Friday, March 26, 2010

Stringing It Up

I cut the fret wire to length and trimmed the ends where it overhangs the binding edge.

All the frets have been hammered into place and the ends filed to an even bevel.

Then I installed all the hardware, fit the bridge and put the strings on it. I will play it for a couple of weeks and see how it plays and if the neck feels right. I can still make some minor adjustments at this stage before I start applying the finish. I am very pleased with the way this one sounds and plays so far. I will probably sand the neck just a little bit thinner, but otherwise this one is ready to finish.

A close-up of the ebony heel cap to contrast with the maple binding.

I really like to play with contrasting woods for accent. This one uses a lot of ebony appointments for a kind of elegant almost formal black and white look. I don't know how I will stain it yet. This one would look really good left natural with a clear satin finish. On the other hand, if I fade some dark color around the edges the maple binding will really stand out, which is what I originally had in mind from the beginning.

A close-up of the ornate pearl/abalone/ebony inlaid sound-hole rosette.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Attaching The Neck and Assembling the Body

The body is now fully assembled, ready for frets, bridge and hardware. Then I'll string it up and see if it makes music.

The maple binding was bent and mitered ate the corners of the fingerboard. The black and white stripes need to match exactly.

I trimmed the neck heel with ebony/ maple/ ebony to contrast with the body binding.

The "guts."

I use a tapered dovetail neck-to-body joint. The excess neck heel will be trimmed off flush with the body block.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Binding the Top

The edge of the body was routed with a dremel tool and a special attachment. Now it will be scraped clean with a square razor blade.

I made the rosette sound hole trim with the pearl and abalone pieces glued to a thin veneer and edged it with white, black, white plastic binding pieces. I cut the recess in the top with an x-acto and small chisels. The edge will be bound with white, black and maple strips.

After the bindings and rosette have been glued in place, the top and sides were sanded flush.

I used the same binding theme for the peghead. It took a few tries to get the maple to bend into the double s-curve without breaking.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Inlaying the Mother of Pearl

I created the designs using a computer graphics program and printed it out using a laser printer. Then I cut out all the individual paper pieces and glued them to the Mother of Pearl blanks using plain white glue. This gives me a nice clean line to cut to.
After cutting all the pieces from the pearl with a jeweler's saw, I glued them to some poster board to keep everything together.

I use another printout of the design glued to the headstock, to rout out the inlay cavity with a Dremel tool. Using plain white glue, the paper design comes off the wood surface easily with warm water.
The small pieces are brittle and break easily. When this happens, it's best to cut another piece rather than try to glue it together.
After gluing the inlays in place, the small voids can be filled with wood dust from the routing process mixed with glue. After sanding the entire surface flush, any filled areas are nearly invisible. I try to rout the inlay area as close as possible, and use as little filler as necessary to give it a clean, sharp look. This also helps later during the finish process, as the clear finish will want to sink into the voids.