Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Mon Dec 18, 2017 7:25 am

It's a bit too fancy for my liking to occupy the whole of the exterior back. You can see it quite easily through the sound hole and sound port - that's all I was looking to do. Also, I suspect it's not a suitable material for the finished surface of the back of the guitar as it's a thin, brittle and uneven (not flat) veneer. I know some makers use veneers to construct their entire backs, but I don't know what considerations go into the selection of those veneers.
Joss Winn

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:29 pm

Day 21: (Courtnall book pp. 269-281) Binding, filling, heel cap, fretboard.

At home, over the Christmas break, I bent and glued the top binding, repeating the process Roy showed me for the back of the guitar. I removed all the pins that were clamping the purfling and finished off chiselling the 2x7mm rebate for the binding. It was the first time I'd used my own bending iron and I set it at 175c and took it carefully:

ImageChecking the binding is correctly shaped. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Here it is, temporarily held in place while I mark the required length:

ImageTemporarily fixing the binding so as to cut it to the correct length. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I used blue (strong) masking tape to clamp it into place and when dry, I scraped and sanded it flush with the ribs and soundboard:

ImageThe binding is scraped and sanded flush with the body of the guitar. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Although it had been coated with protective shellac, the padauk easily stained the soundboard and so I left it until seeing Roy today. He suggested I seal the padauk with shellac and then carefully sand in one direction towards the edge of the soundboard. This seemed to work well.

Despite being careful with the purfling and binding process, there are a few spots which I need to fill. Today, Roy showed me three methods of creating filler: Left to right: 1) out of a tin, 2) epoxy (Araldite) mixed with wood dust, or 3) liquid dyes mixed with epoxy:

ImageTesting three methods of wood filling by Joss Winn, on Flickr

ImageThe result of the wood filler test: wood dust mixed with epoxy will work by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Once dry, sanded and given a coat of shellac, the wood dust and epoxy was the best match and so over the next few days I will fill and sand the whole body of the guitar and give it a couple of coats of shellac.

Next, we worked on the heel cap, laminating walnut-padauk-walnut and ensuring the heel was flat for gluing:

ImagePreparing the heel for the end cap by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I had prepared the fretboard a few weeks ago, cutting it to shape and sawing the slots for the frets. Today the fretboard needed to be accurately positioned for gluing and the end of the fretboard needed to be cut to the shape of the soundhole:

ImageMarking out the fretboard for shaping around the sound hole by Joss Winn, on Flickr

We also made up four guides for the fretboard and glued them to the side of the neck. With the fretboard correctly centred, the guides are sized to accurately hold the fretboard in position and allow it to be slid easily on and off the neck. In this image, two guides have been glued to the bottom of the neck and are clamped while drying:

ImageTemporary guides for the fretboard are glued to the neck by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I then cut the fretboard on the band saw and used a sanding drum on the drill press to finish off:

ImageShaping the end of the fretboard by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Next, we set the position of the bridge, first marking the front of the saddle at 652mm from the nut (650+2mm for compensation). Then, using two strings, we positioned it on the centre of the body:

ImagePositioning the bridge by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Using a hand drill and 2mm bit, we carefully drilled the holes through the bridge and soundboard. Cut-down cocktail sticks will be used as dowels when the bridge is glued:

ImageCocktail sticks will be used as dowels by Joss Winn, on Flickr

The fretboard and neck were then sanded, glued and clamped, ensuring it was pushed up to the nut and held tightly by the guides we had made earlier:

ImageGluing the fretboard to the neck by Joss Winn, on Flickr

In the image above, the fingerboard is clamped, the nut has been removed and I'm cleaning up the glue that has squeezed out onto the soundboard. We had anticipated this and prior to gluing the fretboard had marked out the gluing area and put a coat of shellac on the soundboard either side of the fretboard to protect it from the glue.
Joss Winn

SteveL123
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by SteveL123 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:59 pm

Joss, thanks for the update. Don't know if you've seen this post from A. Carruth. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=116940#p1243919

Scraping the bridge right before gluing maybe a good idea.

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Wed Jan 03, 2018 4:27 pm

Thanks, Steve. Lots of good advice on that thread. When talking earlier with Roy about the bridge, he said he finds it easier to glue after French polishing, and that he always cleans the underside of the bridge and the spruce, immediately before gluing. He's never had a bridge come loose yet. The only failed bridges he's seen were with students at Newark College who left shellac on the soundboard. I've been careful to avoid getting shellac on the bridge area.
Joss Winn

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:19 pm

Day 22: (Courtnall book pp. 284-288) Fitting the frets.

Over the last few days I had filled any gaps/holes in the body of the guitar around the binding and glued and shaped the heel cap. Today, I spent the first hour sanding the sound board with 150/180/240/320 papers and sealing it with shellac, in preparation to start work on the fretboard:

ImageProtecting the soundboard with shellac after sanding with 150/180/240/320 papers by Joss Winn, on Flickr

We then checked the height of the fretboard with a straight edge extending from the top of the saddle to a 2mm high spacer at the position of the 1st fret which imitated the string height. The fretboard needed lowering by 1/2mm (to reach 3.5mm at 1st string and 4.5mm at 6th string), so I scraped and sanded it level:

ImageScraping (and sanding) the fretboard level and to the correct thickness (3.5/4.5mm saddle to nut at 12th string) by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I had cut the fret slots a few weeks ago and checked the depth again.

