Luthiery Fun #2: Rosette

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Blog entry by Chinitorama posted 07-08-2010 09:07 AM 12986 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Getting Started Part 2 of Luthiery Fun series Part 3: Solera »

The top was glued up as any other panel would be, only thinner at about 3mm. The material was a lucky find at a local lumberyard. Nicely quartered cedar is easy to find here in BC. Unless noted otherwise, Titebond 3 is the glue used.

Rosettes in classical/flamenco guitars are most often mosaic and herringbone inlay. I love the look of traditional rosettes, but they are complex to make from scratch. Mass-produced rosettes can be purchased from most of the big luthier supply houses. As I’m impatient and wanted to test some of my own design ideas, I decided to make my rosette as a veneer inlay bordered by black stringing.
Circle cutter and jigs
Here’s my circle cutter and two jig/clamping cauls. The cutting tool is an adjustable blade held in a stock which pivots on a 1/4 inch pin.
cutting veneer
My choice for the body of the veneer is yellow cedar a few mm thick. The black veneer edges are glued using pushpins to apply clamping pressure.

Masking tape clamps the inner veneer stringing after the center is cut out. The inlay is planed and scraped flat on both sides.

The shape of the guitar body is known as the plantilla and is traced onto the top plate. A 1/4 inch hole is drilled at the center of what will be the sound hole to act as a pivot for the circle cutter.

After the borders for the rosette channels are cut I use my router plane to excavate it to a consistent depth. In this case I went for a little more than half my inlay’s thickness, about 1.5 mm.

After a test fit I glue in the rosette. Moisture makes things swell a bit so a small drawer knob is used as a burnisher to seat the inlay in the channel.

After everything’s dry the rosette is planed and scraped flush. The gap cut in the inlay is where a section is cut out to make the rosette more flexible. It will be filled with a keystone shaped plug which will be covered by the fretboard.

3 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3363 days

#1 posted 07-08-2010 10:39 AM

That was a very good blog and it demonstrates a lot of handwork skill as well. I couldn’t help wondering if your circle cutter is a commercial tool or shop made. If it is shop made, a blog showing how to make one would sure be interesting. We haven’t seen much practical luthiery here on LJ.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Chinitorama's profile


105 posts in 3328 days

#2 posted 07-08-2010 05:19 PM

Hi Stefang,

Thanks for the kind words. This is my first instructional-type blog and I’m glad people can get something out of it.

Wish I could say I made the circle cutter, but it came from Luthier’s Mercantile. They make some pretty sweet tools specifically for guitar makers out of anodized aluminum and steel with micro adjusters and Hock blades. The circle cutter comes with a nice pivot pin of polished steel, but any broken 1/4” drill or router bit would do.


View Chinitorama's profile


105 posts in 3328 days

#3 posted 07-08-2010 06:43 PM

Ah, I should clarify about the black veneer. The material isn’t actually wood but a fiber composite that is also sold by LMI. Comes in a variety of colours. Planes like wood but no changes in grain direction or colour inconsistencies to worry about. The stuff is super strong so it won’t snap either when cut into narrow strips. This toughness comes at a cost tho as it’s a bear to cut into stringing. I have a sweet cutting gauge I purchased for this purpose and I still had to take multiple passes from both sides of the sheet. In the end the last bit was cut with a craft knife and a straight edge. I used a special scraping tool made out of a plane iron to clean the edges up afterwards. I’ll post a pic to show how that works soon.


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