The rebuilding begins.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”
If not immediately apparent it will soon become clear to the reader that I am not a qualified luthier. In fact no skills are possessed beyond the rudimentary level of a schoolboy’s woodwork class and a great deal of credit must go to the plethora of videos and articles posted online by those with genuine skills and knowledge in the subject of guitar building. I shall reserve a special mention here for the video podcasts by the team at Crimson Guitars. These were kindly shared and most greedily consumed as this project progressed. From the outset I expected to fail many times along the road and achieved a great deal of success in meeting that expectation, but perhaps in documenting these amateur endeavours others may be encouraged to grab the nettle, take the bull by the horns or freely choose their own cliché to mark the moment they decided to attempt something beyond their normal realm. With that let us turn to the Shaftesbury…
It is a fact of life that important tasks are often carried out by unsung heroes away from the public gaze, and in the world of acoustic instrument manufacture it seems to me as a novice that one such hero is the humble kerfed lining. These are modest strips of wood notched at regular intervals to provide flexibility and whose job it is to stop the whole thing from falling apart.
The hollow body of an acoustic instrument is nothing more than a box consisting of sides, a top and a bottom. Lots of science goes into designing a good box for sound production but it is nevertheless a box. To permit sufficient contact between the surfaces, kerfing is glued to the sides internally thus creating a larger surface area for contact with the top and back.
The following photographic montage shows the kerfed lining being applied to the inner edges of the Shaftesbury body including around the Florentine horns.
The kerfed linings were fixed with Titebond III Ultimate PVA glue and it was noticeable when everything dried that the guitar body was much more rigid than before.
Turning my attention to the top and back of the body, rigidity was the first order on the agenda. Originally both had a small piece of mahogany bracing around the neck block area and part of the way across the Florentine horns. In both cases the bracing had split, undoubtably due to previous invasions of their privacy by an unfettered gang of Marples chisels.
New bracing was fashioned from the Earl of Shaftesbury’s now legendary block of Oregon pine which was dissected on the bench saw before being glued and clamped into position. It seemed somehow appropriate after all that had gone before that a piece of the trunk of this well travelled pine tree should have a place in the continuing history of this instrument.
Below are photographs taken for posterity as you may rest assured that it is my personal aspiration never to see these bracings again before wriggling free of this mortal coil.
You may remember from an earlier post that attention was drawn to a problem whereby the electric sander, in removing the old finish, ate through the fine top surface of the guitar body exposing a sub-standard laminate below. It was now obvious the rough timber and discolouration would not lend itself to becoming an acceptable base for a nitrocellulose finish so some remedial action was required.
I ordered a sheet of maple PSA veneer from The Wood Veneer Hub along with a device known as a J-Type roller. The veneer has a pressure sensitive adhesive backing and the roller allows adequate pressure to be applied to form a very secure bond with the substrate. The result may be seen in the photograph below.
Guitar top with new maple veneer roughly trimmed
The result was pleasing, and so after some setbacks but with no reduction in enthusiasm it was time to assemble the box…