Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Quickie Podium Repair

My First Sergeant asked me to repair some legs to an old podium that we use during presentations. The legs were Poplar covered with Melamine and were rotting under the Melamine from years of exposure to moisture and heat.

This was a quick set of legs that I threw together using Plywood and some Automotive finish to protect it from the elements. This should last a few years.

Aristocrat Part 2 Blending the finish

You may have noticed in my last post the Bind All glue ate away at the original finish leaving bare wood around the sides of the body where the new binding was adhered. No amount of masking was able to prevent this as the glue seeps under tape.

What this means is I need to re-apply the finish along the edge where the binding was attached blending into the original finish so as to hide the repair as much as possible. This is a long drawn out process.

First I need to match the existing amber body color using tint and mixing with a nitro lacquer that is as close to the original finish as I can get. If the old lacquer is a vastly different chemical mix than the new, the new will soften and bubble the old lacquer making a huge mess. So I tried 3 different brands of Lacquer before going with Behlin Instrument lacquer. It blends really well with the classic finishes and doesn't cause any bubbling. After the initial amber application I went with a darker brown to cover up the wood that was uncovered by the glue. It was a nice match to the existing dark brown and I only darkened it up a little bit more for the cover up. I gave each application about a week to cure before a second or third coat. I lightly scuff sand each coat with 1200 grit sandpaper so the next coat has something to grab and melt into.

The next step is to scrape off the finish that is on the binding.
I created a special tool for this using a thick long wood scraper and masking tape.
Using the masking tape as a buffer to limit how far the scraper cuts, I make my way around the body. Once the binding is exposed all around I will apply a couple coats of clear with a small hint of amber to age the binding back around 30 years.

This is a long and tedious process as you can tell by the dates on the posts.
More to come,

Monday, February 22, 2016

Re-Binding an Old Neck

We are looking at a Guild Aristocrat that the binding has completely shrunk and fallen apart on the entire instrument. 

After re-binding the body using the binding that I created  a few weeks ago (I will show you guys that when I compile all the photos) I began the neck work.

In Pic#1 you can see I am at the point where I have already drilled the holes and placed the black dots. A drop of Acetone binds the plastics together creating essentially one piece of plastic. After it cures for 24 hours I cut the excess black dot material and used a razor blade to flatten and even out the binding to one thickness from top to bottom.

Once the bottom and top pieces are sized and ready to go, I prepped the neck itself making sure the frets are flush to the fingerboard and scraped the bottom side of the binding so there is a nice tight fit binding to fingerboard.


After test fitting and making sure the bottom of the binding sits nicely, I prepped for glue.
Using "Bind All," purchased from Stewart Macdonald, I applied the adhesive to one side of the neck and installed the binding for that side.

In Pic#3 I wrapped the binding to the neck using a giant rubber band (literally) and clamped the areas not accessible by the band. I then let it cure for 24 hours


In Pic#4 the first side has already cured in place. The second side is now glued in place and clamped from top to bottom.

After 24 hours I will glue the bottom and final piece in place.

After the final piece cures I will level the frets and binding at the same time and trim the edges that are not touching the frets.

More to come!


Monday, February 15, 2016

Pickguards In Progress and Replicated

 Oops My Bad. Maybe I didn't mentions that Cellulose Nitrate is incredibly Flammable... had I not turned at just the right time I would have lost the whole pickguard.

I placed this old warped Silvertone pickguard near a light to warm it up enough so I could flatten it a bit. after less than a minute passed I heard this hissing sound and looked to find this pickguard literally bursting into flames. Oops. Now I have to replace it with a comparable one so the guitar can look pretty again.

The Owner was very understanding and OK with me replacing it.

In photo #1 you can see how I started with blank Acrylic Tortoise material approximately .125" thick. I shaped it to match the original. Then came the challenge. I located some checker patterned PVC binding material. Not an easy thing to do mind you, this stuff is hard to find and expensive. I then proceeded to glue the binding to the tortoise material (photo #2). Letting it cure for one week I finish sanded and polished the final pickguard. In the lower right corner you can see the new and old side-by-side. It looks even prettier in person.
Here in pic #3 you can see some 6061 Aluminum blanks that I had water jet cut for some upcoming Freestyle guitars.
This was a fun project. I designed the pickguard and cut a prototype. I drove the blank to Charisma Design Studio, Inc. in Sun Valley CA. (Really Great, Talented People, you should visit this shop to see the art that they create from metal, I can say nothing but good things about them) They scanned my prototype, created a digital file and cut 4 blanks for me. All that's left is to countersink and polish the aluminum. And now I have a digital file so I can make changes and bring the file back to Charisma for more cutting.

I have a lot of exciting projects in the shop now.
More posts coming.

Monday, February 1, 2016

What's up in the shop

I know, I know, I haven't posted in awhile.
I've been very busy at work and with the Military, But that's not an excuse as I have also been Very busy in the shop.

One of the restoration projects I am working on is an old Guild Aristocrat. The guitar has aged terribly but there is still a spark in there that I can see. The Binding around the body and neck have shrunk so dramatically that it was falling off. The original Inlay's have dropped out and disappeared.

