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Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1
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Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

For #8 I decided to try an all-Alaskan-Yellow-Cedar instrument in the shape of an early Gibson L-1

1) I was inspired by some Flamenco guitars done with this wood, and also, in my boatbuilding days i used a lot of it and have fond memories of the earthy smell

2) So AYC for back, sides, top, neck, and bracing. Ebony fingerboard, head plate and bridge. Abalone to be "tasteful"

3) I have done this body shape before and really like the way it sounds in maple and mahogany. I am making 13 frets clear of the body to push the bridge a little lower into the lower bout than a 14 fret version

4) Plates joined

5) I am using pearl cut to the approximate radius of the diameter of my rosette. The extra groove inside the rosette is for a piece of black for a soundhole binding

6) All done

7) I am laminating braces with a piece of Osage Orange between the AYC, and shaping them on a curved batten - I haven't started using dishes yet. Braces are thin - about .025" at the base

8) Fitting the X-joint

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Shaping the braces on a sanding batten

2) Braces all glued on against the sanding battens

3) Bending the sides

4) Sides glued to end blocks, using a flat sanding batten to lower the neck block and sides, and flatten the upper bout ready for the neck

5) Kerfing some lining

6) Back on

7) Box closed from the front

8) and the back

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

I am an amateur - if there is something you see that makes you cringe, please let me know

1) Flatenning the sides first with a fine file

2) Then various sanding blocks, including a pipe

3) Cutting binding and purfling channels

4) I use a simple guide that uses a single cutter with no bearings - a little fussy to adjust, but I haven't made a significant error yet. It uses a large fence to hold against the body, much like the dumb bell version

5) Clean up the channels with a safe-edge file and a riffler file

6) Cut my end graft slot with fine-toothed hand saw and clean out the depth with a small router plane

7) Glue in the end graft

8) Installing the binding/purfling. The little stick is to push the zipflex down into the chanel. 6 pieces in the assembly

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Scrape and sand

2) I am more than happy with the result

3) A couple of wash coats of shellac and the colors are very satisfying

4) Ready for a neck - made a 1" wide sample in scrap pine to help me keep track of lengths and positions

5) Cut the 15° angle

6) Plane out the saw marks

7) Make a jig on the bench top to hold pieces in position for gluing

8) turned out fine - my first glued-up neck

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Cut open the neck block - oops - forgot the truss rod slot

2) Set the fretboard on the body with 2 shims the height of frets, and measure the neck angle with my 14" 1880's Stanley bevel gauge - perfect tool for the job

3) Just shy of 2°

4) Transfer the compliment to the neck joint

5) Mark and drill for a threaded insert. I am using one down low on the theory that the upper one is in compression in not doing anything. I use a longish cut off bolt and a nut for accuracy in sighting for square

6) Mark out for Blanchard truss rod and carbon fiber rods. Each of Blanchard's truss rods are made to order, so no problem with my 13 fret, long scale neck

7) Rout grooves and install. Next time I won't use a filler for the rod - that makes the groove a little less deep leaving a bit more material in the neck

8) Check the neck location for any angles and make it a bit more flat

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

If anybody has a better idea on any of these steps - please speak up

1) Crosscut the tenon cheeks

2) Rip down the length with a different saw

3) Cut out the shape

4) Rough out the sides of the heel at the body

5) Cut out the rest of the neck and head profile leaving the shaft a little wide, then glue on a piece for the diamond volute. The slightly tapered shaft fits into my moxon vice perfectly

6) Rough out the first fret shape and cut the volute

7) Refine the volute

8) Almost there

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Cut frets - 25.34" scale, 20 frets

2) Plane a radius, then sand with home-made radius beam

3) Layout abalone inlays, stick them down with a drop of shellac, outline with a pointy knife blade

4) Remove them, then rub chalk into the cuts. Rout with a Dremel and glue them in

5) Rout a small rabet along each edge and fit in small pieces of straight abalone - in my tapered jig

6) Add a piece of ebony binding along the outside and have-at with the radius beam

7) A little drop fill and will be just right

8) How did the center inlay at fret 9 end up off center? It's a mystery

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Snip the tangs on the frets and file even with the bottom of the crown - nipper has been altered by grinding the back face of the tool to bring the cutting edges closer to the surface

2) Ready to go

3) A little liquid hide glue and a hardwood caul

4) Rough shape the heel

5) And the neck

6) A jig I made from a scrap of glue-lam from a dumpster

7) Glue on the fretboard

8) Final shaping

Author:  Glen H [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

Nice pictorial, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a real clear one. Good work.

