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The Robin's Nest
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Author:  SteveSmith [ Mon Jan 23, 2017 4:54 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Thanks Dennis. I really liked to see how you did that bevel.

Author:  DennisK [ Tue Jan 24, 2017 1:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

JoeM wrote:
thanks for sharing that. Looks like some fussy work to say the least. How did you lay out the stepped edge that you had to cut after shaping the bevel? Was that just eyeballed?

Yep. And actually, I don't think getting the bevel-to-soundboard transition precisely at the purfling edge was necessary after all. Might be even better if the purfling is cut into by the bevel just a bit so it gets rounded over some.

The ends of the purfling ledge should remain full width until the point that the bevel no longer touches the linings, and then blend smoothly into the original purfling ledge. I actually blended it a bit too soon, which disrupts the smoothness of the line just a teeny bit. But the bevel didn't cut into the purfling anyway, so I must have twisted the bevel plane at the ends or something. Oh well.

After removing the tape and leveling the bevel veneer to the soundboard/sides, it turns out it did manage to cup hard enough to make one small gap.

I filled it with sawdust and glue. It's still visible as a dark line, but I doubt most people notice or care.

Then round over the bevel and bindings (rasp/file/sandpaper followed by very light scraping) and give it a coat of shellac, and it's all nice and pretty.

Here's a shot showing the tail end of it. Hard to spot the glue line even knowing where to look for it :mrgreen: You can also see the lovely rounded profile.

And here's the cutaway miter. Not perfect (mainly the fact that the sides have a different miter angle than the binding/purfling, so the glue lines don't match up), but it'll do.

I also trimmed the back overhang and rounded it over... but forgot to take a picture.

So now pretty much all that's left is the fingerboard and bridge. I decided to use more sticks from the back yard for the side marker dots.

Then chisel/sand those down, re-shellac, and glue it on.

Unfortunately I forgot to water the outside of it to counter the moisture expansion from the glue, so the glue line may be slightly visible on the edges. But I did scrape the underside just a touch concave to increase the pressure on the outer edges, so there's a chance that was enough even without the water. But being persimmon, it probably cupped.

Now I have to wait until tomorrow for it to thoroughly dry before I can level it and sand the radius.

Author:  DennisK [ Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

gaah I'm going to have to learn how to remove a fingerboard... which will probably involve buying some new tools.

The glue line turned out ok, but after much radius sanding and struggling to get it leveled just right, it's about 1/16" thinner than intended. Not terribly much, but the neck was going to be slim already, and now it's just too far to put up with. If I can peel it off in good condition, I'll glue a layer of walnut or something to the underside, redo the binding, and glue it back on.

Author:  JoeM [ Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Man that's gotta be disappointing Dennis. Sorry to hear that. What kind of glue did you use?

Author:  SteveSmith [ Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Bummer. I had to do that on my first acoustic to replace a truss rod, I ended up destroying the fret board. Since then I've learned to use heat :? Heat blankets are nice but a heat lamp and some patience will work too. I suppose you could even use an iron. Hope it goes well.

Author:  DennisK [ Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Hot hide glue. I went with an iron and spatula for the removal. Thanks to the cutaway, I could reach far enough in to get the extension without needing a special flat backed one like I was thinking. Came off clean, but very cupped. I have it clamped flat, so hopefully it will take the shape. If not, I'll try ironing it again. I'm fairly sure I'll be able to save it, and more importantly the guitar itself is unharmed, so I'm pretty happy.

Author:  SteveSmith [ Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest


Author:  truckjohn [ Sat Jan 28, 2017 9:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

I know that's frustrating.

Your experience with the board cupping is why I switched to epoxy for gluing down the fret board.

Are you going to try to save the board or just start over?

Author:  DennisK [ Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Quick update just to say that the board is saved :) I wrestled it with heat until it was reasonably straight, scraped the back reasonably flat, glued to a piece of walnut, cut the slots deeper, got the walnut all trimmed flush and planed/scraped flat, added new binding, new side marker dots, and glued it back on.

