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documented build
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Author:  Beth Mayer [ Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Hi Burton,
On the picture "back purr channels cut", it looks as though your end graft is already in place. Then you go on to show routing for the end graft and it's construction and gluing in. I'm not sure if your end graft was in prior to cutting your purf channels....sorry, this is probably an obvious thing and I'm just missing it.
Looks awesome!

Author:  Burton LeGeyt [ Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build


Good eye! That photo was out of order, I did cut the channels before putting in the graft although it could just as easily have been done first. I have done it both ways in the past and don't have a good reason one way or the other for which order to do it in. Putting it in first would save having to level it to the channel after and putting it in after avoids possibly getting chipout on the top if you use a router to cut the channel (I do). With both ways there a few simple precautions to make it more foolproof though.

I'm glad you are enjoying it.

Author:  Darrel Friesen [ Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Some great tips and looking great Burton. Thanks for posting.

Author:  Bill Hodge [ Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Excellent documentation Burton!

I usually get started with the photo doc sequence, and eventually get to a point where I'm so into the process, I forget to take a lot of pics. Maybe one day I'll get a full series of process shots. Looking forward to seeing the finished project. [:Y:]

Author:  Lars Stahl [ Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Great post Burton [:Y:] I look forward to see more shots of the "armrest" details and how its coming along . Thanks for taking your time with all the photos !! really enjoy it ! .

Buddy Lars.

Author:  David Wolfe [ Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

I am building my first steel string guitar. I ordered a maple bridge plate for backing under the ebony bridge,but I have a piece of ebony large enough to make a backing plate. Should I use maple or ebony?

Author:  Burton LeGeyt [ Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build


I would use the maple. It is time tested as an excellent choice and many people consider ebony a bit heavy for that purpose. Ebony might work fine, it is not 100% a bad choice but for a first guitar I would advise to stick to something you know will work and maple definitely will.

Author:  Burton LeGeyt [ Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

With the purfling all on it is time to strap on the bindings. I had pre-glued the side purflings to the bindings when they were in stick form (with the same press I used for the purflings) and then I had sliced the binding strips off of that. I cleaned them up, cut them to be just higher than the binding slot that I cut and then bent them all taped together on my hot pipe.


and a close up


Usually they are very close when bent this way but not perfect. I will keep the iron out and touch up each one to be a better fit. The waist is the crucial part, I want it be as perfect as I can get it there. The bouts will generally pull in with the force of the tubing although it should be very very close to perfect.

Once I am confident of the bindings being correct I will run LMI glue along the channels (I start with the back although it does not matter) for about 3/4 of their length, leaving the butt joints with no glue (for now). I tape them down with the LMI binding tape and pull them fairly tightly, I don't work at it as hard as I used to when I used CA. Once they are in place I begin wrapping the surgical tubing around them starting at the waist and moving out in both directions. As it wraps you see little squeeze outs appear and the binding pulls in very very tightly. I wrap a few inches beyond where I stopped putting the glue.


When the tubing is removed it looks like this:


There is almost no residue around the binding from the glue and the white glue nibs generally pop off fairly easily. I still need to address the butt joints though and for these sometimes I will use CA. There are generally 4 inches or so on each side of the butt to lock into place and if I can get them taped down perfectly and tight at the joint I don't have a problem wicking in the CA. The white glue would work as well but for this small area I know I can use the CA cleanly.


I wick it in between the pieces of tap and keep the guitar angled slightly back so it flows in and down into the channel. I will use some, but not an excessive amount. Once I am confident that it has locked in the bindings I will remove the tape and then run more along the channel still tipping the guitar. This is a little more messy than using the white glue but not bad. I could never get the entire guitar done as cleanly as I can small areas like this with the CA.


The top binding is done the same although I never use CA on the top if I can help it.


I will do the butt joints on the top with the white glue and tape/tubing.

Author:  Burton LeGeyt [ Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Once the bindings are all installed I need to cut them back to flush. I use a scraper for most of this and move to sanding pads when I am close to flush. I have had the scrapers cut unevenly and am nervous about doing it all with them only. Sometimes I will final level with a razor blade, it doesn't cut as aggressively and allows me to sneak up on the final leveling with less nerves that I will gouge the top or back. Here is a photo of scraping the back bindings:


And a shot of the back bindings all leveled:


I was very happy with how it came out, there were no little gaps anywhere. I used the shortest height bindings I could (considering the brace ends pockets) and I am loving that look as well on this smaller guitar.

With the bindings all on I can now focus on the cutaway. I had shown this photo before but here it is again, the bindings are installed beyond the purflings over the cutaway area:


My first action here is to rough out as much of the slot as I can with my laminate trimmer (for the top) and then the belt sander. The angle of the opening NEEDS TO BE IN THE SAME PLANE for the whole thing. This is super important. The deepest point on the cutaway on the top will correspond to the deepest point on the side and you want to mark where you want that deepest point on the side to be and sneak up on it a bit. The unknown is where the cutaway will fall as it approaches the point on the side. I know from experience more or less what it will look like but I am always conservative in that area until i can get in there with the dowel and do some hand sanding.

Here is the pocket with its belt sanded initial opening and the tools I will use to further open it (a dowel and 80 grit PSA sandpaper)


My goal is to sneak up to the purflings I have already installed on the top making sure that I keep the dowel in exactly the same plane as I remove material. Generally I find that there are points on the side where I need to remove a lot of material and I will hog bits away with the dremel periodically to make that easier. I will write in pencil on the opening to see where I am hitting, that helps as well.


