Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
mlau
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Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by mlau » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:47 pm

Hey Delcamp guys,

Here in Northern California, most luthiers (that I know) use a bunch of power machinery.
However, I'd heard that Bouchet and Torres built with very few tools.
I've been trying to wrap my head around that.

My situation is a bit unusual:
1. I have a separate workshop with a drill press, bandsaw, tablesaw, routers, jigsaw, and thickness planer.
I have a dust deputy, FEIN vac, and try to hook most things up to the tool (copying festool).
However, I maybe get 2-4 hours of workshop time a month.

2. Most of my available build time is for maybe about an hour a night after I stumble home from work.
I have a Nilfisk HEPA vac, but mainly use Japanese hand tools.


My question(s):

1. Are there special considerations for a bedroom guitar builder?
If I get everything premachined/prethicknessed or do the machining/dimensioning outside, can I still build inside?
I can envision making a sorta guitar kit.

2. What parts of the build can be safely done in a bedroom without killing myself?
I assume gluing in bracing, and jointing tops/backs, bending sides, glue ups?

3. What builds absolutely must be done by hand instead of subbing out?
I imagine that the thicknessing of the soundboard and bracing can't be subbed out?


Anyways, I'd love to see your thoughts!

I'd really like to keep building guitars, but I didn't want to kill myself doing it.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Nov 11, 2017 6:59 pm

It can all be done. My second guitar was built in a space that was no bigger than 5 ft x 10 ft, tiny. I was 18, I had very little in the way of money or tools. It was built on an old kitchen table and I only had a small table top vice. Everything was done by myself apart from the rosette. I think I bought a pre made one. It was hardly the greatest guitar ever made but you would certainly have recognised it as a classical guitar and it played perfectly well.
If you stick with hand tools the only thing that is unpleasant is sanding the outside of the instrument. You could go for a complete scraper finish although the neck material doesn't take kindly to scraping. Forget sanding internal parts, there's just no need. Working an ebony fretboard can be a bit unpleasant but there are alternatives. You certainly can minimise sanding.
Historicalguitars.

MessyTendon
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by MessyTendon » Sat Nov 11, 2017 10:31 pm

Where in Nor Cal are you? I'm in nor cal too...essentially doing the same thing. Next week is build day...scarf joint, top and back joining...and a beer celebration.

I bought all my parts for my guitar...A shop vac and a dust mask should be sufficient unless you are planning on processing large amounts of lumber. A painters canvas drop cloth would work good to catch dust on the ground. It's not that safety is not important to me, but on the scale of operation...a single guitar, it's not too hard to minimize dust.

You won't kill yourself. If you buy a pre-cut set of back and sides...the amount of thickness to work with won't be too much, so all of that can be hand done. All of the little bit's are there to buy pre-made...veneers, binding etc...even some nice rosettes.

LMI can you sell you a classical guitar kit, of good quality components...it would be much cheaper to buy all the parts and make it yourself, but the kit would save you a lot of time and possibly get you a guitar by the end of the month or year.

Good luck. Try calling LMI and working out a kit, they'll treat you right and if you have any problems they are right in Nor Cal.

SteveL123
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by SteveL123 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:32 pm

If I remember correctly, Kris Barnett started his guitar building career by converting his bed room to a workshop. You may want to check his website or maybe even contact him for some pointers.

vesa
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by vesa » Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:47 am

Hi mlau.

I use only hand tools and no premade parts.
I work almost in similar conditions as you.
My studio is 3mx3m and just a room in our house, a place where I practice,
make arrangements, prepare my teaching etc. etc. + make guitars.
I do all the guitar building in the studio but not the final sanding
(as Michael points out), which is done outside or in a shower room,
depending on the season.

I have a very good indicator if everything is healthy or not - my wife.
She has asthma and several severe allergies.
No problems so far.
But I have to be very methodic.

Here it goes:
My tools are a tablevac and an aircleaner - a good quality one (1100€),
I have it always on while working and one hour after.
I put a sheet under the wood when sanding or planing and frequently empty it by gathering all the shavings
(also them on the floor) into a plastic bag and then I use my tablevac.
When days job done I go out shake the sheet clean, sweep the surfaces (working table and areas close to it) clean,
vacuum and go over surfaces with a damp cloth.
The plastic bag should be binned at this point, specially if I've worked with tropical woods.
After a guitar is made I clean the entire room very meticulously.
And of course the aircleaner must be cleaned when necessary.

Other thing is that I try to make all my movements as smooth and economic as possible
in order not send a cloud of dust in the air while working (or cleaning).

This might sound like a lot but when you get hold on it, it is not.
Cleaning shavings + vacuuming when planing takes only 2 min./hour.
Cleaning each day takes 5 minutes.
Final cleaning after job done (guitar is made) takes 2 hours.
And IMHO minimizing the movements while working makes me better builder
as I don´t understand guitar building to be something that happens in a sawdust cloud
where you try to avoid that flying shavings don't knock you out. :-D
Vesa Kuokkanen

Antonio Marin nr. 813 1995 (Bouchet)
Vesa Kuokkanen 2016

Keith
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by Keith » Sun Nov 12, 2017 10:44 am

malu, sanding can be done outside almost year around in northern California unless one lives in the mountains.
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

guitarras en la espiritu de la:
Marcelo Barbero
Jose Ramirez III

simonm
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by simonm » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:02 am

You have certainly seen the references to http://billpentz.com/woodworking/cyclon ... fm#summary over on mimf.