Now to wait another day for it to dry, and then have another try at radius/level sanding.

Author:  truckjohn [ Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Great save.

Author:  truckjohn [ Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

I gotta tell you that I stole your trick of wetting the top of wood before gluing the bottom for my headplate veneer... It seemed to work out quite well.

I don't have the courage to do that on a fretboard yet... I still use epoxy there.

Author:  DennisK [ Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Getting close to completion now!

Here's the fingerboard removal setup:

And clamped to the walnut shim (a harp ukulele back offcut):

Then it's all just a repeat of before, except this time I actually get to install the frets. I didn't take any pictures of the fret making process, but here's one going in. First fill the slot with hide glue, using a knife to help poke it down in there since it's pretty viscous.

Then wipe off the glue from the surface. Get the fret stood up in the slot, and lined up just right with the edges of the board.

Tap it down, and run some water along the edges to thin the glue squeeze-out, including what's under the crown of the fret.

And then pound it violently until it won't go any further.

The fingerboard end actually looks pretty cool with the shim. This would be a good way to conserve rare woods, since only the outer 1/8" or so actually needs to be super hard, for wear resistance and fret tang grip.

And then the bridge. I've had better luck with hide glue rub joint than clamps and cauls, so that's what I'm going to do. The usual method of sanding the bridge in-place wasn't getting a perfect enough fit, so I switched to careful scraping, checking with a flashlight until there were no gaps around the edge with it sitting in its proper place.

Then scrape away the shellac on the soundboard in the bridge area, position the bridge (I use a 36" iGaging straightedge which has 1/64" marks, laid along the high and low string paths to get the left/right position and 12th-fret-to-saddle-slot distance just right), and stick some bits of tape around it, with just a bit of wiggle room.

Then warm it up, apply water to the outer surface of the bridge to equalize expansion, dump glue everywhere, and rub it in place until it grabs. Hold it with gentle finger pressure for a few minutes, and then clean up the glue. I kept holding the pointy corners down with one hand while cleaning the glue, just to be sure they didn't try to curl up. It appears to have gone well.

All that remains is drilling the bridge holes through, finishing, installing tuners, making nut/saddle, and stringing it up :) Then maybe some brace shaving through the soundhole. Adding the bridge dropped the soundboard frequency from 215Hz to 208Hz, but that's still pretty high, and air remains unchanged at 109Hz. I'll wait until I've measured the bridge rotation under tension before I do anything, though.

Author:  SteveSmith [ Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Looking good Dennis. To my eye the shape of the bridge seems to balance out the end cut of the fretboard.

Author:  truckjohn [ Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

That's really unique. I think it is a lot of fun. I agree that the walnut shim under the fretboard does look cool.

Author:  Bryan Bear [ Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest


Author:  DennisK [ Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Annnd it's done! Pretty much, anyway.

I decided to go with glossy finish, since this soundboard doesn't seem to want to do the rougher style I'd planned on. I still can't French polish worth a darn, so I went with the micromesh+wipe approach. Back/sides are mostly pore filled, with alcohol on 400 grit wet/dry paper to get started, and pumice on cheesecloth+muslin pad to finish (sandpaper produces filler more quickly, but doesn't force it into the pores the way a pumice pad does). Then wiped on a coat of shellac, and it didn't even need micromesh. Still has just enough pore texture to break up the monotony, but not enough to look rough.

Minor dilemma on the headstock: the tuners I was planning to use didn't fit. The holes are spaced 1.25" rather than the standard 1 3/8", and the golden age restoration tuners have rather large plates. They almost fit, and I could have made it work by grinding the little points off of them, but still would have looked overly crowded. I decided to use the set of Gotoh Stealth tuners I bought a long time ago for a different guitar (which I still haven't gotten around to building yet). They're rather pricey at $105, but since tuners aren't included in the price limit I'm still ok. I think the gold color looks better anyway, and the lighter weight is nice. Final weight is 2.93lbs (1329g).

