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Inlaying the Rosette

After the components of the rosettes are almost all prepared, I began to inlay the rosette directly into the top.
I was deciding between pre-assembling the rosette and inlay in one shot or inlay as I go.
This was partly my wheat pattern purfling was not one part but assembly by small sections.
So I made a fitting channel and inlay the strip, it will clamp by itself.
For dry fitting, I route the channel on the MDF and test the dry fitting.
After that I began to route the channel on the actual top.
It didn't go too well. The channel was abit too deep but luckily my top is thick and so I have allowance.
I chip the ring at 2 places so I just use my manual cutter and cut a smaller ring and chisel out the channel.
I think handtools offer alot more control, I have to keep reminding myself that.
If only I have a narrower router plane blade, I can use the LN router plane.
That would be perfect.
Now it looks ok except that I have a smaller sound hole.
But since the plantilla is small, it doesn't look odd.

Dry fitting in the test channel.

Dry fitting in the actual top. At the center, the direction is pointing toward each other. This create a more balanced look.

Preparing more strips

Started gluing the purfling

After it dried I began plane it down.

Not fully leveled but looks quite OK.

Next ring was a challenge, I decide not to use the dremel, it'll just will spell disaster.
Hand tools offer more control.
I scribe the next ring about 5mm in width but I lack of the appropriate chisel to remove the waste in the channel.
My nearest chisel was 6mm and smaller than that was 2mm.
The 2mm was very hard to control the depth of the channel.
After some attempt, I discover the channel bed was very uneven.
In the end I decide to enlarge the width of the channel and use my LN router plane to do the job.
It worked like a charm, and the bed was smooth and even.
I glued in some veneers so separate the ring.
To hold the veneer in place I use pins and was surprised they held the veneer very tightly.
Hmm why didn't I try it sooner in the 1st place?
Now I know exactly what to do, I guess it would be easier.

Scribing the outer channel.

Chisel the channel with 2mm chisel

The effect isn't too good. It's hard get a even channel bed with chisel.

Router plane to the rescue! LN is top notch!

Gluing the veneer with pins.

After removing the pin, I began to plane down the purfling.
Then I discover a mistake; the black ring (1st ring) did not sit on the channel bed.
Thus when I plane it down the ring was missing...
I had consider joining it but decide to redo the entire ring.
This time round, I do one ring at a time.
Glued the black ring held by pins.
When it dried, then 2nd layer white ring, and similarly after the white ring dried, the 3rd blue ring.
For each ring I make sure the ring sit perfectly on the bed of the channel.

One part missing... initially I just thought if joining this porting so I chisel away the blue outer ring for this portion, but it sure looked ugly...

Redo the black ring

... White ring

... and lastly blue ring

The 2nd round worked.
Now the problem will be next ring.
I did a sample dry fitting and discover that the channel wasn't wide enough for the marquetry diamond and the central tile theme.
That will make the rosette very wide and funny.
In the end after some tries I decided to make diamond next layer ring and a narrower central theme.
THe central theme will be IRW ring with the 1/2 size tile which I made earlier (about 5mm wide).
The diamond will need to shaped appropriately and glued.
Again I use pins for holding them down.

Dry fitting to see if the channel width is enough.

2nd fitting. 2 inner ring of diamond and central ring of IRW and the smaller matrix tile which I made earlier

Applying glue to the diamond tile.

Hold down by pins while the glue dries.

After the glue dried. Looks good!

Somemore pic updates but not quite done as yet.

One side done and I ran out of the lozenges tiles.

With the central tile. I was thinking of reducing the size of the tile by 1/2. If not the rosette will be overly big!

With the back inlay. The meander pattern is bold and looks good from far.


Processing the Sides

30 Aug 2012
I started on the sides.
Since the side was a bigger dimension than what I required I cut off the excess strip for use as bindings.
After that I marked out the rough dimension of the sides.
Since my plantilla was larger than before it think I need to redraw the template.
But before that, I could make the side mould a little larger to conform to my new plantilla.

Sawing off the excess for binding.

Sides marked

After the sides are sized accordingly, I proceed to plane it down to correct thickness.
I use my wooden plane for the job and it worked very good.
When I tune it to give thin shavings there were no tear-out but it cuts too slowly.
So I make the plane more aggressive, and there are some tear-out.
But when I plane it cross-grain, it thins nicely with no tear-out.
Now they are almost ready to bend, the thickness is about 2.2mm to 2.5mm.
When I flex the sides, they flex very nicely.

I also enlarge the side mould of my solera for the new plantilla.
Luckily I give is a thought before I enlarge the plantilla.
I had to check the position of the sound hole before I enlarge the plantilla.
I use rasps and the roller sander mounted into my hand drill with 80 grit sandpaper to do the job. The rasp is really agressive but i like it :)
After the rasp, I smoothen with my roller sander.

The enlarged plantilla.

Ready to be planed.

The shavings. This is only a fraction of the total shaving

Planing still... the clamp / stop at the other end.

