The side assembly



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OK, I'm all set up with all of the 2" "C" clamps that I could buy in Corvallis. There are about 30 clamps here; I bought out all of the clamps from four hardware stores. All that's left in town are the pricey clamps at Home Depot.
I practiced a little with the 2" clamps, and realized that these clamps didn't open enough to span the side of the mold, the guitar side, and the lining (kerfing). So, I marked out a 1-1/2" width all along the mold and used the bandsaw to trim it down.
I have four pieces of kerfing left that I will use for the linings. I will use one half of the mold and will install one piece of lining at a time. There are a total of four pieces of lining to install. I have just enough.
I marked out the location of the center of the waist on the kerfing, so that I could properly start the lining installation. To do this, I used the side template.
I decided to do a trial run, beginning with placing the kerfing on the waist, and then bending around the upper and lower bouts. In the photo, a piece of formica is just visible between the lining and the clamp. This will hopefully protect the lining from clamp damage and will reinforce it as I make the bends.
Oh no! I put too much pressure on the kerfed pieces as I was bending into the lower bout. The piece of kerfing that I had would now need to be re-made.
So, I grabbed one of the remaining three pieces of kerfing, and this time I sprayed down the web of the kerfing with water, waited about 10 minutes, and sprayed it down again before attempting to put it into place.
I worked much more slowly this time, again beginning at the waste and temporarily clamping the upper and lower bouts in place as I installed my c-clamps. I placed the c-clamps with about 3/8" to 1/2" in between each, judging what would give the most even pressure depending on the curvature of the side.
Here's a picture of the fully clamped lining on the first side. Since the glue has about 10 minutes set-up time, had to work quickly. I learned that it's helpful to clamp the form to the workbench and to shim up the form so that there would be traction for the clamps at the lower bout, where the guitar side was much wider than the form. Oh--and it's very helpful if all of the clamps are fully opened before starting the clamping. It's really a pain to try and open each clamp as the glue is setting up. I am so glad that I did a dry run.
Jaclyn's portrayal of her perception of me as the "CLAMP MONSTER"! The clamp monster!
Finally after about an hour, I removed the clamps and the guitar shape emerged. One of the nice things I discovered is that the process caused the side to better conform to the curvature of the form. Now, on to the other three linings (Oh yeah--I have to make more linings also, since I broke one.)
Once I completed the second lining on one of the sides, I carefully re-clamped the lining-ed side in the form, marked the ends with the form, gently clamped the side to my vise, and used my dovetail saw to trim the ends off of the side.
A completed side is shown here. With both linings glued in, the side looks great.
All four linings are installed now, and the ends are trimmed from both sides. I put the form together with the sides captured to check the fit, and everything looks OK. It looks like a guitar body! I've begun the process of shaping the end block, which you see resting inside the form.
I've shaped the tail block here, and placed the block in its final position. I used a marking knife to mark its location on the kerfed linings. Note that the curve on the tail block matches the curve of the guitar body at the end of the lower bout.
Using a chisel, I removed the kerfed linings from the area of the tail block.
Before clamping, I scraped the area clean using a very flexible scraper. Note that I clamped the mold, with the guitar body inside, in a vertical position in my bench vise so that it was more convenient to work on.
Finally, following Dan Biasca's suggestion, I built a flexible caul using 1/4" MDF and 1/8 cork and placed this caul on the curved side. Adding another caul to the flat side, I spread glue on the tail block and clamped the block to the sides with four bar clamps.
I repeated this process for the head block, the main difference being the size of the head block and that the head block is not curved. It was difficult to keep the glue squeeze-out from sticking to my cork-faced caul.
Wow! The guitar body is really starting to take shape. My next step will be to shape the cauls by chamfering the edges, and sanding the dome curves into the face and back of this structure.
Elapsed time for these steps: 20 hours (including making new kerfing)... See the main page for the cumulative time.  
This is a view of the guitar body, after the end blocks were shaped by chamfering with planes. I protected the kerfing from plane damage by placing a small strip of plastic laminate over the kerfing as I planed.
The next part of the side assembly process was to shape the top and bottom of the sides into the dome shape. I procured a couple of large sheets of 80-grit sand-paper from a cabinet shop, and used double-sided tape to adhere the sheets to the domed work boards. Then, I clamped the side assembly into the form, such that enough of the assembly protruded through the form for sanding on the workboard without hitting the form.
I learned that I needed to saw some of the excess off of the endblocks; I did so by marking shimming the entire body so that it was an equal distance above the workboard, and marking this shimmed amount on the end blocks. I then used a dove-tail saw to remove the end block excess. Then, carefully holding the side assembly in the form so that it was level, I proceeded to sand, look at the sanded areas and carefully plane where sanding occurred, sanding and planing again and again, until the entire top (or bottom) was evenly sanded. At that point, the top (or bottom), uniformly lay on the domed form.
Now, the side assembly is complete, and ready for enclosing the body.
Elapsed time for these steps: 6 hours... See the main page for the cumulative time.  
I installed side struts to help reinforce the sides. I began with pieces of Sitka Spruce, 3/16" wide by 1/4" high, spanning from lining to lining. I glued these in using AR glue.
I then marked a 5/8" center portion, reduced the profile to a rounded triangular shape, and tapered down from the center 5/8" mark to the end.
The completed side assembly looks great.
Here's a detail of a finished strut.
One final step before gluing the tops on the sides. I drilled for the neck bolt (seen in the foreground) by first drilling a counterbore for the bolt head, and then a small hole for the bolt body. Each of the holes were drilled about 1/16" large to provide some room for future adjustment. I used the upright square to help me keep the drill shaft vertical.
Elapsed time for these steps: 5 hours... See the main page for the cumulative time.  

The next step--Assembling the body>>

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