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Making the new Solera

Making the new Solera
(NB: I decide to bring this section out into a post by itself)
I am planning to build a guitar with a elevated fingerboard design, and thus the solera would need to be changed.
Anyway since I had plenty of MDF, I decided to make the solera out of the MDF
Though I had 1" thick MDF, it's very difficult to cut it.
So instead I glue 2 pieces of 1cm thick MDF together to form the main board.
And I cut a piece of upper bout out of cutoffs and use my block plane to plane it into a wedge.
The upper bout piece sloped down all the way to the waist.

Recently I just upgraded the block plane's iron to a IDC replacement which is a cryogentically treated A2 1/4" thick iron.
(In short a harder and able to hold an edge longer but also harder to sharpen)
The block plane now works like charm.
Even though I sharpened the original Stanley blade, the feel wasn't any good.
This is probably what they termed as plane iron chatter?

Finally, I use my compass plane to plane the dome and touch up using the sandpaper.
I didn't really use any curve stick to guide but rather's use my eye as the judge for the curvature.
It's a complex curve with a deepest portion of 5mm.
For the edge I use my Stanley block plane to remove the material and to smoothen out the curve.
Also I try to make the wedge portion transit smoothly into the dome depression and use a MuJingFang bullnose plane for that purpose.

I also got around to make the template out of 2mm acrylic sheet.
The plantilla I used is the Torres FE19 plantilla which I enlarged from the Romanllios book.
The size is slightly smaller than the previous Hauser plantilla which I used.

This time round I will coat the solera with a finish.
Inhaling too much of the MDF dust is really toxic.
Even with 2 layers, the solera also bends quite easily at the neck joint portion.
So I would need to reinforce the bottom with a piece of pine wood.

The idea of the raised fingerboard is actually to make the upper bout dipped down.
Thus the fingerboard portion would be exposed, making the access to the high frets easier.

The upper bout for the raised fingerboard portion

Removing the waste portion with my block plane

Can see wedge shape forming nicely

On the solera

Another view

The acrylic template showing the raised upper bout.
If you invert it the front upper bout would dipped down thus making the fingerboard "raised".

Side view.

Making the dome depression with my MuJingFang compass plane

Using the bullnose plane to make sure the curve from the raised upper bout transit smoothly into the doming depression

Using the block plane to smoothen the perimeter of the doming

All the tools used in the creation of the doming.
The MuJingFang compass plane and the Stanley block plane are really very useful.

The curvature of the topboard.

5 mm depression

The depression curve

Cutting the centre part for the neck. The centre cut out will be inserted when the neck isn't glued to the topboard yet.

Gluing the raised part to the solera

My solera after the raised upper bout is glued.

Closed up. I drew the outline of the plantilla to the solera

From the neck view

Clamping 2 piece of pine to get the correct width

Glue the pine to the solera to support it.

Now it's much stiffer

Added 2 wing pieces to stablise the solera
Drilled the center hole too.

Glue 2 pieces of plywood for the top piece of go-bar stand.
(I did spread the glue even)
They will be supported by 4 pieces of threaded rod.

Saw to fit using the ryoba

Varnished the solera with the Ronseal quick dry varnish
Next to come is to drill the holes for the supporting blocks and make those supporting blocks.

After a long dilemma, I finally decide to make the side support.
But not blocks but rather a full side frame mould.
Sawing the pieces is really a hard job especially since I don't have a bandsaw.
I had to do it by a jigsaw.
The trimning part will be done by my trimmer with a trimmer bit.
Well one of the reasons why I didn't do a block is because I hate to cut the slots onto the beautiful solera ...
Sometimes it's better not to make a good looking jig...

After vigorous saw of the individual piece using the Jigsaw, it's really tiring.
Next to come will be trimming the individual pieces to the template using a trimming bit.
That will be another noise generator but because I cut quite closely to the line the dust and noise generated should be minimum.
Before that I should be drilling some registration holes to align the pieces together.
Stay tune...

I continue with the side mold. Drilling those registration hole did not seems to be that easy.
In the end when stack up some of them didn't align properly..
I had to do some trimming again.
I did the trimming of the main pieces with the template using a trimming bit.
Then I proceed to glue the spacer block to the 3 main pieces.
After they dried sufficiently I drill those registration hole thru' the space block and then finally bolt up all the assembly.
I had to re-drill the reg hole again thru' the assembly as they didn't align properly.
After bolting up I resurface the protruding area and glue them up.

Next to come is to drill those holes into the solera and install some T-nut for holding down the side mold to the solera.
Well I need to find some bolts that is so long...

The side mould, not yet trim and glued
How the side mould would look on the solera

The side mould

Another view

Ready to do the trimming with the trimming bit.

Triming in action

Glue the center spacer block 
Well a cheap way to gain more height and also to make the side mould lighter

Glue up

The complete side mould

Trimming the spacer block.
The side mould trimmed to size

Drilling the holes onto the solera

Another view

Drilling thru' after marking.

Realigning the holes after drilling thru' Without a drill press it's very hard to drill with precision.
Now to find long enough screws to fasten to the solera

Now I need to make the bridge caul to press down the top into the doming of the solera
and also the part to hold the upper bout.

For the caul, I made it from the spare pine wood which I obtain from IKEA.
I trace the curvature form the solera and plane it accordingly
After that I simply drill the hole for the central part.

The caul held by the central part

The caul tracing the doming in the solera

After drilling the hole.


Jointing the Top

Jointing the top
Well it's been a while since my last post and I have cleaning up my work bench.
Done up a rack for storing all my tools and woods but haven't sticker the woods in place yet.

Finally I choose a day where there was no rain to do the top plate jointing.
Using the same was as the back, I shoot the top and prepare to do the jointing using HHG (hot hide glue).

I prepare all the thing that I need and heat up the HHG (prepared previously)
  • Top plates
  • Jointing Jig / wedges
  • HHG with baby food warmer
  • Glue brush
  • Rope
  • Mallet for hammering in the wedges
  • Hygrometer

So I started the jointing process and with HHG I had to work fast (so no pics...)
I first laid the paper towel (to be scrapped /planed away after jointing).
Making sure the edge is the correct edge, I proceed to apply the HHG to the wood
and lay the wood on the bottom part of the jig.
Then I covered it with the top with some more paper towel and the top part of the jig
and started to tie them up.
Finally using the mallet I hammer in the wedges to tighten up the joint.
All in all it took me just less than 5 minutes to assemble the joint.
Then I proceed to clean up excess glue using some warm water.

Preparing the necessary materials / jigs / tools


Glue join and tie them up

Hammer the wedge to get a tighter joint

The joint close up view

After the next day, I remove the wedges and ropes.
When I wait for the glues to settle, I blew the dehumidifier at the top driving the RH down to 45%.

Removing the wedge and loosening the ropes

The top jointed

Looks good

The whole top

Jointing the back
I joint the back too the same way I joint the top.
But this time round I managed to find some wax paper.
It's actually the backing for stickers.
When I remove the strings, the paper didn't stick to the back at all.
The back's joint seam is not as good as the top, but luckily there will be a reinforcement strip (behind) and a backstrip inlay (front) in the middle seam.

Preparing the glue. The wax paper in place

All glued up, the dehumidifier driving the RH to about 43%

Glued back

The glued back with the plantilla drawn

Top and back