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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:44 pm 
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First name: Beth
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This will be a slope-shouldered dreadnaught with 24.75" scale length and straight bridge with tapered wings.
Bearclaw Sitka top - LMI
Quilted Mahogany B/S - LMI
Zircote FB - RC
Zircote Bridge - LMI
Zircote rosette- RC
Zircote bindings - Lance K
Honduran neck with laminates of Bloodwood/Maple/Bloodwood.
I've been taking pictures all along, and just finished binding the box, with the neck blank almost done. I have about 6 weeks in the project and things are going overall much more smoothly with this build, which is not to say I haven't made mistakes.
So here goes:


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:53 pm 
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Okay, now I see that the pictures load from oldest to newest, so the first post was backwards. I apologize if the order I post doesn't make too much sense, but you all know the basic build order :)


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:09 pm 
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As of tonight, the binding is done top and back. I did some gap filling on the top bindings before gluing the back bindings. I'll leave the tape/rubberbands/clamps on the box until tomorrow since the fish glue stays open for so long.
Not sure how well I like the red veneers from StewMac (and I notice they've since discontinued the colored purfling strips) because it's a kind of pinkish red, but I wanted something different, and I'm hoping it will darken a bit under finish.
I do not plan to burst this one. I've barely got my wits about me just spraying lacquer yet, so I'm using the figured woods and color instead. I do want to make one to do a burst on, because I love the look of the Gibson J 45.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:08 pm 
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Love that top!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:12 pm 
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Beth, it's really looking nice. I too like that bearclaw top.
Ain't it funny how when the 2nd time we do it, the bracing fits to a tee, but then something else rears its head? LOL. I'm with you on the faceting. It looks like you're working your way thru it though. I just put a gash in the lower part of the back on mine and had to match up some mahogany to replace it with.
It's what I like though, we have our "dangits" and our "aha's!" each time we try.
You're well on the way. Can't wait to see how the binding comes out.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:43 pm 
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Looks great Beth!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:47 am 
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This week I was able to work on the neck and neck to body joint. Don Williams is working on my headplate inlay, so the veneers are not glued on yet, but I routed for the truss rod, pared down the neck blank a bit, and made the mortise and tenon joint.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:50 am 
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Out of order...truss rod routing setup.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:47 pm 
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Looking really good Beth. I find routing the mortise into the neck block cumbersome and time consuming. On my next builds I plan to cut the mortise (with dado blade in table saw) into the neck block prior to glueing to the sides. Then later I can simply cut through the sides and Voila! Anyone else do it this way? Is there a downside?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 3:42 pm 
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Doug Balzer wrote:
Looking really good Beth. I find routing the mortise into the neck block cumbersome and time consuming. On my next builds I plan to cut the mortise (with dado blade in table saw) into the neck block prior to glueing to the sides. Then later I can simply cut through the sides and Voila! Anyone else do it this way? Is there a downside?


I once put together a serviced kit, so it had the mortise and tenon pre-done. You just had to be sure your heel block was exactly straight in order for everything to go together as it should, though I guess it could be refined after the fact if you were a little crooked or not exactly on the centerline.
Though it is a tedious process (and a little scary to be taking a router to your finished body), the jig sets the neck angle too, which is nice.

This morning I got a little more done. Put in the barrel nuts and drilled the holes for the screws in mortise and tenon. Fit the neck (it was a decent fit right out of the jig, and just needed a little flossing). I found that my heel block was just a bit thicker than I needed, so the screws don't go into the barrel nuts as many turns as I'd like. This is because I used the specs on the J 45 plan, which calls for a thicker heel block for a Dovetail joint. It's always some darn thing! I'm going to use a step drill bit and flex extension on my drill to countersink the bolt holes. That should allow a good margin of safety to keep the neck on!


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:25 pm 
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Lot of nice work going on in those pictures. Where'd you get the jig for setting the neck mortise, etc.? I've seen others use that, and it looks interesting. Neck angle is the bane of my existence!
You're well on the way.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 5:48 pm 
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naccoachbob wrote:
Lot of nice work going on in those pictures. Where'd you get the jig for setting the neck mortise, etc.? I've seen others use that, and it looks interesting. Neck angle is the bane of my existence!
You're well on the way.


