Making of the Newman Parlor: Part III


, , , , , ,

Progress! Managed to get the back on finally. Started by finishing up the back bracing, then adding the center seam.


Notched the sides for the braces. I did these cuts slightly shallow and narrow, then deepened and widened with a dremel and chisel afterwards to get a nice clean fit.


And the back shortly before glue up. Sorry, no pics of the glue up or the finished product yet – these are crappy phone pics, unfortunately my SLR died on me.


That’ll be all for now…..

Making of the Newman Parlor: Part II


, , , , , , , ,


Yesterday was soundhole stamp day. Not too long ago, a friend of mine gave me an old mandolin to fix up (which I am still working on). One thing I noticed was that the original soundhole stamp had disappeared. However, knowing the date and manufacturer, I was able to track down and re-make the stamp – I also aged it so that it fit in nicely, and not looks great inside the mandolin.

This got me thinking on the stamps for this build; I decided to age them and use the same process. However, I wanted something really interesting on the stamps, since they will stay with the instrument for its whole life. The metropolitan museum of art has been posting high resolution images of all of their art on their website – so I decided, why not search through and see if I can’t find something really interesting from the 19th century to put on the stamp?

I settled on thee or four images, then narrowed it down to two. Then started work in photoshop on creating the stamp.



These were then printed out, and the paper aged to give the final look.



That’s all for the moment. More updates soon.

Making of the Newman Parlor: Part I


, , , , ,

I’ve been toying with the idea of making a parlor guitar for a long time, but never got around to it. I figured it was about time to get on that…

I posted the rosette making a long time ago so I won’t post on it again – my rosette making process can be found in this post (click here).

I started with this rather large block of mahogany. When I got it, this was 12 feet long – I wasn’t sure exactly what it was until it was later identified by my buddy Jon as Sipo (it is not Sapele).



After cutting it was sent off to Exotic Woods to be sliced up into backs and sides; this whole block was perfectly quartered. The tree it came from must have been enormous. Next up – components. Ebony fretboard; some Khaya for the neck and tail blocks.



My rosette mold, plus the rosette itself being made in the mold.



I’m skipping some steps here because I’m a bit ahead (I didn’t take pictures the whole way along before deciding to add this to the blog) – here is the side bending process. I use a heating blanket to bend the sides (which I got from LMI); it’s a simple 6″ thick laminated plywood mold with springs to aid in side bending, modeled after the fox bender.

photo 1

After bending:

photo 5

In the mold; I added kerfing. I make my own kerfing – sorry, no pics. It’s easy to do – the cuts are made using a fret slotting saw (I use a radial arm saw with StewMac fret slotting blade, but you can also do this by hand). Also pictured is the cross-grain spruce used as the center seam brace for the back (pictured here resting on the back, which has already been joined).



That’s all for the moment…

Making an Infill Plane: Part III


, , , , , , , ,

Well….I’m done with this infill plane. It was a good learning experience but it’s not going any further than this. I realize I made some mistakes with this plane so there’s not sense continuing – however, I got pretty far with it and it looks fantastic.

The reason I am abandoning it is because it’s the wrong size (brilliant, right?). I made the mistake of purchasing steel sized for a dovetailed plane. Of course, this isn’t dovetailed – as a result this thing is big enough for a 2″ blade (which I will never use and don’t intend on buying). Maybe one day I will order a custom blade from Ron Hock for it. It sure looks good though.

Now that it’s done, I’m going to re-order steel and make a properly sized small mitre plane using the knowledge I’ve gained from this build. Probably it will be all stainless with brass pins.





Making an Infill Plane: Part II


, , , , ,

Day 2 of the infill plane! This plane has a 30 degree bed, and the iron will have a 25 degree bevel (making the cut angle 55 degrees – a Mitre Smoother plane).

As a good start (and end) to the day, I sliced my hand open pretty bad with a chisel. Reminder to be careful in the shop! If you sharpen your chisels like razors, they cut like razors (go figure).

Today I got the infills sized and shaped. After the hand slicing I quit for the day – but not before getting the sides mounted to the sole. Tomorrow I will get fairly close to finishing this plane when I mount the infills permanently.

Not many pictures since my camera mysteriously stopped working – but here are some shots of the infill after shaping. Everything has to fit perfectly… room for error!!



