DIY: Acoustic 7 string build "Gloria" (lots of pics)

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Thread: DIY: Acoustic 7 string build "Gloria" (lots of pics)

  1. #1

    Join Date: Oct 2008
    Location: Seekaaahhhk, MA
    ME: Bugsy
    MA: Cane
    Rig: Bias

    iTrader: 2 (100%)

    DIY: Acoustic 7 string build "Gloria" (lots of pics)

    Well, this will be a bit different from my usual build pic-stories. Aside from it being my first acoustic build, I’m going to post the pictures more closely to real-time rather than all at once at the end when it’s finished. I’ve barely gotten into the build and already have over 60 pictures. Posting the entire build at one time would probably be way too much (and a lot of writing for me as well). So, why is it named Gloria? Glad you asked…

    A co-worker friend, who is also a woodworker and musician, said he was cleaning shop and found some Cherry that had been cut from a tree that came down in hurricane Gloria. He said, “It’s yours if you want it. I’ve had it this long and not done anything with it. You’ll put it to better use than me.” I was quite flattered, but wasn’t sure what I could build that would have some meaning. He had been holding these boards for so long; waiting for a cool project. Then, while looking through some boxes of books I found the Cumpiano/Natelson book “Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology” I got for Christmas the other year. That was it! I’ll build an acoustic from the Cherry! So, I acquired some spruce for the top and bracing, and ebony for the fingerboard and got started…

    It’s not the clearest board, but I think there’s enough to work with…

    The board was a little warped so I used a hand plane to flatten one side and found this hole.

    Maybe the other side is better…

    Whew! Looks ok. I finished flattening with a #7 jointer plane and finished up with a smoothing plane.

    Cut the board as wide as possible and squared up the edges…

    …used a marking gauge to define the cut line…

    …and started cutting,

    and kept cutting.

    I don’t remember the last time my arms hurt so much! It took about 45-60 minutes to do that single cut. At least I stayed right on the line. Woo hoo! One down, one to go. Although, it does feel a bit thin in the middle…


    Ok, maybe that wasn’t the right saw for the job. I’ll make a frame saw, yeah, that’s the right tool for the job…

    Ugh…it works, kinda. It’s the right type blade, but not so fast. So I used both saws and eventually cut two pieces for the back.

    I told myself that would be the last time I re-saw a hardwood board that wide using a hand saw. It’s hellish hard, sweaty work.

    Time to do something other than sawing, like make the template and work board from the book. First, draw the template, then cut it out of pressed hardboard (masonite).

    The work board is two 3/4” thick pieces of plywood glued together, cut to a little bit larger than the template and with extensions for better work holding.

    Then a cork edging is made and attached to a piece of construction paper (not the work board itself). This is used to raise the edge of the plates to create the arch…if I remember correctly.

    Time to start the neck.

    I made a quick neck template to try and best utilize the board.

    Glued and clamped, clamped, clamped!

    Out of the clamps…

    How about a wax-coated block of ebony to start the fingerboard?

    I used a metal card scraper to remove the wax (sorry, no picture of that mess) then used the band saw to cut off the fingerboard slice.

    Block plane to square it up…

    …and a jack plane to level it.

    This isn’t the way I usually cut fret slots, but I thought it would be easier with a flat top. I was wrong. Regardless, here is how I did (and will not do again). Double stick tape is great, and if you can deal with the smell, so is spray glue.

    Fret slots are cut to depth and an alignment block keeps the blade on track.

    Fingerboard cut to width with a handsaw because I was concerned the band saw would have been too rough on the brittle ebony edge.

    Edge is fine tuned with a jack plane on the shooting board.

    Then I spent about 30 minutes trying to peel off the damn paper before trying naptha; done two minutes later.

    Fingerboard radiused with sandpaper and block…

    Fret slots are re-cut using the radius block as a guide and a depth stop made from piece of wood attached to the saw blade with double sided tape. This is how I prefer to cut fret slots and should have done in the first place.

    Alright, time to try re-sawing by hand again. This time it’s Spruce, which is way softer than Cherry, so it should be a lot easier.

