the neck, tradition holds that you
align it dry and drill two small holes through a couple of fret slots.  Into these holes you put brads so
that the fretboard will be held in the proper position during gluing.  Tradition has it right.  I got
impatient and decided that that precaution wasn't really necessary, figuring I could clamp it up
straight with no problem.  So I slopped on the glue and went about it.  Predictably however, with the
cauls I was trying to use to put pressure down the length of the fretboard and the round neck and all,
it slid around like a duck on ice.  At this point I could have made an orderly retreat, scraped and
washed off the glue, and done it right.  However, like I said, I was getting impatient.  I decided to
scrap the pesky cauls and just clamp it at several points along the neck.  That way I was able to keep
it straight...but... when the glue was dry I saw that my slapdash strategy had resulted in a fretboard
that undulated down the neck in a ~~~ sort of way.  Not DRAMATICALLY, but enough to be a
definite issue.  And here again I made an ill-advised decision.  I figured I'd just sand out the
undulations.  Which I did, pretty much, but in the process I sort of trashed the fretboard radius,
leaving it too flat in the middle and too steep at the ends.  A more disciplined luthier would probably
have admitted defeat here, removed the fretboard, made another one, and glued it properly.  But I'm
not that luthier.  I gamely decided to go ahead with fretting, hoping that the radius in the metal
fretting caul would enable me to get the FRETS' radius right, kind of fooling the fretboard into feeling
correct.  And by golly, that's pretty much what happened. By early June I had the frets in and
dressed and they looked pretty good.  I made the bridge and masked off its gluing area.  I applied
grain filler to the mahogany surfaces.  I did the finish sanding and took the guitar in this state up to
Paul Lloret's for the lacquer spraying, then brought it home for polishing and setting up.  I glued on
the bridge, and then slowly crept up on the right saddle height and nut setup by stringing it up,
assessing the action, unstringing, making small adjustments, then restringing.  And again.  And
again...  But I got there.  The thing plays pretty smoothly!  The frets stick up a bit at the edges of the
fretboard because of the messed-up radius, but it's not really noticeable while playing.  And by now
it's starting to sound pretty good too.  It'll only get better for the next few months as it settles in and
adjusts itself to the string tension.  And here it is:
I cut the truss rod cover from a tortoise-shell pickguard and ordered the pickguard from Luthier's Mercantile.  
Tuners are by Gotoh, the bridge saddle and pins are bone, and the nut is Corian at the moment, though I'll probably
make a bone nut sometime.  And so it's done.