Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Stain Goes On

Okay - Which one of you forgot to mention that stains dissolve rubber glove? What is the point in wearing them when the rubber breaks down in the first five minutes. My finger tips are now nicely stained as well.

Although striking, I am not really happy with the result. I put the stain on really thin and even though it looked okay when it was wet, it is drying too light in some places and it appears patchy.

I am concerned that a second application may make it too dark.

Time taken : half an hour
Tools used : masking tape, stain, thinner, rag, glass jar, rubber gloves
AU$'s spent : nil

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Creating the nut

I spent last night shaping the nut and getting it into place. I had not idea how I was going to make the 15 degree angle, using the old school protractor. I ended up using a flat piece of scrap with sand paper on it and another block underneath to raise the scrap to the angle of the neck. I then used my highly calibrated eye to hold the nut straight up and down whilst rubbing in the angle.

That ended up being quite rough so I cut slithers of sand paper and finished the nut by pulling the sandpaper between the neck and the nut.

Time taken : 2 hours
Tools used : sand paper, scrap wood, chisel, pencil
AU$'s spent : nil

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I don't like sanding - but I like the results

The inlay is done and I am fairly happy with my first ever effort. It would have worked out so much better had I of not dropped and shattered the pearl and if I had of glued it down before adding the epoxy. Notes for next time.

Now these photos give you an up close, warts and all view of the result. To the naked eye at arms length, it is not really visible at all. I recommend a simple inlay to everyone making a guitar. It is not as difficult as I have most likely made it sound and even huge mistakes like mine come up okay. If I was to do it again, I would firstly, forget all about trying to make my own design and then remember to respect how delicate that pearl stuff is. Next time, I am going to get some dentist drill bits to put into the Dremel. I think the smaller the piece the better. I was trying to go very slow but still managed to botch it up because the cutting edge of the bit was not as deep as the groove required. I was actually cutting a few mm (or smaller) past the line, underneath, but from above I could still see the line.

The frets also came up quite well and I think that most of the cover up work is done.

I am getting closer and closer to that finishing stage.

Time taken : .5 hours
Tools used : sandpaper, electric sander
AU$'s spent : Nil

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Filling the Frets

This morning I started to sand back the epoxy of the inlay. I didn't finish it off totally, I'll get to that tomorrow as I have some time for a big out doors sanding session. I am starting to think it will come out okay.

Tonight I filled the gaps under the frets. The first time I tried using the black superglue but being about as thick as water, it just rolled down into the slot and left the gap there.

I had put aside a whole heap of fretboard dust from when I was "shooting the board" I mixed that into the clear epoxy and being thicker that appears to have worked quite well.

My ambition may have out weighed my ability. While I had the fret board coloured epoxy out, I thought to myself, "Why don't I hide some of those file marks on the sides" Time will tell.

Time taken : 1 hour
Tools used : black super glue, epoxy, toothpick, pin, sandpaper.
AU$'s spent : Nil

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Inlay Goes On

What have I done? Only time will tell. I may have just ruined the appearance of my guitar, then again it may come out okay. I've added a few more photos of this step, just to give a better idea of what I did.

I started out by super gluing the pearl in place and then used a craft knife to trace around the outside, leaving me with an outline.

It was during this process that I dropped the inlay on the ground and it shattered into two.... and my blood pressure started to climb.

Then it all went totally pair shaped. The edges of the pearl were not square and although I spent ages, taking my time, working the edges out, I still managed to stuff it up, taking away wood in the wrong places.

Needless to say, my blood was beginning to boil.

Not being able to take a backwards step, I was left with only one option. I got the sandpaper out and rubbed down scraps left over from the overlay and then mixed some clear expoxy and tinted it with the dust.

The plan is that when I rub it back tomorrow, it'll be perfect and you'll never be able to notice that the job was completed by a mere amateur.

