Gluing and Leveling the Rosette – Guitar Making Tips

Gluing and leveling the rosette is an easy task, and these few tips can make the process very smooth. After cutting an opening for the rosette pieces or strips, they need to be glued in place. After the glue dries, they need to be cut flush to the surface. Getting a nice smooth surface is important, and gives the guitar a professional look. Here is how.

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Guitar Making Tip No. 3 – Gluing and Leveling the Rosette

Acoustic guitar making tips gluing and leveling the rosetteOne of the biggest tips that I can give you about gluing and leveling your rosette is to test fit the pieces first. It is far easier to fix problems before they become glue covered problems.

If you test fit the pieces first, it will save you headaches, fills, and extra work later. It only takes a few minutes to test fit the pieces.

Grab your inlay pieces or strips and test them out dry in the cavities that you made on your guitar top. Place each one just as you would when the glue is added later.

Make sure that you go through the same exact process. This is an important aspect of testing the rosette. If you do the process the same way, then you will uncover problems that will eventually arise when the glue is introduced.

Complete the entire process right down to your clamping method, and then evaluate everything. This evaluation is where you will know if you need to fix anything before moving forward.

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See Also: 13 Helpful Tips on Making an Acoustic Guitar Bridge

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Leveling the Rosette After Gluing

Acoustic guitar making tips gluing and leveling the rosetteAssuming everything went well with the dry run, apply glue and clamp the rosette overnight. It is best to let something like this dry a little longer than normal.

If you are using wood strips or pieces, then regular wood glue is the best choice. A good brand like Titebond is a wise investment, and lasts a very long time.

When gluing something else like a plastic or metal to the wood, then a two part epoxy or CA glue is the best.

Next, you need to level the inlay pieces and strips to the surface of the soundboard. The tool you use for this depends on how tall the pieces stick out.

If you have really tall pieces, using a small plane or a chisel is the best choice. These tools remove material quickly, and they get you down close to the surface for final sanding.

Be careful with planes and chisels. The chisel in particular can be particularly damaging to the guitar top. When leveling your rosette with a chisel, make sure to keep it level.

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This will help prevent damaging the top with the corners of the tool. For the hand plane, take very thin passes. This will reduce tear out, and digging too deep.

See Also: 10 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making an Acoustic Guitar

Final Leveling of the Rosette

Acoustic guitar making tips gluing and leveling the rosetteAfter the initial leveling with the chisel or hand plane, switch to a cabinet scraper. If you do not have a cabinet scraper, then switch to sandpaper and a block.

I really like my cabinet scrapers, and now that I have a nicer burnishing tool, I love them even more than before.

A scraper leaves behind an extremely smooth surface, and removes material rapidly. It only takes a short while to learn, and you can pick one up inexpensively.

Just like the chisel though, make sure not to tip it from side to side and scratch the soundboard with the corners. They can always be scraped out, but it’s more work for no reason.

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For those without a cabinet scraper, use sandpaper wrapped around a block. Start with the least aggressive sandpaper that you need to get the job done. For most cases, 150 grit is a good start. If you need more than this, then you probably stopped using the chisel or hand plane too early.

After the 150 grit, switch to 220 and blend the surface. Keep your block flat. If you do not, you will create small dips and valleys in the work. Keeping the block flat targets the high areas. This ensures that the sanding happens only where it’s needed.

Creating the Soundhole Opening

Acoustic guitar making tips gluing and leveling the rosetteOnce the rosette is level, you can now cut out the soundhole opening. This is easiest with a Dremel and circle cutting jig. It can also be done on the drill press with a circle cutter.

If you are using the circle cutter, make sure that the beveled edges of the cutters are pointing inwards towards the waste portion of the soundhole opening.

The trick to the Dremel is to carefully start and stop your cut. There is an inevitable nib or ding that happens at the start and the stop of the cut, as the middle piece is freed in the process.

Be careful about starting and stopping and you can minimize the amount of sanding needed later in the process.

After the soundhole opening is created, sand the inside of the hole. Use 150 grit papers and a small curved block. Sand the inside of the hole perpendicular to the top. Then, once all the rough areas are gone, you can bevel or round it slightly.

Some makers bevel the soundboard from the inside, some the outside. Others round the corners quite a bit, some barely at all. It’s all up to you as the maker.

I would recommend at least breaking the sharp corners, and rounding them slightly. This will make finishing the guitar easier later in the process. Finish does not do well sticking to corners.

If you have any questions on Gluing and Leveling the Rosette – Guitar Making Tips, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

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