Friday, December 28, 2007

Six months already

I have to get back at it - I can not believe that it has been six months since my last post... and therefore longer since I was building a guitar. Money is not the issue, I'll make the time, it is just the "spark" and the inspiration that I need. Maybe I'll spend the money and "buy" the inspiration.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I’ve gone into hibernation. With winter setting in, I can not imagine spending cold nights down in the shed, it is barely warm enough in the house – I know that David will be calling me a sook right about now.

I think my next attempt will be a scratch build with the cheapest local wood I can find, I’ve added up the costs and the project and it will still work out the be around AU$250.00 + and to get started I will need to buy a band saw at least. Then I have to learn how to use a router properly to make dishes etc.

I need to find some time. I’ve put aside a lot of other things over the last 12 months in order to research and make guitars. I still have the passion but I can see it waning in the cold weather.

In short – things might be a little slow around here in the immediate future.

If you want to get in contact with me in the mean time put this email address all together - teds online @ gmail . com

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bragging Rights

I forgot to have a really big brag about this. David has asked how I recovered from this;

Well, I am pretty pleased to announce that it is looking good. It totally depends on the light and if you know what you are looking for. The crack in the binding is obvious because I glued it shut without cleaning out all the dust.

but looking at the back, you have to study it quite hard (even I do) to find the cracks. I've highlighted them for you by putting a yellow line on either side.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Photo Upload Day

More photos. Trying to get the right one for Bill.... and showing off.

Click on each photo for more detail.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Taking Photographs

Bill Cory from , the guy that got me started on this guitar building journey in the first place, is about to publish a book on building kit guitars and has asked for photographs of completed kits to dress up the back cover. I got home after work during the hours of darkness tonight so I tried to set up a photography studio in the shed. The hallogen lights that I have, the camera, the backdrop - It all worked against me. I won't be sending these ones to Bill, I will be having a go under the natural sunlight.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Strings are on

I have heard it! The strings are on!

The nut and saddle are miles to high and I snapped a tendon on my ring finger trying to fret a note but it is now officially a guitar - an instrument for playing music. I now have a few weeks of trial and error in setting the actions and playablility.

Now I get to play the lower = buzz.

I think I left the saddle a little too tight in the slot, I splintered the end trying to pull it out with a pair of pliers however, taking into account that it is so high, the surface will be smooth again by the time I have sanded it down.

I also learnt another great lesson - don't use the buffing wheel on a Dremel in an attempt to clean up the fret board. The metal fret stains the buffer, which in turn stains the fret board - keeping in mind that mine is pau ferro and not ebony - Also one little slip and that buffer makes a hugh burn mark on your new finish.

My glue tidy up on the bridge was a bit sloppy, I have some delicate work to do during the final clean up stage.

The Grover tuners were easy to install with a little touch up from the reamer. Having said that, there is so much to be said about keeping that centre line - there is a good reason why everyone goes on and on about it. Obviously my peg head centre line was a little out as well. I keen eye will notice that the tuners are not 'balanced'. I am not really happy with the way that the strings seem to be cramped up on each other around the tuners.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Getting Close Now

Getting closer to the finish line now. I have rubbed back and buffed the finish to a shine. I am much happier with the KTM-9 finish on this one - less errors made by the user (me)

The photos are taken under the workshop lights and don't really show the true finish.

I've started on the nut and the saddle, roughing out the shapes. The black line is the repair job I made. It is actually very snug.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stupid Stupid Stupid

David said: “I know I would be checking every possible thing that could cause it to move before I started changing the neck joint that amount.”

Note to self – When someone offers advice, TAKE IT

I headed down to the shed tonight and got started on fixing that neck set. I checked the side to side a thousand times before I started, I went ever so slow. Hours of sanding, checking, sanding, checking.

THEN the penny dropped – The centre line !

Before I applied the finish, I had a centre line down the fret board, I covered it during the finishing stage and plotted out a new one when I removed the tape covering the fret board surface. My neck set WAS perfect(ish), the new centre line was wrong.

