Oct 2nd: I am really close to getting my new shop set up. I didn't get much done over the summer as we had a lot of guests, and I preferred spending my time boating and playing golf rather than locked in the shop. With all the rain and cool weather over the past two weeks, I have made great progress. Another week or two, and the shop will be ready for my fall/winter builds. I'll post a picture or two here once I am done.

 

Dec 1st: Milled the building mold for the Huron on the CNC this evening. Finished mold turned out well. Also, cut a bending mold and caul and have the bender setup to go. Always a lot of work to get molds and fixtures built for a new guitar model. Will be nice to have the Huron as part of my model lineup.

 

Nov 14: Spent some time today gluing up MDF for building molds for my new Huron model. I'll give the glue a day or two to cure, then I will mill the molds on my CNC machine.

 

May 23: Finished up my designs for the Huron and cut out top and side templates on the CNC. I still need to cut out bending and build molds.

 

Dec 14: I have been changing my building process. After building quite a few guitars with a flexible mold, I decided to switch to solid molds. I drew up some new molds in Rhino3D for my Michigan and Superior shapes and milled them on the CNC machine.

 

Nov 1: Had a visit today from Beth and her dog, Kira. Beth and I have been trading emails for the past few weeks regarding a possible custom build. She was passing through Michigan on business and dropped in to play a few guitars and look at some wood. Beth is very excited about a custom build and signed up for my next open spot. We picked out some woods, but with a year or more to wait, Beth will have plenty of time to make sure she is happy with her picks.

 

 

Jun 11: I have largely finished my two winter builds. The highly figured bubinga Superior for Tom was shipped out a week ago, and Tom now has it. I need to button up a few more things on Mehran's Telecaster, and I can get that one to him. Below are build logs for each of Tom's and Mehran's guitars along with links to photo galleries showing the guitars in progress. I'll keep these logs up a bit longer prior to taking them down.

Tom's Superior of Figured Bubinga w/Red Spruce Top (build photos):

Jun 6: Tom received his guitar. I got a short message saying it arrived safely. Whew! I am always anxious when six months worth of work is put in the hands of the shippers, but FedEx did a great job.

Jun 4: On Monday of this week, I got strings on Tom's guitar. Prior to doing much with the action, I put my ToneRite on the strings for a couple of days. Thursday, I did a final setup and on Friday dropped off the guitar with FedEx. Tom should have it by Tuesday.

The sound opened up significantly during the few days I had the guitar here. I was very pleased with how this guitar was sounding prior to shipping. As with all my guitars, the sound was very balanced. The bigger body of the Superior provides a nice full sound without the bass dominating. This guitar looks great and sounds great. Hopefully, Tom is pleased with it when he gets it this week.

Click the build photos link to see pictures of the finished guitar.

May 28: After about two and have weeks of curing, the finish on Tom's guitar was ready to be buffed. I first sand the entire body with 800g paper, ensure I have sanded every part of the surface. After working through the grits to 1200g paper, I put the body and the neck on the buffer to bring out the deep gloss. By Thursday evening this week, I had the guitar largely buffed.

Yesterday, I removed the bridge mask and using a razor blade as a small scraper, I removed a slight amount of wood from the spruce top to get a nice clean surface for gluing the bridge. Once the surface was ready, I used a couple of pins to precisely locate the bridge. Using hot hide glue, I glued on the bridge and set it with a few clamps.

While I had the hide glue heated, I pressed the frets in the fingerboard, using the hide glue to bed the frets. Later in the day, I leveled and dressed the frets and installed the Schaller tuning machines. With that the guitar is almost ready for strings. On Monday, I'll make a nut and saddle then get some strings on this gem. Tom is heading out cross country to visit the grandkids, and I am trying to get this guitar shipped to him this week so he has it before he goes.

Apr 29: Over the past week I got down four more coats on the back, sides, and neck and three on the top. Last night I level sanded the entire guitar, and today, I started laying down the final coats. These coats are laying down nicely now they have a good, smooth base to build on. I got four coats down today on the back, neck, and sides, and three on the top. I'll repeat this process one more time before we are done.

Apr 21: Starting to shoot lacquer and got the first four coats down this evening.

Mar 30: Tom decided to move forward with a mayfly inlay in the headstock, so over the weekend I dropped it in. Over the past couple of days I worked on filling all the open pores in the mahogany and bubinga. I inspected the neck and body this evening, and they look good after a couple of applications of Z-Poxy.

Mar 18: Today I finished building Tom's guitar. I glued on a koa heelcap, made the bridge, and gave the entire guitar a really good sanding, removing all visible sanding scratches. Tom is debating having me inlay a mayfly design in the headstock. I won't pore fill the body until we know for sure what we are doing there. Timing is good as the weather is starting to warm up in Michigan, allowing me to get the lacquer out.

Mar 15: Over the past 10 days or so, I glued the back and face plates on the headstock and routed the profile of the headstock. With the headstock done, I could then glue on the fingerboard. After the fingerboard was on, I gave the neck a rough sanding. I still need to get the heel cap on, then I will get some 220g paper out and get the neck ready for finishing. A heel cap, bridge, and some sanding, and this guitar will be built.

