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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 5:33 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Here's my first OLF post on a guitar I'm building. This is the third guitar for me, but the first one that I've built without direct guidance. The first was a nylon string classical built from scratch in a class I took about ten years ago. I was shocked by how well it turned out and wanted to follow up by building a steel string acoustic but my day job didn't allow for that. A couple summers ago, I crossed paths by chance with Rick Davis of Running Dog Guitars in Seattle which led to taking an intensive building class from him that resulted in a nice bear claw Sitka/Macassar ebony 12 fret triple O guitar. Rick is an excellent teacher and that experience gave me the bug and over time I gathered tools, cleared out a lot of accumulated stuff, and set up shop in my garage. Prior to building guitars, my woodworking experience came mainly from swinging a framing hammer in new home construction for several years in Washington and Alaska to save up money for college. This is much more fun.

I just finished applying the finish and it's now sitting getting some quality curing time. I put the neck in place temporarily and took some photos to document the progress to date. The top is Sitka spruce. The back, sides, and neck are mahogany. I'm using ebony for the fingerboard, head plate, end graft, and bridge. I went with tortoid binding because I've always liked that look on some of the mahogany guitars built back in the 20s and 30s. The rosette is made from the off cuts of the back. The body shape is something I came up with using the G-Thang design program. The lower bout is just under 15 inches wide and the body depth is 4.5 inches at the tail. I'm hoping to have strings on it by late June. I can hardly wait to hear it.

This forum is a great resource and I've learned quite a bit from it. Posts about gluing on celluloid binding were a huge help for this guitar.

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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 9:40 pm 
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First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
City: Kansas City
State: MO
Country: USA
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Looks great! Nice recurring shape theme, with the triangular heel, headstock and fingerboard end :) Love the natural mahogany. Too many people cover it up with stains and sunbursts.


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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 9:54 pm 
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First name: John
Last Name: Parchem
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Looks really good! I also built my second guitar with Rick. A great teacher that leaves you with good process and the skills to move forward on your own.

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PostPosted: Tue May 06, 2014 10:14 pm 
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First name: Murray
Last Name: Hunt
City: Whistler
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Zip/Postal Code: V0N 1B1
Country: Canada
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Very nice - thanks for sharing! The mahogany is beautiful.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 6:57 pm 
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[:Y:] Incredibly well done! Really beautiful shape and design. Great workmanship.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 8:10 pm 
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks a lot for the comments. They are much appreciated.

DennisK wrote:
Nice recurring shape theme, with the triangular heel, headstock and fingerboard end


That recurring shape theme is going to show up in the bridge too.

I have two Adirondack tops, a bubinga back, and an Indian rosewood back ready to go for braces. I'll be working on those two while the finish on this one cures. It's amazing how much faster the two new ones are going. The stage that took me three months to get to with this guitar took three weeks for the two new guitars working on both of them at the same time.


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 8:24 pm 
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Hi, Jay,
I think it's excellent for a first-on-your-own, or a tenth for that matter. I like it very much. In particular, I love the prism effect on the neck heel. It echoes the diamond on the back of the headstock joint extremely well. That's a very nice and elegant detail. Also, I like the headstock shape very much. The rosette is very nicely done, too. I will also point out that you have made beautiful, fair curves all around the perimeter of your instrument, and those fair curves always catch my eye. I prefer them to guitars that have slightly flat areas at the tail. Well.... I am running out of things to tell you that I like, and I can't really see anything that I don't like, so let me just congratulate you on a beautiful instrument that inspires me to do better the next time I launch into one!

Best regards,
Patrick


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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 2:52 pm 
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
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Zip/Postal Code: 98021
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Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks a lot, Patrick. I spent quite a bit of time fiddling with the curves to get it to where I liked it. It's good to know that the shape appeals to someone else too.

Since this is the Doc-U-build section, I think I'll take a little trip back in time and add a few photos of the steps up this point.

Here's my setup for joining the plates. I use four Bora clamps. Works great.

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Making the rosette. The thick dark lines are made from the same tortoid binding I used to bind the top and back. I also bound the soundhole opening with the tortoid binding.

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Sides bent and in the mold.

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My home made vacuum press for gluing on the braces:

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Building the box:

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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 3:28 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
The body shape I settled on presented a problem. The sides do not enter the neck/body joint at a right angle. Every time I drew the shape with a typical right angle joint, it looked wrong to me. So I decided I had to figure out how to make it work while using a standard bolt-on neck joint.

