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Need tips on top carving!

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by jay_t, Mar 5, 2006.

  1. Hi all!

    I looked in the stickies and looked through the "how to's" with Scott french on this topic but it didn't quite cover what I am looking for.

    My questions are not about carving the top into a radius but more about how to get the rounded edges and the bevels into the body with reproducible results. I imagine I just need to use a rasp/bastard file/sand paper combination to round the edges out around the horns and cutaways. I could see using a router to some extent as well. But if you have a body design that has many contours and edges... how would you go about getting consistent results? Does anyone have any jig ideas or techniques that may help or is it just doing it over and over by hand until you get consistent results?


    Jay T
  2. I first put a consistent roundover on the parts of the body that require it, using a router table. The rest I do by hand using a Dremel and their 2 different diameters of sanding drum. I use the flexible extension and hold it like a pencil, and just sand off little bits at a time, never staying in one place too long. You can get good results that way.

    Then lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of hand-sanding once the contours are roughed out.
  3. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley

    check out the carving on those horns! I bet he gets consistent results, too.
    I think if you're doing it by hand, it takes a lot of patience, and a lot of trial and error. You gotta find the right tools (gouges, chisels, etc.) but a lot can be done with files, spokeshaves, rasps, sureforms, sandpaper, etc.
    And you gotta have gifted hands and an imagination.
  4. Thanks! I'll check that out right now. I have built a telecaster from all parts in a luthier school and a flat-top steel string acoustic from scratch so I have the experience of carving the neck, heel and wrist but that is just an introduction to the 400 ways to achieve a result.
  5. Jeez! That guy is a madman!

    I bought a Stambaugh not so long ago and heard the whole "How can you even play something like that?" question a hundred times. I just found myself thinking the same thing. That is beautiful!
  6. It sounds like I need to make some contour templates to go over the body maybe to get easy consistent lines marked as to where the angle breaks from the body. I have a dremel but no flexible shaft extension now. That is a good idea. What size/grit of sanding drum have you found to work best for you?
  7. I just did a guitar about 2 monthes ago with a carved top and was able to use a technique I learned from and upright builder. I learned that you can form wood in seconds with a an angle grinder with a 60 grit pad and then
    use a well tuned scraper to take the heavy scratches out . When I was done the top was consistent and faded nicely into the binded edges. It was really easy actualy! I was surprised by the speed and how much
    control you can exert over an angle gringer I will be using this thing a whole heck of alot........and a word to Scott French: If you dont like routers and your in to the whole custum feel do it by hand thing ....this might be for you..... it certainly is fast. Oh and the upright builder I spoke of...he actuly roughs his forming with a small electric chainsaw and cleans it up with the Angle grinder!
  8. I am not familiar with angle grinders. I will need to look into that. I am familiar with scrapers and actually love the way I can feel the wood change as I carve with them... at least until I hit a piece of wood that does not like either direction very well.

  9. I think the Dremel sanding drums are somewhere around 100-120 grit, but I'm not sure....they can be had at Home Depot and similar places.

    The angle grinder-chainsaw guy sounds like Tom Ribbecke, he's a great archtop builder and a little bit of a kook. You can get decent results that way with what's called a "flapper", just overlapping flaps of 60 grit sandpaper but in the shape of a grinding disc. But it removes wood really fast, not for fine carving or the faint of heart.

  10. Ahhh... So that's an angle grinder. I guess it depends on how much you want to remove. I may try it at some point but I have 1 acoustic guitar under my belt. Not ready to remove a ton of wood all at once yet.
  11. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I too have done the angle grinder trick, and it works great. I used a zirconium flap disc (a few bucks at any hardware store) to remove wood and was very surprized by the amount of control it offered. There are a few pics of the process about half way down this page.

  12. I like what you did with that body. Maybe I'll pick one up at some point and see how it feels. Thanks for the post. Nice EUB too!

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