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 Post subject: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:29 am 
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This year has been the rainiest I've seen in a long time. Way too humid to work on my guitars that are at the box assembly stage, so I decided to start another one. After much pondering (and designing a desert themed guitar but deciding I should save it for later), I decided to go with the theme of outer space :) It will be very dark and sparkly.

And the best part: the New Horizons spacecraft will be arriving at Pluto next week, so I can actually make a visually accurate inlay of it on the fingerboard, rather than having to guess :D The best picture yet was just released today: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap150709.html

Here are the specs for the guitar:
25" scale, 12 fret neck, 00-ish (19" long, 14" lower bout), with the following woods,
Top: Sinker redwood from Rick Micheletti, with spiral galaxy rosette
Back/sides: Dalbergia cultrata from OLF member fingerstyle1978
Neck: Peruvian walnut from LMI
Fingerboard: Bois de rose from Gilmer, with purpleheart binding and solar system marker dots
Bridge: Bois de rose from Simon Fay, side-on galaxy shaped
Headplate: African blackwood with gold MOP and black walnut comet inlay
Soundboard binding will probably be more purpleheart, but may change my mind. No back binding.

Here's the shape I doodled up for it, though I may skip the cutaway:
Attachment:
Plan.jpg


The soundboard:
Attachment:
RedwoodSinkerP_CoolTools_2010Jul_75d.jpg


And the back:
Attachment:
BackRaw.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 7:52 am 
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Cool! I'll look forward to seeing this progress. I've got an astronomical theme on the drawing board myself.

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 9:35 am 
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Dennis, I just love your imagination [:Y:] I'll look forward to seeing what you come up with this time.

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 7:44 am 
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Greg Maxwell wrote:
Cool! I'll look forward to seeing this progress. I've got an astronomical theme on the drawing board myself.

Also cool :) Can't wait to see what you come up with as well. Fear not if any of your ideas happen to overlap mine. I'm not at all territorial with artwork, and want everyone to have maximum freedom rather than being restricted by trying to avoid anything that's been done before.

So getting started on this, I joined up the soundboard via the trusty tape method:
Attachment:
SoundboardTent.jpg


Then I did some initial surfacing and thickenessing via plane and scraper. Thicker in the center, thinner at the edges. I've mostly built thin top style so far, but for this one I'm going to experiment in the thick top/light bracing direction. My current theory is that it will work better on small guitars where mass is not an issue, hence this one being on the small side.

After getting it all scraped smooth, I gave it a coat of shellac, cut out the shape using a fret saw with spiral blade (basically a really deep reach jeweler's saw that can cut in any direction), and routed the soundhole most of the way through (Dremel on StewMac router base+circle cutter). Still haven't made up my mind on the cutaway... stacked heel may look ugly with so much heel wood visible on the curvy contoured heel to rib transition, but I don't have a source for 1 1/8" thick Perivuan walnut to do my usual vertically laminated heel style :|
Attachment:
SoundboardCutOut.jpg


Originally I wanted to use large pieces of shell for the rosette, but as can be seen in the original design, the pieces were way too big for that. Then I thought about wood, but it would look wonky with straight grain on such circular curved pieces. So I decided to try endgrain slices from a 5" or so log, so the growth rings would match the curvature of the pieces. Fortunately a large branch fell off the oak tree in the back yard recently, so I went and dug it out of the compost heap. But while sawing and getting eaten by mosquitoes, I came up with an even better idea: Shell dots. Lots of them. It will be a little expensive, but once I had the vision of sparkly glory in my head, I couldn't give it up. So I doodled this up:
Attachment:
RosetteDesign.jpg


Then traced the photo in an art program so I could make all the dots match actual available sizes and color them, and figure out how many of each type I needed... which ended up as a total of 370 dots. $100 from Rescue Pearl. Worth it.

Much drilling later:
Attachment:
RosettePatternDrilled.jpg

Attachment:
RosetteDrilled.jpg


Then many hours of gluing these fiddly little things:
Attachment:
RosetteInProgress.jpg


Took it outside for level sanding... lots of nasty shell dust, but fortunately a windy day to clear it away. Should have brought the camera. This is yet another place my trusty XXC dia-sharp stone comes in handy, followed by scraper to remove the scratches.

Unfortunately due to my lack of a good outdoor work surface, the foot I was holding down the soundboard with went over the edge of the thing it was sitting on and gave it a nice 4" split in the lower bass side area oops_sign Wouldn't be so pitiful except for the fact that I did the exact same thing last time I did a rosette with a lot of shell and leveled it outside :oops: But a little glue later and it's invisible, so no big deal.