So I was left with a new out of shape neck set that had to go back the other way. My fault, my mistake. A very stupid mistake which has left my neck joint looking a lot less visually pleasing than it was three days ago.

I’ll have to get the camera out again soon. I have been a bit tardy of late.

Monday, May 21, 2007

ARRRRRR - Guitar Making

Today I headed back down to the shed and started fixing to finish this guitar. I put the neck on and roughly located the bridge. My side-to-side is miles (1 cm+) out. How is that possible? I have removed the finish (tiny amount) from the neck. How can this difference be caused by the smallest layer of finish. Frustration is the name of the day in my house. I started on a new neck set but I know that I will never get that good a join again - I got lucky last time, I know that.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I still twiddling my thumbs for three weeks and when I the day comes where I could move forward, there are so many more things more important going on, keeping me out of the workshop.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A circle peg for a round hole

I found this interesting. Today I surfed over my favourite luthiers site, Dan Dubowski and I noticed this picture.... which I must of looked at a thousand times.

To me it looks like Dan routes his inlay BEFORE he glues on the covering headplate. I got to thinking that using this method, if one made a few mistakes you could fill them in with expoxy or similar and make a second/smaller cut, and get a really tight fit. Then when the headplate got glued on over the top, as long as you had a template to know where to cut/drill/route, you could 'edge' you way up to the cut underneath and bingo - you'll end up with a neat and near perfect inlay slot.

In other news I received my hard guitar case from Marquez Music today. I won it on an Ebay auction and delivered to my door with insurance it cost AU$74.00 in total. It is a great product, really sturdy with clasps, hinges and stoppers etc that appear to be really good quality. The 41 inch case holds my dreadnought snugly and the OOO well but with a small gap all around. Sure, I won't be travelling the world with it, throwing it on to a different aircraft each night but, it'll more than service my needs until an international record label pick me up.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I have had so much spare time this weekend - I have been so very tempted to move forward.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A confession

Looking back, I don't think I have disclosed my stuff up...

When I cut the headplate for the nut, I made it miles too wide and was left with a gap. I used some black purfling to make a stack that I build up with superglue. The end result is the black line that you see in the above photograph. I don't think it'll be noticeable on the final product.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


So my period of waiting has begun. I am leaving the KTM-9 for about three weeks in order for it to harden. I am thinking that a lot of my finishing problems with the OOO come from me rushing it. I have pencilled in the weekend of May 12-13 before I do any further work on this guitar.

and with all the waiting - the dreaming begins again. What do I do from here. I am 99.9% sure that now is the time I should try a scratch build. I am sure that I have now made enough online friends and contacts that I can source the information and assistance I would need if/when I ran into a hurdle.
The cost of kits will not fall the more I make and I don't think that I can justify spending that amount of cash I have to think of where all these guitars are going to go - or do I hang them on the wall and play them when I can?
Thinking aloud, before I move onto a scratch build, I need to complete or at least address these following points
- Learn to sharpen tools, in particular chisels

- Buy a band saw and consider buying a sanding station

- Order wood and supplies

- Construct a side bending machine

- Construct a mold

- Make a go-bar deck

- Make sanding dishes

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Getting Close now

By this time tomorrow, the LMI dreadnought will have the finish on and I will be counting down a few weeks to let the finish go off. That should give me sometime to clean up the carport - otherwise known and the luthiers workshop.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Finish goes on

Okay, so I finished with the Z-poxy and I have worked out that I am most likely NOT using this product properly. Firstly, using a business card to scrape off the excess, as suggested in the Doolin instructions does not work. The card is not strong enough. I ended up settleing for a very flexible plastic card that I got at my last CPR refresher. It seemed to work well but clearly I didn’t scrape enough of and I had some leveling sanding to be between both coats.

I worked on the theory that if the sanding was producing a white powder, I was not rubbing off the Pau Ferro – Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Any way in some places I was left with a glass type finish, in others it appeared like a really smooth sanding job. In some of the nicks, there is still some shiny Z-poxy showing through. I could chase them all down but….

So this afternoon, I brushed on the first two coats of KTM-9 and the wood has again come to life. It is very pretty and from a foot or two back, it looks great.

