The soundhole on the acoustic guitar is an often overlooked area when it comes to customizing the instrument. However, even a simple design like my soundhole cross adds beauty to the guitar. Many different shapes and designs can be worked into the soundhole design, and they will all add interest and value to the instrument.
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Making the Soundhole Cross
This is best done with a pencil, but do not press too hard. Spruce and other woods used for guitar tops are soft. The hard lead from the pencil can easily make depressions on the surface. If you change your design, some of these may still be visible in the end.
Go over the design a few times to make sure that it is exactly the way you intend. Once you are satisfied, you can move on to cutting. It is far easier to make changes now, so be sure your design is perfect.
Removing the Sections One at a Time
Remove the bulk of the material in this manner, being careful not to go over the lines into areas that need to be kept. You can always remove more wood if necessary, but it can be very difficult to put it back.
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Once the large areas of wood are taken out, you can reinforce the horizontal part of the cross to prevent damage. Cut a piece of Rosewood with the grain running the length of the piece. It should measure 3/16″ x 3/16″, and cover the entire horizontal portion of the cross, going into the rosette area about an inch. This extra piece of wood will keep the cross safe from breakage. Also, it resides on the inside of the instrument, so it will never be seen.
Don’t sand your soundhole cross until you add reinforcement pieces behind the delicate parts. This protects them from breaking.
After your reinforcement piece has been glued, you can begin final sanding. Resist the urge to sand right away, because the end of the cross can fall off easily before the reinforcement strip is added. Even now, be careful as you remove material from the edges to smooth them.
When you decided to create a different soundhole, you decided to invite everyone to look closely at that area on the finished guitar. This is a fact of woodworking that everyone learns. If you design something interesting, people will inspect the heck out of it.
That being said, sand and care for the soundhole cross or any other soundhole design extremely well. Make sure you even out any funny looking areas, and to sand every last scratch off the surfaces. People are going to stick their faces right into this area. You do not want to give them anything to look at except great woodworking. If you are doing this on Spruce, the sanding will go by fairly quickly. Spruce sands well, and is a softer species of wood.
Think of other designs you can add to your soundhole and test them out on paper. If you radically change the amount of soundhole area that is open, you will notice a difference in the sound of the guitar. Shoot for designs that still allow the majority of the opening to remain unobstructed. This way, you can have fun with the design, and not weaken your tone.
My book, Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs explains this, as well as many other guitar making topics. With over 500 pages and 1600 images, the book is sure to have something for everyone. Plus, the instructions for over 50 tools and jigs means the book will pay for itself very quickly.
If you have questions about my Acoustic Guitar Soundhole Cross, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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