Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Fri Mar 23, 2018 2:57 pm

I recently stumbled over a gorgeous set of wood, I bought it instantly.
It wasn't supposed to be for guitar building in first thought, but now I'm thinking about it.

Here is my headache; the section I would cut off for the sides is flat sawn. I know I could laminate it.
But I have read someones post here, saying that one must be despaired to use flat sawn wood for sides.

I have enough other sets so.... I'm not despaired, I'm just courious. :D
What do say guys ? Do it or don't ?
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

User avatar
Pat Foster
Luthier
Posts: 115
Joined: Sat May 13, 2017 4:12 pm
Location: Spokane, WA

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Pat Foster » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:17 pm

I've done it with success (knock on well . . . wood), with BRW sand ziricote. It might depend on the species. Some builders have had problems with cupping and rippling.

User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:11 pm

Pat Foster wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:17 pm
I've done it with success (knock on well . . . wood), with BRW sand ziricote. It might depend on the species. Some builders have had problems with cupping and rippling.

Hey Pat thx,have you had it laminated ?
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

mqbernardo
Posts: 783
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:30 pm

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by mqbernardo » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:19 pm

i have not used them yet, but most madagascar sets i have are either totally flatsawn or rift to faltsawn. i plan to use them at some point. in fact most of the brazilian and madagascar sets we see these days are flatsawn. many people use them. iirc quilted maple is a typical flatsawn figure - it still gets turned into guitars.

which wood is that giving you the headaches?

User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:59 pm

Thanks for the info Bernardo. I noticed also that many rosewood sets are rift-flat or flat and I'm courious about it, too.
Is it because it is cheaper ?

I want to use tulip/yellow poplar which isn't even half as hard as rosewood. Thats why I have headache :D
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

Alan Carruth
Luthier
Posts: 2961
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 6:56 pm

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Alan Carruth » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:24 pm

Flat cut wood is more likely to ripple across the side, and to crack. The cracking problem can be reduced by using side tapes inside the guitar. I use cotton-polyester bias selvedge tapes glued across the sides wit hide glue every 3"-4" (75-100mm ) or so. They reduce the likelihood of a crack by adding some strength, and also help keep them from running along the side when they do happen, so the repair is easier.

You can reduce rippling by using the minimum amount of water when bending. Some people like to bend flat cut sides thick, and scrape them down smooth afterwards.

One of my students just bent a set of fancy birdseye maple sides. I was not looking forward to it, but in fact it went very well. So far. Knock wood....

User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:10 pm

Oh thanks, Alan for this detailed advice !
I feel encouraged to try it rightnow.

Poplar is very light so I think glueing some veneer to the sides can't be wrong.
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

User avatar
Pat Foster
Luthier
Posts: 115
Joined: Sat May 13, 2017 4:12 pm
Location: Spokane, WA

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Pat Foster » Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:46 pm

Philipp Lerche wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 4:11 pm
Pat Foster wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:17 pm
I've done it with success (knock on well . . . wood), with BRW sand ziricote. It might depend on the species. Some builders have had problems with cupping and rippling.

Hey Pat thx,have you had it laminated ?
Not laminated.

BTW, that should have read BRW and ziricote (not laminated)

TomBeltran
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:59 pm

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by TomBeltran » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:18 pm

Interestingly, back in the 1970s, when well-quartered wood was available in abundance, Romanillos uses flat-sawn sides in a guitar included as part of a pictorial in the Evans, Guitars from the Renaissance to Rock book (pages 96-97; compare with the guitar one page earlier that has quarter-sawn sides). I've never used wood that was quite that flat-sawn, but usually some degree of the back and/or side is flat-sawn. Generally, it seems to me that there is much more of a tolerance to flat-sawn backs and sides now than back in the '70s and '80s. Given that the backs Romanillos shows are so beautifully quartered, I wonder if he planned it that way. Incidentally, I adapted the way I built in accordance with that book, and went over and over that article, pulling out every last drop of information. Of course rippling can be a problem, but laminating, at least for me, with water-based glues has a similar risk.

User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:02 pm

TomBeltran wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:18 pm
Of course rippling can be a problem, but laminating, at least for me, with water-based glues has a similar risk.
Ok wow thanks Tom !!
Do you think I shouldn't laminate it or glue something to the sides ?

That book sounds like its a pretty interesting read. Its available but costly, maybe I'll buy it sometime.
Even in google it's so hard to find an image of any flatsawn guitar.....

However, I have difficulties to translate or classify the term "rippling" in terms of wood working.
Could someone maybe explain or even show me an image of what you mean by rippled sides.
Is it that the wood gets wavy or does the wood crack alongside the flat grain ?
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

User avatar
Brian McCombs
Posts: 1556
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:55 pm
Location: Union City, Michigan

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Brian McCombs » Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:57 pm

Philipp Lerche wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:02 pm

I have difficulties to translate or classify the term "rippling" in terms of wood working.
Could someone maybe explain or even show me an image of what you mean by rippled sides.
Is it that the wood gets wavy or does the wood crack alongside the flat grain ?
Try the word corrugated maybe? It can be very pronounced with some woods depending on the type and how it was cut. I had some walnut early on and it simply rippled up into horrible mess. I think pure flatsawn works better than wood on a severe angle. The softer wood in the grain will cup while the harder wood remains rigid....or cups the other way.

If the guitar is nice and plays well...I don't think it'll be looked at harshly by others because of the cut.
This rosewood is flat. It bent OK. Other pieces from the same board did not. There's no guarantee how it will work out, you just have to try it and see.

Image

User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Sun Mar 25, 2018 7:21 pm

Brian McCombs wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:57 pm
Try the word corrugated maybe?
Thats it !!
Thanks Brian I now do understand what you guys mean.
I have made an image of the cut maybe you will see why I bought this stuff. :D
Now that you see the sides, on the left, would you go for it ?

Image
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

User avatar
Brian McCombs
Posts: 1556
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:55 pm
Location: Union City, Michigan

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Brian McCombs » Sun Mar 25, 2018 9:18 pm

I would think that the lighter sections might wish to move independently of the darker grain lines....but you don't know unless you work with them.
I'd use the least amount of water as possible, I wouldn't wish to steam it much.

I'd go for it.

User avatar
Philipp Lerche
Amateur luthier
Posts: 197
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2016 12:06 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Flat sawn wood for sides... is it a faux pas ?

Post by Philipp Lerche » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:17 pm

Hey again,

I eliminated one of the sides during the bending process. :oops:
It was due to too much moisture, I think. They did not break along the grain but crosswhise.

However, I decided to move on with the "not so flat" other piece.
I cut 2 sides out of it which are not mirrored !!! The next faux pas ? :D
I bent them and already, assembled the guitar body.

When you have the same spirit like me,
which means you take the wood just like you have it laying arround, you'll love the guitar.
I will post photos as soon as I finished.
"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."
Bruce Lee

Best regards
Phil

Return to “Luthiers”