It seemed to me that there would be all sorts of difficulties trying to make the curved side transition to a flat surface in the neck/body joint precisely where the side of the heel meets the body. I decided that the curve of the body shape would have to continue right through the neck/body joint and that the end of the neck would have to be radiused to match. That presented several additional problems such as how to cut the radius while having a tenon and how to make adjustments to the radiused surface to fine tune the neck angle. I ended up cutting a mortis in the end of the neck, cutting the radius in the neck using a pivoting jig on my band saw, and making a laminated tenon to be inserted into the neck mortis after getting a good fit of the neck to the body. I used the jig to cut a sanding block that exactly matched the radiused end of the neck and used it to make some minor adjustments to get the neck angle right. After drilling the holes for barrel nuts and bolts, I glued the tenon into the neck. The radius cut into the end of the neck is just slightly smaller than the radius of the end of the body so that the neck can't rock side to side at all.

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Getting ready to carve the neck:

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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2014 5:34 pm 
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Location: London, England
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Really, really smart work! I see threads like this and know I need to buck my ideas up a bit! :D


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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 7:22 am 
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First name: Michiyuki
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Nice car. And guitar :)

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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 8:43 pm 
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By the way, I agree completely with Michiyuki: VERY nice car in the background. Very cool. Keep the pictures coming. You've got a real nice axe in the works!

Patrick


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PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
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Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
That's my 1972 Alfa Spider 2000. I got it in 2007. It's pretty quick and great fun on sunny days. It lives under a car cover on the days when I'm doing sanding.


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PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2014 4:31 am 
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It really does look like great fun. When I moved to Europe I had sold my cars and really miss them. Think I need to start looking around hehe.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:53 am 
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Location: Fayetteville, NC
First name: Dan
Last Name: DeBruler
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Thanks so much for sharing your photos. I love the head stock. Of course, the rest of your guitar is pretty awesome, too.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:17 am 
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Nice clean work...

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:12 pm 
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks for the comments guys. Unfortunately, guitar building has been on hold since I fractured a bone in my left wrist last month. I hope to get back with updates on progress next month.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:19 pm 
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First name: Jay
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The fractured wrist finally healed and various other summer activities are done so on to the finish. Finally.

Here are a few photos of some of the last steps.

Attaching the neck.

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Frets installed.

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Fitting the bridge to the top.

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Bridge located and preparing to make a mask to remove the finish under the bridge.

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Mask completed.

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Bridge glued on.

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Nut and saddle roughed in, tuners installed. Strings on!!!

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 1:23 pm 
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Here's what it looks like outside the shop in its natural habitat:

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:35 am 
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Excellent, Jay. Thanks for the additional photos. Nicely executed neck joint! I complimented the fair curves of your guitar previously. I think your neck joint adds substantially to that visual effect. Very nicely done.

You said at the outset that this is your first scratch built instrument totally on your own--without instruction. One thing I find interesting about the process of guitar building is that the learning curve can be so fast on the first few. We do things so much better on the second, third, fourth, etc. But the learning curve never seems to stop--we always wind up learning a better way to do a given process, no matter how many instruments we build. Or we continue to struggle with certain processes. For me, the most frustrating part is binding. I do it better each time, but I never get it absolutely perfect. There are always a few little issues that need to be hidden in some way. That's part of what keeps bringing me back. I expect you've struggled with a few processes on this guitar, but you've dealt with them beautifully. I think it's excellent for a third, or a twelfth!
Patrick


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 7:20 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:47 pm
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First name: Jay
Last Name: De Rocher
City: Bothell
State: Washington
Zip/Postal Code: 98021
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thanks a lot for your generous comments. They are much appreciated. I am very happy with how that neck/body joint worked out. My fourth guitar is in progress and I find that the radiused joint is now pretty easy to make. It was worth the effort to figure out how to do it because I agree with you that it fits nicely with the overall look of the guitar.

I'm with you on your point about the learning curve. That's one thing that really appeals to me about building guitars. I expect there will always be an element of problem solving, which is something I enjoy.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:24 am 
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Jay the guitar looks gorgous. I like the design details you maintain throughout the guitar. I also like how you maintain a nice radius under the heel. It looks like you use the 1/2" tenon that Rick uses for his neck joint. I have tried that but have cracked the tenon off drilling the holes for the barrel nut and switched back to 3/4".

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:15 pm 
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First name: Jay
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Status: Amateur
Thanks for the comments, John.

Yea, I am using a 1/2 inch tenon, but I haven't had one crack while drilling for the barrel nuts. I'm making the tenon as a three layer laminate with the grain of the center layer oriented at 90 degrees to the outer layers. It also probably helps that I'm making the tenon as a separate piece from the neck because that allows me to clamp it down with backing on my drill press to drill the holes.

That would be huge bummer to have the tenon crack when it's part of the neck. I can see why you would go with the thicker tenon. Were you able to rescue that one neck or did you have to make a new one?


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