Saturday, February 1, 2014

Fitting the Back

Perhaps there's some aspect of successfully fitting the back that represents a significant milestone along the way to completing a guitar, or maybe it's just that I've repeated this part of the process enough times that I feel confident in the outcome and have come to enjoy the sensation and sound of the back braces clicking neatly into their pockets. Whatever the reason, it's a part of the build process I look forward to and derive great satisfaction from.

To reach this milestone - assuming that the dome of the back has already been sanded into the rims - I carefully align the back with the centres of the head and tail blocks, then mark the sides where the brace closest the the tail block will intersect them. I lay a steel rule across the guitar to join the corresponding marks, and pencil the line of the braces onto the top surface of the linings. 

As a precaution against chipping, I make a saw cut equal in depth to that of the brace end on the side of the pocket likely to be chipped by the clockwise rotation of the bit. I hope the right-hand photograph below shows this clearly.

With a spiral downcut bit mounted in the Dremel and carefully adjusted for depth, I rout the first pair of brace pockets, using the pencil lines as a guide. If the marks were placed accurately, the braces slip into place with just a hint of resistance. I check the fit of the back and widen the appropriate brace pocket to compensate for any misalignment. Once I'm happy with the fit and alignment, I can mark the next pair of brace pockets, confident that the alignment of the back will be more securely and accurately established as I proceed. When the four pairs of brace pockets have been prepared and the back fits perfectly, I can allow myself a moment of self-congratulation - before I remind myself that it's really only a minor triumph and that there's plenty of work ahead of me!