New coat of shellac, and it's just like I'd envisioned bliss
Attachment:
Rosette.jpg


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These users thanked the author DennisK for the post (total 2): pat macaluso (Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:26 am) • Glenn_Aycock (Sat Aug 08, 2015 2:45 pm)
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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 9:15 am 
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I like the rosette - that's a heck of a lot of dots!!

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:15 pm 
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Hey Dennis

That is a lot of dots! Well done. This will be fun to watch. I, too, am just finishing up a space theme guitar; 'RocketMan' with planet symbol inlays. Will be watching yours. Thanks - Mike

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 12:32 pm 
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What's with all the space themed guitars?? Did I miss the memo idunno

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:10 pm 
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SteveSmith wrote:
What's with all the space themed guitars?? Did I miss the memo idunno

Better get to work :mrgreen: Personally I think the Pluto flyby is quite exciting and worth making guitars to commemorate.

giltzow wrote:
Hey Dennis

That is a lot of dots! Well done. This will be fun to watch. I, too, am just finishing up a space theme guitar; 'RocketMan' with planet symbol inlays. Will be watching yours. Thanks - Mike

Let's see it!


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 4:35 pm 
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DennisK wrote:
Better get to work :mrgreen: Personally I think the Pluto flyby is quite exciting and worth making guitars to commemorate.
!


I think the Pluto flyby is really cool too. My poorly developed right brain just didn't make the connection that I should be making a guitar for it :?

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2015 5:23 pm 
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giltzow wrote:
Hey Dennis

That is a lot of dots! Well done. This will be fun to watch. I, too, am just finishing up a space theme guitar; 'RocketMan' with planet symbol inlays. Will be watching yours. Thanks - Mike

Let's see it![/quote]

Hi Dennis
Don't want to hi-jack your thread or post a lot of pictures - here's a link to Rocket Man http://www.guitarsbygiltzow.com/rocket-man.html

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 2:47 pm 
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Very cool rosette. Well worth the effort.


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:54 pm 
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One of the coolest rosettes I've seen in ages. dang I wish I was that creative! (and good at anything having to do with lutherie).


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 4:06 pm 
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giltzow wrote:
Hi Dennis
Don't want to hi-jack your thread or post a lot of pictures - here's a link to Rocket Man http://www.guitarsbygiltzow.com/rocket-man.html

Very cool! I see the man in the grain of the back :)

rlrhett wrote:
One of the coolest rosettes I've seen in ages. dang I wish I was that creative! (and good at anything having to do with lutherie).

Thanks :) And don't give up! It's hard to think of interesting rosettes and things when the guitar is otherwise a blank slate. Start by deciding on a theme, and then you have a bit more direction to ponder in for each decorative element. A lot of the time, my themes are inspired by the materials. In this case, it was the Jupiter rock at the end of this post that sparked the idea of a space theme.

Next up is the back. But what to do with that funky spot? Normally I like sapwood, but in this case I decided to trim it away. If I plane it just right, it can be symmetrical around the wormhole, rather than having a hole in each half. Joining went way easier than it should have, considering that the halves wanted to twist a bit, and my wooden jointer plane isn't quite flat in the high humidity.
Attachment:
BackJoined.jpg


I could have lined it up exactly by the hole, but then, wormholes haven't been verified to exist yet and I want this to be future proof :mrgreen: Plus the surrounding splotch lines up better this way, and if I replace the hole with a gold MOP dot, it looks like a star with surrounding nebula.
Attachment:
BackInlay.jpg


Next, the sides. They were quite large and thick to begin with, so I sawed a bunch of binding strips off of them, and still have two big offcuts which can make headplates, and either back center wedges or more bindings. This stuff planes really nicely. Just a few minutes to remove almost 1/8" of thickness with my cheapo block plane.
Attachment:
Sides.jpg


Then the fingerboard... which I didn't take any pictures of. Nothing unusual anyway. Thin it down, more sawing of binding strips from the excess width (my binding collection is growing faster than it's shrinking :P), mark the slots, saw the slots, plane the taper, add the binding. I did decide to add side purflings, which raises the stakes on getting the bindings perfectly flush with the bottom of the fingerboard, but it all went smoothly. Starting to think I'm actually becoming skilled or something :lol:
Attachment:
Fingerboard.jpg