My neighbor came wandering across the road today, “I see you’re making a guitar?”. Obviously he has not noticed me in the shed ever spare hour for the last six months – so much for neighbor hood watch. Evidently he is a guitar player – he liked what he saw and showed excitement when I told him about kits but seemed a little confused when I told him this one was a month away from being finished.

I too remember a time when I thought these things could be knocked together in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Let's Try that Again

This morning, I went down to check on the drying results. It was all fine and I grabbed some 400 grit paper in order to do some leveling. On the soundboard I found a groove where it looked like someone had dragged a screwdriver across the wood, leaving an indented line.

I don't know - I imagine the pixies came into the work shop, just to keep me off balance.

I got out a lower numbered sandpaper and rubbed the mark out before starting again with the Z-Epoxy. I think I am using this product correctly I rubbed the back and sides down leaving the shiny spots only where the wood pores were. The surface feels smooth like clean glass.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

At least I am Doing Something

Today, I got down to the shed and I finished my sanding, masked up the fret board and then started on applying the Z-Epoxy. I really don't know if I am getting that stuff on properly. In the instructions, it mentioned weighing the two parts to ensure that there are exactly the same amounts.

The photos I took are no good but the colour of the neck seems to blend in well. It really blends in with the body and the fret board.

Tomorrow I will apply a second coat and then get into the finishing.

That's the plan anyway.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A weekend of music

This is slightly off topic but I've just spent the weekend at the West Coast Blues and Roots Festival. Those of you (both) that actually know me in real life will know that I am a big fan of The Waifs. Yesterday was their first gig (anywhere near me) for over a year, due to a period of maternity leave. I am bias obviously but it was a great show.

Josh Cunningham is my favorite guitarist. He is not the best you’ll ever see but his use of structure and simplicity (at times) along with his command of dynamics and the use of silence caught my ear years ago. The fact that he has two great vocalists/musicians on either side of him obviously makes his job easier.

Those of you that were with me at the start will know that it was Josh's Dubowski that lead me down the path to guitar building.

Also, Josh now scratch builds his own guitars and ukes. Even though I’ve never had the chance to see his work up close, I’d say he is making some good gear, better than me at least.

They tour the states often, and I expect they will be out there later this year, early next. I tipped BillC into catching them at the Lyons Folk Festival, last August. but I don’t know if he did catch their set. Bill? Down Under, they’re doing some shows over the next month and then supporting Keith Urban on his tour. You won’t regret giving them a chance.

In a crossover, the Waifs recently recorded a CD at the Music Maker Foundation. I have just started reading Clapton’s Guitar (thanks Keith) and discovered that the founder Tim Duffy sold his Wayne Henderson OOO for US$100,000.00 (ten + years ago) so he could support needy musicians.

Other good shows I saw on the weekend were Carus and the True Believers, the Pilgram Brothers, The Cat Empire and The Custom Kings. Check them out if you get a chance.

A great weekend, I have one vent. I'm not going to be tolerant to another 7 minute long open tuned dobro solo for a while. Seems everyone is doing it these days with their wahwah, chorus and delay pedals working overtime. Maybe that's just me - the crowd seemed to like it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Back to it.

So a few of my old mates from the bush are in town and we're meeting for lunch today, which was a great excuse to tell the employer, “I’m taking the day off”. That gave me the morning to do some work, I hit the shed this morning and got a little re acquainted with my old friend.

I drilled the tuner holes in the head stock which seemed to work out okay. They are visually pleasing and using a scrap piece of wood as a backstop and gradually working up the bit sizes, I avoided any tear outs. I did have a “miss hit” with the drill press but the mistake will be covered up by the tuners.

The pearl piece as a heel cap has worked well, except the pearl is a lot hard to file and shape than the thin wood on the OOO. It took a while and keeping the edge straight where the heel cap meets the body was difficult. The over hang also effects the neck angle – Which has changed from last time I adjusted it.