No new photos, I just managed to thin both the sides to about 2.2mm.
The 2nd side is more prone to tear-out but planing it cross grain solves the problem.
Once at the right thickness, the side is floppy; it has the ready-to-be-bend type of feeling when I flex it.
Now all set to bend the sides.

Well after thicknessing the side, I am all set to bend the sides.
Some of my sides (like the ends) are still about 2.5mm thick; The crucial part like the waist is about 2mm.
Some mistake there I should have taken all down to 2.2mm
It's abit hard to bend at the ends.
Well I guess I can scrape more for the ends for now.

I started to bend the sides using my hot pipe.
I use 2 support wooden block when I bend at the waist.
Wet the sides at the point which I am going bend and apply the pressure and careful not to over press it and cause it to crack.
That's the beauty of hand bending I can literally feel if the wood is pliable enough to be bend or not.
After bending, I clamp it to my side mould for cooling off.

The bending set-up

Wet the waist area before bending. Careful not to bend the wrong way. Always double check the orientation before you start bending.

Bending at the waist

Check the fit with the mold

One side completed. Clamp to the mold and wait for it to cool off.

18 Oct 2012
Originally I wanted to continue to bend the 2nd side but 2 reasons why I stopped.
1) I haven't made the heel block yet.
2) My bender life time has been up: the base which hold the pipe has disintegrated. (MDF)
So I need to remake the base for the heat pipe.
With my new saw, router plane, and new drill stand, I did the thing in a hour's time.
Well, the glue is still drying so I can't use it as yet but the basic shape is there.
Once it dried it will be functional.
I did a dry run (w/o heat and w/o side), it seemed that the force of pressing on the pipe is quite big and so I reinforce the support for the pipe.
It is held by 2 U-shape bolt and this time round instead of using MDF for the base, I use pine wood instead.
The base was glued and reinforced with screws.
This should last me quite a while.

My latest tool addition, a drill stand by WolfCraft. It's very stable (heavy base) and very solidly done. The turning level is very smooth due to the sliding and pinion gear design as per Drill press unlike my old drill stand which is very hard to lower. Maybe I should do a review on this drill stand...

The new pipe bender

The old MDF base which was disintegrated...

19 Oct 2012
It's time for the new bender to be put into action; the bending of the 2nd side.
Again I prepared all the necessary thing, make sure the markings on the side are correct.
And clamp the bender and on the heat gun.
Once it's hot enough I start to bend the waist part.
The waist is the reverse curve bending compare to the UB and LB so must get the orientation right before bending.
Once the waist is bended to the correct angle (by checking with the side mould), I bend the LB and then UB after that.
The new bender works just like before except that it's more sturdy.
Then I clamp the sides to the side mould for cooling so that it will stay in shape.

The new heat pipe bender

Bending the waist, there is a minor crack but it will be sanded away

Lower bout bent

Clamped to the side mould


Making the Heel Block

While I was bending the sides halfway, I suddenly realised I have not done up the heel block yet.
Well why I say the heel block, similar to the concept of the steel string world, I intend to make the heel block first.
However this will be a still a traditional Spanish foot.
It's just that I will only glue the neck to the heel block after the binding and purfling are done.
One problem with my last build is the binding and purfling.
The presence of the elevated neck makes the installation of purfling and binding a big problem.
Now I will align the heel block and neck together first and then proceed to assemble the guitar; glue the sides to heel block and end block and top.
After closing the back, I do up the purfling / binding and finally glue the neck to the body.
As I have inserted guiding holes, the alignment of the neck to heel block / top should not wonder off.
Another advantage of this way of build is that I can choose to install the fretboard / frets on the neck separately before gluing to the main body.
This is killing 2 birds with 1 stone.

Now more to making the heel block.
First I saw the excess part from the neck to form the elevated neck angle.
I had previously marked out the angle.
After sawing I began to plane the neck to the line marking.
After checking for squareness, similar to planing a scarf joint, I began to work on the heel block.
I use the top to measure the number of pieces needed for the heel block.
The 1st piece I intend to cover the main bulk of the top up to the UTB.
This is said to give more body to the treble; strictly speaking an elevated fingerboard design already caters for this part, but I wanted to strengthen this area to prevent the neck from lifting from the body.
A strong C-block will enhance the structure integrity of this part.
Also with a elevated neck (above top) heel block (below the top) sandwich assembly, it will prevent top split at this area.
This type of split which is adjacent to the fingerboard is one of most common split of the guitar top.

Neck I plane all the heel block piece to get a smooth surface for gluing.
I need about 85mm thick (to be adjusted later) for the heel block, so I plane one of the pieces to thinner thickness.
Also I plane an angle to the 1st piece that is glued to the top, this angle will correct the top sloping angle back to perpendicular for the rest of 3 blocks.
After that I mark out the heel curve and 12 fret side joint mark on the heel block.
The pieces are ready for gluing.
After going thru' the pieces with the wooden plane the surface is shiny.

Saw the slope from the neck.

A step at the neck, the rest of the waste will be planed away.

Planing the waste to the line.