Inlays won't be done until it's on the guitar. Here are some stone pieces I've collected while hiking around the local woods. Definitely will be using the Jupiter one, and probably the red one or another like it for Mars. I don't think the blueish one is quite right for Earth... I have a bunch of others of the same type, but still haven't found a good one. Most of them are just flat color. I may end up going with lapis instead, since it sometimes has white patches to be clouds. Then I could use this local blue-gray rock for Uranus and Neptune. The plain gray piece should work for Mercury, which just leaves Venus, Saturn, and Pluto to find rocks for. And now I know what I'm looking for :D ...but I doubt I'll ever actually find a perfect Pluto rock. May have to settle for just the right overall color.
Attachment:
Rocks.jpg


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2015 6:16 pm 
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VERY cool stuff! I love the rosette. My design does have some overlap with yours, but is also very different in other ways. I won't be starting mine anytime soon- I have a commission to get through and a lot of repair work before I will have time to do anything new. I can't wait to see yours completed!

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:12 am 
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Your imagination never ceases to amaze me, Dennis! Another of your builds that I will follow with much enjoyment!

Alex

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:54 am 
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This is so incredibly cool! A lot of guitars with specific themes can look a bit gimmicky to me, but you always manage to pull it off and make them look amazing. I love that back - it looks a bit like a pulsar. Oh and the rosette of course!!

A bit off topic, but what happened to The black rose? I'd love to see that one finished :)

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 4:45 pm 
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Glad you all like it! I do often wonder if my designs are too gimmicky, so it's nice to hear otherwise. I like to think I have a good tackiness detector, at least :lol:

PeterF wrote:
A bit off topic, but what happened to The black rose? I'd love to see that one finished :)

Hopefully it will be finished up this fall/winter. It's one of the projects currently stalled due to high humidity, which is why I started on this one as something to do while waiting. I should update its thread, though. It's at the box assembly stage.

Continuing on here, next major piece is the neck. Plane it flat, and saw the scarf joint.
Attachment:
SawingScarf.jpg

Plane that smooth, and taper the thickness of the shaft piece, planing from the fingerboard side so the back side has minimal runout. Feels nice with an open pored finish.

Then cut the truss rod slot. What once was a noisy and messy router task is now one of my favorites, thanks to the Veritas plow plane.
Attachment:
TrussRodSlot.jpg

Since there's no good place to put clamps on it, I just use whatever hunks of wood happen to be lying around as stoppers. The piece past the end of the neck needs to be thin so the plane doesn't run into it.

I've been further regressing into old fashioned construction methods lately, so this is a 3/16" slot for a single compression rod. The slot should be as close to the back of the neck as possible to maximize the amount of bending from a given amount of pressure, and even better if it's curved so putting tension on the rod produces a bending force as it tries to straighten out. But it also needs to be shallower at the nut, so the adjustment nut cavity isn't too large. I use a tapered/curved strip of wood to guide the plane depth. Can't actually get very much curvature in the slot with a plane, but I can scrape a little more later.
Attachment:
TrussRodSlot2.jpg

Now time to glue that scarf joint. First give the headstock piece a coat of hide glue and let it dry, to clog the exposed endgrain before the actual glue-up. I've never had one fail even just gluing it straight away, but I have done break tests with smaller scarf and endgrain joints, and this pre-coat makes it much stronger.

Sand it flat and smooth again, warm it up, slop some glue, and stick it onto the neck. I'm too lazy to make a proper clamping jig, so I just rub joint it, and hold it by hand for a couple minutes to make sure the corners don't peel up due to moisture expansion or anything. Then stick some clamps on with light pressure and leave it overnight. Any other glue and this would probably start sliding from the clamping pressure.
Attachment:
HeadstockGlued.jpg

Then clamp the fingerboard on, centered over the truss rod slot.
Attachment:
FingerboardClamped.jpg

Drill position pin holes, mark along the edges of it, take it off, and and saw the neck taper. It was sort of tapered on one side already since I nibbled a hunk off earlier when it was thicker, but here it is properly matching the fingerboard, plus just a bit for safety.
Attachment:
NeckTapered.jpg

And next time it's on to the heel. Cutaway is a go, and more fun design work is involved. Stay tuned!


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:09 am 
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Can't wait to see how it turns out! I'm lovin' this one.

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:48 am 
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I'm enjoying this one. I like the idea of a plough plane, I too find myself doing more by hand - especially with chisels and planes; it just seems to be more fun. I don't really care if it takes me longer because I'm not trying to make a living with this.

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 1:47 am 
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So for the heel, all I have left of the original neck blank is 7" x 3 1/4" x 7/8". I actually came up with a layout where I could get three L-shaped pieces for a stacked heel, each over 3" long on the cutaway side. But the grain wouldn't all match, and I don't like the look of the glue lines anyway.

