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three guitars, ribs bent

I've been working my way through an on-line steel string guitar building course from O'Brien Guitars. I bought a kit from Luthier's Mercantile, which is nothing more than a lumber package, plus frets, tuners and other hardware to build a complete guitar, plus the plans, in this case for the Gibson J-45 dreadnaught, sometimes called the Southern Jumbo.

I was new to bending the sides by the hot pipe method, so I made some practice sides out hard maple forklift pallet slats. Those went well, so I moved on to some QS walnut, actually the same lot I built the 12 string out of. That went well, so I got brave enough to bend the rosewood - successfully.

The second set of practice sides looked so good, rusty nail holes and all, I decided what the heck, let's make a guitar out of those. This may sound crazy, but I have along history of building many things from salvage, it's just a thing with me.

So now I'm building three guitars. The quarter-sawn walnut is salvaged from a very old table leaf. I made the reverse kerfings for the two maple and walnut guitars from pallet salvage. The walnut will provide banding and trimmings for the maple guitar, and visa-versa. I have enough salvaged Brazilian rosewood in the form of a large discarded table top to make two more guitars (later), but also to provide many fret boards, bridges, etc. for the walnut and maple guitars. I want to put a redwood top on the maple guitar, from some ancient quarter-sawn salvage redwood I have. Shown below, this came from the Boulder ReSource Center as a piece of siding. The walnut will get some similar salvage spruce top - very fine grain, no more than 10 degrees from vertical, rings like a bell, and looks like Engleman spruce. The only things I plan to buy for the salvage guitars are the tuners, fret wire, bridge pins, and purfling.
Redwood soundboard being made from salvaged siding finished sound board

Here's the sound board for the maple guitar out of a salvaged piece of vertical grain redwood siding. Redwood is normally the loudest and brightest of commonly used soundboard woods, and it will be interesting to see how it balances with the maple sides and back.

Below, I'm gluing the center seam for back of the Indian Rosweood guitar.

gluing the back halves together
This one below is being made from a forklift pallet I picked up at the Boulder ReSource Center, a nonprofit dedicated to recycling and repurposing materials to keep them out of the landfill. The nail holes are filled and leveled with CA glue and clear epoxy. The finished guitar will get a clear laquer finish, as I wanted them to show up well.
Spalted maple for the back of the forklift guitar

I quickly realized that I was maximizing the learning from the course. I get to practice everything first on the forklift pallet guitar, then the walnut, then with my moves fresh in my mind, on to the rosewood. This also makes all the jig and fixture building feel more worthwhile, as well as buying the right tools.

Many parts of the body of a guitar are assembled using what's called a go box. In this, flexible fiberglass or hardwood rods are propped inside a frame to press down on the various parts, such as the braces in this picture below.
Braces being glued in a go deck

Below, each top is tuned by shaving the braces and tapping gently, until the best tone is achieved.  You're aiming for a desired amount of attack as well as sustain in the tone.  How this is balanced depends on what the guitar will be used for - flat picking, finger picking, rhythm strumming, etc.

shaving braces on the tops
Below, the bindings and decorative purflings have been installed. I made a miscalculation when I routed the purfling channel, and cut it quite a bit too wide, on all three guitars. This, in the trade, is called a design opportunity. I decided now was a good time to learn a technique called radial purfling, where strips of end grain wood are cut to fit between the purfling lines. YouTube to the rescue!
bindings and purfling in place
close up of radial purfling
This stage is called having "closed the box".
completed bodies
Now I'm on to necks.
Shaping a neck
I experimented with a number of different inlay methods with these three, including this one below for the recycle symbol.
Cutting the shapes for the recycle symbol on the CNC
After cutting out the little pieces on the CNC, I glued them to a paper pattern with CA glue before gluing that into a recess in the peg head, and filling that with black epoxy. I would use a lighter shade of green in the future to get a little more contrast.
assembling the recycle symbol with super glue
One of the problems of building three at once is the for need places put them, hence the three-place rolling rack.
three-place rack
Necks glued on
All three on the bench, face down
Frets installed, fret boards glued on, and final shaping done on the necks.
Measuring for the bridge saddle
four foot long precision scale laid on the guitar to measure
Finally, the first one is done. Click on the photo to see the finished photos.
laying in the case
Now the others are done . . .
The "Forklift Pallet" guitar is currently for sale, and can be seen at Jensen Guitars in Longmont, Colorado.
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