A new hurdle was formed when I was taking the neck on and off. Somehow I have starved the joint between the neck and the finger board. Whilst “levering” the neck joint apart I heard my monthly “crack” sound. On inspection the fingerboard had detached somewhat from the neck.

I tipped the neck up in the vice and gravity fed some (heaps of) white glue down the edges of the neck. I hope that the tape I put in over the truss rod channel stayed in place and that the truss rod still works.

I have either sorted this quickly or caused myself a great big headache.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

No real progress

Another stinking hot day around here so I didn't get down to the shed until around 8:00pm. It has been a little hard to find my groove again. I am mindlessly tinkering, rather than moving forward in controlled steps.

Somehow, I have lost the maple that came with my kit for the heel of the neck. I've searched high and low but I have no idea where it has gone to. I scratched my head and eventually I gave up. I have used a piece of morther of pearl that I bought when I was trying to make my own inlay design.

I hope it comes up okay.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Work Work Work

I've been working flat out this week and have not even made it close to getting into the shed. Maybe tomorrow, I will find some time for pore filling.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

More sanding and reflection

Okay, so most of the sanding to the body is now complete. I have sanded it to 400 grit all over. This guitar is not going to be as pretty as I had imagined. There are a lot of places that highlight my inexperience.

Below is a snap of the latest and greatest crack in my back. This is the one that I did not even see until the sanding began, now it is fairly obvious. I have highlighted the original crack by drawing the two red lines on the outside. Click to see a larger image.

The super glue and saw dust idea has not really worked. The dust has stayed lighter and and even after sanding off the superglue residue, the crack is still somewhat highlighted.

Below you can see where my routing skills let me down, that binding gets really thin is places. I am still yet to work out how you control the angle on the stewmac precision router. I think I might seek an alternative for the next one.

The sanding process was quite a bit longer this time around, there was a number of places where I had to work down a number of fairly deep machining marks.

None of the errors I have made are going to affect the way that the instrument plays or sounds, they are all merely cosmetic... but somewhat disappointing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Three days in a row it has been over 40C (104F) and that's outside the shed! The heat is stopping me from getting started and making me rush if/when I finally get to it.

The inlay is ugly, it won't really stand out too much but it is certainly not pretty. In other breaking news (excuse the pun) I was doing some final sanding and noticed that there was a fine crack, about 20cm in length running parallel with the cracks that came from the great drop of of 2007.

I've run a bead of super glue along the crack and try and get some more sanding in tomorrow night.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Inlay Done - Not Happy

Tonight I tackled the inlay. It's a really rough job and I think it is going to stand out. The dark head plate on my OOO hides the bits where I went too wide. Let me tell you, this time I went wider and the wood is lighter. It's not going to be pretty.

I don't know. Obviously having the right inlay bit for the Dremel would have been a good start.

I feel a bit ill now. I've been wearing a headset with magnifying glasses build in and the constant changing in focal length has made me feeling a little off colour (there it is again David).

Tonight I am a little disappointed. Let's see what it all looks like when I sand it down.

Also started drilling the tuner holes. I have to buy a new drill bit... 9.5 mm - who owns a 9.5 mm drill bit?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sanding and Bridge Location

I’ve started sanding the body, I went over the body twice with 180 and 240 paper and I’ll finish up soon with the 360 grit. The ugliness left over from the fall is still there in some respects, there are lots of little chips out of the body everywhere. I’ve been filling the marks where I can but alas, it’s never going to be a masterpiece. The epoxy with saw dust has left a darker appearance but in most places it looks like the grain of the wood tapering into the bindings. In a couple of places it looks bad and I might go back and try superglue instead.

I have a big chip taken out of the top, right on the edge of the sound hole, but thankfully it is at the top and I was able to cover it over by not trimming the fingerboard and curving the end of it (with my dremel and a sanding bit) so that it has the same curve as the sound hole. I think it looks okay.

