Guitar Making Tip No. 181 is about edged tools and guitar making. Edged tools are wonderful to use, and they connect you to the woodworkers of the past. There are a few things you can to make your experience the best it can be. Here is what you do.
Edged Tools and Guitar Making
As you make your guitar, you will find many opportunities to use edged tools. Before modern tools, the entire guitar was made from edged tools. This means at essentially every step in the process, you will see that opportunity.
With modern advancements, you will naturally use many power tools as well. This is ok. Living in the time that we live in, you are going to be able to choose what direction you go for your tools.
As you choose your tools in the beginning, or decide how to complete each step, think about your edged tools. If you are already comfortable with them, then this will be really easy. If not, you might have to push yourself a little to find places to add them in. One thing I can promise, is that if you do this one small thing, you will actually enjoy using your edged tools…
Keep Your Edged Tools Very Sharp
The most important thing you can do with all of your edged tools is keep them sharp. If you get nothing else from this guitar making tip, remember that. Keep your tools sharp, and they will be more enjoyable.
Keeping your tools sharp is very easy, the only thing you need at the basic level is a good combination water stone. Get something like a 800/4000, and use the 800 to grind for sharpness, and then hone with the 4000. You will be able to shave with it when you are done. This one step will make a huge difference.
I wrote more about sharp tools and my embarrassing story, which explains why I have a funny relationship with them. You can use the lesson to keep yourself from going through the same thing.
Edged Tools Connect You to the Past
One thing that I really love about hand tools is that they connect you to the past. Many woodworkers still use hand tools, but not nearly as many as a long time ago. This is mainly because the choices were limited before power tools were invented.
There was a time however that a woodworker made everything by hand, and that’s something incredible. They did everything your thickness planer, jointer, table saw, and dremel tool can do, but they did it by hand.
The big takeaway from knowing what the old masters did is confidence. If someone was able to do the same thing, with less tools, and less innovations, that should give you a lot of confidence. It means that with all the advantages you have, it will happen for you if you work at it and practice.
What Edged Tools You Need to Make A Guitar
The main edged tools that you will use to make a guitar are the hand plane, the chisel, and the cabinet scraper. There are more, but these are the basic three that can accomplish most normal level processes.
The cabinet scraper and burnisher are great for leveling out the plates, and the are a good replacement for sanding. Look for a nice rectangle card and a good quality burnisher. I wrote about How to Use a Cabinet Scraper in another post, and they are great if you have never used one before.
A hand plane is a great tool to have as well, and it can make tapering the sides easy. Look for something that fits well in the hand, or make a hand plane using the Krenov method. I recommend making one, because you will use it more.
Finally, a good set of chisels is helpful for carving the braces. A 1/4″, 1/2″, and 3/4″ are a great start, and you don’t need much more than that. The different sizes can help you get into tight places. Use them with the bevel down to get really thin shavings.
Sharp Tools and Thin Passes
Another great tip for guitar making with edged tools is to take thin passes. This is the secret to working with edged tools. When you cut thinly, you risk a lot less damage to your project, and the carving process is a lot easier.
Instead of taking a really deep cut with the chisel, try making several thinner cuts. Sneak up on the depth. This way, you will not risk going too far, and you will also be able to control the shape much better.
Thinner passes are easier to learn, and they are easier to do. As you carve, you will also worry less, because if you do make a mistake, it will be smaller. Smaller mistakes are easier to correct, and you can keep the project moving forward.
Guitar Making Tip No. 181 Wrap-Up
When you make a guitar, you are going to have a lot of opportunities to use edged tools. If you select the right few hand tools, and you keep them sharp, the process will be much more enjoyable. Keeping them sharp is easy, just stop frequently to hone your edge.
Sharp tools build confidence, and you can take very thin passes instead of a really deep single pass. Then, if you do make a small mistake, you can recover easier. It’s also easier to learn the process, because the tools will cut better, and thin cuts are easier.
You can always make a few passes to hit your depth. It takes a bit longer, but you will make less mistakes. If you have any questions about Guitar Making Tip No. 181 please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.
1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners
Tip No. 181 is from my book, 1,001 Acoustic Guitar Making Tips for Beginners, which has a thousand more great tips to get your first few builds on the right track. There is no secret to guitar making, just a lot of small things that you need to get right. These tips will help you.
While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
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