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Triumvirate

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Dan Hawkes
(@liebe)
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Hey folks, 

Thought I'd share an update on what I've been up to (whether wanted it or not).

I know I wanted to build more even before finishing my second electric in January. I realised I'd 'accidentally acquired' enough materials to make 3 and under the pretence of really embedding the process in my brain I set about building all three at once.

The bodies are one piece sapelle and khaya mahogany with matching necks and bound ebony fretboards, and the third in two piece black limba body with limba neck and bound rosewood fretboard. 

All three were to have figured sycamore tops with faux binding. 

I was using the same design on all, but it's been instructive to see the differences in how the materials behaved. I'm sure the differences between rosewood and ebony are well known, but I found limba a lovely wood to work on. The sapelle body was so heavy, I reduced its overall thickness by at least 5mm to bring it's weight in line with the other two bodies at (which are 45mm ish).

I wanted to move away from the finishing oil and hard wax oil if used before. Initially I thought about getting someone to finish them for me in nitro, but in the end have gone with z-poxy for grain filling and sealing the top stain with the intention to use brush on melamine lacquer as the first coat. 

I've made, and had to find ways of fixing, errors (mostly out of my stupidity) along the way - like surface routing beyond the nut line on the headstock face after cutting the neck blank tight to final length and slips with the router during profiling that needed grafts to fix. 

I'm now at the stage where in gluing the necks on, first one went on yesterday, and so plan to document my further adventures in z-poxy grain filling and brush on melamine finishing as it happens.

 My workshop, such as it is, is pretty compact and I thought I'd be much further along than I am now. Before are a few photos of my progress.


 

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tv1
 tv1
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Posted by: @liebe

 but in the end have gone with z-poxy for grain filling and sealing the top stain with the intention to use brush on melamine lacquer as the first coat. 

I don't recall seeing that finishing approach before - what prompted you to try that?  It's certainly looking good in the pics.

 

Posted by: @liebe

I've made, and had to find ways of fixing, errors (mostly out of my stupidity) along the way

I've never finished a build without a similar opportunity presenting itself.  But there's always been a solution 😉

 

 

image

That finish on that top looks particularly good to my eye.  Beautiful!

This post was modified 1 month ago by tv1

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


   
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Boo
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@liebe You appear to have been very successful finishing this guitar, it looks really well. I’ve never used that product but I might just try it after seeing this, I’m always up for trying new things. 
None of us have built a guitar without having opportunities to fix our mistakes, it always happens. The trick is to not worry about it and just deal with it, just find a way to fix it. I haven’t made one guitar yet this year yet, for a few reasons, but when I get back to it, I’ll be taking my time to get my head back into it. My approach will be, go slow, think, measure multiple times before making any cuts, and always put your safety first (and anyone around you). 
Health and safety is a big one. If we make mistakes with materials and products, we can always start again. If we damage ourselves, that can’t always be fixed and could be life changing. I’ve painted a lot of cars, vans, bikes etc and it’s not just paint fumes that need protecting from. Dust from sanding and also things you wouldn’t think is harmful, like polishing compounds. Polishing compounds are abrasive, that’s the point of them, they replace fine scratches with even finer scratches. If you are not wearing a mask when buffing, there are compound particles in the air, being inhaled by the user. Abrasive particles in your lungs is not a good thing. 

I know I’ve gone off on a tangent here but using new products should be fully understood before using. I’ve had dermatitis on my hands a few times because I didn’t wear gloves or barrier cream. When spraying paint every day, getting the job done and on to the next one was always the priority but to my personal detriment. I haven’t worked in that industry for a long time now but in the back of my mind there is a worry that something from that time spent may come back to affect me later in life. 

We take pride and joy in making guitars at this level, so it’s hardly industrial, but we still need to be careful. 

It looks really good so far and keep the progress pictures coming in. 👍

Nice work. 
Boo. 