Then my sister tossed out an excellent idea... try to make the curve of the heel light colored so it looks like a crescent moon when viewed from the side. After a bit of pondering, I came up with how to do it: a center wedge of maple.
Attachment:
MapleSawing.jpg

Attachment:
MapleSawing2.jpg

Attachment:
HeelPieces.jpg

Sometimes I wonder if I should even bother keeping that vise on the corner of my bench. I always just build one out of cam clamps anyway :P

A bit of sanding to flatten the already nearly flat side of that wedge, and rub joint it onto the long walnut piece. Then plane the sawn side of it smooth, now that it's easier to hold onto and the thin end of it is supported.
Attachment:
HeelPlaning.jpg

Then a bit of sawing and gouge carving to hollow it out some.
Attachment:
HeelBlockHollow.jpg

But before that, I did a bit of sawing and rasping on the other walnut piece, and used it to mark the line that I was carving to so they'll fit together perfectly. Another rub joint and the block is complete. Note that the grain of the walnut will not be parallel to the grain of the neck, due to the wedge angle. Should be interesting to see how that turns out...
Attachment:
HeelBlock.jpg

Plane/sand the top of that flat, glue it to the neck, plane the bottom as close to the final taper as possible, plane the sides square to the neck, trim the maple so the "foot" is a more rounded shape... then it's time to cut the one rib slot on the bass side. It's more or less done freehand to a marked line. But my saw's kerf isn't very wide, so I stick a scraper into the slot as a shim, and saw again to widen it.
Attachment:
HeelSlotSaw.jpg

Attachment:
HeelSlot.jpg

And finally it's time to begin the actual carving :D


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 6:49 am 
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That's some pretty fancy footwork I mean woodwork! laughing6-hehe

This is a great thread, will be watching till the end.

Here's a space themed uke kit I gave to my "science nerd" niece a while back. I etched it on the laser at work. I guess it woulda really been something had I inlaid shell in it all.

Image


Oh yeah, the back has the entire periodic table of elements. (as a handy reference)

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 2:49 pm 
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RPA_Ukes wrote:
That's some pretty fancy footwork I mean woodwork! laughing6-hehe

:lol: I quite enjoy having the use of my feet to grip things.

Nice work on that space uke! I remember seeing it somewhere before... maybe a thread on Ukulele Underground? And a great idea including the periodic table on the back :)

On to carving this heel, first start with some violent chisel work. Not getting too close to the line yet. Already the angled grain is making things easier because it splits in the direction of the heel surface, and there's less endgrain when carving.
Attachment:
HeelCarving2.jpg

Then mark a curved line and saw some slots to it.
Attachment:
HeelCarving3.jpg

Chisel from both sides to chew away the slotted wood.
Attachment:
HeelCarving4.jpg

Start defining the shape.
Attachment:
HeelCarving5.jpg

Start refining the shape.
Attachment:
Foot.jpg

Attachment:
HeelCarving7.jpg

I almost declared it done around here, but then decided it wasn't curved enough so went back to carving. Also flattened the part right where it curves from the back of the neck into the heel, so it feels softer on the thumb than the sharp-ish ridge I had before.

I had a heck of a time getting rid of all the scraper marks at the end, so I switched to sandpaper... then had a heck of a time getting rid of the coarse sanding scratches so I switched back to scraping :lol: But with a finer burr, which got it nice and smooth. Various coats of shellac during that to raise the grain, and to lock the sanding dust into the pores as filler.
Then sand up to 1500 grit, one more coat of thin shellac, and it's good and shiny bliss
Attachment:
HeelAngle.jpg

Attachment:
HeelSide.jpg

The angled grain turned out to be a great idea. Easier to carve, and better appearance match to the rest of the neck. I think I'll be using this pattern on future guitars even when they're not meant to look like crescent moons :)

Next up, the headstock!


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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2015 8:36 pm 
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That's just plain cool [:Y:]

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 8:24 am 
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First name: Greg
Last Name: Maxwell
City: Mount Vernon
State: Ohio
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Professional
Any updates? Looking forward to seeing this one completed.

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 Post subject: Re: The Galaxy
PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 12:27 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:59 pm
Posts: 2822
First name: Dennis
Last Name: Kincheloe
City: Kansas City
State: MO
Country: USA
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Greg Maxwell wrote:
Any updates? Looking forward to seeing this one completed.

Nope. I'll get back to it in a bit, but there's not that much more I can do in summer humidity anyway unless I resort to oven drying techniques.


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