Acoustic Guitar Construction in the small shop -- Kenneth Michael Guitars LLC

Information, ideas and help for those constructing scratch built acoustic guitars or acoustic guitar kits - © 2017
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The purpose of this forum site is to provide a means for acoustic guitar makers at all skill levels to forward information, share experience and ask questions if project obstacles are encountered. We ask that egos be left at the door – the highest levels of courtesy and respect are to be shown to all. Posts containing disparaging comments will be removed. The “Acoustic Guitar Construction Forum” is owned by Kenneth Michael Guitars and is copy protected. Direct links to luthier suppliers are not permitted and will be edited.



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:29 pm 
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Location: Seattle
Sorry Dave,

I thought you posted these alternatives for discussion. I read your post, took the time to go over the original post and spent some time thinking it through. I gave you an honest assessment on the issues I would have with it. I am personally fascinated by some luthiers skill with the use of non-powered hand tools and would love to have the same level of craft that they display. I know I currently do not have it. On classical guitars with a Spanish neck joint I have had to cut the binding channel near the neck with hand tools. For me it was way harder than the area I cut using a router mounter in a binding jig.

Like the Luthiers that posted in the delcamp thread I would like to try to use more hand tools like cutting binding channels with a gramil and chisel. James method is for a classical with a true flat top or a flat top with a dome. That gives him at least a reference plane to work from. The profile of the sides on a steel string are a little more complex with either a radius on both the top and back or the upper bout of the top sloped for the neck angle. I think because of that the steel string might be harder to get right. If you want to incorporate hand tools for binding I personally think that a gramil and chisels would fit better in the process you have.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:41 pm 
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Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Dave, I positively love it when you post this sort of alternative process. That has always been the basis of my comments. I hope that has come across.

About your comment on "dependence". That is on target. I also like your comment about cutters spinning at 100,000 rpm. I'm glad I bent my first sides on a hot pipe. I don't feel dependent on the light bulbs and heating blankets I acquired later, rather, just that I choose to use them instead as a new way to deal with the phenomenon of getting wood to relax under just the right amount of heat. Since there is not much money to be made competing with advanced factories, the feeling we can do it "by hand" stands out as one of our rewards. As far as that goes, even a Fox bender seems somewhat primitive and "by hand", compared to the benders Taylor uses.

What comes out of the "by hand" experience is direct contact with specific pieces of wood: feeling them, smelling them, looking at them, orchestrating the various necessary changes to them to get them somewhere close to where we want them to go, every part of the instrument considered by the single person responsible for taking it all home. When that has been part of the experience I think it extends into the process of using less direct techniques, such as the router, the bending machine, the sander, etc. I like to think (but cannot prove) there is a difference when I use a drum sander now as part of thinning a back because I once used a plane and scraper (and still might, before it is all over).

Romantics, such as myself, usually lose the argument when it is framed in terms of a scientific double blind test of one sort or another. But, as any decent philosopher of science will tell us, science limits the inputs in such a way as to ensure that its result is free of what romantics value most. Another way to view this is to say romantics include information that science cannot cope with. That said, there is no doubt in my mind that some factories offer incredible "bang for the buck".

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Last edited by John Link on Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:43 pm 
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Thanks John - I appreciate the input. I have in fact used a gramil and chisel on a couple of instruments and find it a relaxing and rewarding task. But generally I use the kmg table router jig, with good success.

Still, I would be happy to not have to cut channels whatsoever.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 3:22 pm 
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I should have said thanks to both Johns! I did not see JL's post until just now, I was responding to JP.
Thanks to both of you, and Ken as well.

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