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Planing body halves

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Zebra, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    So I've been trying to plane the basswood halves for the body. I've discovered it's really hard to do. I've got it down to a pretty close fit, but there are still some spots where you can see a little light through. How close do I need to get for it to be alright for glueing? Also, if you have some black spaces, but you can't see light through them, are those alright?
  2. How much gap are you talking about? Are you refering to jointing the edges or flattening the boards? Also, which planes (and plane numbers) are you using?

    The following is just general information and doesn't assume you aren't familiar with it: Hand planing requires a lot of time and practice to get satisfactory results. If it's done well, there's no sanding required on the finished board which produces a very smooth and crisp surface. If you're jointing the edges, a very slight gap in the centre is ok but gaps on the edges are no good. With flattening and levelling boards, it's another matter altogether. Generally, it all comes down to identifying and eliminating all the high spots with a smoother, level the board with a jointer (either #7, #6 or #5 which ever you can get a hold of), thicknessing and final flattening and smoothing with the jointer and smoother. You can either mark them with something like chalk or just spot them (with eyes). Different people have different techniques, but there are certain steps that need to be taken which I have not gone into any detail above as there are different types of twists that occur in wood.
  3. gfried84

    gfried84 Commercial User

    May 7, 2005
    Owner Fried Guitars Inc.
    I'd try to get the fit as tight as possible. I made a bass one time when I first started building and I thought I had a tight fit but when I glued it up, it turned out to be not so tight and I had to re-saw and joint it again. I like to be able to see the boards butt together along the whole length.
  4. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I use my table saw or power planer to get a nice flat edge, but if these fancy tools aren't available, a piece of sandpaper stuck to a true flat surface will work just fine. I have a couple 1/4" thick steel plates (around 4" x 20") that I keep around for just this purpose. I stick some sandpaper on the plate with two sided tape and put my joint face down on it and go hard. If getting a true 90° is a big concern, you could even clamp down a fence of some sort to make sure.

    Sometimes I think my power tools and my desire to always make my systems more precise hampers my learning of the art form side of woodworking. I'd like to believe that what I lack in terms of free hand skill I make up for with power tool innovation.