Smoothen with the wooden plane

Checking for straightness

Side squareness

Gleaming surface after planing with the wooden plane

Measure the 1st piece of the heel block. It covers all the way to the UTB.

All pieces sawn

Saw the angle for the 1st piece

Plane it smooth

Thickness one of the pieces

All pieces ready to be glued

The entire neck.

Another view

I saw 2 strip from last piece of the heel block where the foot is.
These 2 strips will be used for the wedge to lock the sides into the slot.
Also a wide foot will look not so nice as a narrower foot.

Saw the strip out for the wedge

After planing the sides the foot is ready for gluing.

I glued up 3 stack of heel block leaving the last piece unglued; the one that is gluing to the top.
I will explain that later why.
When I check the 12th fret line, I notice the heel block 1st piece (nearest the top) is slightly longer than the space available on the top (from 12th fret to UTB).
So I had to cut a groove in the 1st piece stack.
This will serve to support the UTB too, which I think is a good idea.
I use my mini douzuki saw and my favourite rebate plane to to the job.
The curve is done using the file.

Sawing filing planing the groove for the UTB. This will support the UTB more.

Check fitting. It's not perfect fit but it's ok more will be done later.

Now is to drill the guide holes for the final assembly when the neck is glued onto the top and heel block.
Yes for this build the neck wont be glued to the heel block during assembly.
It will only be glued after the entire body's binding and purfling is done.
With the neck out of the way, the purfling can be done easily.
Normally for elevated neck design, most maker will make a mortise tenon neck but I prefer the Spanish slotted foot design neck so I chose to do it this way.
After drilling the holes; 1 on the heel portion the other 2 on the top to heel block portion.

The next portion is to plane a groove to the heel block so that the top is flushed with the front port of the heel.
This is like the normal neck where the top is flushed with the neck.
Now that our neck is on top of the top, the top will flush with the heel portion.
So I use a douzuki saw to cut a slot roughly the depth of the top's UB thickness.
Then I set the router plane to the top's thickness (2.14mm) and started to remove the wood.
The router plane can be used to remove to the exact depth in between the 2 ends.
I must say the LN router plane is very useful, never regret buying it.
The end section is removed by plane.

Drilling the guide holes

Guide holes drilled

Top thickness at upper bout is 2.14mm

Sawing the slot at 12th fret region

Setting the router plane depth

Removing the wood after the slot. The 2 ends of the router plane is supported.

The 1st portion removed

All done fitting nicely.

Roughly how the neck assembly looks

From the front part

Time to glue up the heel block since all the preparation (guide holes drilled) are done.
No special tricks here, just heat up the surface, apply the hide glue and align and then clamp.

All items prepared.

After surface is heat up hide glue is applied to both surface

Aligned and clamped

After the entire block is glued, it's time to cut the slots.
Again this time round I will be doing the wedge method.
But instead of using that neck jig which doesn't really work due to the inaccuracy in making the jig, I just use a guide block (with the correct angle) to start the saw cut and continue using the douzuki saw.
The block is about 95 degrees.
After drawing all the lines I clamp the guide block and started the sawing.
I use the mini douzuki for better control and continue with the normal size douzki once the slot is deep enough.
I also marked the portion in the heel block (the surface that is to be glued to the top) till where I should stop sawing, that's about 20mm from the center line.
This gives about 40mm wide to 80mm high (triangular) of wood to hold the heel to the heel block.
This should be pretty sufficient for strength.
After the saw cut I saw the rear line at a slight angle to form the wedge.
I just simply estimate, basing on the wedge blank which I cut out from the foot block earlier.
Finally I chisel out the slots and shape the rear heel block abit.

Plane the side flat for reference

Guide block clamped.

Start the cut with the mini douzuki for more control and precision

Continue with the douzuki saw (more depth)

Both slots cut

Chisel the slot

Both slots done.

Saw away the rear part of the heel block to form a triangular profile


Next I began to shape the heel.
At first I began sawing away the 2 sides for the triangle heel shape (looking from front) but I realised it's easier to saw / chisel / drill the heel (looking from the side) C-shape first.
So I use a Forstner drill bit and remove some of the material first and chisel / plane / file away the rest.
Sapele is damn hard to shape! This probably will be the last time I am going to use a sapele for the neck.

Use forstner bit to remove the waste.

Most of it removed

Saw away the waste

Saw away the side shape of the heel

Use rasp to shape the heel.

Not quite done, checking the shaping with the neck in place

Did a few things more for the heel block; sand the curve smooth with my roller sander drill attachment.
Next I also adjusted the heel's side profile making it more slim.
I have not chisel the slight curve into the front profile, I'd probably do that after I assemble the whole guitar.
This is because the neck will be install at the last part.
I did up the wedges and check the alignment for the sides.
It fit the heel nicely w/o gaps.

Sanding with roller.

Curve smoothen after the sanding (This is not the final shape though)

Trim the front profile.

Wedges done

Check side fitting with the wedges. Good fit

19 Oct 2012
I shape the heel further to make it a more pleasing shape.
Well it can be done later but just want to make it look good now.

Shaping the heel

A nice pleasing shape