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Smoothing Mahogany

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by sricks3, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. sricks3

    sricks3

    Dec 6, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Howdy TalkBass!

    I'm using a couple of pieces of mahogany from Warmoth to build the wings of a neck-thru project (build thread to come later :D). They were nice enough to sell it to me without joining the two pieces even though that's not an option on their website, but I've got a quick question.

    The piece for the lower wing came with a sizeable section of hairy/splintery surface area. It doesn't look to me like this is a case of the grain changing directions, but in any case, what's the best way to smooth this out without taking off a ton of wood? Should I plane, sand, rasp (thinking probably not rasp), or something else? Also, should I go ahead and smooth the whole area, or should I wait until I've cut out the basic shape and just smooth the part I'm using?

    As alwasy, your help and input is much appreciated.

    Here's a picture for reference (sorry for the cellphone pic quality):
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    A wide belt, or drum sander would be the best option. That lumber is fine, its just rough cut and has not been machined yet. Take it to a cabinet shop, they will probably run it through their sander for a very minimal fee.
     
  3. sricks3

    sricks3

    Dec 6, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks for the quick response!

    Yeah, I knew the wood was perfectly usable; I just wasn't sure what the best way would be to smooth it out. Mostly, I didn't know if trying to sand something like that would just lead to more splintering and hairiness. I'm not used to working woods this soft/porous.
     
  4. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Mahogany isn't bad to work with at all really. I definitely wouldn't call it soft.
     
  5. 1958Bassman

    1958Bassman

    Oct 20, 2007
    Wide belt sander unless you know of someone who has a planer and jointer with carbide inserts and they're fresh. Using a hand plane with alternating grain direction can be tricky and teh iron would need to be extremely sharp. It might be best to use a low angle plane for that if you decide to use hand tools. If it still wants to be hairy, you can give it a light coat of lacquer or shellac beforehand.

    If you want to sand it manually, make a wide, totally flat base for using full sheets of paper, working your way from 80 grit to 220.
     
  6. If thats your outline i see it doesnt look like much work sanding. Strange warmoth shipped rough lumber. Did you try sourcing it locally? Your in a nice location for lumber distributors..may save some coin in the future
     
  7. mrz2u

    mrz2u

    May 10, 2012
    what are your three dimensions? If too wide for a planer then how about a router/planer table jig-a-ma-bob...

    [​IMG]
     
  8. sricks3

    sricks3

    Dec 6, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Thanks for all of the input from everyone. I tried just doing a little rough sanding in the corner with some 80 grit to see how it would go. I ended up doing that over the whole area. It's still not perfect, but it's close enough to move on to the bandsaw since I'll be giving it a little round-over and sanding again anyway.

    LightGroove: It's not my outline. It was on there when it arrived from Warmoth.

    mrz2u: I've been considering getting a planer, but now I might have to look into a jig like that before pulling the trigger. Thanks for the idea!
     



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