The real goal is to sand up to the purflings JUST TO the maple line. In a perfect world the laminate will just kiss the edge of the maple (the outside purfling line) and when you level it it will look perfect. It is better to slightly (very slightly) sand the maple line a bit when preparing the cutaway opening. Sanding back the cutaway laminate will expose more of the maple line, so it not lost. The blackwood line I added into the purfling is so that if you sand too much away you would expose that blackood line and it should match and disappear into the laminate. Here is a photo of the opening sanded and ready to receive the laminate. I was successful in getting the whole opening in the same plane and snuck up on the maple pretty well, I am happy with how this looks.


Next I will begin to bend the laminate. Since I had the wood resawed I have plenty of matching wood left over for the overlay. I usually thin it to about .05 for this. I find most woods bend very easily at that thickness and it doesn't make the binding look to thick when it comes in at the angle.


I will get it pretty close and the trace the opening onto the overlay


Author:  Burton LeGeyt [ Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Cut out from that line we have this:


At this point it should be almost perfect but care should be taken to get it as absolutely close as possible. I always end up doing little presses on the hot pipe trying to just change the bends very slightly to get them right. It is also important to cut it back to almost flush all over, you will put a lot of pressure on it when installing it and having the edges stick up could impede the clamping pressure being directed to the right spot. Here is a test fit:


Once I am confident I can't get it any better I am ready to glue it on. I use Smiths epoxy for this procedure for the open time and gap filling properties. I don't think there are any gaps but since I can't see everything on the inside I don't want to take any chances. It is what I have been using all along and I have had guitars with this cutaway out there for a few years with no problems.

Taped and tubed on it looks like this:


And then after a night left to cure everything that doesn't belong gets scraped and sanded away and with the cutaway in I can admire the body looking just about exactly like it should. I have been getting more and more confident of my binding and purfling jobs but i still breathe a sigh of relief when it is over and has come out well.


One nice thing here is that where the overlay meets the binding is where the endgrain is exposed on the overlay so it is naturally darker and matches better to the rosewood binding. As the endgrain fades into the side grain at the bottom it that darker color slowly fades out to the normal blackwood color and then fades back in up to the other side. It looks fairly seamless when looking at it, I really like how that looks as it allows you to incorporate both elements (side wood and binding wood) into the feature.

Author:  Corky Long [ Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

I'm learning a lot from this build, Burton. Thank you! Your selective use of CA and/or white glue on the bindings is very helpful. I've been experimenting with various glues on purfling and binding and your thought process and criteria make a lot of sense. I also like your attention to the detail on leveling and scraping the bindings back - makes a lot of sense to go to sanding blocks once you're very clsoe.

Author:  Michael Lloyd [ Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Great post here Burton. Some interesting solutions to the building process.

A top bookmark!

Thanks for sharing.

Author:  Don Williams [ Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build Rock.

Author:  micahmed [ Tue May 03, 2011 3:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

man I love the cut-away! eek

Author:  WendyW [ Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Hey Burton, thanks for posting this build, it's been very informative. By the way, what size surgical tubing do you use for wrapping the binding, is it 3/8", and how many feet does it take to bind a guitar? Do you think the surgical tubing is better for this than heavy duty cotton twill tape? Thanks, Wendy

Author:  Chris Pile [ Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

man I love the cut-away!

X 100

Author:  Burton LeGeyt [ Wed Jun 01, 2011 5:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build


I use this tubing: ... 3838,47843

I have 2 lengths but you could work it with one. I like this method better than any other I have tried, I like it much more than tape.

Chris, Thanks to you x100 as well!

I apologize for the lengthy delay in finishing this off, it will be done soon. I have been a little overwhelmed in real life. Sorry. If anyone is interested in a sneak pek at the finished product you can go here: ... und-clips/

Author:  dazzer [ Wed Jun 01, 2011 9:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Thats such a nice guitar Burton [clap]

I love the cutaway [:Y:]

All the best

Author:  fingerstyle1978 [ Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Thanks for this thread Burton. Although it's 3 years old and you've probably changed a lot of things, I'm drawing a lot of inspiration from it. And now that I am saying thanks, it will go right to the top of this category and I won't have to dig anymore!!! Cheers

Author:  Burton LeGeyt [ Wed Apr 10, 2013 10:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Thanks Joey,
I certainly have changed a bunch of things but mostly in my approaches. Much of the parts are still made the same.
I keep meaning to go in and finish showing the neck construction with an updated guitar but have not had the time. Someday! It will be funny to finish it so much later than I started.
If I do that I'll include a list of the things I do differently now.

Author:  MaxBishop [ Wed Apr 10, 2013 12:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build


What a great guitar! Blackwood is one of my favorites and I am in love with your cutaway. I have to try it some day. Thanks for all the great photos and descriptions. It really helps and is inspiring as well.

Best regards,

Author:  Joe Sallis [ Fri Apr 26, 2013 7:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

I've just read through this thread for the first time. It's facinating to see your method. there are ways I've never seen before and so plenty to think about. I hope I'll reach your level of workmanship.
Guitar looks fantastic. Next post please!

Author:  aqualibguitars [ Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: documented build

Really nice post

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