Thanks Bob! I got the jig from a guy who makes them... Jon Simpson. You can see a YouTube video of it in action....just search his name and "jig".
One thing...don't do it the way he does. He does a full depth cut into the heel block, which is very dangerous (for the operator and the body of the guitar).
Also, his templates don't allow for a guide bushing, so the way I do it is to hog out most of the material (around the tenon or in the mortise) using multiple cuts and a guide bushing. Then I trim off the extra 1-2mm around the tenon or mortise using a flush trim pattern bit (I can't do the whole process with that because in order to get the bearing of a flush cut bit to ride on the template, it needs to be extended too far for a safe cut.
Hope that makes sense. You could just modify the template to account for the guide bushing, but changing the bit isn't that big a deal for me, so I use it as-is.
If I were doing it now (that I've watched Robbie O'Brien's videos) I would likely buy the hardware from LMI and make the jig he uses. He has a Luthier Du Jour video on LMI's website that shows it in use. It is an all-in-one unit, and it also calculates the neck angle. Oh, and on that note, I don't set my neck angle on the Simpson jig the way Jon does. I just use a 3.5mm shim at the saddle location rather than using a finished bridge and finished FB and sample saddle. I never have all that stuff done at the time I do the M/T joint.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:44 pm 
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Very nice work Beth. In particular the attention to the inside of the box. I have a new standard to work towards.

Not to try to hijack your thread, but I do the table saw dado blade mortise like Doug. I've had good luck so far but am flirting with the router jig setup like you use, if nothing else but to see if I like it.

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:37 pm 
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So I've gotten lots done and the guitar is ready for finish. To recap the last few week's activities:

After routing the truss rod, the neck blank had the headplates glued on (Zircote (which was inlaid for me by Don Williams)with curly maple under), and some very basic removal of stock was done on bandsaw (shaft) and with hand saw (heel) to reduce the amount of material to remove during carving. Before fretting and gluing the FB, I got the heel carved and shaped to my desired profile using a Dragon rasp (I love that thing). The peghead was shaped first, using the bandsaw and then final-shaped on the spindle sander, free-hand. I've used a router table for this process, and a home-made drill stock "router" bit in the drill press and I like this current way the best. It goes quickly and feels much safer.

I sent a Zircote FB blank to Andy B and he sent back a 24.75" scale, faux-bound slotted board. A bit of leveling and beveling of the slots and it was ready to fret. In the picture below, I am testing the depth of the slots with a scrap of the EVO wire I'm using, sans barbs.
Fretted using a SM arbor fret press (setup not pictured), and tapped a couple that didn't seat fully. Frets had a light bead of LMI white glue applied before pressing. I do not fret the 1st and 11th positions, in order to drill for indexing pins (1/16" nails) to keep the FB from sliding around on the blank during gluing. Picture below shows the gluing of the FB to neck (unattached to the body until after finishing the carving).

Neck shaft had depth stops filed at nut and 11th fret area, and was then carved, mostly with spokeshave, but also some rasp and file work. I was working toward a
"C" shape but it ended up being a compromise between a "C" and "D" which feels good for barring.

I then attached the neck to the guitar (next time, I won't do this until after finishing...I sort of forgot my planned order of things). Because I want to Tru-Oil the neck, I'll now have to cover all of it, not just the FB.

Made the bridge (Zircote). Dimensioned the blank with band saw (1 x 6") and jointed the edges with a plane on the bench hook. Tapered the wings with the spindle sander. Drilled and countersunk the pin holes and routed the slot with the jig inspired by Robbie O'Brien which works like a charm. Radiused the bottom to 30' to match the top. I'll check the fit of this before gluing, and will also freshen the gluing surface of the bridge.

Lastly (so far) I pore filled using Todd's wonderful Z-poxy tutorial techniques. This step is the one that got me really excited about this guitar, because it gave me a glimpse of the amazing figure of this Quilted Mahogany and an idea how it will look under finish. Hopefully the bling will prevent people from seeing the evidence of some of the binding gap filling I had to do, and the facets that happened during bending. If I were selling this guitar, I might have routed off the binding and started it over because it was much more gappy than I expected, but I am learning at this stage that I need to pick my battles as to which mistakes I will address aggressively and which ones I'll minimize as best I can and move on. The binding gaps are reasonably well hidden, so I moved on.

When the wind dies down, it's on to finishing! I'm going to use EM 6000 for the first time, over seal coats of shellac. The neck, as mentioned, will get Tru Oil.
Thanks for looking.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:39 pm 
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Uploading backwards again!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:28 pm 
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Oh, Yeh!! That back and side set look awesome! Where'd you find them? You're giving me really good ideas for later on by doing the bridge from scratch. I'm about a week or 2 behind you on the finish. I ordered the wrong shellac and have to wait until Wed or Thu for the good stuff. But will start finishing right after. What made you decide to do the neck differently for finish? I have some Tru oil as well, but can't decide whether to use it or the Emtech 6000. Btw, I used the 6000 on my first guitar and despite my lack of knowledge then, it has turned out really well. Pretty hard - I beat that guitar up with constant use.
Super job, Beth. It's really looking nice.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:37 pm 
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naccoachbob wrote:
Oh, Yeh!! That back and side set look awesome! Where'd you find them? You're giving me really good ideas for later on by doing the bridge from scratch. I'm about a week or 2 behind you on the finish. I ordered the wrong shellac and have to wait until Wed or Thu for the good stuff. But will start finishing right after. What made you decide to do the neck differently for finish? I have some Tru oil as well, but can't decide whether to use it or the Emtech 6000. Btw, I used the 6000 on my first guitar and despite my lack of knowledge then, it has turned out really well. Pretty hard - I beat that guitar up with constant use.
Super job, Beth. It's really looking nice.
Bob


