Remember when you had braces in middle school, and they made you feel so awkward and weird and lonely? Today was like back to the future: I felt weird and awkward, and it was all because of braces.
It turns out these braces are really hard to make:
They go on the inside of the top and back of the guitar to help give it the stability it needs to withstand all that string tension. And they are a pain in the ass. After seeing mine and remarking “I don’t quite know how you made them look like that,” our instructor had to do these two for me.
And now for bending the sides into shape. It’s hot, wet, and steamy (hee hee). Here’s how it works (it’s not long, and it’s pretty interesting, so read it. No really! Read it!):
Preheat this very fancy clamping molding system to 300 degrees. (More about this thing, as well as other guitar building tools, to come in future posts.)
Cut your sides to size, and then spray well with a water bottle
Put the side into the fancy clamp and turn down the heat to 250. This is me just before putting the clamp down:
While it sits there, the water turns to steam and carries the heat through the entire thickness of the wood, making it more pliable. So it’s not the water that’s doing the bending, it’s the heat. Neat-o.
Here’s a finished side:
Now that we’re done with the hot and steamy side-bending apparatus, we’ll finish the sides later with a hot pipe. More innuendo!
The highlight of the day was the rosette. That’s where we rout out a few rings around what will be the sound hole, and inlay it with, in this case, abalone. I’m not a big fan of the abalone, and would have preferred ebony, or rosewood, or something else, but whatever.
Here’s what it that whole process looks like:
I’m happy to say that mine came out just about perfect. Now about those pesky braces…