    The board only needed a little flattening, and then smoothing. I was really excited to watch this board clean up.

    Ok, time to re-saw, mark the lines, start the cut, going well, much easier than the Cherry…

    WTF!?!?!?!? !!#$%%@#%%^#$^%&($%!@! The hell with this!!!

    (One week later)

    Holy shit is this thing awesome! I was so excited that I forgot to take pictures of the boards after re-sawing. So, here the back and front plates are being glued up…(yay…more pictures of watching glue dry)

    While the glue cured, I went back to work on the neck. Cutting it to length…

    …and squaring it up with a block plane. A sharp blade is mandatory for getting clean end grain shavings.

    Routed the truss rod…

    …and cleaned out the end to allow the truss rod to pass through.

    Laid out and cut the tenon cheeks.

    Then glued thin strips of maple, with its grain perpendicular to the neck grain, on the sides of the tenon to provide some reinforcement against the barrel bolt pulling through the end grain. Glue bear looks on with approval.

    Bolt holes are drilled in the tenon.

    Neck side profile is drawn…

    …then cut using the band saw.

    The head is flattened and squared with a block plane.

    To cut the neck and head to width/shape, it is attached to the cut away part with double sided tape…

    …then cut out at the band saw. Tuner holes were also drilled.

    The heel profile is drawn using the band saw throat plate (it was handy).

    On of the heel side “ramps” is cut using a chisel and plane…

    …but I found it quicker, and more accurate to use a saw.

    I made a template for the heel curve out of this maple…

    …and traced it on to both sides of the heel face.

    Then used a rasp and mini-spoke shave to shape it.

    The neck profile is rough-shaped with a spoke shave.

    And finally, I got back to the working on the plates. Here they are cut to shape…

    …and planed to thickness.

    That’s where it is as of last night. Lots of pictures, and it didn’t start looking like a guitar until way at the end! Hopefully you’ve found it interesting! The pics will be posted in real time (within a day or two) from here on out.

  2. #2

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Woodbridge, VA
    ME: KxK ProtoVii-7
    MA: Martin D-28
    Rig: Mesa/Boobies Stiletto

    iTrader: 2 (100%)

    Hand saws are hard, time to buy a band saw!
    Division: American Metal without the suck.

    So live for today,
    Tomorrow never comes.
    Die young, die young,
    Can't you see the writing in the air?
    Die young, gonna die young,
    Someone stopped the fair.

  3. #3

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Woodbridge, VA
    ME: CS USA Soloist 7
    MA: Ovation Elite Standard
    Rig: Mesa Triple Rec

    iTrader: 10 (100%)

    The solution is always new tools.

  4. #4

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Soviet Canuckistan
    ME: Decibel Javelin
    MA: Ibanez AJ307CE
    MB: Fretless Precision mutt
    Rig: Mesa F-30

    iTrader: 3 (100%)

    Wirelessly posted (like MAGIC!)


  5. #5

    Join Date: Aug 2012
    Location: Chicago, Il
    ME: Strat
    Rig: MKV25, Port City OS Wave

    iTrader: 1 (100%)

    Dibs! Awesome stuff man. That ebony is beautiful.

  6. #6

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: The house formerly known as the Haus
    ME: Ibanez S540LTD
    MA: Taylor Big Baby
    Rig: Laney GH50L

    iTrader: 13 (100%)

    Oh fuck yes!
    R.I.P. Guitars Etc
    RHLC Chief Promotions Officer

  7. #7

    Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: The B.L., WA.
    ME: Buckethead Les Paul
    MA: Washburn
    Rig: Titan Custom

    iTrader: 21 (100%)

    THIS is going to be a fun build to watch.

  8. #8

    Join Date: Jul 2009
    Location: Raleigh, NC
    ME: RG1527
    MA: Eastman AC-420
    Rig: Mesa Stiletto Ace

    iTrader: 7 (100%)

    "Sometimes you have to confront your own patterns and expectations of yourself and do away with things that you enjoy doing in order to move forward and keep evolving as a musician. That's exactly the definition of the word progressive of course." —Steven Wilson

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