Nearly done

Here’s where she sits… standing up under string tension The initial setup is done, and the action is good. But this was a random collection of stuff a few days ago and now it’s a guitar, so it will take time for the timbers to take a set. I’ll let it hang out for a week or so and play it every day (it sounds nice!) and then change the tension on the neck brace if needed and set up the action again.

Also I need to add fretboard markers. In the past I’ve put in cherry plugs as markers when the thing wasn’t fretted yet, sanding them flush. This time I had the “brilliant” idea that I was going to ‘brand’ symbols on the fretboard and let those serve.  It seemed consistent with the ‘Ostinato’ brand on the headstock and the burned pattern on the rosette. I like the simplicity and directness of burning symbols onto wood, it’s unequivocal and final. Boom. In the case of the fingerboard markers, it turns out the idea was not brilliant at all; the rosewood did not take kindly to the treatment. maybe Pau Ferro or some other fretboard material would work, but not the rosewood.  So anyways  have to figure out how I’m going to add markers to a guitar that’s already complete and already has frets. It’ll be fiddly work but nothing too tough.

Other than that it’s a great instrument. Once I have it completely dialed in somebody is going to want it. Maybe even me, although I’ve been trying to thin the herd. I have too many guitars, both made and store bought.


Shellac: done. Lacquer first coat: done.

I laid down the shellac (I mix my own) today and after a long enough time for a hard set, laid on the first coat of lacquer. I usually do 3. I sand a little bit in between each coat.

If I can lay down coats 2 & 3 tomorrow, I may be able to make & install the bone saddle and bridge, and the tuners, on Sunday. Then stringing up and setting up, tweaking, and playing in begins.

I love this color. It makes new Spruce look seasoned and deep, and brings out the grain of the walnut.

Rosette and bridge now on. Bridge is drying (held in place by woodscrews for now).


Just running 2 small screws down in the string holes works just fine, I find. A lot easier than messing around with a bunch of clamps that have to bridge over bracing and mar stuff and cause the bridge to slide around to the wrong spot under clamping pressure. When it’s dry you remove the screws: done.

There’s always an easier way to do stuff, if you ponder it long enough.

I’m liking the looks of this thing and I had 3 strings on there while I was checking the bridge placement for intonation. It’s got a nice tone, from what I can tell. Very nice.

This sort of positive feedback helps the build process along. I’m getting excited.

Slight improvement to the physical plant of the shop: there is now a baseboard heater under the guitars there, thermostat set as low as it can go. It’s generating enough heat to keep the shop from dropping below freezing… comfortable enough to work with a jacket on… but right over the baseboard, the air is between 60 and 70. Perfect temp to dry glue at.





I got the motors to spin today.

Huge breakthrough: all the hardware, except for one motor coupler, is installed; and I got the motor controllers configured enough to spin the motors. All 3 axes.

This is huge; I have some fiddling around to get the thing moving predictably and smoothly, and to install some movement limiters so it doesn’t self destruct– but in another couple of weeks of fooling around, I should be able to start making test cuts on scrap lumber.

Z and X axes coming along

Spindle mount (really, a bracket for a palm router) and ballscrew is “in the mail”.

We’re getting really close to being able to try to turn motors, though. Kind of exciting.


CNC machine moving ahead

Yesterday I got a whole big bunch of extrusions to make a router table. (Actually I thought I was ordering a single extrusion, so this was a huge disappointment). Anyways I decided to make it work and epoxied them all together.

Today I drilled, tapped, and assembled the finished table for the Y axis of the machine. It was slow going because everything has to move without binding. If anything is out of alignment, the motors won’t be able to move the table and cutters properly and the workpiece would be ruined. But I managed it.


Tomorrow, time permitting, I will work on getting the X axis carriage going.

This last picture shows how this layout will work… once I’m done.

A slight detour (happens all the time)

For a couple of years I’ve been fooling around trying to get a CNC machine happening so I can ‘rough in’ necks. This has become more pressing now because I’ve had some ideas lately about how to make the necks more playable by accounting for how the shape of the closed hand changes as you move up it towards the body of the guitar. As the forearm pivots the hand shape changes.  I think a correctly designed neck profile that accounts for this will both feel better and lead to less fatigue or injury.  To explore this I need to be able to prototype a number of neck profile shapes and try them out. It’s easier to change a CAD drawing and run it than to carve a whole new neck by hand every time; and once I have the shape perfected, I’d like to recreate it. Thus the need for CNC. I’ll still have to do a lot of hand work to make each neck but I’m OK with letting a machine get the wooden block 90% there.  But first I need a machine.

I tried building one from scratch out of plywood and angle iron a couple years ago. I could never get everything aligned properly so things would bind and break. So I bought a kit that is way to small to make a neck but will provide a springboard for getting the kind of machine I need, with modifications.

The first picture is of the base kit. The second is of the same machine but with a taller Z axis. I need a minimum of 6 inches of travel in the Z so the heel block can be roughed in.

This is going to take some time and thought. A lot of both. Plus a bunch of farting around.



Trimmed the top, then routed for the binding.

When the finished soundbox of the Boomer came out of clamps this morning, the tap tone was terrific. The sound is tight and big.

I routed off the lip left by the top, and then routed the top and bottom of the guitar with a special bit for binding. The only trick is to make sure you leave the depth set so the binding (oce glued) stands just proud of the surface of the top/bottom. Then it will sand flush. If the binding is lower than the top/bottom and you sand it flush you end up with endgrain showing and it looks like pre-boiled ass.


I used to use a weird contraption to hold the router perfectly perpendicular to the sides while routing, involving hinges and parallelograms and weird bearings. It was too much. I freehand it now. I find that a man, terrified of ruining several weeks of work and/or taking off a finger, can do as good a job holding a router true and steady as a more elaborate contraption. If I start binding curved tops I’ll need the contraption again, but with a flat top, it’s not needed.

I glued the binding on with about 100 pieces of blue tape and now I wait a day.