Ten minutes after the last photo I thought to myself, "I should have glued that down, I hope the expoxy holds it in place"

Time taken : 2.5 hours
Tools used : craft knife, super glue, epoxy, sandpaper
AU$'s spent : Nil

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Should I Inlay?

Today the mail arrived and there was the box containing the mother of pearl inlays I had order last week. Luckily, I ordered three letter "W"'s because one of them had a hairline fracture in the face. It was not a mail issue as there was no damage to the box.

I sat down and started trying to inlay the pearl into a piece of scrap pine (much softer than mahogany) with the Dremel and let me tell you, I am no more confidant than I was last week.

I really don't know if I should go ahead and try this out - worried... but then again I've been there before on this project.

I think it would look good if I manage to get it in there somewhat neatly.

Time taken : Nil
Tools used : Dremel, scrap wood, craft knife, pencil
AU$'s spent : Nil

Monday, September 18, 2006

Anymore To Spend?

This might be a little presumptuous of me to say this but I think that I might have spent the last dollar needed to build this guitar... I am certainly not planning on spending any more. Could this be true? I have deliberately not added up the cost - in fear of what the answer will be.

I've grabbed a mahogany stain and a reducer to make it lighter as possible. The folk at Compliant Spray Systems never got back to me so I just bit the bullet and scooped a local product off the shelf, I'll try the neutral Red Devil wood filler.

In other news I set the last frets into the board last night. I had a reminder of my skill level. I whacked my finger with the hammer, jamming in on a fret. I am now sporting a really great blood blister - couldn't even play a guitar tonight if I wanted to.

Time taken : Nil
Tools used : Nil
AU$'s spent : Wattyl Mahogany stain $15.43, Wattyl reducer $9.53, Red Devil Wood Filler $8.10

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Don't Get It

I'm back on track. Those shims seemed to have worked fairly well, I think that after final sanding and the once the finish is on, the hole mess will be hidden well enough.

However I am left with a burning question. How did it go so wrong? The shims I made were from the same piece of wood, they were the same thickness. I glued one on either side so in theory, the whole neck should be raised and basically the neck set should remain the same.

I was amazed when I checked the side to side and saddle height after taking the wax paper out. The measurements are now even and I am fairly happy with them. I'd like to bring the neck a tiny bit more forward but maybe I should just be happy with what I have at the moment.

Time taken : Nil
Tools used : Nil
AU$'s spent : Nil

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Making Things Right

I've been thinking and worked out that the only way I could start to fix the problem is by shimming the cheeks on the neck and thereby putting some space in between the neck and the block again - no matter how slight that would space will be.

In the Stewmac bolt on kit, you also receive the mahongany that would have been required for the shims for the dovetail, this is the wood I used. Basically I traced the profile of cheeks and then made a shim about 5mm wide - the width of the shim. I glued them in place, leaving a slight overhang to sand back and blend in the neck, and using wax paper I used the body of the guitar and pressure on the bolts for clamping.

Hope it works.

Time taken : 20 minutes
Tools used : glue, craft knife
AU$'s spent : nil

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Driving Me Crazy

I am tearing my hair out! I get the side to side right, then I muck that up trying to get the tilt right. I bought the sides down so much that I ended up with a hump in middle of the heal on the neck... level that and then the side to side AND the tilt were out.... almost back at square one. At this rate, I am not going to have a neck left after another twenty nights of shaving it away. I am getting very angry. The edges of the neck are not even touching the sides. I've been pushing down on the neck so much that I have pressed flat smooth places on to the sides. I will not settle for a high action - I hate high actions.

I'm wild - I am sure that the bottom of the tenon is now touching on mortise within the neck block (Is that the right way around?) and any further adjustments I make will just make the joint looser, messier and even harder to set.

Notice how the 12th fret is now lower than the edge of the body.

Frustrated, angry, confused and doubting my ability. I give up tonight.

Time taken : 2.5 Hours
Tools used : same as last night
AU$'s spent : Nil (but I'd pay to have that neck perfect).