Making an Infill Plane: Part I


, , , , , , ,

Well…..I’ve wanted an infill plane for a long time. I’ve been making a lot of planes recently, so I decided that it was time to make one for myself. Oddly enough I don’t own any planes – because every time I make one, it gets sold.

I have one on the go (a Koa smoother) but it’s already got an owner (which is not me). Soooo… we go!

I started with the steel. This is cold rolled steel. If I had access to a milling machine and/or surface grinder, I would have gone with stainless (but sadly I do not). The little square and the brass rod to the right are for the Koa smoother.


Lots of time was spent getting the sole made up; everything has to fit together perfectly. There is no room for error.



It’s very satisfying to use tools you made to make other tools! Here laying out the positions for the side pins.


I selected a nice piece of Bocote for the infill. Beautiful grain!


Last but not least…..the Koa smoother, nearing completion. The side pins are now in; I have some final shaping to do (the top right corner is a bit high as you can see here; I wanted to make sure it cut perfectly before taking the time to work on the final shape).


The infill is actually already cut and fitted to the sole. I don’t have pictures of that, will post some tomorrow probably when I get the chance. That’s all for now…..

Video Series by Jillard Guitars: Offcuts


, , , , , ,

It has been a while! Unfortunately life has been keeping me from doing much guitar-related work…however, I saw a very cool video by Jillard Guitars and wanted to share it here for people to see.

This is Episode 1 and 2 of “Offcuts” – I especially like the fanned fret jig in episode 2…Jay Jillard does some amazing work, and I would definitely recommend you check this out!

Drill Bit Awl


, , , , , , , ,

I saw one of these a while ago – so I cannot lay claim to this idea. I can’t remember where I saw it, but it was a blog or website somewhere – and since seeing it, I’ve always wanted to make one. They are beautiful, and the HSS drill bit makes for a very durable Awl which keeps its point for a long time.


This one has a nice Gabon Ebony handle!

That’s all for the moment.
~Anthony Murkar

Making a Guitar Rosette


, , , , , , , , ,

So it has been a very long time! I think it is time for a much needed update. Lately I have been making guitar rosettes for some parlor guitars that I am building (trying to build, anyways).

I started by laying out my rosette design in photoshop. Then I drew up a simple template for a rosette cutting jig and printed it off.

Cut out a piece of 1/4″ black Acrylic on the bandsaw.

Next I drilled for the holes; this is a base that will be mounted on my router, so the holes are for the mounting screws.

I also took out a 1.5″ piece of aluminum rod (1/4″ diameter) and rounded the edges. Then I buffed it smooth on the buffing wheel.

Here is the completed router base assembly.

And voila – by drilling a hole in a baseboard, I can rotate the router around the pin (which is inserted in the baseboard hole). Using a 1/2″ router bit gives a perfect rosette channel.

Next up – time to make the rosette itself. I put a plastic cutting board through the planer to clean it up and flatten it, then cut out a square. I drilled a hole in the square (1/4″) in the middle, then used my router jig to cut a 3-4mm deep channel. This is the rosette mold. I also drilled some holes through the channel. This is to help remove the assembled rosette.

You can now use this mold to make any design of rosette you desire. You can add tiles, purflings of different colors, etc. I went for a BB/WW/BB/WW/BB/etc. motif. I soak b/w 1mm purfling in warm (not hot; you do not want the purfling layers to delaminate) water for 30 seconds to make it pliable, then layer them in the mold.

With the layering complete, it is time to glue up the rosette. I usually use thin CA glue; I used medium viscosity here because it was all I had on hand.

Spread the glue in with a piece of vulcanized fiber.

Once the glue has dried, I use a chisel to carefully remove the rosette from the mold. If you use lots of glue, sometimes the rosette is not easy to get out. You can push the flat end of a drill bit through the holes in the back of the mold to help force the rosette out of the channel if you are having trouble getting it out with a small chisel.

Once removed, you need to clean up the rosette edges by scraping any excess glue off. Then the rosette is finished.

It is important to test-fit the rosette before installation. Often some adjustment is needed to get it to fit the channel. The rosette should fit the channel; if it doesn’t, you’ll run into problems when you try to put it in with glue.

I used a piece of clear plexiglass with clamps to force the rosette down into the channel while gluing.

Use a scraper to flush the rosette with the soundboard.

And that’s it! This is a garbage soundboard (because of the separation that occurred at the top), but at least you can see how beautiful the rosette turned out.