Spruce For Braces and Reinforcement – Guitar Making Tips

On the vast majority of guitars, you will use Spruce for braces and reinforcement inside the guitar body. Spruce has a very high strength to weight ratio. This means it has a high strength for the light weight. Light weight braces encourage vibration, and the strength is great for holding the inside structure together.

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Guitar Making Tip No. 2 – Spruce for Braces and Reinforcement

acoustic guitar making tips spruce for braces and reinforcementThe majority of guitar makers know that Spruce is the most commonly used wood inside acoustic guitars.

This guitar making tip centers around creating your blanks and using the extra Spruce that you collect from your soundboards.

Bracing material comes from acoustic guitar making suppliers like Stew Mac and Lmii. You can buy Spruce, Western Red Cedar, and Mahogany in most cases. Again, for your first several instruments, use Spruce.

Buy a few billets of Spruce from one of the suppliers, and leave them in the shop to acclimate for a few days. Most guitars will only need three billets, some only two.

There are many guitar makers that split their billets. While this is something that you can do if you like, it is not completely necessary.

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There are benefits to splitting the billets into brace blanks instead of cutting. However, many fine braces can be had by cutting the braces too, and this is far easier for the beginning guitar maker.

See Also: The Biggest Thing I Wish Someone Told Me About Making an Acoustic Guitar

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Cutting Spruce Braces on the Table Saw

acoustic guitar making tips spruce for braces and reinforcementIf you are operating from a plan, cut your braces to width according to the dimensions that are listed in the plan. Spruce braces tend to be anywhere from 1/2 inch wide, all the way down to 1/4 inch wide.

For most of my guitars, I use 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide braces.

Cut your braces for your top, and then cut your Spruce braces for your back. The braces on the back of the guitar will tend to be wider than the braces on the top. Set the fence on the table saw for each cut, and then collect your brace blanks and save them in a pile.

Saving Spruce for Reinforcement Strips

acoustic guitar making tips spruce for braces and reinforcementEvery time you cut out the shape of your guitar top, you will have scraps. Part two of this guitar making tip is to save those scraps.

On the back of the guitar, there will be a long joint running through the center. This is called the center seam. It is common practice to put a small patch of wood over the seam.

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This extra wood protects the seam, and adds strength to the joint. The wood for the back plate is around 1/8 inch thick in most cases. That means a very small area for gluing the two pieces together to make the back plate. Adding wood over this joint makes a difference.

acoustic guitar making tips spruce for braces and reinforcementThen you save your scraps from cutting out the shape of the guitar top, you will have free center seam reinforcement material.

The important thing when you are cutting these pieces is to watch the grain direction.

The grain on the Spruce reinforcement strips needs to run perpendicular to the direction of the seam joint on the back plate. If the grain ran in the same direction, the reinforcement would be weaker.

Also, the distance between the braces on the back is typically a small distance. This means you can cut smaller pieces of Spruce. You can also use the sections at the top and the bottom of your Spruce soundboard to create longer pieces. Any time you can save your scraps and put them to good use, you are winning at guitar making.

See Also: You Can Make an Acoustic Guitar

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Other Uses For Spruce for the Guitar

Spruce is normally used for braces and for center seam reinforcement. However, it can also be used in a few other places. The kerfed linings can be made from Spruce. Some classical guitar makers even use long strips without kerfing and bend them before installing. This is similar to how violins are made.

Spruce can also be used for small diamond shaped patches. These go under the soundboard, and help strengthen the center seam on the top. Much like the center seam on the back, the top can use a little help too.

Small diamond shaped patches do this well. You glue them on the inside, with the grain running perpendicular to the seam.

Lastly, Spruce can be used as a sound hole reinforcement. This is a flat piece that is the same diameter as the soundhole on the inside, and about 2 inches wider on the outside diameter.

This is glued inside the top, doubling the thickness of the soundboard near the soundhole. Extra material in this area helps control vibration loss. Retaining vibration means more sound.

If you have any questions about Spruce Braces for Reinforcement – 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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