Gluing the Sides to the Soundboard

For the most part I followed the body assembly process that Natelson and Cumpiano outlined in their book.  Essentially the sides are glued to the soundboard, head block and tail block.  Then the sides are trimmed down to achieve the desired contour for the back of the guitar.  And lastly the back plate is glued on.

I can’t seem to find any pictures of just the tail block and head block, but there’s really not much to them.  I chose to make my tail block 4 1/2 inches tall and my head block 3 1/2 inches tall.  I made them both out of spruce, though I probably should have used a hardwood.  I first marked out exactly where they needed to be on the soundboard and then glued them down to the soundboard.  Then I used the blocks to clamp down the sides exactly where I wanted them to be on the sound board so I could mark out a line to trim the ends of the sides down to get a nice and tight butt seam.  I also marked out where the head and tail blocks reached so I’d know exactly where to place the kerfing.

Next I glued on pre-made kerfing to the sides (I didn’t want to make my own, although it seems like it shouldn’t be too hard to do) using a whole barrage of different clamps.  I had to do the kerfing in sections because I didn’t have enough clamps (its funny how that always seems to happen).  I used the tail and head blocks on the sound board to keep the side from falling over while clamping down the kerfing.

Once I got all the kerfing glued on to one side I sanded  it all down to get a flat gluing surface as shown below.

Then I notched out the kerfing so that it would fit over the x-braces and the thick sound hole brace which extended all the way to the inside edge of the sides.  Notching out the kerfing was actually harder than I thought it would be, especially for the x-braces because they enter the kerfing at an angle.  But I eventually got everything notched out so that the sides fit nicely with the bracing.  Then I glued on one side at a time to the soundboard, head block and tail block.

I used the shims to force the soundboard up against the sides to get a nice tight seam while the glue dried.

Once the glue dried I moved on to trimming the sides down to the correct thickness.  I started by drawing a line the height of the tail block around the outside of the sides and planing the sides down to that with a spokeshave.  I found the actual planing part to be quite satisfying.

After I’d planed the sides down to the height of the tail block I drew another line borrowing Sevy’s technique, as shown below, to get the basic shape of the curvature I wanted for my back plate.  Basically the guitar body is set at whatever angle you desire and then a small block of wood with a hole just large enough for a pencil tip to fit in, and at the exact height so as to match up with the head block, is used to scribe the line.  I thought it worked really good.

I then finished by planing the sides down to that new line and rounded off the angle using a sanding board big enough to cover the width of the guitar as suggested by Natelson and Cumpiano.  The result is shown below.

To finish it off I glued the rest of the kerfing onto the sides, as shown below, and then sanded everything down once more with the sanding board to ensure there was a nice flat gluing surface for the back plate.

Once I’d completed that I started work on the back plate center seam inlay and the back plate bracing.

< Back The Build Process Next >

Planning and Design | Fret Spacing Calculation | Template and WorkboardBuilding the Neck | Making the Body Plates | Soundhole Rosette | Soundboard Bracing | Bending the Sides | Gluing Sides to the Soundboard | Creating and Installing the Back Plate | Binding the Body | Making the Dovetail Neck Joint | Carving the Neck | Making the Fretboard  | Making the Bridge | Creating the Headstock Inlay | Finishing | The End Product


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