A long running project nears completion

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Blog series by Tony updated 07-07-2011 11:20 PM 5 parts 3406 reads 0 comments total

Part 1: The Beginning

07-07-2011 11:09 PM by Tony | 0 comments »

It has been quite a while since I posted much on LJ. Lots of different projects and tasks, some of them woodworking and some not during that interim. I posted this over on WCI, but I thought this might be of interest over here. Six years ago this month, I purchased a decrepit archtop guitar on eBay, planning to refurbish it and learn a little lutherie along the way. I stripped it and repaired the top as well as my limited knowledge allowed, and it looked OK. The sound was satisfactory, but...

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Part 2: Rebuild Begins

07-07-2011 11:13 PM by Tony | 0 comments »

It wasn’t long before the top began to crack again. The photos don’t show it very well, but the old beater had been subjected to both water and extreme temperatures. I decided to dig deeper, so I stripped the guitar completely again, removing the top and fingerboard completely, as shown in the first photo below. I purchased a set of spruce soundboards on eBay, glued them together, and traced the basic shape from the old top. Much of this project has been accomplished with hand too...

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Part 3: Carving the Top

07-07-2011 11:15 PM by Tony | 0 comments »

I used my drill press to drill many holes based on the rough contour of the guitar, as suggested in Benedetto’s book “Making an Archtop Guitar”. I then began slicing away the waste wood with a Flexcut gouge. It was very slow, but satisfying work. Once I had the rough contour, I began using a luthier’s finger plane and a Veritas convex spokeshave to carve the top to the final contour, finishing it off with cabinet scrapers. The final photo in this sequence shows the top...

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Part 4: Completing the Top

07-07-2011 11:17 PM by Tony | 0 comments »

Once the top surface was carved and scraped to final shape, I flipped it over and using my drill press and a homemade depth gauge, drilled many holes in the bottom to an even depth. Then I repeated the process with the gouge, spokeshave, finger plane, and scraper. Afterward, the braces were cut from Spanish Cedar and individually shaped and sanded to fit the underside of the top. I also installed a passive pickup before gluing on the top. Tony

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Part 5: The Neck

07-07-2011 11:20 PM by Tony | 0 comments »

At some point along the way, I decided the stock neck was not sufficient. I’m pretty sure it was made of Alder, and surprisingly soft for the neck of a steel-string guitar. I was going to install a different style tuner, and messed up the stock headstock trying to cut string slots, so off it came. Turning again to eBay, I found a nice stock of Black Walnut cut in sheets about 3’ long, so after planing them smooth, I laminated a neck blank from the BW and some Maple I had from anot...

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