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Neck Is Just About Set

I spent my time tonight slowly etching away, adjusting the neck, trying to get it set right. I think I have it fairly close. I’ve reached that point where I think, should I go any further? I’ll leave it and take another look with a set of fresh eyes tomorrow.

I must say, I expected that the neck joint would have been tighter, but this seems to be a common complaint – I had a few millimeters of sideways movement, allowing twist. I found that the measurements would change without taking any wood off.

Next time around, I don’t think I do too much sanding before setting the next, except obviously the areas that affect the measurements. – I’ve whacked my guitar a few dozen times with my straight edge tonight.

Still either way, in the corner of the room, there is a construction that definitively looks like a guitar.

Time taken : 3 hours
Tools used : chisel, sand paper, craft knifes, straight edge, rulers
AU$'s spent : Nil

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

An Aussie Alternative

Wow. I've heard of this Enduro product for pore filling before finishing. The folk from Compliant Spray Systems have quoted me $65-$85 in freight to get it Down Under. Is that US dollars or AUD?... gee I hope is Peso. The product itself only cost US$16 odd dollars to buy.

I think there has to be a suitable local product - can anyone help?

Time taken : Nil - Not yet
Tools used : Nil
AU$'s spent : Nil

Monday, September 11, 2006

Slowly Does It

I watched the video a couple of times, read the book over and over and then started to chisel out the "cheeks" on the end of the neck heel. I've tried and tried to sharpen chisels but I am really bad at it. I ended up reverting to my craft knife kit, making the cuts smaller and therefore the mistakes less.

Tomorrow I will start shaving and sanding back the sides to get the centre line and then take some wood off the top on each side to try and bring the neck angle forward.

Wish me luck?

Time taken : 2 hours
Tools used :
AU$'s spent :

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Okay so I am now scared. It has suddenly occurred to me that I can live without inlay or wonky binding, I will learn to love that small nick I took out of the fretboard when I dropped a chisel, I may even put up with a bad finish if that should happen. I have worked out that this next step, setting the neck, will be the one I can ill afford to muck up – every time I go to play the guitar I will feel a bad action. I am scared.

Time taken : Nil
Tools used : Nil
AU$'s spent : NIl

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Buy Buy Buy

My little plan of having some inlay on the headstock has taken a slight detour. Making your own inlay from blank pearl is really hard - unless (I guess) you have all the equipment, which I do not. I spent a fair bit of time today trying to file, cut, trim and Dremel out some shapes that I have had in mind.

I have all but given up. I have ordered a couple of mother of pearl letters from Luthier Supply which will be my fall back plan. I am going to continue to try and make my own design but, not all is lost.

I've also settled also on the KTM-9 and placed the order - the freight is more than the cost of the product. U also ordered some black superglue because I can't find it anywhere here in Australia. Now I just have to source the Enduro grain filler. All I seem to be doing lately is spend money.

Odd as it may seem - I spent time tonight researching kits. Can you believe I am day dreaming about the second build already.

I think it's starting to come together well although I am a little worried about how much movement there is the neck joint. Too tired now, I'll worry about it tomorrow afternoon.

Time taken : An hour or so wasted on the useless inlay
Tools used : files, sandpaper, craft knives, dremel
AU$'s spent : $18.36 MOP letters and freight; $126.94 KTM-9, black superglue and freight.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Flipping and Flopping

I don't own any spray equipment, even if I did I wouldn't know how to use it. I look at rattle cans of Mirotone but they cost $22.95 a can and there isn't really a lot of talk for the product around. I went back to the beginning tonight and discovered I can import KTM-9, just not the recommended epoxy pore filler.

Then there is the waterbased stuff on StewMac.

All week I've been researching finishes, now I am trying to find a substitute filler that I can get on the local market.

