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Renaissance Lute

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Hi all, sorry, I have been inactive on the forum for quite a while now.

Mainly because of time issues , too many things to do and new stuff to discover.

My second year in lute building class has finished and I am in the midst of building my first lute.

It will be a 7 course Renaissance lute with 11 ribs

Starting off with building a mold ..

First the baseplate from plywood

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Then we add the vertical support panels , for each rib a facet, so it forms a round shape finally, notice that the top of each rib forms a straight lines , but they are angled , according to the outline of the baseplate

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Then I add support blocks from mdf between each of the vertical support panels.

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 These too, follow the angle of the baseplate curve/angle

I coated the whole mold with varnish, to prevent glue sticking to the mold when making the ribs.

Next I made the back plate and neck heel block from a square block of basswood. The facets from the molds are brought over to this heelblock and , using a chisel tapers down to the tip of the mold.The back is a simple strip of spruce, shaped and then bent to comform to the curve of the back of the mold. the strip of spruce is just made flexible by wrapping it in a moist piece of paper towel for about 20 minutes.

Afterwards, we can bend it into the light curve of the back of the mold


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 For the ribs, I cut the first rib from 1.4 mm thick strips of pearwood.( planed down from approx 3 mm ) and place it on the mold.

I use a violin or guitar side bending iron to bend the the rib comform to the shape of the mold.

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Next , I form  the strips of veneer that will act as a spacer between each rib and also bend these into shape using heat ( with a mini iron )

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Then I made the second 2 ribs, delicately trying to comform the shape of the new rib to the previous one and the shape of the mold.

Since this will be different for each of the ribs, this is a job that needs quite some time to be executed perfectly.

I only use a blockplane to shave off the high spots until the whole rib fits perfectly to the previous one, without trying to force them to meet up.

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Once the ribs match , I apply the veneer on the new rib.

The glue we use for this is hot hide glue BTW.

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To clamp both ribs ( and the veneer too  ) I use normal masking tape.

The standard masking tape has a good elasticity  I can use to my advantage. After applying glue, I tape both ribs together, but I stretch the tape and then stick it to both ribs. Once the tape sticks to both ribs, I release and the tape relaxes back, and by doing so, pulls both ribs even tighter.

Once one the first 2 ribs are glued, I rinse and repeat the procedure on the other side of the first rib. Once these first 3 ribs are joined it gets a little easier to do the next ribs, well.. sort of.. it still is pretty hard to do for a first time.

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Then I remove the shell from the mold and add paper strips on the inside of the shell or bowl. These strips go over the seams of the ribs in order to strengthen the glueline and mask any possible gaps that still might have occured .

Then I start on flattening the top edge of the bowl, very carefully with a light blockplane. The shell is very vulerable still and utmost attention must be given in order not to create tearout and cracks.

This process is finished by lightly sanding the top to make it absolutely flat.


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Peter C-F, Dan Hawkes, Robin and 3 people reacted
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@koendb This is wonderful, I’m in awe of your work. Keep going, I can’t wait to see how you progress further with this. 

Make guitars, not war 🌍✌️🎸

Robin, Russ, Brian Walker and 1 people reacted
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Fantastic @koendb. Wonderful craftsmanship. Really looking forward to seeing this one unfold. 


🗝️ "Life's what you make it"🗝️

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That is impressive work, I can imagine how frustrating it must be getting all those curved edges to match up.

Brian Walker, Russ and Koendb reacted
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And this is why I feel justified in calling my guitar the Bisset Bodge! Awesome work, Koen!

Jack of all trades and master of my own destiny. It’s only a small destiny.

Robin, Russ and Koendb reacted