Allan Richardson
lyricist vocalist humorist guitarist
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<<  My Instruments

Step by step guide to how I make my guitars


(Click on a thumbnail for a larger image)
 
STEP 1:
Wood for the neck
Offcuts from earlier projects - two pieces of mahogany and a fillet of ebony.
  Guitar - Wood for the neck   STEP 2:
Laminating the neck
This construction should be strong enough not to need a metal truss rod.
  Guitar - Laminating the neck
 
STEP 3:
The neck
Partly finished, with more mahogany blocks making the heel and the head spliced on.
  Guitar - The neck   STEP 4:
The dovetail
A tapered dovetail will slide to a tight fit and enable an elegant narrow heel.
  Guitar - The dovetail
 
STEP 5:
Rosewood for the back
The wood has to be "thicknessed" down from about 5mm to 2 - 2.5. The wavy grain makes planing difficult, so sanding is the answer, but even the belt sander struggled with this hard wood. I made this hand sander by fixing a coarse abrasive to the sole of an old plane. Still a long job.
  Guitar - Rosewood for the back   STEP 6:
The back
The two halves are "book matched" slices which will be joined edge to edge.
  Guitar - The back
 
STEP 7:
The front or soundboard
This wood can be thicknessed by planing. First step is to plane a best face which will be the outside.
  Guitar - The front or soundboard   STEP 8:
The rosette
Inlaid into a channel cut into the face. When planed off flat the wood will be planed down to final thickness from the back. It will be only 2 - 2.5 mm thick.
  Guitar - The rosette
 
STEP 9:
Levelling off the rosette
A sharp plane will take a fine shaving off both the soundboard and the inlay.
  Guitar - Levelling off the rosette   STEP 10:
The mould
A lot of work was put into getting this accurate and smooth, as it will shape the guitar.
  Guitar - The mould
 
STEP 11:
Bending the ribs
The ribs or sides have been planed down to 1.6mm approx and are bent on a very hot iron. Water applied with a rag to resist scorching. A long delicate business.
  Guitar - Bending the ribs   STEP 12:
Putting the second side into the mould
It will dry out over 24 - 48 hours and stay in shape.
  Guitar - Putting the second side into the mould
 
STEP 13:
The heart of the guitar
The neck is just test fitted at this stage.
  Guitar - The heart of the guitar   STEP 14:
The soundboard is quite thin
As shown by this photo with the light behind.
  Guitar - The soundboard is quite thin
 
STEP 15:
Glueing the back on
Now out of the mould, clamped with luthier's clamps made from threaded rod and drilled dowel.
  Guitar - Glueing the back on   STEP 16:
The fingerboard
Cutting the fret slots. Doing this before the board is tapered makes it easier to get the cuts square.
  Guitar - The fingerboard
 
STEP 17:
Glueing the neck
The tapered dovetail pulls itself together under pressure from only one clamp.
  Guitar - Glueing the neck   STEP 18:
Fixing the fingerboard
These strap - clamps are very useful for this and other awkward shaped jobs.
  Guitar - Fixing the fingerboard
 
STEP 19:
Glueing the bridge
More specialised clamps - lightweight aluminium ones with a long reach.
  Guitar - Glueing the bridge  
 
STEP 20,21,22:
The completed guitar
It has had 3 or 4 coats of cellulose sanding sealer, and then polished with pumice powder and polishing oil and then guitar polish.
  Guitar - The completed guitar
  Guitar - The completed guitar   Guitar - The completed guitar
 
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