Mar 6: Prior to binding Tom's ebony fingerboard, I used a small triangular file to cut a slight relief on each side of the fret slot. This will help ensure the frets seat tightly against the fingerboard. Afterwards, I bound the ebony fingerboard with koa then leveled the bindings and inlays. The mother of pearl inlays really pop against the ebony. I really like this design and hope to use it many more times in the future. Pictures are available at the link above.

Mar 5: I didn't have much time in the shop this past month due to travel with the day job. What time I did have, I spent on making the neck for Mehran's Tele and working up inlay designs for Tom's fingerboard. Tom wants a fish theme on the fingerboard, and though I worked up fish inlays years ago, I wanted a design with more consistency. I reached out to a crowd design group and solicited some designs. One I particularly liked and worked with the designer to get designs I could convert to shell inlays. Over the past week, I converted the designs to a CAD format I could program on my CNC, and yesterday I cut out the designs in mother of pearl and inlaid them in an ebony fingerboard. This coming week, I'll bind the fingerboard with curly koa, and it will be ready to go on the neck.

Jan 31: I didn't have a chance to get back to Tom's guitar until this past weekend. I pulled my mortise and tenon jig off the shelf and cut the tenon on the neck and mortise in the body. Always a bit spooky to turn loose a 1/2" end mill on a neck heel and a finished body, but all went well. The jig allows me to cut the shoulders on the neck tenon so that the neck provides the proper plane over the saddle.

Once the cut, I used some other jigs to drill the holes in the tenon for the barrel nuts and holes in the body for the bolts. I then confirmed the neck hardware was aligned properly and the neck could be bolted on. Prior to gluing on the fingerboard, I want to make sure the neck alignment is perfect as I can much more easily adjust the alignment without having to work around the fingerboard extension. The neck needs to be aligned relative to the bridge to provide the correct E string spacing relative to the edges of the fingerboard. The fingerboard plane also needs to correct over the bridge. I slowly removed material from the neck heel shoulders to get the neck to fit tight against the body and align properly. With the neck now on the body, it almost looks like a guitar!

Jan 21: After getting the body milled for Mehran's Tele, I got back to Tom's guitar this weekend. Last night, I glued up the laminations for the neck. I sandwiched a couple of pieces of bubinga between three pieces of mahogany. This morning I milled the neck on my CNC. The CNC shapes the heel, neck profile, and back of the headstock. The rest is all done off the mill. I used a jig with my router to cut the tenon on the neck and mortise in the body. I test fit the neck on the body, and it looked good. It needs a good sanding, but I'll do that after I get the laminates on the face and back of the headstock.

Jan 2: Happy New Year! I've been busy with Christmas and the shop, and I haven't spent much time updating my website. The body of Tom's guitar is now down. I carved the back braces and glued the back and top on a couple of weeks ago. Prior to heading off to visit family over the holidays, I routed the channels on the body for the bindings and tail graft, and I got the bindings on the top. After we got home, I put the bindings on the back then spent a couple of evenings, leveling the bindings and giving the body a good sanding. The body really looks nice. The seams, miters, and other joints are all nice and tight. I uploaded some pictures that can be access via the link above At this point, I am going to shift to Mehran's Tele and get that body milled.

Dec 17: This week, I final thicknessed the back and gave it a really good sanding. This figured bubinga really has some depth to it and is some amazing wood. I heated up the hide glue and glued down a cedar reinforcement strip where the two back plates were joined. I then marked where the back braces cross the reinforcement strip and using a small saw and chisel, I removed the reinforcement where the braces cross then glued on the Mahogany back braces. A little shaping with a small block plane and clean up with some sandpaper, and the back was ready to be glued on. I also use my go bars to clamp the back to the rims while the glue cures. But to keep the go bars from denting the wood, I have a pad that runs around the perimeter between the go bars and the back or top.

Dec 10: Busy week with the day job and the holidays, so I didn't make any progress until today. This afternoon, I carved the top bracing and voiced the soundboard. I love working with this red spruce. It is stiff, reasonably light, land resonates very well. I tried some new hand made Japanese paring chisels out when carving the braces. A good friend found these for me in Japan recently. Really nice chisels and a joy to work with.

Dec 3: Over this past week, I glued in the neck and tail blocks along with the kerfed linings. Yesterday, I sanded a 15' radius to the back of the rims and this morning sanded the rims along the top edge. I later glued in some side reinforcements, and the rims are now ready for the top and back. This afternoon, I pulled out the glue pot and glued most of the bracing to the top. I still need to get in the upper transverse brace and a few finger braces around the soundhole and in the upper bout.

Nov 26: Thanksgiving this week and with my son home for the holiday, I didn't get too much shop time. I did, however, make the neck and tail blocks and cut out the bracing for the top and back. I should get the rims joined and ready for the top and back sometime this week.

