Chapter Four – Square

You guys, I did it again. With the title. Chapter Four, square? Like the game, foursquare? But also because I spent a lot of this week making sure things were square. It’s a great pun, trust me.

But seriously, squaring things up was the name of the game this week. The end block and neck block are pretty key components in determining how straight my guitar will be put together, and so they need to be dead square. Like, ultra precise square, pray the gay away kind of straight. You know, if that kind of thing actually turned people straight (it doesn’t). But seriously, no margin for error in these parts.

Before that though, there was a more important shape to create – my guitar body! Up to now, I had no template for the sides of my guitar and how it would curve. I had drawn the shape on my plans, and cut the top and back roughly to the right dimensions, but the mold around which I would bend my sides didn’t exist yet, because up until now, the shape of my guitar didn’t exist. I had drawn it up myself, and to my knowledge, no other guitar in the world will have these exact dimensions (just another benefit of this course, and handmade guitars in general). So now, I needed a frame where my sides would live while they took shape.

After gluing together a whole bunch of heavy plywood, I roughly cut out the body of my guitar on the band saw, then got the inside corners nice and smooth. If these sides weren’t smooth, the sides of my guitar wouldn’t be smooth either, and that would be disastrous. In the end, here’s how it looked:


What's that song about fat bottom girls?

It’s going to be big. Originally, it was a jumbo body shape that I then modified with sloped shoulders, and I moved the waist down a little bit. I’m hoping for a big, clear low end so that my low B string is nice and articulate.


Family photo!

Here are the three pieces I’ve worked on so far. I’m quite happy with my progress!

Back to the blocks. In the process of getting these corners perfectly 90°, I got a little careless with the sander. Not ‘bye bye epidermis’ careless. With the grain running perpendicular to the sander, I pushed a bit too hard and I lost control of the block I had spent a good chunk of time getting square. A big corner got rounded off, too far down to be able to salvage it. Back to square one.

Silver lining sidebar – the next piece of wood I used for the neck block was made of Spanish cedar and my god, it smells so good. Why are we still using sandalwood scents but not cedar?!

Getting those perfect took time and patience and a nice slab of marble to ensure perfect flatness, but in the end I got them in great shape. There was a very satisfying *clack* made by sliding the square down onto the sides of my blocks. No gaps, no air, no nonsense. And after both of them were the right dimensions, totally square on every side, they were done, right?


Now they have to be radiused! Since they’ll sit inside the guitar body, they have to match the inside curve of the guitar body itself. After all that work, it was a bit terrifying going to the sander again to get this side done. If I screwed up, that’s a lot of time down the drain! Lucky for me…


I nailed it!

I mean, I haven’t actually put nails in it, so I didn’t literally nail it, I just… Oh whatever, you get it.

So that’s what I’ve got! Chapter Five next week is going to be a good one. See you then!


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