Thanks Bob!
Burton and a couple others on the OLF have mentioned that the EM6000 reacts adversely with some people's sweat, and that can result in discoloration or cloudiness or bluing. The neck gets the most perspiration and handling, so apparently it is most obvious there, when it happens. Many have said they like the feel of Tru-Oil better than lacquer on necks anyway. I finished one neck with Nitro and the other with TruOil and I liked the feel of the Tru Oil better. I'm unhappy with myself for attaching the neck before the finish....would have been a lot easier to do the body without the neck, though now I have a built-in handle, and I don't have to do the headstock in a separate spraying session.
Thanks for the comments!
Edit: Oh, and I got the Quilted Hog from LMI 2 years ago. I went to the Healdsburg Festival and we did a trip to LMI...OMG, it's such a good thing I don't live closer. I got to choose my own sets. I am totally inexperienced, but I tapped a lot of wood that day and picked sets that I thought rang well. This was one of them, and as much of a pain as it was to bend, the figure's insane. (Of course, it's no "Tree", but at the price I paid, I don't have to kill myself if I make a mistake with it laughing6-hehe )


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:24 pm 
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You're really rockin', Beth! Everything is looking great, and coming together nicely. Can't wait to hear it! :D

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:11 pm 
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Hey, Beth,

Normally, guitars of this shape don't do much for me, but that is purely a personal preference. However, YOURS is making me reconsider my previous thoughts! I am digging it! Way to go!

Patrick


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:16 am 
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Looking great!


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 5:21 pm 
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Cool build. Finish pics? Sound? I've got two J-45's started and have the "Collins" plan taken from a 1957 J-45 non scalloped bracing. Experts say that 1955 and earlier the braces are scalloped. Do you have a plan for a 1955 or earlier? I'm considering one of each or do like Casey Cochran and do one 25.4 scale braced like a prewar Martin.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:36 pm 
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Clinchriver wrote:
Cool build. Finish pics? Sound? I've got two J-45's started and have the "Collins" plan taken from a 1957 J-45 non scalloped bracing. Experts say that 1955 and earlier the braces are scalloped. Do you have a plan for a 1955 or earlier? I'm considering one of each or do like Casey Cochran and do one 25.4 scale braced like a prewar Martin.


Hey Clinch! I've been caught up in trying to troubleshoot an OM I made earlier in the year which was having some high action and just got that figured out. (Ended up having to level and redress the frets, lower the saddle and tweak the relief). This week I got all but the final polishing done on the J45, but still need to TruOil the neck, glue the bridge and do the setup, so I imagine it will be another week or 10 days before it's strung up.
I'm using plans by Collings and did do the scalloped braces. J45's have had a few different scale lengths through the years and I chose the 24.75". They've also had a few different bridge shapes and I did the non-belly 1 x 6" version. Because I chose figured woods (and because I have very few finishing chops yet) I am not doing a burst finish. This is my first waterborne finish and I used EM6000 over epoxy pore fill and shellac sealer.
Pictures coming soon. Thanks for asking, and good luck with yours. I've seen your work and it doesn't look like a newbie did it :)


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 7:54 pm 
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I got the setup done yesterday. I was quite amazed with the projection, nice balance with good bass, and my most playable setup to date.
The neck feels clunky to me, and I might shave a bit off to make it more of a "C" and less of a "D" shape, though the musician that may get this guitar (maybe not cuz he wants a cutaway) has big hands and it might be just right for him. I won't make that change until he tries it.

Two problems;
1) my bridge is too thick for the set of neck I have, so my saddle can not be dropped any farther and probably needs another 1/32" off to get the action I want. I don't know how I did that, but after I got the bridge glued on and the nut in, I ran the straightedge over with shims at the 12th fret and the edge is about 1mm below the top of the bridge. I measured that gap so many times, but it's not quite right, so the action at 12 is about 7/64" on low and nearly that on the high E. I thought I could plane the 1/32" off the top of the bridge. Bridge weight before gluing was about 26gm, so I think it can afford to lose that little bit of weight.

