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-   -   A Contemporary Guitar made with Contemporary Hand Tools (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=604898)

Mark Hatcher 01-24-2021 11:02 AM

A Contemporary Guitar made with Contemporary Hand Tools
 
I am making a spec Greta GA Bloodwood and Swiss Moon Spruce guitar in this build thread:

https://live.staticflickr.com/7919/4...2bc79c4a_b.jpg

While building this instrument I want to showcase some of the available contemporary hand tools I am using in my studio. I want to demonstrate the value that hand tools bring to building a higher quality guitar. Hand tools are often shown as the traditional old romantic way of building. I'm not selling romance here I want to show the quality and accuracy that hand tools bring.

specs:

Back and sides: Bloodwood
Top: Master Grade Swiss "Moon" Alpine Spruce
Neck: One Piece Honduran Mahogany (35yrs Seasoned)
Fretboard: Black Ebony
Trim and Art Deco Inlays: Black Ebony, Bloodwood, Black Mother-of-Pearl
Purfling: Black Wood, Maple, Bloodwood
Florentine cutaway
Arm Bevel
Large Open Headstock
Black Schertler Tuners
Black Buffalo Horn Custom Tuner Buttons
Nut and Saddle: Bone
Nut Width 1 3/4"
Saddle String Space 2 1/4"
Finish: Catalyst Urethane
Red to Black Neck Sunset Burst

Here is the Bloodwood back and sides set:

https://live.staticflickr.com/7855/3...7b8031bb_b.jpg

Here is the back with one wet side:

https://live.staticflickr.com/7865/3...8048320c_b.jpg

I selected a set with a little figure and a lot of tap tone and sustain. Bloodwood is harder, stiffer, and heavier that Black Ebony and unlike Black Ebony it rings like glass. It is a very resonate wood with eternal sustain. You don't see it on guitars much because its hard to work with and bend.

Here I am using a #62 Lie-Nielsen low angle jack plane on a shooting board to prepare the Bloodwood sides for joining. Planned wood glue joint is much stronger than a sanded wood glue joint for this long thin joint down the center of the guitar back:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...ebf1fdfd_c.jpg

It is arguable that Lie-Nielsen is the single most influential company leading to the resurgence of hand tools that is occurring today. They have taken many of the classic hand tool designs (especially Stanley hand planes) and have updated them with currently available materials, accuracy of manufacture, and design improvements.

The advantage of a low-angle plane is the blade bevel is on top. Which means if you have, say a highly figured piece of wood, you can optimize the blade cut angle to eliminate tear out by simply changing the blades bevel angle. It doesn't work like that with a high angle plane.
Another feature available for this plane is the add on "Hot Dog" handle that adds better grip and control so you can achieve a perfect shooting board cut.

OK so we're off. I want to add one more thing here on this first post. I am not trying to sell anything but my guitars here. I have no agreements with any tool makers. I researched and bought these tools like anybody else can.
My only endorsement for any of these tools is my opinion that so far they were the best I could find and afford for what I do and how I do it.

Thanks for Viewing!
Mark

fitness1 01-24-2021 11:09 AM

Being an "old school" guy in almost everything I do - this will be very interesting to watch!;)

Erithon 01-24-2021 12:14 PM

You've written so much about this in your recent studio threads, Mark, that I am excited to see a dedicated thread that will highlight this central element of your builds :)

Guitars44me 01-24-2021 12:58 PM

Me too!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by fitness1 (Post 6613618)
Being an "old school" guy in almost everything I do - this will be very interesting to watch!;)

I am with Todd on this one! Looking forward to more....

Thanks for sharing this!

Paul

Lonzo 01-24-2021 01:57 PM

..very interesting and adoreable.. to learn and revive those old and dwindling techniques. IĎm in to follow as well!

jayhawk 01-24-2021 02:35 PM

Mark

Great thread start.

As a woodworker, I agree with you about Lie-Nielsen tools. Nearly flawless. I would also add Veritas to that description. In fact Veritas might even be a little more innovative. Iíve invested in both (and at their prices it is an investment) and love them. Good tools make any work a pleasure.

Keep coming with your progress. Great choices of wood. It should be a beautiful guitar.

Jack

Mark Hatcher 01-24-2021 03:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fitness1 (Post 6613618)
Being an "old school" guy in almost everything I do - this will be very interesting to watch!;)

Thanks for following along Todd!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Erithon (Post 6613695)
You've written so much about this in your recent studio threads, Mark, that I am excited to see a dedicated thread that will highlight this central element of your builds :)

Thanks Erithon, Itís easy to get lost in writing about how much I like a good hand tool because well, once figured out they are quite lovable tools. However, there are actual end product quality improvements that come with using these tools properly and appropriately. I hope to show what some of improvements are.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Guitars44me (Post 6613742)
I am with Todd on this one! Looking forward to more....

Thanks for sharing this!

Paul

Thanks Paul, glad to have you on board!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lonzo (Post 6613802)
..very interesting and adoreable.. to learn and revive those old and dwindling techniques. IĎm in to follow as well!

Great glad to have you along on this one Lonzo!