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Neck is mostly sanded and has a couple of coats of shellac

2) Heel cap will be a veneer of ebony and a piece of AYC on top

3) Glue it up with food wrap to keep the glue off the body

4) Looks about right

5) Cut my anchor logo out of abalone

6) Mark with a knife, Dremel rout, glue it in, and fill with ebony dust

7) I made a copy of an early Style 3 Martin uke and some of them had this interesting nut

8) Thought it would be classy on this guitar - ebony veneer and 2 pieces of thinned-down bone

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Couldn't find tuners with ebony buttons that I wanted to pay for, so I got some Grover Sta-Tites and some ebony buttons. Pried off the nickel buttons, and drilled out the holes in the buttons.

2) Epoxy glued the buttons on

3) There's the nut. Looks like I wanted it to look - happy loofier

4) I use a jig I made for locating bridges. The jig is for a 24.9" scale and includes compensation - just snug the face of the saddle up to the jig and the center of the saddle is in the right place

5) The 25.34" scale I am using is .44" longer than the jig, so I made a .44" spacer that fits over the end of the jig

6) Flip it down and now the face of the saddle is against the spacer - the center line of the neck hs to match the centerline of the top

7) Drill the outer two holes at 3/16", now I can locate and glue the bridge after finish

8) Ready for sanding and finishing.

I didn't think of posting this until I reached this point - sorry for the overload. It will take me a few weeks to get the wipe-on poly finish completed and I will try to post a couple of times during finish. I would welcome any hints or comments about my technique, as I am fairly new to this whole thing.

Thanks - Ed

Author:  Ruby50 [ Fri Sep 21, 2018 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

Here it is a month and a half later later and I have been staring at my fret job for all that time - 12 of the 19 did not sit down properly, mostly in the centers. I decided I will have to redo them, and I need to take them all out so I can resurface the whole fretboard easily. I altered my soldering gun by clipping off the center of the "bit'" and bending the arms outward so they are as wide apart as most of my shortest fret. I then filed a groove in the ends so they rest on the fret crowns. Pull the trigger and about 10 seconds later the Cold Hide Glue I used is burned off.

1) Once the CHG has cooled I used my thinned-down linoleum knife to clean out the grooves

2) My daughter gave me a tip - to help with chipping on an ebony board, run a sharp knife down both sides of each fret so that any chipping is contained under the fret. An Exacto #11 is perfect, and here is what it looks like after - no visible chipping, but why did I get this much?? Was it the CHG in the slots??

3) She also convinced me to use medium viscosity CA. Her experience with it is that it sits in the groove and when you squeeze in the fret, the pressure activates the glue. Tap them with my polished cobbler's hammer with blue tape on the surface, then clamp with a hardwood (jatoba) curved caul for half and hour each

4) Tape off the fretboard, mark high frets with the fret rocker, the slowly file down high areas, checking frequently with the rocker and a longer straight edge. Then lightly file with a flat file (not all are flat)

5) Use a 3 corner file with the edges ground smooth to shape the sides and ends of the flattened frets, then a crowning file to round things over - making sure to leave the marker line along the crown

6) Then 600 grit paper, a couple of sanding screens to 4000, then 0000 steel wool - nice and polished

7) At last!! The finish I should have started a month and a half ago. I am using MinWax Wipe-On Poly after John Hall tried and liked it.

