My approach to the LP.

Damian Probett

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Oh man I love that press.

So do I.

I`ve recently been working for Paul Herman who builds the Wal Basses. Wal Basses and Electric Wood Limited Home Page They have a facing front and back with a veneer between the core and each facing. It`s a lot of glueing up. He has a similar press.
It makes the job not only easier but you are also sure to have a perfect joint as there are no cauls to flex and no areas you cant get a clamp on.

After I`d used it a few times I was determined to get one of my own. £250 and a 500 mile round trip later, I do.

It`s also large enough that I have a partly formed plan to try some 335 type pressed tops. I don`t think it wil be any time soon though!
 

expo

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Nice workshop.:applause:

How do you call a big press like that?
Is it a book press?
How much is the weight?
 

Damian Probett

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Nice workshop.:applause:

How do you call a big press like that?
Is it a book press?
How much is the weight?

It is a book press. I haven`t weighed it but it`s safe to say that it is very heavy indeed.

I looked for ages to find one at a price I could afford. When it came up I had to have it. Glueing tops is now a pleasure. No rushing around with clamps.


P.S. Thread updates are underway.
 

Damian Probett

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Sorry for the delay. I`ve been very busy. Busy building guitars fortunately!


I`ve never thought about documenting my work before. I`ve always focussed on the work itself. However a couple of people suggested that I do, so here we go.
I`ll try to cover as many of the important points as I can. Please ask if there is anything I miss.


Firstly, I build all my instruments as one offs or in small batches so the order I do things might vary from a production setting with a constant flow of parts.


My overriding philosophy is that the finished guitar should be as "relaxed" as possible and that all joinery should be absolutely perfect. All glue joints must be "full contact". I beleive that a guitar with a little internal stress as possible will be most ready to resonate in a musical manner and tight joinery ensures the best possible transfer of vibration.
I do as much as I can to eliminate any internal stresses and my methods represent my current "best shot". I`m always looking for better methods so this might change.


For me. The heart of any guitar is the neck. There is more work in the neck construction than the body so I always start there.

Although many very fine `50s Les Pauls had necks which were far from the accepted norm. I do everythibg I can to source neck stock which is perfectly quartersawn. However, and even more important I feel, is the grain direction. I look for grain that is absolutely as straight as possible. I hate runout, I really do! This does mean I often drive miles to suppliers only to return empty handed. Hey ho!

I don`t have any pictures of "raw" neck stock but I start with material that is around 70mm wide. This is wider than a finished neck but it allows for vital "stress relief" stages as the wood is gradually cut to it`s final size.


The very first thing I do is to, on the bandsaw, cut out an oversized neck blank which I mark out from this template:
IMG_2086.jpg


This is oversized in every direction. The neck "shaft" is about 26mm and the headstock is about 20mm. There is a similar amount of surplus im all directions.

Once they are cut they look like this:
IMG_2080.jpg


Here is a picture of a couple of necks a little further along in proceedings. Hopefully It demontrates my preference for grain direction. It`s not the best picture. I will try and take a better one:
IMG_2083.jpg


The next stage involves doing nothing but stacking the neck blanks (on sticks) and leaving them for at least a week (more is better) to allow for any movement caused by the release of internal stresses, to settle.
 

Damian Probett

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I`ve jusy noticed that the pic of the neck blanks above was actually taken after the next stage. There isn`t a big difference, just some machining to the face as below.

After the neck blank has been allowed to "relax" into its new form for at least a week, the next step is to cut the the front face of the neck and headstock.
I have done this several different ways. From hand planes to belt sanders. Currently I use a spindle moulder (shaper) which allows me to more easily remove a little more material.

The neck blank is mounted in this jig:
IMG_2089.jpg


There is a large guide bearing at the bottom of the cutter whch runs against the jig as the cutter trims the face of the neck and the headstock face at a 17` angle:
IMG_2090.jpg


As I`ve removed some material, I leave the neck for another week to settle before the next stage.
 

ptate

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Wish I had a shop like that.....:shock:

Must be great not tripping over wires, tools and timber...:dude:
 

Ganorin

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Is this a wadkin router? I'm going to buy a used one tomorrow, any last objections? :) Are you satisfied with the machine?
cheers
Alex
 

Damian Probett

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During the time that the necks are resting I start the bodies.

I have been lucky enough to aquire some really nice old Brazilian Mahogany. It was imported to the UK back in the `60s. It is some of the best Mahogany I have seen. Very straight grained and clear. It rings like a bell and is generally a joy to work with. I`m also building a couple with 2 piece Spanish Cedar backs as a comparison.

Here`s 1/3 of a board. Enough for 2 bodies:

IMG_2100.jpg


Old wood from a big tree:

IMG_2073.jpg



When choosing body wood, I again look for the grain to be as even as possible. It`s less of an issue than with necks but it is important that the grain runs parallel with the centreline of the guitar and that, when using flatsawn timber, that the centre of curvature of the growth rings are as close to the centreline as possible. Flatsawn timber will always have a tendency to "cup" and having the centre of curvature on the centreline of the guitar helps ensure that any movement will have minimal effect on the string height etc.