ImageChecking the depth of the fret slots by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I repeated the following process for the first 10 frets with the neck of the guitar held in a vice at the fret being installed:

1. Cut to depth:

ImageCutting the fret slot by Joss Winn, on Flickr

2. File top of slot with triangular file:

ImageFiling a triangular groove in the top of the slot by Joss Winn, on Flickr

3. Take some of the curve out of the fret wire, which arrived in a coil. Cut it slightly long:

ImageShaping the fret wire prior to cutting it by Joss Winn, on Flickr

4. Add a little super glue to the slot:

ImageAdding a little super glue to the fret slot by Joss Winn, on Flickr

5. Hammer in the fret, ends first:

ImageHammering in the fret wire by Joss Winn, on Flickr

6. Clean up the glue with white spirit:

ImageWiping away the super glue by Joss Winn, on Flickr

7. Use a clamp and steel plate to apply momentary pressure across three points on the fret:

ImageClamping the fret after hammering by Joss Winn, on Flickr

8. Trim the fret:

ImageSnipping the installed fret wire by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Installation of the first 10 frets went well. Frets 11-19 were installed in much the same way, but hammering and clamping had to be done more carefully. For frets 16-19, I used a caul and clamp through the sound hole:

ImageClamping the frets at the sound hole by Joss Winn, on Flickr

For frets 11-15, I used a couple of large clamps and some wood to protect the heel cap and back of the guitar:

ImageClamping the 12th and 13th frets by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I then started to dress the frets and will finish them off over the next few days. I'll post again next Sunday when I will be shaping the neck. Nearly finished!
Joss Winn

Joe Medina
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by Joe Medina » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:49 pm

Did you make your solera from plywood or mdf?
Joe

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:50 pm

From MDF.
Joss Winn

SteveL123
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by SteveL123 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 9:57 pm

I've read of frets installed dry with no glue and with different kinds of glue. What's the pros and cons of glue vs no glue? What are the dimensions of the frets you used?

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:42 pm

The fret wire is 2.2mm wide and 1.0mm high, 'shallow tang'. I think just a little super glue just adds a bit of safety; also Roy said that tight slots create lots of side pressure which can stress the fingerboard. Everything went well yesterday and cleaned up nicely. I suppose the glue would add extra hassle if the frets needed replacing.
Joss Winn

mqbernardo
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by mqbernardo » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:52 pm

Hi Joss, thanks for the thread. Just one simple question. I never used CA glue on the frets because on a test piece i just left a unsightly residue that was a bit of a PITA to sand away with the frets installed. So, you just wipe it with white spirits and no marks left? easy does it?

thanks,
Miguel.

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:21 am

Yes, it seemed pretty straightforward with the routine I outlined above. Roy says that if you clean away excess superglue immediately after hammering in, using a cloth just dampened slightly with white spirit (not meths/alcohol), then there is not usually any marking on the fretboard. You could use a disposable plastic pipette to try and get the glue only into the slot, not on the wood, but we didn't have one to hand. Any marks that do remain should get cleaned up in the next stage of dressing, levelling, polishing the wire and the wood. There is a view that glued frets create better tone but Roy says he doesn't know if this is so, as he has always glued them in so has nothing to compare to.
Joss Winn

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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by simonm » Tue Jan 09, 2018 1:14 pm

josswinn wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:21 am
... There is a view that glued frets create better tone but Roy says he doesn't know if this is so, as he has always glued them in so has nothing to compare to.
All VooDoo :lol:

There is another idea that glue (often titebond) works as a lubricant and helps the fret go into the slot better. One advantage of superglue is that it apparently "lets go" when heated. This is of course good when you want to remove a fret as the metal conducts the heat exactly to where it is needed.

Joe Medina
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by Joe Medina » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:39 pm

Using the thin viscosity Super Glue helps as it wicks in smoother with no overflow

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:56 pm

Day 23: (Courtnall book pp. 300-303) Shaping the neck.

Today was hugely satisfying, not least because I got to use a range of carving and cutting tools again, but also because of the tactile nature of shaping and sculpting the neck.

I began by marking out the depth of the neck: 22mm around the first fret and 23mm around the 9th fret. Using a chisel, I cut sections out to depth and then joined them up by planing across the neck to within 1mm of the final measurements:

ImageMark out the depth of the neck (22mm head/23mm heel) and chisel out top and bottom before planing flat. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Then, using the template for the head, I marked the curves down to the nut and was careful to ensure that on the middle section, the ramp of the neck met the head at the glue line:

ImageCarving the head into the neck. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I wanted a relatively flat area down the middle of the neck, so I marked off where the curved sides down to the fretboard should roughly begin. Then, using a spokeshave, I had fun taking off the bulk of excess Cedrela:

ImageShaving the bulk from the neck. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I then blended the heel into the new neck dimensions with a gouge, bevelled chisel and scraper:

ImageBlending the heel into the neck. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Scrapers are such wonderful tools. Who'd have thought that a simple plate of steel could be so enjoyable and effective to use? With it, I rounded off the sides along the length of the neck:

ImageSculpting with a scraper. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Then onto sanding, getting the head and heel right first:

ImageDowel and sand paper for detail around the head join. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Then 'shoe-shining' the length of the neck with a coarse paper meant for a belt sander:

Image'Shoe shining' the neck. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

Always checking the neck is flat (this time with a piece of board we'd checked was straight):

ImageChecking the neck is flat with a straight edge. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

I worked the whole of the neck with 100/150/180/240 papers and then gave it a coat of shellac to bring the grain up:

ImageFinal sanding with 150/180/240/360 papers. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

And here's the finished neck which has really brought the guitar to life. I finished the day, eyes closed with it in my hands, imagining how it would play.

ImageA coat of shellac and another round of sanding. by Joss Winn, on Flickr

French polishing begins next weekend!
Joss Winn

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josswinn
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Re: Making a guitar with Roy Courtnall

Post by josswinn » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:18 pm

p.s. The magnetic arm rest has worked out well:

ImageThe magnetic arm rest with a coat of shellac. by Joss Winn, on Flickr
Joss Winn

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