Portland Guitar Co. | Portland Oregon | Contact Jay Dickinson-503.245.3276 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Here we see a collection of much of the raw materials that I will use
in building this instrument. Some of the material such as the
neck blank, the heal block and the binding I have
When I have the opportunity I make up as many of a part as I
at one time so I don't have to recreate the set up. Much of
time in fabrication is spent in setting up the tools and fixtures.
Here we can see the kerfing being fabricated. Lots and lots
slots. The slots let me easily bend the wood into the shape
the guitar body. The kerfing goes on the inside of the guitar
provides a shelf to glue the top and back onto the sides
This is my drum sander. Here I am sanding the kerfing blanks
consistent thickness. You can see a stack of kerfing blanks
on the table
to the right.
In this picture I am preparing the two halves of the top to be glued
together. One of the objectives when joining the pieces
is to make the joint line invisible. This means that the two
pieces must fit together with a high degree of precision.
the two pieces of the top have been sawed and the edges are made
straight by sanding them on a straight edge, I use this very sharp
plane to make the edges crisp and perpendicular. This is a
important joint for appearances sake, so I take as much time as I need
to to get it right.
After the edges are ready, I glue the two pieces of the top together in
this vice. The two pieces are laid next to each other and
together with the wedges you can see in the bottom right of the
picture. The aluminum brace hold down the wooden cross braces
that prevent the top from buckling up when it is under compression.
I use a special white glue that dries clear and hard to join
top pieces together.
Her is the joined top.
In this picture I am gluing the back pieces together.
After the back pieces have been joined and the joint is dry I use the
drum sander to dimension the thickness of the back to 100 mils. The
back will loose about 10 mils during subsequent steps.
And here is the final result. You can see the center zipper
I inlaid between the two halves of the back. Nice looking
Now I am starting to work on the rosette. Kevin chose to use
of spalted mahogany for the rosette. Spalting is a natural
process of rotting wood. It can make very interesting
unique patterns as fungus grows through the wood and it
I slice off slabs from a block of material and create book
matched sets that are glued together. This material is very
fragile and tends to fall apart until it is inset into the top.
The results are worth to trouble though.
Here I am cutting out the ring for the rosette. I carefully
the inner circle and use it for a contra-rosette that goes on the
inside of the guitar right below the sound hole.
Here I am touching up the rough ring with my oscillating sander.
After I have the ring for the rosette cut out, I use this circle router
tool to route out a channel for the ring to fit in to.
I next trim up the edges of the ring into perfect circles and route out
the channel for the herringbone strip. Using a heat gun to
soften up the herringbone strips I press
them into the
routed channels and then flood the whole assembly with cyanoacrylate
glue to secure them into place.
After everything is glued in, the rosette stands proud (sticks above)
from the surface
of the top. So, it goes into the drum sander where the inlay
material is sanded flush to the top. I then sand the back side
the top so the top has a thickness of 100 mils. As I work on
top in subsequent processes it will loose between 10 and 20 mils of
After I am satisfied with the thickness of the top I cut out the sound
hole with the circle router.
And then I draw on the outline of the top. Building a high
quality guitar requires a certain degree of accuracy and precision.
To get it right there must first be a good design, and then
design must be executed correctly. This is one of those times
when we must measure twice, thrice, and more and then cut once. I often
say, "It is much easier to remove wood that is there than to
back wood that isn't." To this end I will wait until it is
absolutely necessary to make a cut, and I will draw and measure and
contemplate what I am doing for a long time before I actually do it.
In this game quality starts with the very first cut.
I have set up the top showing the rosette and with the contra-rosette
showing through the sound hole. I think this has turned out
nice. This is a rosette that is absolutely unique.
In this picture I am laying out the template for the sides.
important to make sure the sides are set up so that the grain patterns
match and that there is enough material. The cutaway side is
little longer than the normal; side.
This is the universal bendalator. One of the side pieces has
been slipped between two sheets of aluminum flashing with a heating
blanket slipped between another sheet of flashing. The whole
assembly is held together with clothes pins and the top sheet has holes
punched into it so I can squirt water onto the wood while it is heating
up. When the wood gets hot, ~275 deg F, it becomes quited
and pliable. I keep the wood wet to help prevent scorching,
with heat transfer, and it seems to make the wood a bit more pliable.
After the wood is hot, I first press the waist into shape.
I then attach the upper bout spring loaded roller,
and then the lower bout spring loaded roller.
I then carefully roll the upper bout into shape,
Followed by the lower bout.
I then let the whole thing cook at ~ 175 deg F for about 45 minutes or
And In the end we get a curvy piece of Koa.
I clamp the side into the mold to help it hold its shape. If
left the wood out of the mold it would lose some of its shape.
While it is in the mold I cut off the excess wood from the end,
and the top and bottom. I love my bandsaw!