Nov 19: I had been building my Superior model with a flexible mold. I decided to make a hard mold, so I knocked out one this morning. This afternoon, I cut the pocket for the rosette in the red spruce top. I then cut shell pieces for the rosette from some Paua Abalam. After slipping out for dinner with my wife, I glued in the fine bwb purflings and shell. After a couple of hours I ran it through the thickness sander to clean it up. It turned out really nice. I'll hit the face with the ROS, then flip it over and run it through the thickness sander to get the thickness dialed in. Cut the soundhole, and it will be ready for bracing.

Nov 14: After giving the rims a couple of days worth of treatment with veneer softener, I wrapped them in heat blanket and put them in the bender. I was really spooked about bending these rims given the grain running in every possible direction, but they bent without issue. So relieved to have these rims formed. Whew!

Nov 10: Today I cut the side profiles, spritzed the bubinga with veneer softener, then set them aside to bend in a day or two. Given how figured the wood is, I'll likely spritz them again tomorrow then bend the rims on Monday.

I also ran the back and top panels across the jointer and dialed in the joints for joining. The top plates were just a touch too small to be used for the large Superior top, so I had to pull another top to use. I glued up the back and the top plates then ran them through my thickness sander to clean them up. I still need to dial in the final thickness, but I will do that later.

Oct 29: Officially underway with Tom's build. I pulled the body woods out during the week to let them acclimate a bit. Today, I ran the sides through my thickness sander to get them down to the desired thickness and gave them a good sanding with the random orbital. I'll profile them then run them through the bender.

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Mehran's Flamed Maple Telecaster (build photos):

Jun 4: With Tom's guitar largely done, I had time this week to work on Mehran's Tele. I wired the pickups, controls, and jack, and installed the pickguard, bridge, and strap buttons. Yesterday I put the frets in the fingerboard and leveled, and crowned them. Once I dress the frets, I'll install the neck on the body, make a nut and string it up. I probably only need a couple of nights this week to get this guitar ready to plug in.

May 28: Mehran's tele has a lot of coats of lacquer on it, so I wanted to make sure the lacquer had cured well prior to buffing. With almost three weeks to cure, I figured it was ready. This week I level sanded the body and neck, working from 800g through 1200g, then put them on the buffer. The blue burst on the body looks really nice underneath that glossy lacquer. I posted one picture at the link above.

I need to get Tom's acoustic out this week. Once that guitar is done, I'll get the frets on Mehran's tele and start installing the pickups and hardware. This is going to be one drop dead gorgeous tele!

Apr 29: Last Saturday I level sanded the body of Mehran's tele so I'd have a really level base prior to laying down the color. I then added some green and blue tint to some lacquer and shot a couple of base coats of color on the entire body. I then shot the burst using only blue tinted lacquer. Once I was happy with the burst, I added some black to the blue tinted lacquer and shot the sides and edges with a very dark blue. I then followed up with 8 coats of clear over the next several days. Today I laid down four more coats on the neck and body and will follow up with another four or so. The tele is looking really nice. I sent pictures to Mehran, and he seems happy with how it turned out. You can see it by clicking on the link above.

Apr 21: Starting to get the finish on Mehran's Tele. Last weekend, I put down a couple of coats of shellac to seal the wood, and this evening I shot 4 coats of clear shellac. I'll level the finish really well tomorrow then I can start laying down color.

May 30: I spent an hour or so each of the past couple of evenings filling the open pores in the ash with Z-Poxy. I use a razor blade to press the resin into the open pores then using the same razor blade squeegee off the excess. Next up is lacquer.

May 26: Today, I drilled the holes in the body to route the wiring and also for the jack. I cut some dots for the side position markers a week or so ago when I cut the fish inlays, and today, I installed the dots and gave the entire guitar a good sanding. This guitar is now ready for pore filling and lacquer.

Mar 15: I got caught up in a bunch of travel with the day job over the past month, so shop time was limited. I had a good shop day this past Saturday and was able to get the fingerboard made and glued on the neck. This evening, I sanded the neck and have it ready for lacquer. I still need to drill a few holes in the body for wiring, but this Tele is also just about built.

Feb 17: I spent the last couple of weeks working on a program to mill a tele neck. I ran a couple of test necks, one from mdf and another from simple maple. The last neck turned out well, so I fastened a really nice piece of birdseye maple to the CNC and milled the neck. We are using a rosewood fingerboard for this neck. I like the approach that Warmoth uses with its side truss rod access. I reached out to Warmoth, and they shipped a few to me.

Jan 31: This past week, I glued the top binding and purfling on the Tele body. I leveled the top of the bindings using a scraper, and partly sanded the sides, but I need to spend a fair amount more work on getting the bindings and sides level and removing all sanding scratches. The body is looking nice. I uploaded a few more pictures to the link above.

Jan 16: Finished up the program to mill the body for Mehran's guitar. I picked up some ash last week and over the weekend, cleaned up a block for the body and glued some nice curly maple to the top. The body is ash topped with flamed maple. This body has a couple of comfort mills on the back, in part to remove a bit of weight, but also to add a little comfort.

The top is going to be bound with an ivoroid type binding and black/white/black purfling. When I milled the body, I cut the channels for the binding and purfling. I'll get those installed next then begin working on the neck.

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