I am a little confused with where to put the bridge. You would think that there would have been something mention about this on the LMI plans. When I ordered the kit, I chose a “ WNCMT - Martin™ D-style, no Diamond, heel incl., inserts installed, 25.4 or 25.5 inch scale length Pre-Carved Mahogany Bolt-on Necks, Pre-drilled “ So, at what length do I put the saddle? I’ve asked the question on the forum, no doubt the crew will know the answer.
At the moment, I am working with the figures given on Robbie O'brien's DVD and I am setting the saddle at 647.16mm or 25.48 inches where the high E string will cross the edge of the saddle
There is about a 10 cm difference on each side from the bridge, in that the bridge is closer to one edge than the other.

I am thinking about leaving the neck set until all of the sanding has been completed. The sanding that I did a to the top a few weeks ago in order to keep the fingerboard flat has now all changed again. I am going to be suffering from the 14 fret hump.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I strongly dislike my job and today was one of those days. Left late, drove home in the dark and then, even though I knew better, I took to my guitar with "passion"

The end result is that I have shaped my head stock. I messured and made out the shape on the headstock - The I hand planed the edges, down to within a few mills of the lines that I had drawn. I then cut off the excess at the top with a hack saw. I will "true" up these edges with a sander tomorrow - when it is a decent hour and the neighbours won't get angry.

So the end result is... not perfect and somewhat out of wack. I think that it has more to do with the centre line being out more than anything. A tiny amount make a big difference...

It's going to be very original

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The days are so busy at the moment, I have not been able to get down to the shed to put some hours in. My fellow builder, David, has braved freezing cold weather to overtake me... not that it is a race. It is just that you want to turn that box of wood and bits into something beautiful as quick as you can.

Maybe after dinner tonight, I will force myself to shape the head - once and for all. I've been putting it off for weeks now, thinking that I don't have the right tools...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fretboard's done

Maybe I should stop and actually blog a little. I forget that you all are not there when whilst I complete theses steps.

I've added the frets to the fret board, I've glued said fret board to the neck and then filed/blended the fret board and neck together. In all steps I used same methods as I did with the the Stew mac kit.

Starting to look like a guitar, isn't it?

There is some drop damage to the soundboard, right between the rosette and the sound hole. To cover it I am going to run the finger board right up to the sound hole - The plan being that the end of the fret board with have the curve in it - we'll see.

I'll post a picture later but I am on the hunt for a pau ferro bridge - the Rosewood is just too dark. Or perhaps it will blend more with the finish on. I don't intend to stain this one at all.

Not having a band saw, I have been too scared to cut the template for my head just yet. I can feel the credit card warming up...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Can you spot it?

I think I've finished patching up my great big blue. After pressing the pieces back together, I ran superglue in to the joins and then used saw dust in clear epoxy to fill up some minor flaws that I caused with a razor blade.

Here is the results. I wiped the area with a wet rag, just to highlight what it'll look like once the finish is on. Firstly, here is area... can you spot the cracks?

Couldn't see them? Try this one. I have laid the rulers down on the outsides of the section that was previously raised.

From the side, you would never know.

I am happy with the results. I still wish it never happened but at least I know I (and you) can do it now.

In other news, the fret board went on tonight - frets included.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Back to it

I've been busy over the last couple of weeks but I managed to get down to the shed tonight and address this problem with the cracked back. I made it worse before I made it better but I think I am getting back on track.

I just couldn't get around the problem of getting the raised piece back into place. I made sure that there were no splinters of other objects stuck in the groove. When I found there wasn't, I tried to trim the edges with a razor blade. That is were I made it worse. Although I tried to be delicate, I made the gap bigger.

I resolved the issue with brute force - a clamp - I force that bit back down and once it was down I fed super glue into the grooves.

It should sand up (or is that down) fairly well. I don't think an unadvised eye will find it.

Having said that, the drop and bounce has trashed the guitar. My shed floor is very rough and the sound board is peppered with marks that appear too deep to simply sand out.

Also tonight I continued with the fret board. I have used Robert O'brien method of placing finishing nails to hold it all in alignment however I am going to use the elastic band as a clamp, as with the Stewmac method. I am going to fret the board before I glue it on.

I have already put the truss rod in place and covered the channel with painters tape.

Here is a picture if the dents in the sound board - Arrrrgh !