To minimise the effects of the woods tendency to move, I again machine the body blank in stages. Once The blanks are cut to length and width I pass them over the planer to remove any cupping and then thickness to about 5mm over size. Ideally I remove equal amounts from each side but sometimes there can be flaws on one face which neccessitate taking more off one face than the other.
As with the neck blanks, I then leave the bodies to rest for a week or so before reducing the thickness by a couple of mm. I repeat the machine/rest process untill the blanks are about .5mm oversize. (to allow for straightening after the top is glued)
The last part of the thicknessing process is done with the thickness sander like this:

IMG_2094.jpg
 

Damian Probett

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Is this a wadkin router? I'm going to buy a used one tomorrow, any last objections? :) Are you satisfied with the machine?
cheers
Alex

Alex,

It`s a Wadkin URB. I`ve not had it long but I can`t find anything that I dislike. The pneumatic rise and fall leaks air which means the compressor keeps going off. It works fine, just a bit noisy.

I`ve previously used a Dankaert machine which was also very good. One thing that had which the Wadkin lacks is a manual brake. Again it`s not a problem as it slows down quite quickly.



Which one are you looking at? Is it a UR or a big LS?
 

Ganorin

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Which one are you looking at? Is it a UR or a big LS?
Will be the same like yours, expecting it next week :)

But I don't want to break into your thread, this is really very interesting for me seeing you doing this...Working with templates is our favourite way, so to learn of a pro is always great!

cheers
Alex
 

dlmorley

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PG Tips.. I'm sure they lace their tea with something. Nothing does what PG tips does. Fab stuff..
Great looking workshop Damian... I must admit, your Rapide 5.9 looks fabulous..so tempting..
 

Damian Probett

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The next few steps on the body are all done using the same template. This is essentially the "master" template. All other templates and jigs are either taken from or made to fit this one. This is important for accuracy.

As you can see, it has "evolved" over time! Ever time I get to measure an original guitar, my "average of measurements" changes. I occasionally make changes to reflect this.

IMG_2138.jpg


Once the outline is marked, I cut the rough shape on the bandsaw.

As I mentioned earlier, I always take a little time to position the template. My aim is to have the grain running parallel with the centreline and the curve of the growth rings as close to the centre. This ensures that any potential movement (however small) will have minimal effect on the stability of the guitar.

The template is mounted to the front face of the blank with 3 wood screws (the second jig has identical holes to make alignment easier).

The first thing I do is mark the centreline and front and back edges of the jig onto the wood with a sharp scalpel. This helps when I position the second template as the top edge of the mahogany does not get routed at this stage.

I find that fine knife marks allow for greater accuracy when positioning jigs etc. All marking lines are not more than .25mm.

Next I drill though the holes for the controls and the switch. I only drill these a few mm deep. They serve as position markers for these parts later on.

IMG_2136.jpg


Then I route the cable channel. 1/2" x 1/2". This is the one thing I do with a handheld router. I could use the pin router but I would have to swap cutters for the next step so it`s quicker to do it by hand. (It also saves on moving a "finished face" over the bed of the machine which is something I try to avoid when possible)

Finally, I cut the outer profile using the pin router.

IMG_2143.jpg


I leave about 6mm unrouted. There are acouple of reasons for this. Firstly, as this is the face to which the top will be glued, the vital finished corner is protected from possible damage. Secondly, it helps to protect the finished edge from glue when the top is glued on.
 

Damian Probett

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The next step is to replace template no1 with no2.

IMG_2146.jpg


This is a "stepped" jig which allows me to cut the control/switch cavities and the cover routes by adjusting the pin height.

IMG_2147.jpg


That`s it for the back at this stage. One thing I never do now is round over the back edge. I always like to keep vulnerable edges protected. What better way to protect one than not to have one!
 

Damian Probett

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I prepare the maple for the top at the same time as the mahogany. Again this is done over a period of time and machined in stages with a "resting" period in between to allow for movement.

The first step is to bandsaw the billet into "bookmatched" pairs. I`m indebted to my friend Paul Herman for allowing the use of his large bandsaw and his very thin blades!

When machining the tops, I aim to remove most of the material from the back (glue face) of the board so as to preserve the bookmatch as much as possible.

Where possible, I cut my top blanks as oversized as I can. This allows the most options when deciding how to joint the top. I can move the joint line to avoid or include certain features of the wood.

To decide how to join the top I use a paper mask and a squirt bottle of naptha.
This board has an unatractive yellowish strip either side of the joint line. That must be removed before jointing.

IMG_2119.jpg



I joint the two halves using a jointer but always finish using a shooting board and plane or square sanding blocks. (I`m a big fan of those)
Once I`m happy with the joint I glue them up as soon as possible. As it`s a Vintage type guitar, I use hide glue for this.

IMG_2128.jpg


Glue squeeze out should be something like this.
IMG_2123.jpg


IMG_2126.jpg
 

jonny

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I find that fine knife marks allow for greater accuracy when positioning jigs etc. All marking lines are not more than .25m.

There's some more metric! I'd hope they weren't more than .25m:D

Just kidding man, this is great! I'm relly enjoying watching this. Looking forward to seeing more :thumb:
 

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