Les Paul Style Guitar Build

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D_W

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Try not to clog up my threads. I'd prefer suggestions from people who actually make things.
 

D_W

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finished shaping the back of the neck for the most part over lunch (which doesn't take long) but also experimented with logo ideas.

That's the part I'm not sure about. Should the logo just be initials, like I do on the chisels? Not sure yet. Thought about maybe inlaying a celluloid rectangle with letters inset, but that kind of thing isn't too common on guitars. Not a huge rush, just needs to be done prior to gluing the neck (or should be) which probably won't be until the end of this week. Not real big on the branding thing, so something unique but not tedious would probably be better (and not something that would cause a cease and desist if I ever sell the guitar on reverb - so not stealing of things like cartoon character faces).
 

John Brown

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Try not to clog up my threads. I'd prefer suggestions from people who actually make things.
I do try not to, but sometimes the temptation is too strong.
Right now I am forcefully resisting the urge to suggest suitable branding motifs.
I did actually build an electric guitar from scratch around 52 years ago. It wasn't as fancy as yours, but was apparently a delight to play, although made from random pieces of timber.
 

D_W

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Nut rough fitted, peghead narrowed and recentered (oops) and tuner holes drilled.
20220202_101145.jpg

(Drilled after the picture, I guess).
 

D_W

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Looks like this was before the peghead was corrected, too. Issue with things being of center was due isn't the laminations as a reference early on, but they're slightly out of square.
 

D_W

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20220203_160956.jpg


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lunch provided an opportunity to do a little bit of sanding and and get an idea of color with linseed oil - fairly pleased with the color (the rosewood is second growth stuff with kind of light color...until it gets oil on it. It will get deeper and warmer as the top coat will be a thin french polish of kusmi buttlonac.

Everything is fitted on the neck except for frets, which will be this weekend. A lot of hours of work left getting things together and set up properly and located (Bridge, etc). I prefer a french polish process to spraying - it's forgiving and you get to look at what you're doing while you're doing it. The rest of the drilling and fitting of electronics will be post shellac and then I'll touch up any issues remaining.
 

D_W

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and, the neck.

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, I did something out of square at some point and didn't notice it, so the peghead laminations are a little unbalanced. Note for next time.

pondering now if the finish should be a lighter colored shellac than buttonlac to preserve the brightness of the figure. I don't think it matters too much.

20220203_183105.jpg
 

D_W

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I glued this thing together this morning. About 6 large drop of titebond for all of it, just what I wanted. about the top half to 2/3rds of the tenon on each side and just a small line under the fingerboard to the top of the guitar to get a good connection sonically. The lower part of the tenon is unglued and so is the bottom. I doubt I'll be so lucky, but my thought is this will minimize body hump with seasonal changes and the natural shrinkage of wood over time.

The joint was as good as I could've hoped. It's sloppy so that it's easy on and off (like fraction of a sheet of paper sloppy), but with a thin bit of glue on both sides, it was suddenly tight enough to slip into place with satisfying hand pressure and no left or right movement and no up and down or levering out. Just dandy.

I used light pressure from two quick grip clamps and then hung the guitar so I could do "real work" for work without any distraction. It's lunchtime and the joint is set. I just need to flush the neck and cutaway joint now (it's very close) so there's no step and then give this thing one more go with linseed oil. I will use just a little bit more when starting the french polish. I thought about fretting the neck first at least above the tenon, but then changed my mind. I'll make a cradle for the neck so that that's not harsh work. I have so many modified files and such for toolmaking that I already have a "safe edge and safe corner" mill file to file fret ends off. toolmaking and guitar making are such a nice pair of things to go together - there's a lot of tooling overlap.

I may horrify some folks saying this, but I intend to do all of the drilling for bridge posts with a cordless drill freehand - they'll just be marked with a punch so that they don't wander. I am uncanny good (famous last words) at freehand drilling with two visual references in two directions - and tend to have a better outcome with it on stuff like bridge posts than I do trying to jig something. While I've followed little in terms of typical making rules, working by hand and eye and doing a lot of toolmaking has made this guitar about 90% successful so far (everything wrong with it is aesthetic only).

Make fun of the orange carpet if you'd like. I have a dry basement that stays in the 60s in degrees F all year. the carpet is a copper rust color, and I do metalwork in the shop through the door, so it hides the dust both when it's new, and when it's not! I've fought to not renovate the basement of the house into nicer space because it would pretty much push me out of the house and everyone upstairs has their own room to sleep in as well as enough space to have their own room during the day. I'm not into the idea that they now need to push me out of my work and storage spaces. I've seen it too many times through my friend's dads (my parents didn't operate that way - they used their spaces to do work if they pleased, and didn't try to make 5 different sitting rooms in one house at the expense of being able to do things.

(the body isn't really as dark as the picture - just overhead lighting. It'll be interesting to see if the brown gets a little deeper with french polish. I will use buttonlac -99% sure - on all of it, which will tone the maple and the limba a lot closer to each other - they're a bit clashy now, but it's all on the back side of the guitar, anyway).

