Thursday, September 27, 2012

Monotonous Slogs - 112 ; Milestones - 1

At long last I can write a blog post without having to worry that I sound like a whiny fourteen-year old (no offense intended to said teenagers). And the reason for my sunny disposition is that after nearly nine months of seemingly endless carving, I have something to show for it all. And, as is so often the case in guitar building, it just seemed to jump out from nowhere.

Preparing the glue the box
I've become so accustomed to setting dates for milestones only to see them float by over and over that I was really caught off guard when I found myself actually gluing my box together this week. I knew I was getting somewhere close, but I fully expected it to be at least a week, and more likely two or three, before I got to it.

But after getting to class and spending an hour or so sanding the insides of my top and back and touching up this and that, I found myself coming up empty when I tried to think of other things to do before the glue up. This is where Ted normally comes in for inspection and identifies a list as long as my arm of details I need to iron out. But not this time.

So the next thing I knew I was fitting it together, lining things up and then dry-clamping it all. (That's where you clamp it all together, but without the glue. That way you can be sure it's going to fit together perfectly and that there aren't any potential problems). And then, just like that - I was gluing the back to the sides.

This is small difference in flat top and arch top construction. With a flat top, the back and top are glued to the sides simultaneously. In this case, they're glued one at a time. Normally, you would do one part, wait a few minutes, then do the other. And I could have glued the top, too, but it turns out there were a few small advantages in waiting until next week, so that's what I did. One of the small details is that I was so caught off guard that I hadn't even made a label yet. I could have fit it in through the sound hole, but it will be much easier to do it with the top still off.

Gluing the back to the sides
Suddenly, I'm very excited again. I'm looking forward to the next steps, which will undoubtedly be a little more interesting than another month of carving. Once I get it glued, I'll be cutting away the excess wood so that the back and top are flush with the sides, then sanding the whole thing. It won't be the final sanding by a long shot, but just to the rough edge. Then it will be on to the binding a purfling.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I'm Alive!

Carving the inside of the back
I'm just going to come right out and say it: Building an archtop guitar is monotonous. Extremely, painfully, mind-numbingly monotonous. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my guitar making memory I remember talking about how much I loved the carving part of guitar making. That was when my idea of carving involved a few two-hour stints lovingly shaping a guitar neck. My perspective has changed a bit after more than SEVENTY hours of continuous carving.

The sides, almost ready for gluing
Okay, I'll admit that I'm exaggerating. Not about the number of hours, mind you, but about the continuous part. It's true I glued a couple tone bars in and worked on my sides. But the vast majority of my time over the past seven months has been spent carving.

Alas, it seems the monotony may soon come to an end. (If you've read my blog before, you've probably heard that phrase several times). But, with luck, I should be gluing my back and top to the sides within the next few weeks. Once that happens, things should become a little more interesting. And at that point, the process should become somewhat more familiar. There will definitely be differences from the process of building a flat top, but many of the steps will be much more familiar to me. And I'm looking forward to it.

I really don't know what else to say about it all. I love building an arch top. I've learned many new skills and, needless to say, I'm much better at carving than I was before. (Seven months of continuous carving will do that to a person). But I make no bones about it.

I'VE HAD ENOUGH! I'm definitely ready to move on. So I'll leave it at that...unless you want to hear about my blisters.