Guitar Making Tip No. 326 is about trimming your plate overhang. There are many different ways to accomplish this, but the easiest may surprise you. There are advantages to every method, but this is the secret to a fast and easy trim. Here is how.
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Trimming the Plate Overhang With Power
The easiest and the quickest way to trim the plate overhang on an acoustic guitar is to use a router.
Insert a flush cutting bit into the router, and carefully go around the guitar to remove the overhang.
Be careful to watch the grain direction when you are making your passes. The router can grab onto the wood in these areas. When this happens, it can open a very large crack on the plate.
Most of the time the overhang is small. Even in cases like this, making several thin passes will help you prevent any accidental damage to the plates. Take thin passes over and over until the overhang is flush. If you prefer a quieter method, continue on.
Older Methods of Trimming Plate Overhang
If you would rather do the job by hand, you are more than capable. All you need is a very sharp chisel and a cabinet scraper. If you are not into using a scraper (which you should really try if you haven’t already) then you can use a curved sanding block and sandpaper.
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Start by using the chisel to remove the bulk of the waste material. Get close to the sides, but resist the urge to finish the job with the chisel. Once you are really close, then switch to the cabinet scraper or sanding block.
Work the remaining overhang of the plates until it is flush to the sides. Watch the scraper or sanding block so that it remains flat on the surface. This will ensure that you end up with nice 90 degree corners. You can even use this same method for another trim job.
Trimming the Binding With the Router
After you install the bindings, there should only be a very tiny amount of overhang if you created the rabbets correctly. Even in a case like this, the router is an excellent tool. Chuck a flush trimming bit, but check one thing before you start.
The tops of the plates need to be flat before you trim the sides with the router. If your purfling or the tops of the binding stick out over the top or back of the guitar, scrape them flat before trimming the binding on the sides. This way, your router will not wobble.
Go around the guitar carefully, again watching for grain direction and make climb cuts in questionable areas. Once the bit rides flush against the sides, the process is complete.
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