Time taken : Nil
Tools used : Nil
AU$'s spent : $9.50 - I bought more sand paper

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Advice from one that knows

Just when I am about to tear my hair out over finding a local product, I have a ray of sunshine. Last night I simply fired off and email to a luthier that lives and works in Western Australia, Scott Wise. Scott took the time to enquire into the types of wood I was using and then supplied me with a few different options that I can source locally.

One really cool thing I found whilst looking at Scott's site is that he donates one of his guitars each year to the Bridgetown Blues Festival which is (I'd say) our biggest festival, supporting local acts that WA offers.

Thankyou Scott - you have saved me a lot of time and grief.

Time taken : Nil
Tools used : Nil
AU$'s spent : Nil

Fingerboard attached

Most of the sanding of the body has been completed. I can't say it's finished because that would mean that I have to start with the finish... and I still have no idea which product or methods I am going to use.

One thing I am happy is that the initial sectioned appearance remained on the soundboard. I like the subtle effect that the lines cause - It looks like wood. Does that make sense?

I still have to dampen the grain and sand further but I am getting there. I might also bring the binding back further with still a finer grade of paper... I don't know yet.

Tonight I glued the fingerboard onto the guitar neck. I'm back to those sleepness nights of wondering and waiting to find out how it'll look when I take off the clamps... in this case the elastic bands."

The blue strip that you can see is a thin piece of masking tape that I hope will stop the glue spilling into the truss rod channel.

My suggestion for others would be start winding the elastic band at the block end and make sure you wind the band as far down as you can. It's not difficult.

Time taken : 1 hour
Tools used : glue, sand paper, electric sander, clamps, scrap wood
AU$'s spent : Nil

Monday, September 04, 2006

Questionable Skills

My general wood working skills (or lack of them) are starting to come to the floor. I've all but sanded the back and sides and I must say that I am generally happy. Besides a couple of remaining marks, which I think were pressure points from clamps, and a few spots where I mucked up the bindings, it doesn't seem to look to bad. I would never have reached the same finish without the electric sander.

Tonight I finished hammering in the first 14 frets and then I trimmed up the edges and then tried to gently file back the edges. It's fair to say that I botched this up. I dragged the file edge a few times, leaving great big gauges out of the sides... a single stroke and there is a mark that I will not be able to remove. I will hide it - but it will always be there.

I used the sanding board to tidy up the edges and it worked well but gee those frets chew through the sand paper - I've renewed the sand paper and will finish it off tomorrow night.

Time taken : 1.5 hours
Tools used : sandpaper, electric sander, files, clamps, hammer, contact cement
AU$'s spent : Nil

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sanding and Fretboard work

Fathers Day today, so I didn’t spend too much time in the workshop. Having said that, I achieved a fair bit this evening.

I started the sanding of the guitar body. That idea of covering the soundboard doesn’t last too long, I found that it came away fairly quickly, no matter how gentle I was. I don’t think it’ll be too bad with the mahogany but I will have to think this through further if I make a rosewood back and sides in the future.

Sanding back the body has started to highlight the flaws. There is a little spot on the back where cement dripped and it does not seem that it is going to come out with sanding. I think I have already mentioned that I have very little patience when it comes to sanding. I think tomorrow I will start the process again, this time with the electric sander – does that make me lazy?

I finally decided to give up on the square shaped pearl inlay and reverted to an idea that I thought of a couple of weeks ago and then saw mentioned on the Kit Guitar Forum. I used the material that was supplied for the side dots and using the same process I put them into the fretboard to make the markers. They are small and subtle. I think they’ll look okay.

I also started putting in the first twelve frets – The first strike of the hammer and the fret wire lay down and ripped up a little bit of the fretboard. It’s not bad, it’s going to be another thing that I will know all about but perhaps you wouldn’t notice.

I had to call it quits in respect for the neighbors trying to sleep. All that banging on the shed floor might not have been good for the relationship.

Time taken : 2 hours
Tools used : Sand paper, cutters, superglue, craft knife, soft hammer.
AU$'s spent : Nil