Make guitars, not war 🌍✌️🎸


   
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Dan Hawkes
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Thanks @tv101 

I love what an oiled finish brings out in the wood, but I'd been looking for a finish closer to the qualities of lacquer, but without the need for spraying as it's just not an option in my workshop (and I need a lot of practice) 

So I'd been on the look out and first came across Ben at lighthouse instruments in Glasgow on Instagram using exactly this process.  I had a chat with him and there's plenty of vids on YouTube of people using z-poxy as grain filler, primarily on acoustics. It's a finishing resin and gives around 30 mins of working time. Basically you apply a couple of very thin coats and sand back to smooth. It's very easy to apply and work.

The melamine brush on I understand is essentially nitro lacquer with melamine added to it. Again, plenty of vids on YouTube its touch dry very quickly, sands easily and fills get a very good good finish with it. I've done my testers with the system, but yet to apply to a full guitar. I'll let you guys know how it goes, but I'm expecting a learning curve. 

You're absolutely right about everyone making errors. On my first build, any error I'd texted as it it was the end of the world😅. I'm more accepting of the process now and there's no panic. However, part of my intention with building 3 at once was to formalise at least part it my processes to iron out silly and avoidable mistakes. I think I've been partly successful at...🤦🏻


   
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Dan Hawkes
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Hey @boo

Thanks for your comments. It's only at grain filling stage at the moment. The z-poxy really brings out the figure in the wood and acts as a sealer to protect the stained top. As I said above, there's plenty of content on you tube on its use. 

I'm sure it's common, but my approach is to use offcuts of the timber in using to test my stains, grain filters, sealers and finish way before I use them on a build. Small testers are never the same as using on the larger surface of a build, but I think it's important to understand how the application feels, how they sand and how well they work together etc.

With the stains, I have an idea of what I want to achieve and try and stick to a plan. I'm not hugely experienced, but so far every top is different though and can throw a curve ball. I got these tops from Mark and Carol's discount tops bin and they have plenty of bang for the buck.

100% with you on taking precautions and safety seriously. I always wear a mask when making any dust and very cautious when using the machines. 

Gloves are a must with the epoxy and, although it's not necessary, I use the same mask with the appropriate filter rating as for the melamine lacquer.


   
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Clinton
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Beautiful pieces!


   
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Dan Hawkes
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Posted by: @clinton

Beautiful pieces!

Cheers @Clinton, plenty left to do yet but the limba one recovered it's neck this morning

 


   
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Brian Walker
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@liebe Great work Dan, you got a real production line going there!! Really like the woods you’re using for the tops, would like to know more about Mark and Carol’s discount tops bin (don’t see anything about it on the site shop)🤔🤔

Also liking the comments on safe working from everyone, good to see that we all have a “healthy” respect for the potential hazards associated with what we enjoy doing. As someone who has had cancer of the larynx I often wonder what caused it and wonder if I should have been more mindful of my health over the years.

Keep up the good work!!

Brian👍😃🎸


   
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tv1
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Posted by: @brie

would like to know more about Mark and Carol’s discount tops bin

Think it's a (very) occasional special sale thing @brie.

I managed to grab some a few years ago when they had a clear out of old bits and pieces.  I now have way more tops than I'm ever going to use though.

 

@Boo - hello stranger!

 

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


   
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Dan Hawkes
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Hey @brie 

This is a link to the tops, nothing secret squirrel! 

https://guitarmaking.co.uk/product/native-ash-bookmatched-caps-flat-or-for-carving-some-flaws/

 


   
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Brian Walker
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@liebe Thanks for the link Dan,  now I’ve looked I remember having a browse through the tops a while ago, memory not what it used to be!!🤣🤣


   
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Dan Hawkes
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You've all been very good builders, so you can have an update from me as a reward😅

I've got the necks glued on two of the builds on, with the third going under the clamps just now. 

I'm really glad with how the sanding back to create the faux binding has gone. 

The neck joint is one of the areas I really benefited from the repetition of doing 3 at the same time. From neck socket, fitting, heel dimensions and gluing, all have gone better than expected.

Next steps will be grain filling on neck, back and sides with z-poxy and sanding. Followed by another round before sanding back for finishing. Fingers crossed that all goes as well!

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tv1
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image

That's a *very* nice, crisp, line there, looks very good.

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


   
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Dan Hawkes
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Thanks @tv101! A slow and steady process by hand. 

I think having z-poxy as a sealer helped stabilise the top and helped the crispness of the line.


   
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