Saturday, February 14, 2009

cascadia archtop -top & sides

Well the last couple of days have found me working away on the Cascadia prototype (16" double cutaway thinline archtop) I was originally going to build the first one with a cedar top, mahogany back & sides but I actually dreamed about this guitar & in my dream it had a mahogany top & maple back & sides. Initially I thought- no I can't do that but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. I have played some incredible mahogany topped flat-top guitars. Loud, clear & bright with really dynamic color.
I re-sawed the mahogany on my Walker turner 16 bandsaw, joined it and roughed it out on the new pantograph carver. After a couple hours of hand carving, scraping and sanding I turned my attention to bending the quilted maple sides. I used my side bender to bend the initial shape then came back and re-bent the cutaway portions by hand over a hot pipe.
I clamped the sides into the assembly molds after bending to leave overnight. This just helps to maintain the shape and reduce any tension in the sides. The cutaways are about as tight as you can bend figured maple without breaking it and I really took my time on the hot pipe coaxing the wood into allignment.
I really think this guitar is going to be a beauty. I will start carving the maple tomorow and begin hollowing out the inside of the top plate and cutting the f-holes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

cascadia archtop- molds

I have been up to my ankles in dust recently. I have been making pattern molds for my new archtop designs. I just picked up this home made pantograph carver (duplicator) off another luthier who wasn't using it anymore. As you can see in the photo the router fits in the left cradle and the guide rides on the right.

I carved a pattern in MDF that matches the arch I want for the top by hand. Scraped and final sanded it, then sealed it with 5min. epoxy. In the photo I am transferring the top arch to the back mold, though I will do the top bit by hand as the cutaway is on the opposite side for the back & the lines need to be different. Now with my patterns complete I can rough carve my tops & backs in a fraction of the time and always be starting from a consistent shape as I refine with hand tools & scrapers. Its been a while since I have had to make all new molds & I forgot what a mess MDF makes when you machine it. As a result I finally hung a door separating the back of my shop from the front & made an overhead air filter. I picked up all the supplies for both projects at the re-build it center. A local re-usable building materials depot. The air filter works great. Cut way down on the airborn dust.

I am waiting for a wood shipment this week. I have purchased some incredible figured maple & german spruce. I plan on building three archtops in this first run. One Mahogany / Cedar, one Quilted maple / Sitka & one Eastern maple / German spruce. I am working on a double cutaway design I am pretty excited about. More on that later.

It has been fun to explore other blogs & look around a bit at all the interesting things people are doing with their lives. Certainly is inspirational and these hard working artists, craftspeople & musicians help to remind me to keep following my passion.