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 Post subject: Arnt's Archtop Baritone
PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:39 pm 
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I’ve been in a few of these “Challenges” before, and every time I’ve used the opportunity to not only use some inexpensive and / or unusual materials, but also to build a type of instrument that I’ve never done before. That way, it becomes even more of a challenge, as I’m out of my comfort zone and I will most likely screw some things up, but it also becomes more interesting, as I hopefully learn a few new things along the way. If I also end up with a nice instrument in the process, well all the better!

I make mostly steel string flat top acoustics and a few arch top mandolins, but I’ve also made a few electrics, baritones, basses, bouzoukis and various other mando family oddities and other one-offs. Some of these I have built on request, others just for the fun. I sometimes wonder how some of the instruments that I don’t know much about work, but if nobody asks (or pays!) me to build it, most of them don’t get built by me.

One instrument I have never been asked to build, is an archtop baritone guitar. I googled a bit, and I saw that a few exist, but they seem to be very uncommon. Perhaps for a good reason? Could be! I know I have never played one, but as I have sometimes wondered how one would sound, why not use this as an excuse to find out?

The main materials will be fairly traditional; spruce and maple.

This part of Europe is literally covered with spruce. I live in a spruce house, as do all my neighbours, my newspaper is made from it, I keep warm during winter by burning spruce firewood etc. And its all the same species of wood that is coveted for its acoustic properties as a soundboard material, Picea Abies, AKA Norway Spruce. I have access to some nice logs from time to time, and I cut some into “tonewood”.

Here are some smaller log off-cuts my farmer neighbour gave to me a while ago, from his scrap pile.

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I don’t remember if all these sets came from those logs, but I’m sure some did.

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The maple is part of a pile of mostly mandolin wood that I got as a bargain on eBay years ago. Its red maple from the US, and some of it is nicely flamed, but most has various flaws, streaks and colour variations. This archtop set is among the best looking pieces. I don’t remember exactly how much I paid for it all, but I’m going to claim $75 for the maple that will go into this instrument.

I haven’t decided on the appointments and the other stuff yet, but I’m sure I can dig up something below the $ limit.

For the shape of the instrument, I’m going to use a jumbo mould that I already have. So here’s the template, spruce top, and all the maple.

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The top wasn’t cut too straight...

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Enough with the chit chat, here’s what I got done today. Jointing the maple

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Gluing up the plates, with hot hide glue

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Flattening the back a little

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As you can see, the sides have some colour. Thankfully, this can all be cut away and the side will still be wide enough.

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Thicknessing the sides

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Testing the fit in the mould after bending

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Gluing in end blocks

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:25 am 
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Cool thread Arnt, I'll enjoy watching this one and can't wait to hear what a baritone archtop sounds like.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:15 am 
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Awesome Arnt!

Thanks for sharing and good luck!!!

_Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:28 am 
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I can't wait to see this one unfold. I always enjoy your threads. [:Y:]

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:11 pm 
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I envy your wood pile lol

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Can't wait to see more...

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:53 pm 
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Not much progress to report, but here's what I did the other night.

I usually use regular traditional kerfed linings, and I make them of various types of wood, this is some local maple. I slice and thickness sand a piece, before I cut the kerfs in it with a sled on the table saw, and finally slice it into individual strips.

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A simple jig holds each strip at an angle and is guided along the fence, as the saw cuts the lining’s final profile.

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Gluing the linings to the rim, with fish glue

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Some work on the plates, now. I begin by doing the Safe-T planer thing to remove the bulk of the excess wood on the outside of the plates

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From there, I move to hand tools. Here’s my carving fixture, inspired by Benedetto, which can be used to hold the plate for outside as well as inside carving.

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My favourite tool for hogging off the most of the remaining wood on the outside is this wooden plane I made several years ago. The only guide I use for this work is a profile template for the long section, the rest is done by eye.

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Once the general shape is established, I move to scrapers. This was my first chance to try my new Carruth scraper for this step, and it sure beat my old home made oval scrapers. I like to use a single light low on the workbench, which helps me see any irregularities on the surface, and makes it easier to work the plate into a pleasing shape.

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Getting there

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So far so good with the top, now on to the maple back. As is sometimes the case, there can be blemishes hidden within the wood that will only reveal themselves as you start to carve it. I’ve had this happen several times in the past, so I wasn’t too surprised when THIS appeared, but... (sigh...) Sunburst, maybe?

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:08 pm 
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Good stuff Arnt. Is that a Carruth scraper??. How would you rate it working the arched top/back.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:39 pm 
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Dave, it's the bee's knees, the cat's meow, the dogs... you get the idea -- I like it! ;)

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:45 am 
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My allergies have kept me out of the shop for a long while, so I'm going to have to fold. Hopefully I can get the situation sorted, but alas, not in time to finish this one before the deadline.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:27 am 
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My allergies have kept me out of the shop for a long while

man, i hear you. 2012 has been my worst year ever, here in USA. not sure what i am allergic to but sawdust does me no favors!


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:09 am 
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I look forward to seeing and hearing the finished product when it is done ! [:Y:]

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The Taking Of Offense Is the Life Course Of The Stupid One !
Wanna Leave a Better Planet for our Kids? How about Working on BETTER KIDS for our Planet !
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Creativity is allowing yourself to make Mistakes, Art is knowing which ones to Keep !
The Saddest thing anyone can do , is push a Loyal Person to the point that they Dont Care Anymore
Never met a STRONG person who had an EASY past !
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:39 am 
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Arnt Rian wrote:
My allergies have kept me out of the shop for a long while, so I'm going to have to fold. Hopefully I can get the situation sorted, but alas, not in time to finish this one before the deadline.


Sorry to hear that Arnt :(

Are you getting reactions to all dusts now I know you mentioned before that you were reacting to Madagascar Rosewood and Ziricote, but are you reacting to spruce dust and Mahogany as well now?

Did the Airshield help at all?

Arnt have you tried any of the biological protective coveralls?

I hope you can get this sorted Arnt as it would be a major tragedy if you couldn't carry on building :shock:

All the best
Dave

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:48 pm 
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Aw bummer man, this one was looking real good. When you finish post pics and video so we can hear it. This is a really cool project.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:41 am 
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Thanks for your concern, guys. I'll try to remember to document the finished product and post it here.

Dazzer, so far the exotics woods are worst, spruce and maple etc are still pretty safe. I have upgraded the dust collection and filtration, and I am trying to keep sanding and all dust production to a minimum, and always wearing either a respirator or the Airshield (no Tyvek suit yet, though...). However, the Airshied air intake filter is not adequate for my situation, but a face shield is necessary for routing etc, so one of the options I am considering is a similar unit with separate air hose. Its an ongoing battle, and hopefully I won't have to dress up like I'm on an Ebola virus task force to work or something, but it seems that's how I must treat some of the wood dust. I intend to keep building though, one way or another.

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