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-   -   Starting My First Build, Flat or Radius top??? (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=477882)

CabinetMan 07-27-2017 07:30 PM

Starting My First Build, Flat or Radius top???
 
Ok, so I'm getting ready to start my first acoustic build. The plans that I have to go by are from Georgia Luthier Supply. The are the Dreadnaught SS plans. The plans are showing a flat top and they say that they are easier to build. It also says the sometimes the builder puts a radius an them also, but has no mention of what radius is used. Which do you all recommend that I go with for my first build? If radius what radius should I use?
Again thanks in advance for the responses.

dekutree64 07-27-2017 10:12 PM

Either way is fine. 28 foot radius is a common choice for the top. Make sure the humidity is low when gluing braces, especially if building flat. And make sure you have a plan in place to get the upper bout to match the neck angle so the fingerboard extension will lay flat on it. There are various ways to do it, but none of them particularly straightforward.

CabinetMan 07-28-2017 06:37 AM

Thanks,
May just go with the flat version for my first one.

Neil K Walk 07-28-2017 08:23 AM

From what I understand, Martin doesn't radius their tops either but most kit builders do to counter any flaws in their workmanship.

FWIW, putting a radius on a top or back (which often have a 16 foot radius) doesn't have to be hard or expensive and I liked to make my own jigs in order to understand the process. I bought a pair of these from Stew Mac and planed/sanded the appropriate arc on the underside of the X braces and lower tone bars only and glued them on using clamps and cauls. I didn't even make use of a radius dish.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4285/...b5875c_z_d.jpg

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4277/...a15d7b_z_d.jpg

BTW, I didn't radius the underside of the "#1" upper transverse brace; I kept it flat because the fingerboard lays atop it and that area actually needs to be relatively flat in order to better set the neck angle IMO. Again, I made my own gobar deck/work table but here I used a flat surface underneath, not a radius dish as is the practice. Note the LMI jig sitting on my vice to the left.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4211/...8eefd9_z_d.jpg

I also used the jig to transfer the radius to the gluing face of the kerferd lining on the sides. I did this by removing the plywood caul from to plastic handle and tracing the arch on the side of a 2x4, extending it to a length of 24" to span the length of the body of the guitar and then using my jigsaw to cut out my own larger caul. It was my economical DIY alternative to spending $160+ on 2 radius dishes and sanding paper. The operation of my jig was for the rims was similar but required some hardware to keep the caul at a uniform height:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4303/...194d20_z_d.jpg

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4210/...e2b869_z_d.jpg

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4213/...8083fe_z_d.jpg

JonWint 07-28-2017 09:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CabinetMan (Post 5423619)
The plans are showing a flat top and they say that they are easier to build. It also says the sometimes the builder puts a radius an them also, but has no mention of what radius is used. Which do you all recommend that I go with for my first build? If radius what radius should I use?

Why not buy a kit for your first build? Cost shouldn't be much different than building from scratch. The kit build time will be less than half. There's a much higher success rate for a kit. The braces will be radiused, sides bent, and will still be challenging enough. There's a lot to learn. Make it easier on yourself.

BTW. Martin does radius the tops.

redir 07-28-2017 09:11 AM

You aren't going to find that it's really that much easier to build flat or radiused. So don't let that be a point in your decision making. I can radius a brace with a hand plane in about 3 minutes. So that's like an extra 10-15 minutes of work.

I used to build with a radius and started building flat and I like the difference I perceive in the tone. If I was building a dread I'd probably radius that top since it's so big. But I have built them flat too.

As was mentioned, shop environment is very important when bracing a top, flat or otherwise.

As for neck angle, i cant the top down from the front of the sound hole to the head block and also put a radius on the UTB so that there is a ramp that goes up towards the bridge at the proper angle to get the string height at the bridge over the top at about 1/2in.

Howard Klepper 07-28-2017 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CabinetMan (Post 5423619)
Ok, so I'm getting ready to start my first acoustic build. The plans that I have to go by are from Georgia Luthier Supply. The are the Dreadnaught SS plans. The plans are showing a flat top and they say that they are easier to build. It also says the sometimes the builder puts a radius an them also, but has no mention of what radius is used. Which do you all recommend that I go with for my first build? If radius what radius should I use?
Again thanks in advance for the responses.

There will be ways that the parts of a guitar's geometry interact that you will not have considered until you have built one, or more than one. Modifying one aspect will often have unintended consequences. If you have a good plan, follow it.

I glanced at the Georgia plan online. While I cannot see it anywhere close to full size, it looks thorough. But the neck appears to be set with the fretboard parallel to the top and the neck heel square to the sides, which will not get you adequate bridge height if I'm seeing it right. Arching or doming the top will change the necessary neck angle.

If you are not using a dish, getting the contour of the sides at the back so that they allow for the taper, the curvature of the back, and the effect of the guitar's waist on the rate of taper at the back can be tricky. It does look to me like this has been taken into account in those plans.