In Pic 1 you can see where I have begun replacing the inlays with Pearloid Cellulose Nitrate. This is the material that was originally used. I found out the hard way how intensely flammable this material is. Be Careful handling this stuff. It does not take that much heat to set it off.


In Pic 2 I am creating a custom binding to match the original. I have 3 colors and thickness of binding. Cream, Black, Cream. I apply Acetone as I pull it through a Silicone impregnated block that I purchased from Stew Mac. The plastic has to cure for 24 hours, but once cured it can be bent as if it was one piece of plastic binding.

Still working on the Les Paul Juniors, in Pic 3 you can see my progress on the necks. I used a spoke shave to cut away a little at a time until I achieved the profile I was looking for. I cut the heal and the head stock heal with a rasp file. I then finish sanded to 80 grit. I won't final finish the profile until I glue up the fret board.

Below in Pic 4 you can see my partner Steve and I are working on the next Freestyle Guitar. This one has a finish made from Urushi.  Urushi is a traditional Japanese finish that is made from tree sap. You can see examples of Urushi on Classic Japanese furniture, Musical Instruments and Wood Sculptures. We actually shipped the body to one of Steve's friends in Japan who applied the finish and sent it back. We are thinking of going with brushed Aluminum hardware. Gold hardware is on the table, but I'm favoring the Aluminum.

Cheers Until Next Post!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

LPJ Double Cut in progress

I've started a new guitar for my friend JD.
He wanted a Les Paul Junior Double Cut Away with two pickups.

I started by gluing up some Mahogany for the body. I cut the template about a 1/4 inch deep so I can see how everything lays out. I thickness sanded the body blank down to 1-7/8 inches thick and penciled in the layout of were everything needs to go, including where I want the pick guard to sit. When I was happy with the layout I made the final body cut on my bandsaw and finishing the edges on the spindle sander.

Next step was to get a neck rolling. I glued up 3 pieces of Mahogany with the grain pointing in different directions for a nice strong neck. I milled the top and face of the headstock flat and routed for the Truss Rod.

Next on my list will be to fret and bind the fingerboard, finish the neck, route the neck pocket and glue the neck to the body.

Stay tuned.


Bridge Fabrication

 Well the Old Kay came back with a broken Bridge. If you look you can see where the wood came apart in front of the saddle slot.

Sometimes this happens with age. Just like my knees.

This is always a challenging fix because you need the replacement to be an Exact match otherwise you need to set up the guitar all over again. Not an easy task on a vintage guitar.
 I went to the local lumber yard looking for old Rosewood and found that they had none. 2 yards later and the only Rosewood I could find was 5 times the price it was six months ago. I decided to use some scrap Cherry that I had in my pile. It has a very similar density so it won't change the sound of the guitar. And I could stain it to match the Rosewood.

So I cut, milled and sanded the scrap piece to match the dimensions of the original bridge. I then created a jig to cut the saddle slot on the correct angle. I final sanded and stained to match the Cherry to the Rosewood.
To my delight, the grain looks really cool.

Lastly, I scuffed the bottom and cleaned the area of the body that will be receiving the new bridge.

The glue up was a success, and the guitar is now back in it's owners hands.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Freestyle Bass



The Finished Freestlye Bass prototype,
This bass has a Mahogany body with an aged nitro finish to give it that played look and feel.
The neck is Maple with my new signature Muddy look (basically black grain filler) with a satin nitro finish to keep it smooth and easy to play. Sperzel tuners, DeArmond pickups and a Hipshot bridge (those guys rock the hardware).
Featuring the standard Freestyle jack plate cutaway and the angled neck pocket.
This bass plays and sounds as good as it looks.
We have a buyer for this one so we need to build another one really quick to use as a prototype for interested buyers.
This one was fun, can't wait for the next.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Dragon (Maleficent) Guitar Finished




This Guitar took a looooooong time to finish.
Not because it was difficult but because I had to squeeze it into my schedule.
An hour here, 20 minutes there. This just took forever from raw wood to strung and tuned.
If I add it all up it only took around 60hrs.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Amazing Grain

I applied Black grain filler to the bass body, and began rubbing it off.
Here you can see the the body compared to the raw wood.
Amazes me every time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Custom Cavity Template


I needed an electronics cavity for the Freestyle bass that I was working on, but all the existing cavity templates were too big or too small. The only option was a custom set of templates.

Using some scrap acrylic (all builders should have some scrap around the shop because there are so many uses for it) I measured and laid out a paper template that I transferred to the acrylic. I then slowly and carefully hand routed the acrylic until I had the template that you see in the first pic.

Using the templates, I was able to quickly create the cavity and cover that I needed.

Now I have a template for future electronic cavities.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cleat Clamps






These are called Cleat Clamps. I know they look weird.
The thin guitar string is passed through the spruce top with a glued Cleat under the top, tightening the guitar string pulls the Cleat against the top nice and tight. I use this method to keep cracks from getting larger.