There seems to be a consensus that amateur wood workers including guitar builders get as much wood dust exposure in one day as professionals get in six months.

Bedroom+carpet+woodworking is completely insane. If doesn't matter what kind of extraction/vacuum you have, you will not get the dust out of the carpet and you will have a lung issue no later than 10 years if you sleep in the place.

You must strip any carpet or other dust traps out. Apart from grabbing all dust with extraction at source, you should also have a filter. Remember there are other dust sources beside sanding. Japanese saws which are very popular with guitar makers produced really fine dust compared to western saws. See how much fine dust is up your nose after sawing a bit of ebony with a japanese saw, then think how much may have made it into your lungs.

It would be interesting to know what air cleaner Vesa has.

On mimf there are lots of details about how to make air filters. The components (big fans and big box heap filters) seem to be easy to come by in the USA.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:18 am

I've recently started to do that final sanding outside, at least whenever I can. It's a bit of a pain due to the distance and flights of stairs. I also have to take a portable bench outdoors and of course the UK weather isn't always kind. I can't take the sun either! Some of the workshops in hot third world countries have a cover but are open on all four sides. That would be more like the ideal. Sanding outdoors does make a huge difference to a task that I despised. Ultimately it's best not to produce the dust in the first place though, so forget things like the sanding of back bars, harmonic bars, struts and linings, internal back and soundboard surfaces. They can all be finished with the plane or from the scraper - which means bigger chips, less fine dust. You may not get surfaces to the super smooth level but that's all a bit of a silly fetish anyway. You can get them looking very clean and neat though. I've seen a few violin makers in my time and I can't recall one of them using an abrasive paper on any internal surface. You don't see them use abrasives on the external surface either or rather it's pretty minimal usage. Certainly instrument makers of past centuries didn't bother, including guitar makers, they finished internals in a much more workmanlike manner.
As for the box air filters. I've heard very mixed reports as to their effectiveness, not that I can add any experience of them. Face dust masks are OK but the dust is going to land somewhere and at some point you are going to remove the mask and walk around the room picking things up. The dust just gets kicked up again.
Historicalguitars.

vesa
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by vesa » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:45 pm

simonm wrote:
It would be interesting to know what air cleaner Vesa has.
The aircleaner I use is finish product Elixair 400.
You can google the company (their site is also in english) go to Brochures and instructions/User manuals/Portable airpurifiers and you'll get an explanation how their 3 fase filtering works (manual pages 24-34).
I got the price wrong in the thread (it was from a larger model), must correct it. It costs ¨only¨ about 800 €.
Actually it is build to clean areas 30-70 kvm depending on how much there is dirt in the air,
so to use it in my 9 kvm studio is a bit overkill, but better this way.
Vesa Kuokkanen

Antonio Marin nr. 813 1995 (Bouchet)
Vesa Kuokkanen 2016

printer2
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by printer2 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:52 pm

I am so used to jumping on the band saw, can not imagine working without my drum sander, and a 4"X36" belt sander makes life so much easier. But I do take raw wood and dimension them to what I want. I finally got around to getting a real dust collector for my basement shop. But I have used a home vacuum to collect the dust from my drum sander, I did make a cyclone dust separator out of a 5 gallon pail to cut back on vacuum bags. Until I make a different hood my home vac works better for the D-sander.

But as far as working without power tools goes I could get by without them. If I was in an apartment or somewhere limited in space I would use my home vac running with a cone on the end to catch the dust better. Would need a good arm that you can adjust and lock in place. I have been scraping more than sanding lately,for finishing also shaping the bottom of the bridge, rosette, bindings. A few good files takes care of other duties. Handsaws, the bigger bits can fall on the table or floor, the light dust collected by the vac. I would probably get a good furnace filter and tape it to a box fan to catch anything else above the bench. But other than hand sanding that I avoid you can get by without making a lot of dust.
Fred

sakthivel v
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by sakthivel v » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:16 am

steve summerford of acousticguitarbuild blog have built a guitar in his kitchen using minimal tools and Cumpiano book. so its possible but depends on your patience, power tools only make things quicker.

simonm
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by simonm » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:40 am

sakthivel v wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:16 am
.. in his kitchen ...
A kitchen, which usually has easy to clean surfaces, is very different from a bedroom with carpet. Wood dust carpet and sleeping in the the dusty atmosphere is very bad news.

sakthivel v
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by sakthivel v » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:12 pm

Yes, you are correct. But when we are constrained we have to find the solution. There will be a solution to every problem .

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Beowulf
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by Beowulf » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:12 pm

Perhaps take a tip from drywall sanders if you must do the sanding indoors: seal the doorway to the rest of the house and the HVAC vents with plastic and painter's tape and wear a mask. This will substantially reduce the amount of dust that migrates into your home and into your lungs.
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SteveL123
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Re: Apartment/bedroom guitar building-- maybe a silly question?

Post by SteveL123 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:01 pm

In addition to the drywall sander's tip above, I'll place the work bench next a window with an exhaust fan, build a big hood out of cardboard (like commercial kitchen design except it's horizontal) to channel /direct the dust out the window as you work/ sand. I'd also duct the exhaust of the vacuum cleaner out the window instead of relying on the vac's filter which maybe spewing dust into the room if not working perfectly (which is often).

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