CabinetMan 07-28-2017 06:09 PM

Thanks so much for all the great responses. Lots of great info!
I think for this first one I will just follow the plans. They have all the necessary info to build the guitar as drawn. Overall a Very Nice set of plans.
I have made the Body Mold, Top and Back templates, and the Bending Iron and think I'm about ready to start
I decided to just build from scratch because I have plenty of wood to use from my cabinet business and I like to do things from scratch. I find it very rewarding to start with a pile of rough sawn lumber and end up with something beautiful. I have Cherry, Walnut, Alder, Maple ( both Hard and Soft, some is Curly with Ambrosia in it), Oak ( both White and Red), Poplar, Cedar, Hemlock and Ash.
My shop is pretty well climate controlled. I have both heat and air in it but I will wait until the humidity is down outside as well to glue up the top and back with the braces just to be safe.
For my first build, I was originally going to use Cherry for the back and sides because I have some beautiful quarter sawn cherry and go with a hemlock top, as I was asking about in my first post on this forum. But I think now that I'll go with some Ambrosia Maple and save the Cherry for later as I have alot more Maple in case of any screw ups.
Thanks again for the great responses, any more advice is appreciated.

redir 07-28-2017 07:32 PM

That sounds great Cab-man. Keep us posted as you build along.

Take heed of Howard's advice, the neck angle and contour of the sides to get that relationship correct is one of the most difficult things for builders starting off. Many ways to do it, you just have to get one right.

In the case of a true flat everywhere top you can solve that problem simply by getting the neck angle set up right so that the string height at the bridge is 1/2in and then fill in any of the air space that the fretboard extension makes with a wedge shim.

Don't do what I did and probably so many other beginners and just clamp the extension down creating excessive fall away and body joint hump. The line drawn from the nut at fret height should be a nice straight shot all the way to the bridge.

CabinetMan 07-29-2017 05:55 AM

Thanks again, I'll keep you all posted as I go along and try to figure out how to post pictures. As always any more advice is much appreciated.

SnowManSnow 07-31-2017 06:37 PM

well, I'm NO WHERE the builder that a few of these guys are. I'm currently working on my #4, and it is only my second scratch build.

as a new builder let me say that there is PLENTY to wrap your head around if you do a kit, even if you're an accomplished wood worker. Building a guitar is hard, but building a good guitar is nearly impossible haha.

I could be wrong, but I would reconsider doing a kit. The cost will be about the same after its all over with, and you won't have to worry about cutting sides with the right outline / bending and all that.

Someone (a very qualified builder) recently told me that there are a MULTITUDE of small things that have to be done with precision to make the whole work out, and he is VERY right.

Not saying you aren't capable, but I am saying there is more to it than you think, if you haven't made a guitar before.

Just my 2 cents. Hope I didn't offend you in any way.

CabinetMan 08-01-2017 10:13 PM

No offense taken at all. I appreciate the concern.
I have built 2 guitars before, an SG and a Strat. Both turned out very well ( to me and the ones that have played them any way) and I truly enjoyed it, but this will be my first acoustic. I am by no means bragging but I seem to do my best work when I am challenged but at the same time if something kicks my butt I have no problem admitting it either. If I need advice or help I don't mind nor am I ashamed to ask for it, that's why I'm on here.
If anyone needs info on Building Custom Cabinets or furniture I can answer almost any question some one has. BUT not on Guitars, That's why I ask the questions that I have.

I looked at the Stew Mac Kits and I started to go that way but being that I have plenty of wood I won't have but Very little money in a scratch build compared to what those kits would cost. Basically all I truly have to buy is a truss rod, and the tuners (which most kits don't include the tuners anyway).

I will probably end up getting a pre slotted Fret board simply because I would rather have a rosewood on an acoustic instead of a maple (which I could make) and will probably order a nut and saddle also ( which I could also make out of the pile of scrap Corian that I have left over from countertops that I have made and installed) I did make the nut for both of the electrics that I have built out of Corian and it has worked very well.
Any way I already have my sides, Back and top cut out. I'm going with the wood that I have on hand to save ALOT of money on, just in case of any mistakes I make (and I'm sure I will, which hopefully I will learn from).

I did change my mind again and decide to go with quarter sawn cherry instead of maple and I'm just gonna use the hemlock that I have for the top instead of buying spruce.
This is just to get my feet wet and learn from. Hopefully I will enjoy it even more than I think I will and not get in over my head, LOL.

Thanks again for the responses.

printer2 08-02-2017 05:46 PM

We would not feel bad at all if you chronicled your build here.

CabinetMan 08-02-2017 09:47 PM

Well, I got a little more done today. Got the top and back rough cut out and the sides bent. I know this probably isn't the best top to use and I have more with tighter growth rings but I want to use this first in case I screw up on it.

http://<a href="http://s1253.photobu...psbgjw20mf.jpg[/IMG]

CabinetMan 08-02-2017 09:53 PM

Maybe I've figured the pictures out.
[IMG]http://i1253.photobucket.com/albums/...psbjlpehk8.jpg[/IMG]

http://<a href="http://s1253.photobu...psnzjz9jje.jpg[/IMG]

http://<a href="http://s1253.photobu...pseldm6vtg.jpg[/IMG]

http://<a href="http://s1253.photobu...psimwqgcem.jpg[/IMG]

If you all see anything that I can improve upon or any mistakes that I'm making please chime in and let me know.
Thanks again.


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