8) 4 coats to start - I am afraid of sanding through. I am using well-worn cotton dishtowels and they make wipe on application easy. After an overnight drying, level with 320 wet/dry used wet. Didn't think to soak it overnight, but am doing that now

3 coats to go, then a sanding with 600. last three coats, then 600 and hand polishing up through the grits

Author:  Ruby50 [ Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) 4 coats, then level, 3 coats, then level, then 2 coats and finish in a week

2) Make a nut. I forgot to take a picture of marking it - I install the nut, and run my sharp half pencil over the the first couple of frets to mark on the nut where a zero fret would be

3) Christmas gift from my daughter - a StewMac nut rule that spaces the strings ever-so-slightly farther apart to compensate for string size. Mark with an .03 pencil through the slots

4) Using a saw with a fine blade - a little less then.012" - I cut all of the slots down to just shy of the mark

5) Using my nut files I enlarge each of the slots to fit my light gauge string preference. Last, I angle each nut file about 15° towards the head and file about 1/2 way down each slot to help point the string towards the pegs

6) Once everything is the way I like it, I use a file to remove extra height, to round the back and the ends, then sand with 220 and 600 grit paper, then use a fingernail buffer to polish the bone. All done

Author:  Alaska Splty Woods [ Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

That YC soundboard has some very loose open grain, compared to most. We at have only had a couple logs/trees out of hundreds with that loose of texture.. It's a wonderful wood to work with. It cuts, carves and machines like a dream.

Author:  Ruby50 [ Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1


Can you define loose and open grain or texture. Is it good to have looser and opener grain or texture? Does it have to do with density? I have read that wide grain on Red Spruce does not seem to affect sound.



Author:  Alaska Splty Woods [ Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

Ruby50 wrote:

Can you define loose and open grain or texture. Is it good to have looser and opener grain or texture? Does it have to do with density? I have read that wide grain on Red Spruce does not seem to affect sound.



Author:  Ruby50 [ Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1


Your answer seems to have been cut off


Author:  Ruby50 [ Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

Taking way too long!!

I had trouble with witness lines. I don't have power buffing tools, and by hand I have not been able to get them to look acceptable. So my solution is to:

1) go over the whole thing with 1500 wet/dry til it is leveled - not difficult since I had leveled just a couple of coats previously

2) then carefully apply a coat at just the right thickness to cover but not to allow any surface defects. Not too bad - check how the bridge reflects in the side

3) next step, bridge installation. Put it in place with two 3/16" bolts through the positioning holes I drilled earlier, put tape around right close to the edges, then cut through just the finish with a razor blade

4) remove the bridge and use a sharp chisel to scrape the finish off the area inside of the razor line. A quick scuff with 220 grit and it's ready for glue

5) dress rehearsal. I am using a bridge clamp I made, and 2 cheap 5" throat c-clamps from Horror Freight - about the only thing they are good for

6) glue it down pull the tape, and clean up the glue

7) install the tuning machines - interesting to see the pale yellow color of this neck

8) the replacement ebony buttons look great

Tomorrow all I have to do is bolt on the neck, and drill, ream, countersink and slot the pin holes. Then I can string it up!!

Author:  Ruby50 [ Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

1) Ream the bridge peg holes most of the way

2) Slot the bridge. These are 2 saber saw blades - a narrow one and a wider one, each cutting 3 slots. The handles are from my neighbor's boxwood tree and I angled them so I can be right above the work watching to make sure the blade is plumb

3) Small countersink at each hole, then ream to get the unslotted pegs all even, then string her up

4) I'll take some beauty shots shortly, and my daughter is coming this weekend so I can get a video of her playing it. The sound is not balanced yet, but the trebles sound like my real Martin rosewood 000, and it has as much sustain as that guitar

That's it - thanks for looking. When I get the shots and the video I will post in Guitar Building Forum


Author:  Gary Davis [ Sun Sep 05, 2021 10:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

Beautiful example. Do you have other threads about this guitar or other L-1/0 guitars you've built?

Thanks - Gary Davis

Author:  CarlD [ Sun Sep 05, 2021 4:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

Gary, sorry to say that Ed Minch (Ruby50) passed away recently. There are pics of several of his other guitars if you search Ruby50. Sad news for all of us. He will be missed.
Oh, and welcome to the forum. There's good info here.

Author:  Gary Davis [ Mon Sep 06, 2021 7:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Alaskan Yellow Cedar L-1

Thank you Carl. I had no idea. Too sad for all.


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