Portland Guitar Co.

Designing and Building
Custom Handcrafted
Guitars, Ukuleles
and Accessories

Portland Guitar Co. | Portland Oregon | Contact Jay Dickinson-503.245.3276 | jay@portlandguitar.com

Home | Orders & Sales | Photo Gallery | Current Builds | Finished Builds | Tilt Action Neck
Engineered Braces | Rosettes & Marquetry | Split Saddle | Shop Tour | Biography | News

Lutherie Tour

Welcome to my shop.  My shop occupies what used to be my garage.

In the summer I can leave the door up. I get a nice view of the grape plant I have been training across the front of my house. Gotta have a truck.

I built this deck in 2008 out of Philippine Mahogany. Take a close look, what does the shape of the deck remind you of?

Another view of my deck. On nice days I will sit out on the deck and work on a guitar while the world walks by.

The concord grapes usually turn purple at the end of September.


From the outside, the shop looks to be full.

It is full. I can't buy any new tools unless I find a place to put them.

The table saw and a rack of instruments in their forms in the build process.

My favorite tool is my band saw. I would buy a bigger one if I where to do it again.

Again, my table saw with lots of different push sticks.

My jointer.

This is a very old desk that has been repurposed several times. I do most of my work here. Notice all the C-clamps at the bottom. I don't think I will every have enough clamps. I am getting ready to replace this bench with a specially designed luthier's bench.

This is the other bench I work at regularly. The draws hold most of the hand held tools I regularly use.

I built this cabinet over the bench so I can store valuable parts behind a sliding door. Weird things happen in the shop from time to time such as a clamp breaking and flying across the room. If I don't keep valuable items in the cabinet the clamp will inevitably land on them. This I know from experience.

Here is a curious tool for a luthier. Sometimes I like to get a very close up look at what I am doing. Wood is very interesting when magnified, the ultimate composite material. I also like lots of pencils. I just don't like to have to look for a pencil.

This is my oscillating and disk sander. I am always fixtures to enhance a tools utility. On top of the oscillating bed is a movable platen that allows me to sand thin strips of wood to a prescribed thickness.

My sink.

And shelves for everything I need at close at hand. I use the wok to dump screws and bolts into so I can easily find what I am looking for. I built a funnel into the wok so I can return the nuts to their box easily.

My 30" belt sander gets a a real work out. I have added a funnel to the return pulley to capture as much dust as I can.

I found that I often need different blades on my bandsaw, so instead of constantly changing blades I bought two small saws to compliment my big saw.

Behind the belt sander, inside the big white box is my dust collector and compressor. It used to get so loud in my shop I was concerned about my hearing. I built this noise attenuating mechanical room to improve the environment.

This is my most cherished tool. This Walker Turner drill press, circa 1930, came from my Grandfather Dickinson's Shop. They do not build them like this any more.

One of the very first memories I have is of my father an me, when I was about three years old and living in Germany, building a small wooden boat with a rubber band driven paddle wheel from a piece of wooden fence we found. My father was a colonel in the US Army, my personal hero... he died of Alzheimer's several years ago. He keeps a close watch over me as I work in my shop. At some level I am always trying to live up to his expectations.

One of my latest acquisitions is this small milling machine. It is not a CNC model, but it does have digital readouts on the X-Y stage.

When I bought the milling machine I also bought every vise I thought I might need. I built this very sturdy cabinet to hold them.

One of the first tools I purchased was this router table, with a 3 hp router. It is definitely not a hand held router. I complimented the router table with an Incra micro adjustable fence. Always toward greater precision. I regularly hold a 5 mil (1 mil = 1/1000 inch) tolerance on the pieces I work on.

To compliment the jointer, a planer.

The planer is far to aggressive to work on some of the wood I work with. This drum sander allows me to dimension wood very accurately without tearing it up.

I starred at my drum sander for several years thinking that it had everything I need to fashion a sanding flee. This is a tool that lets me sand the surface of a small piece of wood safely.

My buffing wheel is crucial in putting a high polish shine on a guitar.

Occasionally I need to really light up the subject.

As you may have seeing by now, I am space limited in my shop. The solution to this problem is everything is on wheels. Unfortunately I am always moving one tool out of the way so I can move another into place. Having everything movable makes cleaning up a bit easier.

One of the first things I did when I started to put this shop together was to tile the floor. To compliment the herringbone purfling I use on many of my guitars I installed this herringbone pattern in the floor.

Om the top shelf you can see some of the bending forms I use.

For those things I want out of the way but close at hand I store them in the attic.

A shop that generates as much sawdust as I do needs an air filter.

When I get ready to spray on the lacquer I set up a paint booth with a movable curtain. This curtain rod moves out of the way when I open the attic door.

I keep this picture of Richard Feynman in my shop for inspiration. Feynman was a physicist who received a Nobel Prize for his work on Quantum Electro Dynamics. He was a very interesting character and from this picture that was taken from the cover of Physics Today, he might have been considered a Special Issue.

Of course I have a stereo in the shop. Love that sub woofer.

This is a clever gadget I built to keep metal parts out of the dust collector. I built this magnetic fence that catches all the little screws that go wandering off and want to get sucked up.

A little shop safety is a good thing.

Don't every want to use this.

When this telephone stops working I will give it up. They built these things to last..

I buy these 2" clamps by the 100s.

A view out the shop door..

A luthier.

Looking over the shop..

What next?.

The commute in the morning can be a real bear sometimes.