across, alberta, anthony, bc, blank, british columbia, builder, building, canada, canadian, check, community, cut, explain, fix, forum, grain, group, grown, guitar, hand, handplane, home, homegrownlutherie, how, identify, if, is, know, lumber, lutherie, luthier, luthiers, mahogany, maker, making, manitoba, medullar, medullary, meeting, murkar, neck, north, northwest, nw, ontario, organization, plane, quarter, quartered, quartersawn, quebec, ray, rays, repair, rough, runour, sawn, see, smooth, sound, soundboard, southern, tell, territories, to, top, west, what, wood
There was an interesting thread on MyLesPaul today about quartersawn wood…
There are a number of views on how much it matters that guitar necks be quartersawn. Personally I would use quartered or flatsawn only, nothing with distinctly angled grain. However some say it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s stable.
It came up in conversation, however, that often saw marks or end grain sealer at the lumber yard covers up the end grain of the wood, making it difficult to identify the grain direction while you are there. So I thought I would share this.
This is widely known by acoustic builders, but I think electric guitar builders tend to pay less attention to the structure of wood to some degree. I wanted this to be posted here so that it gets archived along with the other tips and techniques…that way it’s here for anyone just getting started in guitar building to learn about.
So here it is, a piece of basic lutherie knowledge that everyone should be aware of: How to identify quartersawn wood, without looking at the endgrain (or, a brief lesson in the anatomy of wood).
It’s actually very simple. I must note that you’ll rarely come across wood that is perfectly quartered so as to display this in a regular lumber yard (unless they have wood marked as quartered, or a section for instrument woods), but if you bring a finger plane with you, you can find out the grain direction of rough sawn lumber quickly and easily by looking for this characteristic. In addition, in the opinion of many, this should be the standard by which you assess whether wood is considered quartersawn for the purposes of lutherie.
In many woods, medullary ray is visible in perfectly quartered blocks. It is visible on the face of the wood that is perpendicular to the vertical grain. However, when the wood is off quarter by more than about 10 degrees, the ray disappears. So it is only visible in perfectly quartered wood. The ray is visible running sideways across the grain (at a 90 degree angle to the normal grain direction). Below is an example of medullary ray, here seen in a piece of African Mahogany:
However, here is a piece from the same block of mahogany, but this piece is slightly off quarter. Notice that the medullary ray is not visible in this piece. This means it is not perfectly quartersawn.
So, there you have it – the easy way to tell exactly which way the grain is running, without looking at the end grain. If you plane on the edge of a square block and the ray becomes visible, it’s rift sawn at about 45 degrees. If the ray is visible on the wide face, it’s quartersawn. If it’s visible on the narrow face, it’s flat sawn.
blog, building, electric, fender, gibson, grown, guitar, guitars, handmade, hiscock, home, how, information, instructional, J-11, j11, les paul, lesson, lutherie, luthiers, mahogany, make, maker, making, melyvn, of, strat, stratocaster, tele, telecaster, the, to, use, what, when, where, which, why, wood, woods
Have been working every day 12 hours for a week or two…exhaustion is long past set in, but regardless I’ve managed to find a couple of hours to work on this project and it’s coming along quite nicely.
First step – make some cheese bread from scratch!
After that I hogged out material for the pickup routes and the wire channel, then screwed down my acrylic template.
Routed out the cavities. Had some tearout from rushing and not being careful (exhaustion) but it will be hidden in the end under the pickguard anyways. I will patch it up and clean it up a bit later.
This is what I’m going for – same as my first build (the prototype). All gold hardware, two humbuckers – one volume, one tone, and a blend pot instead of a toggle switch. Gotoh TOM bridge and stop tailpiece.
The headstock inlay has been order from DePaule supply, so I’m looking forward to having that here so I can finish up the neck.
angle, blend, building, carve, cocobolo, cuban, ebony, grown, guitar, home, homegrown, honduran, ibanez, instrument, join, joint, jr, junior, les paul, lutherie, luthier, mahogany, maker, making, music, neck, plane, rosewood, strat, stratocaster, tele, telecaster, top, ziricote
I started building a new instrument today – I’m building another J-11. I received some really nice mahogany and rosewood today so I figured this is what I’ll be building. I’ve got enough mahogany to build two guitar bodies and four necks – so I’ll make two mahogany builds, one after the other.
Rosewood fretboard and headplate:
I’ve also got this guitar body that I plan to finally finish. It’s been sitting here for a while, but I didn’t want to give it a khaya neck because it’s too dark. I’ve got lots of really dark Khaya here but nothing that matched in color to this body, which is Spanish Cedar.
This mahogany matches very nicely 🙂
Cut out the first guitar body pieces and glued them up into a single blank.
Cut out the body shape on the bandsaw after gluing, then planed the whole thing. Looking good so far!
Next I pulled out that trusty little handplane.
Cut the neck plane. The neck plane on this guitar will be two degrees, good for a TOM bridge. I’m thinking gold hardware for this one.
This guitar will have the neck angle done like a modern LP Jr – the angle planed, then blended in so it’s subtle and not that noticeable. You can see the angle here.
Carved the neck plane on the ziricote guitar using the same method.
Then smoothed it out with the belt sander. The curvature would be hardly noticeable if not for the dark colored cap which gives it away. Managed to get it quite subtle so it shant be an issue.
a, A2, angle, best, block, bracing, brass, cocobolo, convex, finger, grown, guitar, hand, handplane, handplanes, home, homegrown, ibex, infill, is, lee, lie, little, lutherie, luthier, maker, makers, making, mini, miniature, nielsen, norris, O1, palm, plane, planer, planes, plough, review, rosewood, router, side, small, spiers, steel, tiny, tools, valley, violin, what, wood
The miniature handplane has been completed! This one will be sold for $75 CAD or so. Tomorrow I’ll start making another one.
The blade is 17 mm wide, O1 steel. The bottom of this one is flat, not curved. Some sample test cuts on Cocobolo and Cuban Mahogany:
You’ll notice the site looks rather bland and empty – void of content. That is because this is the first post – but here is a photo for the occasion! The purpose of this blog is really simply for the sharing of interesting thoughts and ideas relating to the field of instrument building (specifically guitars, but some others as well, such as the Cocobolo Uke – which I will post tomorrow). I’ll start with some start to finish builds so you can see what goes on through the construction (and design) of some home grown instruments (a.k.a. weekend woodworking).
I will continue to update this blog over the next few days with some interesting stuff…but until then, adieu.