My theory is this - when you do a french polish, even if you fill pores with pumice or whatever you'd like at the outset, unless you use something filled and truly non-shrinking - you'll be doing a follow up french polish in a few months.
20220204_112417.jpg
20220204_112502.jpg
 

D_W

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poor resolution on the front picture, I guess. The inlays are crisp and clean - the fuzzy edges are just part of the image compression.
 

D_W

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french polish begins - buttonlac. I actually for a second wanted to use blonde shellac, but the blonde that I have is very old and it's dissolving "gelly" so far. What's not gel texture in the jar is actually fine, so I may strain it if it hits a stopping point, but I'm glad it didn't work...

I forgot just how much I love the tone of buttonlac. It's not a "fake vintage" tone, but it has sort of a vintage look right away. It's not a "fake vintage" tone because it's literally the tone of the shellac itself without anything other than being processed into buttonlac.

If you're used to refined flakes, it basically looks like a floured soup, but it doesn't go on hazy.

I have sprayed guitars with no real issues before, but I don't really love the process - the french polish process, on the other hand, is divine and with my setup, it takes about the same amount of time (i'm sure crosslinked WB finish that I generally use if spraying is more durable, and it's definitely easier to lay a lot of it on and then sand back - the process just doesn't feel like working something).

This is just the initial work to try to push shellac into the pores. when I linseed oiled the guitar, I also smashed sawdust into the limba, so the pores were maybe not as deep as they would be otherwise.

The maple is never going to get a full french polish anywhere the hand goes - it's just a thin finish to prevent the neck from getting filthy and I may not even give it a full pore fill. I don't like thick finish on guitars, but my least favorite thing of all is to pick up one of those heavily lacquered 80s guitars and feel and hear a sccreecccchh as your hand sticks and you miss notes.

As a uniform thin finish gets built up on the limba, the limba will warm to a more even tone. The super wonderful thing about buttonlac also is that it's been around for eons, so if there's a desire to refresh it in the future, it will literally be a couple of hours total to refresh the entire guitar and shellac will stick to itself through oil, so there's no real hyper "oh my god!!! is there something on the finish that I couldn't see!!!!" stuff. The linseed oil was - certainly - not fully cured from yesterday but I've used linseed oil itself as the rubbing medium for french polish, so who cares. It's so dandy for a hand woodworker.

20220205_111651.jpg
20220205_112013.jpg
 

D_W

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I've struggled to come up with an idea for a logo. I don't want to just put my initials on it - i'll do that on chisels with a stamp, but don't really need a logo on the guitar.

But I have an urge to put a black and white cookie inlaid in the center top of this one.
 

D_W

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Looks great.

I love the off hand way you describe highly complex details.

this should be a training course for asping luthiers.

rob

I think there's probably two parts to this - I try not to make things complicated if they don't have to be. I get that whatever backwoods method I come up with may not be suitable for a wider public, but I think the method itself (not so much what's being made) is something other folks might like to do, which is just to have a good idea of what you want and then figure out how to do it and be willing to make a few of something to do it well. It feels like you own the making then, and lots of verbal bits and bobs that you just feel or sense - no need to define.

there's an underlying important point, that while I don't know really how to make a guitar, I do know what is in good guitars - I think it's got to be very hard to decide you want to build something and then make it something that you'd like to know about but don't (lots of people building guitars when they don't know what makes a good guitar - so they're probably making decent guitars, but there's something missing unless they have a constant feedback loop).

I hope to make good guitars. I do already make good tools, but like this, not the way someone would do it professionally. It hasn't been necessary, there, and would be limiting.
 

D_W

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I'd like to inlay it in celluloid - not that what you showed would be impossible, but it would be tough!! I need to make a small fretwork setup to cut celluloid sheet.

I think in most woodworking goods, though, initials or initials and town/county are a good way to go (stylized, of course).

I'm chickening out until the guitars are of note.
 

baldkev

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Looking fab David 🤩
Keep up the info, if people dont want to read, they can look at the pretty pictures
 

D_W

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I wouldn't say things move fast now, but all of the finish work will take a total of a couple of hours - the pores are generally filled on the rose wood and I'll save the rest for later.

(the back and neck will get half an hour of french polishing later, and then if the guitar was set to be finished, I'd do another round, but will save that for later to take care of any scratches, etc, that may occur while installing hardware and frets).

20220206_081236.jpg
20220206_081428.jpg


Same guitar, same time - just an indication of how different the guitar looks hanging with a light accross the room or on the desk with, I guess, the white towel confusing the phone re: light level. I think at the end of this, just going over the binding a few times with an alcohol filled rubbing pad with some oil will eliminate the need to scrape the binding clean - I like the tone that it's taking with the buttonlac.

The guitar feels very light and resonant - hopefully it stays that way.

Whereas I thought the buttonlac would make the rosewood look darker, it's starting to bring out the contrast in colors in the rosewood (forgot to get a picture of the peghead overlay, but it shows the same thing).
 

D_W

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Frets in...this is something I could stand to improve a bunch on the next guitar .
Leveled after this, and little spatters of glue removed with solvent.
20220207_184706.jpg
 
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