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Am I crazy...Kutzall disc for a carved top?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Jandrew, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Jandrew


    Nov 15, 2010
    Framingham, Ma
    I am planning on trying my hand at a carved top. I have looked over ways to do this: planes, routers, scrapers. I am crazy to try this with the Kutzall disc and clean it up with a scrapers and sand paper?
  2. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Interesting I use a right angle grinder all teh time with 24 grit. I had never hear of the Kutzall...... Thanks

    I guess they stay sharp for a while?

  3. These are great. A little pricey, but well worth it. We have a couple at work and they see a lot of use. Very little loading, and yes, they have lasted a long time.

    As the video says, it is very aggressive. I would definitely get the fine or medium for carving a top. In fact I think the Dish Wheel might actually be better for that application.

  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Like Tom, my main wood removal tool is an angle grinder with a 24 grit disk. I use it for shaping necks, bodies, and (with a fresh disk) aluminum tailpieces.

    Personally, I wouldn't waste your money on one of those specialty Kutzall-style disks. I've bought a few of those over the years, and never really liked them. They are probably great for carving Grizzly bears out of raw logs, but for luthier work, they are too rough and hard to control. I like the plain 24 grit disks better. With a little practice, you can shave off wood very precisely.

    I recommend roughing it out with the angle grinder, then smoothing out the shape with coarse and fine files. Take the file marks out with coarse sandpaper on hard blocks, then take the coarse sandpaper marks out with finer sandpaper on soft rubber blocks. Scrapers are great for some things, but on a large compound curved shape, it's easy to end up with a rippled, wavy surface.
  5. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I honestly thought "hey neat" as I've never come across one of those kutzalls before but I've certainly used my angle grinder to remove quantities of wood. Not sure what the advantage of the Kutzall would be, doesn't seem like it would remove wood faster or more cleanly and regular discs are cheap. Bruce's last paragraph above is exactly my process as well.

    Never tried to carve a grizzly bear out of raw log, but I suppose I should try it at least once, after all, I live in the pacific northwest. Seems like an appropriate right of passage, as long as I'm wearing my socks with sandals... :)
  6. Konquest


    Aug 26, 2003
    I do heavy carving with the angle grinder as well, all on furniture so far as I'm new to lutherie. I set up a jawhorse in the garage, carve away, then blast all the dust and everything out into the yard with a leaf blower.
  7. slappa_dat_bass


    Nov 10, 2012
    I plan on using my 1/4 inch pneumatic die grinder with coarse roloc discs/grinding pads to rough shape my neck. Anyone else do this?
  8. Jandrew


    Nov 15, 2010
    Framingham, Ma
    I use these for the belly carve and forearm carve to get most of the wood away. Then spend some wonderful alone time with my favorite files to get a nice smooth transition. Thanks for the idea of using 24 grit wheel. May be alittle safer for the wood.
  9. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    For serious Grizzly Bear carving, you can get those disks for an angle grinder that have a ring of chain saw teeth. I forget what they are called. I bought one of the small diameter ones a while back. I used it a few times and it just scared me. It has the delicate feel of, well, a chainsaw.....

    I think I have two of the Kutzall disks, a flat one and a domed one. It's been a while since I've used them, but if I remember right, one of the things I didn't like about them is that they tend to bounce and chatter. It's a rigid steel disk with welded-on carbide particles. On hard maple in particular, it would jump around and make gouges. Also, on softer woods, it would sometimes clog up, and it was a mess to clean off. In comparison, the standard 24 grit abrasive disk on the flexible rubber backing disk cuts smooth and doesn't clog. And the replacement 24 grit disks are about $1.25 each, when they do eventually wear out. But, for wood shaping, they last for years.

    I'd be careful trying to shape a neck with a die grinder and smaller disks. It's easy to cut deep gouges in wood with a small coarse disk. An angle grinder works well because the disk is larger (4 1/2" - 6") and they have that long side handle which allows you to have good control over the angle that the disk touches the wood.

    If you don't have an angle grinder, I recommend a big old file. A 16" half-round Bastard file will take off the maple almost as fast as the angle grinder, with excellent control. That's your basic neck shaping tool. I personally prefer a large standard file to a rasp, particularly on hard woods like maple.

    Die grinders are great for shaping smaller tightly curved areas. I have a nice Makita electric die grinder that's been my main small-area carving tool for many years. I have a 1/2" "Tree" bit (like, bullet shaped) in it.
  10. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com