Thursday, June 4, 2009

Side Prep

The two zebrawood pieces that will become the sides of the guitar came with a thickness of .100-.110". This would be fine for a regular guitar shape, but the tight bends required of a cutaway a prone to cracking and breaking. They need to be thinner and more flexible, so I need to spend some time with the scraper and then some 80-grit sandpaper to get the sides down to about .90".

The scraper takes a decent amount of material off--less than a plane, more than sandpaper--and leaves a really smooth surface. But it's hard work; hard on the arms, but more than anything it's hard on the hands. The scraper, which is made of steel, must be curved backwards against the thumbs so that the cutting surface is curved.

And the thumbs get tired fast. Added to this is the fact that, when you are doing it right, your are creating a lot of friction, and friction created heat, and it burns my thumbs!

Sorry for the whining.

Anyway, I use the scraper to get it down below .95", and sandpaper to get it the rest of the way down.

I use the jointer to get one edge completely straight, and this will be the side that the top is glued to, since the top is almost flat.

I made copies of sides from the plans, taped them together, and cut it right along the edges. I transfer this to posterboard, and now I have a template for the sides. Using a pencil I trace the template on both of the sides.
I mark all over the sides in pencil so that I know which is the inside, which is the outside, which side is the heel and which is the butt, which attaches to the top and which to the back.
On the way home last night I reminded myself that I need to physically orient the sides to the top and back to make sure I've marked them correctly. This wouldn't make that much of a difference but on the non-cutaway side there is a small flaw that I want to make sure is on the inside of the guitar. When I get home I check it out and sure enough, what I had marked as the inside of the guitar would actually have been on the outside. The butt and the heel need to be reversed.

Glad I checked.

After getting this straightened out, I'll cut the sides out on the bandsaw, leaving plenty of overhang. I'll use the radius dishes to get the sides to their proper depths (a guitar is shallower at the heel than at the butt) and radius.

Then it's time to bend and hopefully not break some sides.

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