Quote:

Originally Posted by jayhawk (Post 6613844)
Mark

Great thread start.

As a woodworker, I agree with you about Lie-Nielsen tools. Nearly flawless. I would also add Veritas to that description. In fact Veritas might even be a little more innovative. Iíve invested in both (and at their prices it is an investment) and love them. Good tools make any work a pleasure.

Keep coming with your progress. Great choices of wood. It should be a beautiful guitar.

Jack

Thanks for commenting Jack. I agree with you that Veritas runs toe to toe with Lie Nielsen and may even have an edge in some areas on different tools. If they are close Iíll go with Lie-Nielsen in most cases. This is mainly because of Lie-Nielsenís strong customer support and the fact they are so close to me. What I order today, Iíll get tomorrow. Itís an easy car ride for me to get to their show room where I can talk shop and try out any of the tools they make (once we get past this pandemic and their shop reopens). Thatís a tie breaker for me in most cases

Mark

jayhawk 01-24-2021 10:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark Hatcher (Post 6613879)
Thanks for commenting Jack. I agree with you that Veritas runs toe to toe with Lie Nielsen and may even have an edge in some areas on different tools. If they are close Iíll go with Lie-Nielsen in most cases. This is mainly because of Lie-Nielsenís strong customer support and the fact they are so close to me. What I order today, Iíll get tomorrow. Itís an easy car ride for me to get to their show room where I can talk shop and try out any of the tools they make (once we get past this pandemic and their shop reopens). Thatís a tie breaker for me in most cases

Mark

Mark

I understand. I am jealous that you are so close Lie-Nielsen. It does make my marriage happier that I canít just drop in to look at tools. :). Good look with your build. Iím going to be watching with great interest.

Jack

cigarfan 01-25-2021 05:31 AM

Thanks for posting this thread Mark. I'll be glad to learn how use of hand tools improves the quality. Hard to imagine with your guitars. Not doubting you ... just sayin'! :)

srick 01-25-2021 07:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark Hatcher (Post 6613879)
Thanks for following along Todd!

Thanks Erithon, Itís easy to get lost in writing about how much I like a good hand tool because well, once figured out they are quite lovable tools. However, there are actual end product quality improvements that come with using these tools properly and appropriately. I hope to show what some of improvements are.
Mark

Mark - you're bringing back many fond memories of perusing all of the goodies at the "Fine Tool Shoppes" and "Woodcraft Supply". Of course, their print catalogs were always close at hand and well thumbed through. Like many others, I am looking forward to this thread.

Many thanks.

Rick

Bill Kraus 01-25-2021 09:39 AM

Great post Mr. Hatcher!. Years ago I bought a set of Lie-Nielsen hand planes and I use them consistently in my work. These, along with a nice set of chisels, are my favorite tools, and I think of how happy I am that I bought them all the time. Great quality American made tools.
I look forward to watching this post.

Mark Hatcher 01-25-2021 03:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cigarfan (Post 6614466)
Thanks for posting this thread Mark. I'll be glad to learn how use of hand tools improves the quality. Hard to imagine with your guitars. Not doubting you ... just sayin'! :)

Thanks cigarfan, Iíve got more to come!

Quote:

Originally Posted by srick (Post 6614537)
Mark - you're bringing back many fond memories of perusing all of the goodies at the "Fine Tool Shoppes" and "Woodcraft Supply". Of course, their print catalogs were always close at hand and well thumbed through. Like many others, I am looking forward to this thread.

Many thanks.

Rick

Thanks Rick glad youíre following along on this one. I think so many people try working with basic hand tools and get frustrated but, once you have a quality tool and know how to use it it is a whole different game.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Kraus (Post 6614651)
Great post Mr. Hatcher!. Years ago I bought a set of Lie-Nielsen hand planes and I use them consistently in my work. These, along with a nice set of chisels, are my favorite tools, and I think of how happy I am that I bought them all the time. Great quality American made tools.
I look forward to watching this post.

Thanks for commenting Bill. I agree hand planes and chisels are the work horses in a wood shop. There are so many applications for them especially in lutherie!

Carpinteria 01-25-2021 09:00 PM

Great post, Mark, and I really look forward to following it. I have a question, if you donít mind. Iím going to purchase a new plane for jointing and have been debating between a low angle jack plane and a longer jointer plane. Your thoughts? Thanks! Dave

tadol 01-25-2021 11:23 PM

This should be fun! Way back, in a much earlier life, I owned a fine woodworking tool store. We had the best english, german, french, swedish, and japanese tools that could be found. Other than Starrett and Fuller, and our local carbide shop, there were very few american made items we could carry - just not a lot of quality. But it was starting - I remember getting out first Hock plane irons in - amazing steel on a par or better than much of the vintage steel we craved -

Now, I see the products from Bridge City, Lee Valley, Lie-Neilsen, Veritas, and another dozen or more small shops making incredible items that are so fine - very much like the fine guitars we have to choose from these days, too -

Explaining the details of some of your tools choices and fixture designs would be a great addition for some of the people following this thread and maybe encourage them to try!

