Click here for photos of this build

George’s guitar is a Huron made from some beautiful, perfectly quartersawn eastern black walnut and topped with Red Spruce. The walnut came from a tree that was 284 years old when harvested. No figuring, but beautiful straight grain and very musical.


May 31: I finished up the rosette today by installing the purfling. Once dry, I ran the top through my thickness sander to clean up the rosette and also get the top to final thickness. I run over both sides with the random orbital sander, and the top was ready for bracing.

I but braces from red spruce on my CNC. The braces are cut with the proper 40 radius along the gluing edge, but otherwise, the braces are oversize. When I voice the top, I carve wood from the braces to lighten them and give them a bit more flex. If all tops were identical, I could use the CNC to cut once size fits all braces. However, tops can have a lot of variability in weight and stiffness, so each top needs to be voiced individually. The CNC gives me braces that are good as a starting point.

May 30: George asked for a walnut rosette with a center ring of abalone. I have a bit of curly black walnut, which I cut into pieces using my CNC. I like orienting the grain radially around the rosette. This requires cutting small sections, which when pieced together provide the desired effect. I routed a pocket in the top for the walnut using my CNC and inlaid the walnut. I had previously cut the abalone for the center ring, so I cut a channel in the walnut and inlaid the abalone. The last step will be to inlay fine black / white / black purfling once the glue holding the shell in place has cured.

May 29: I’ve been splitting time between getting the house and yard summer ready and playing luthier. Progress is being made. Several days ago, I bent the rims. This is done by spritzing one side with water, wrapping in foil, sandwiching between steel slats and a heat blanket. The rim is then placed in the bender and heated to 250 degrees. Once at temperature, I set the waist, wrap the lower part of the rim around the form, then wrap the upper part of the rim around the form. The rim is then cooked for about 30 minutes. Bending is always an anxious time as I have broken the occasional rim while bending. Fortunately, the black walnut behaved wonderfully, and the both rims came out perfect. I then clamped the rims in the mold until I could get the end blocks in.

I use an L shaped neck block that provides a support under the fingerboard extension. The end of the short leg will butt into the upper transverse brace, helping to minimize roll under string tension. I made the block and glued it in. The tail block is simpler. I made one from mahogany and glued it in at the tail.

To provide a good gluing surface for the top and back, I glued in linings around each edge of the rims. I also glued in some reinforcements. The general idea behind these is to help prevent a crack from spreading if the guitar is dropped. I am not convinced these reinforcement strips will stop a crack, but they likely do strengthen the rims a bit, which is a good thing.

May 22: Kick off day today! Years ago, I purchased a perfectly quartersawn board of eastern black walnut, which I resawed and set aside. I pulled a couple of matching flitches and cut out pairs for the back and sides of George’s guitar. I jointed the back plates along the sapwood edge then glued together the book matched plates. The sides are also book matched. I cut out matching pairs and ran them through the thickness sander to thin them enough to bend.

May 23: I ran the joined back through the thickness sander to clean up the glue squeeze out and get the back down to the proper thickness. We are using red spruce for the top of George’s guitar. I pulled a set, jointed the edges, and glued the panels together. I had time later in the evening to run the top through the thickness sander. I left the top a little on the thick side and will dial in the final thickness after I have the rosette in.