2) the big problem….as I was fretting each half note up the FB, I noticed on the wound strings that the 7th and 8th frets produce the note, but they also produce a tinny, metallic noise. It is the worst on Low E, and hardly noticeable on each successive wound string at the same place (especially 8th). It sounds like a metallic rattle. I'm going to post a separate thread asking about it, but feel free to post any comments about this right here too. I put the truss rod in with no spline ala' Robbie O'Brien's course, and wonder if this could be related to a rattle. That would be the most mobile part of the truss rod, and the TR is still in neutral as the relief did not call for adjustment when I first strung it up. I may try to engage it a bit and see if that makes a difference. Since the noise seems most obvious at the frets, I wondered if it could be a wiggly fret, but they appear to be well-seated and level. When I play a barr chord at 7 or 8, I don't always hear it and it is much less noticeable. When I just push down on the string at each fret position, you get the typical "ghost" sound of the note (like a hammer-on) until you get to 7 and 8, and then it barely makes the sound of the note and you mostly hear the metallic sound. The note does play so it doesn't seem to be a dead spot.

I learned a ton while building this first dread (3rd build).
- Because of challenges in finishing, I will no longer attach the neck before the finish.
-I refined my headstock shape (originally wider at the top, which I like the look of) to allow the tuner holes to be placed for straighter string path and found a nice compromise with this one.
-I think I finally understand the gap-filling and leveling processes and why they are so important. This guitar would benefit from a complete sand-down and re=finish, but isn't going to get it because I'll apply those lessons next time, but right now, the time I put in is more about learning the building/woodworking/tone--hunting techniques. I'll worry more about fit and finish when I can string it and set it up without having to fix something.
-I still haven't figured out the best fretting technique. These frets were better than the last two, but still seemed to need a lot more leveling than I expected. I pressed them. I did not radius them because I buy the coiled fret wire from LMI (Evo on this build). I did not clamp and glue because I was so sure they were all pressed fully in the slots when I looked down the FB from both directions. Maybe I need to try what Dennis K did, and barber the tangs, sink the fret and clamp it down with glue.
Anyway, she sounds great except the 7/8 fret noise which needs to be figured out. I've attached a few pictures of the finished product. Won't be showing any close-ups of the rosette and bindings as I missed a few gaps.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 12:11 am 
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Congrats! Looks great. Love the bearclaw, and that's some of the best looking mahogany I've seen aside from "the tree" :)

For the first problem, what's your current string-height-at-bridge? If it's much below 1/2", you'd probably be better off tweaking the neck angle than thinning the bridge. But if the bridge is actually too thick (more than 3/8"), then go ahead and get your hammer laughing6-hehe

For the second problem, see if you can get the truss rod to rattle by tapping the "neck mode". Damp out the strings, hold it up by the neck around the nut/1st fret position and tap the headstock. The guitar should ring at a low frequency, usually around C. If it does rattle, try tightening it and see if that has any effect.
If it doesn't rattle... I got nothin' idunno

As for fretting... just keep studying what happens and how it could be improved. Pressing on a loose fingerboard is pretty different than hammering on the guitar, so what works for me may or may not work for you. I didn't clamp mine with glue... just squeezed with the clamp for a second to flatten it in. The barbs are enough to hold it down without waiting for glue to dry. Maybe another round of squeezing out gaps after it's on the neck would help. Or maybe the barbs really are just too big and making it too hard to squeeze them down. Particularly if the wire was over-radiused so the high spot is in the middle, in which case squeezing it down involves the barbs moving outward.

Oversized barbs definitely has been my problem with fretting all along. Just took a long time to come to that conclusion, since I assumed manufacturers would make it right to begin with duh Evo is actually the easiest wire I've tried in its natural state, even though it still takes too much pressure for me. StewMac medium wire is worse, and StewMac ukulele wire is practically impossible to force into .023" slots. That's why I decided to go with the barber tool, so I can grind them all the same regardless of how they start out.

Beth Mayer wrote:
Won't be showing any close-ups of the rosette and bindings as I missed a few gaps.

:lol: That's a good idea. I always have a compulsion to post macro shots of every little flaw so everyone can understand how bad it looks to me :lol: But probably not many people would think much of most of them in person.

Sooo... are we gonna get to hear it? Eat Drink



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:34 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:46 am
Posts: 1247
First name: Beth
Last Name: Mayer
City: Tucson
State: AZ
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Still working on the buzz at the middle frets of the wound strings (particularly the low E) but otherwise very happy with the sound a playability. This link will get you to a short clip of a Tucson musician playing it for me. He said he thought the action was great, and it was so loud that he wanted the sound port blocked at first :).

https://app.box.com/s/88dezdd1rey1mef6wo6t

He did a nice finger style song for me, but I must have had my hand over the iPad's mic so you couldn't hear it. At the end, where he stops abruptly and starts to look at the guitar, it's because he noticed that I put the 9th fret dots at the 10th fret….UGH! I'm leaving the FB dot where it is because it's such a dark red recon stone you can't really see it well anyway, but will drill out the side dot (MOP) and fill that hole then put one at the 9th.


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