Chapter Three – Dimensions

There was a lot of visible progress this week – my pieces of wood are starting to look the way a guitar does! Or at least, a guitar in a million pieces. And only the body, not the neck. But hey – if it takes a few weeks to build something I’ll have for (hopefully) my entire life, I’m okay with that. Mostly, I focused on finishing the bracing. Whereas I have been working mostly on flat surfaces, I’ve now begun to build the guitar up. That’s why I called the post dimensions. Do you see what I did there? Because it’s chapter three, and I called it dimensions? Like, three dimensions? It was subtle. Just like this is.

Shaping the bracing, as I mentioned, got easier with each one I made. At first it was a bit slow and got me a bit anxious, worrying that if I screw up I have to go back to the raw lumber and cut a whole new one. That fear subsides once you get into the rhythm of making them, because it actually doesn’t take that long to make each one when you know the steps. Not that I want to be wasting wood or time willy-nilly, but, it’s not the end of the world if I botch one. Here are a few of them all lined up:

Way cooler than other adult braces.

Back braces are way cooler than adult braces.

You can also see the strip running up the back of the guitar that was glued on earlier. That simply supports the joint of the two pieces of wood on the back. I carefully sawed away slots for these braces to sit in, and then began gluing:

Go bars are neat!

Go bars are neat!

This workbench is set up specifically for this purpose – setting lengths of wood between the part of the guitar I’m working on and the ceiling over the bench applies pressure on the braces, ensuring a perfect fit between the two parts. The ‘go bar deck’ is used very often, not just on braces, and without it, building guitars would be really, really, really difficult. I don’t know about hard numbers, but each of those pieces of wood take a fair amount of strength to flex. Multiply that by the number of them on there at the moment (26 or so? I didn’t bother to count. I told you, no hard numbers)…anyway, there’s a hell of a lot of pressure.

Bracing the top was just the same, with the exception of the layout of the braces. I took the same steps in gluing them onto my top:

This brace is probably the most important of all the braces.

10 points if you can guess what this brace is called.

Any takers? No? It’s the X-brace. Yep, they really stretched on that one. I guess they didn’t have any importance left for naming it, since structurally and sonically, it’s probably the most important brace in the entire guitar. They were quite a pain to shape, since the intersection of the two braces, as you can see, is not arched like the rest. That makes it much tougher to get a symmetrical shape on both sides, but I think I managed pretty well.

While that glue was setting, I went about shaping the other braces for the top. Some of them are done the same way, but smaller braces called ‘fingers’ are something I shaped by hand, and that led to a shot that I’ve noticed is obligatory for any woodworking project:

Look at all them curly ribbons!

Look at all them curly ribbons!

I used a tiny little finger plane to cut down the corners, then sanded them smooth. When everything was shaped and glued up, the top looked like this:

Here's what it looks like with all of the top braces glued on.

Don’t worry – the way they’re arranged doesn’t make much sense to me either.

You can also see a different wood in the middle of everything – that’s the bridge plate. Mine is made of maple, so it’s a lot stronger than spruce, but it’s quite thin so as to be flexible enough not to inhibit the movement of the top.

As I mentioned before, though, a big chunk of time is dedicated to things you can’t see rather than things you can – that means I took a tiny little chisel (that brown thing in the bottom right of the photo above) and scraped away all the excess glue that had been squeezed out by the go bars. Following that, I sanded those areas down to cover up all the nasty gouges I made in the wood trying to scrape off the glue. As Jeremy told me, my goal is to “make it look like it grew that way.” So until wood grows with braces already attached, I’ll keep honing my skills here and try to end up with something that looks as good as it sounds.

I’m in Montreal this coming week, so it’ll be an extra week before the next post. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post a few interesting things and photos in the meantime. Cheers!


One comment

  1. Laura Ly · September 28, 2015

    Looks awesome.


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