Final budget is as follows:
Soundboard: Free
Back/sides: $35
Neck/heel: $20
Fingerboard/bridge: $15
Braces/linings/tail block: $10
Truss rod: $3
Headplate/binding $4
Purfling: $4
Fretwire: $8
Bridge pins: $20
Nut/saddle: $8
Inlay materials: Free
Tuners: $105
Total: $233

I may have a go at making my own bridge pins, which would get me under the limit even including the expensive tuners. I couldn't find any plain unslotted 3 degree bone, and I don't want to fork over the money for a 5 degree reamer, so I used some with abalone dots. But that contaminates the local material purity. Plus I came up with the idea to make them out of sycamore sticks, so the pith forms a decorative dot in the center :) Would be a little soft, but probably ok with a slotted bridge plate. And I'll soak them in thin CA to harden them some.

The tone is pretty good. As people always say with parlors, it sounds bigger than it is :) A little more soft than harsh, which is good. But it does have a bit of the "hollow treble" sound that all my steel string guitars seem to have. I need to figure out exactly what causes that. Maybe too much perimeter thinning? The super stiff back on this one confirms that it's not due to any back resonance effect, and I can't find anything from looking at frequency plots either. I'll leave the soundboard perimeter thicker on the next one, and string it up before finishing so there's still the option of thinning. Scalloped bracing is another thing I could try. It makes no logical sense to me, but there must be something to it considering how popular it is.

Stiffness wise, it looks like I won't be shaving the braces very much if at all. The string-height-at-bridge is a bit higher than I'd intended (mostly due to being chicken on the second round of fingerboard radius sanding), so that makes sense. I'll give it a few more days and then take a proper bridge rotation measurement.

But more importantly, here are the pictures :mrgreen:








And a sound clip:

If anyone wants to play it, come to the St. Louis gathering on April 29th :) Good chance to try out both fan frets and armrest bevel. Feels just about perfect to me.

Author:  Alex Kleon [ Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Inspiring, as usual, Dennis! Your heel/side/back transition is a work of art!


Author:  truckjohn [ Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Very nice all around.

I really like the little bird perched upon the trussrod cover.

Overall - this is a guitar which incorporates a lot of unique/different ideas and it works out well. I am still amazed at inlaying sticks and twigs for the soundhole rosette.. If I would have attempted that - it would have turned into a mushy rotten black epoxy soaked pile of grass clippings rather than a cool little birds nest...


Author:  JoeM [ Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

that's a great looking guitar! Love the shape, great details. The sound seems great (your playing is good too - I keep putting off posting a clip of my guitar sound as I don't play that well).

Author:  SteveSmith [ Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

It looks great Dennis. I have to agree, the rosette looks great, love the bird, and the neck heel transition has a great, organic shape. Bevel came out great too, I've yet to try one of those.

Author:  Bryan Bear [ Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

I love the shape with the bevel and the bird! It all comes together really well.

Author:  DennisK [ Mon May 29, 2017 9:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

I still haven't gotten around to making the final nut/saddle for this, but I did make some bridge pins a couple weeks ago to replace the bone/abalone ones I was using before, which just didn't feel quite local enough. Chucked some sycamore sticks in the drill and went at it with a knife, file, and sandpaper :P Poor man's lathe. They're not particularly symmetrical or interchangeable, but that just adds to the charm. Dipped in shellac and micromeshed to a nice shiny finish.


Author:  SteveSmith [ Tue May 30, 2017 2:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

They look good Dennis! I have some that are custom fit for each hole. I just put a file mark on them 1 mark for high E, 2 marks for B, etc.

Author:  Bryan Bear [ Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Robin's Nest

Bumping the finished entries up to the top. . .

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