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Thicknessing guitar sides/backs without a drum sander

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Forum topic by Sirgreggins posted 01-15-2014 02:42 PM 3234 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Sirgreggins

298 posts in 1702 days


01-15-2014 02:42 PM

I have a few guitars that I’d like to star working on soon and am trying to figure out how to get my sides to thickness since I don’t have a drum sander. Also, most of the sets that I have a highly figured hardwoods that just wouldn’t do well through a planer. Ziricotre, curly maple, and koa just to name a few. I have taken a piece of mdf in the past and put it down on the planer bed so i could plane to less than 1/8” but that was on straight grained mahogany. Any thoughts on how i should get my sides to thickness?Generally the sides would be 2mm (.07-.08”) and the backs around 2.5-3mm (.09-.11”)


17 replies so far

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 1504 days


#1 posted 01-15-2014 02:55 PM

How about a really good, really sharp handplane? Maybe something with a high bed angle to tackle crazy grain?
If you’ve got a decent enough bandsaw blade and the resaw capability you can also slice them right off pretty close to finish size and just hit it with a scraper to remove any errant marks.

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Sirgreggins

298 posts in 1702 days


#2 posted 01-15-2014 03:07 PM

if i use a hand plane, how should i hold the work piece? double sided tape to the bench?

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 1504 days


#3 posted 01-15-2014 03:12 PM

I can’t picture how thin .07 actually is. If you can double-sided tape it to the bench (or to a flat piece of MDF and then clamp the mdf to the bench) without the thickness of the tape flexing it, then that would work. Or you can just use clamps or holdfasts on a couple of corners, smooth the rest, and then move the clamps/holdfasts to get to the rest of it.

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dbray45

3187 posts in 2243 days


#4 posted 01-15-2014 03:12 PM

A #12 scraper or scraper plane might be a better choice but is slower. tape, bench dogs – where there is a will, you will find a way.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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Texcaster

1140 posts in 1140 days


#5 posted 01-15-2014 03:34 PM

In the past I’ve used a #80 scraper, card scraper then hand sand for very cranky timbers. I’ve only made archtops, so I’ve only had to do sides. Where are you? Maybe one of the jocks can help out with a sander.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

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Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#6 posted 01-15-2014 03:43 PM

The way I’ve thicknessed guitar plates with hand planes is
by using an MDF work boardwith a thin batten glued to the
end to act as a stop. The batten has to be no thicker
than your final thickness. Then tape it down or use clamps
and move them around as you work. I prefer the clamp
approach. In the greater scheme of making a guitar it’s
only about an hour of minor aggravation.

Vacuum can also be used.

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dbray45

3187 posts in 2243 days


#7 posted 01-15-2014 03:44 PM

If you are going to sand, and the surfaces are shaped, I would create a few sanding blocks with the profiles that I needed. Yes, it takes longer but when working with instruments, slow it good.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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Sirgreggins

298 posts in 1702 days


#8 posted 01-15-2014 04:25 PM

Thanks everyone. I will double sided tape it down and try with a handplane 1st. .07” is only just under 2mm thick so i’ll have to figure out how to make a stop that is that thick. I’m nervous about planing the ziricote. That stuff is hard as hell, brittle, and the figure is off the charts. Keep the suggestions coming. I’m in MA btw

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Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#9 posted 01-15-2014 04:31 PM

This luthier developed a sharpening system for working
figured woods.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WO_M95qDdAQ

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JayT

4785 posts in 1677 days


#10 posted 01-15-2014 04:35 PM

hard as hell, brittle, and the figure is off the charts

That to me describes using a toothing plane, followed by a scraper. 2nd choice would be a high angled smoothing plane, but I would still be inclined to break up the grain with a toothing plane so that if tearout happens, it would at least be very limited.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

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Sirgreggins

298 posts in 1702 days


#11 posted 01-15-2014 04:54 PM

i’ll look around fro a toothed blade as well

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jmartel

6575 posts in 1616 days


#12 posted 01-15-2014 04:54 PM

JustJoe, 0.07 is just over 1/16” thick.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

3599 posts in 1953 days


#13 posted 01-15-2014 05:19 PM

If you cannot find a toothed plane iron try using an old saw blade like a card scraper. It will cut the fibers nicely, then you can plane with a smooth plane iron.

I have a chunk of an old, cheap chinese made back saw that I made a card scraper out of. I did have gaffers tape around the toothed edges but when I was having trouble scraping an oak crotch I removed the tape and used the toothed side first.
After that it was easy to plane and scrape. No sanding was needed.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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Sirgreggins

298 posts in 1702 days


#14 posted 01-16-2014 05:56 PM

If i use my #4 hand plane for this, can i simply hone a microbevel of say 50° on my current blade and then once done go back to my 25°? just curious.

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Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#15 posted 01-16-2014 06:03 PM

On a #4 you’d have to put a bevel on the back. A 10 degree
back bevel will cut at 55 degrees.

If you have a bevel-up plane, then what you are thinking will
work.

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