Mark Hatcher 01-26-2021 10:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carpinteria (Post 6615319)
Great post, Mark, and I really look forward to following it. I have a question, if you don’t mind. I’m going to purchase a new plane for jointing and have been debating between a low angle jack plane and a longer jointer plane. Your thoughts? Thanks! Dave

Thanks Dave, I went with the low angle jack plane because it is so versatile.
The plane is 14" long and the longest straight joint I use it for is about 22" when joining tops and backs.
When using a shooting board the length of the plane doesn't really matter because the level reference is the shooting board not the plane. Hope that helps.

Quote:

Originally Posted by tadol (Post 6615395)
Now, I see the products from Bridge City, Lee Valley, Lie-Neilsen, Veritas, and another dozen or more small shops making incredible items that are so fine - very much like the fine guitars we have to choose from these days, too -

Thanks for commenting tadol. That has been my impression too. There are a many small shop tool makers that have a deep passion making their tools just as there are a lot of luthiers making their guitars and passionate artists composing and performing their music on those guitars. You know only good things will come of that. A perfect storm of arts, skills and creativity :)

GeoffStGermaine 01-26-2021 02:03 PM

Mark,
Very interested to see how this build progresses and to see your extensive use of hand tools.

I'm also here for the bloodwood. It is my favourite wood, though not my favourite one to work with.

Mark Hatcher 01-26-2021 04:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GeoffStGermaine (Post 6615980)
Mark,
Very interested to see how this build progresses and to see your extensive use of hand tools.

I'm also here for the bloodwood. It is my favourite wood, though not my favourite one to work with.

Thanks for following along!

Mark Hatcher 01-26-2021 05:06 PM

How do you Replace a Band Saw?
 
It's likely you have a coping saw kicking around somewhere but, you're not sure where because you hate using that crappy tool you or your dad got from Sears a long time ago. The level of disdain only gets so high before the tool is banished to rust on a nail in the basement. Coping saws sell a lot of band saws!
Well this ain't your daddy's coping saw!

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...ba7b003e_b.jpg

It has an adjustable tension cam for easy blade changes and tightening up the blade. You can also throw the cam and rotate the blade in place so you can cut much deeper like when your cutting the waist of a guitar top.
With the lightweight rigid frame you can get those blades really tight so the blades don't wonder, chatter, and break when cutting.
I put a custom mesquite handle on it that puts weight where you want it and I now have a coping saw that I think of using first before the band saw.

Once I got hooked on this I went with their fret saw that does cuts you can't do with band saws like these sound ports:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...b1b1bf95_b.jpg

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...2829389d_b.jpg

This fret saw has a titanium birdcage frame and weighs nothing except for the big heavier Mesquite handle I got for it. I'm willing to take on much more complicated sound ports because of these.

There will be more coming up on this one further into the build.

Archaic Guitars 01-27-2021 11:13 AM

Thanks for a glimpse into your process. Iím very impressed with the coping saw methods of cutting sound ports as opposed to using a router or dremel. I may borrow this idea... power tools make me nervous that far into the build.
Very impressive detail! That saw to cut out the soundboard is a monster!

srick 01-27-2021 12:46 PM

Mark - what does the fretsaw blade look like? Is it a spiral blade or a flat blade?

Mark Hatcher 01-28-2021 05:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Archaic Guitars (Post 6616809)
Thanks for a glimpse into your process. Iím very impressed with the coping saw methods of cutting sound ports as opposed to using a router or dremel. I may borrow this idea... power tools make me nervous that far into the build.
Very impressive detail! That saw to cut out the soundboard is a monster!

Great! Glad you found that helpful!

Quote:

Originally Posted by srick (Post 6616923)
Mark - what does the fretsaw blade look like? Is it a spiral blade or a flat blade?

stick, I use flat blades. Pegas blades have been working very well for me.

JMURRAY16 01-28-2021 08:07 AM

Love this thread and will follow along to see the use of hand tools.
Would love to hear the ďmost valuableĒ hand tools list for an acoustic build in your opinion as well.

Thanks for doing this - really excited to follow along.

jaymarsch 01-28-2021 10:29 AM

I'll enjoy following this thread, Mark. Beautiful wood choices and I am partial for things handmade - so this project is fun to follow for the guitar, the tools and the process. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Best,
Jayne

Mark Hatcher 01-28-2021 12:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jaymarsch (Post 6617772)
I'll enjoy following this thread, Mark. Beautiful wood choices and I am partial for things handmade - so this project is fun to follow for the guitar, the tools and the process. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Best,
Jayne

Great to have have you along Jayne!

jpd 01-28-2021 01:42 PM

Hmmmmmm.....
 
"Bloodwood is harder, stiffer, and heavier that Black Ebony and unlike Black Ebony it rings like glass. It is a very resonate wood with eternal sustain."

Now I'm GASSING for Bloodwood:D

Mark Hatcher 01-28-2021 02:07 PM

Plane Talk
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JMURRAY16 (Post 6617640)
.
Would love to hear the “most valuable” hand tools list for an acoustic build in your opinion as well.

This is well timed! There are many valuable hand tools many of which are hand planes. Planes come in four basic families that I use building guitars; Bench plane, Block planes, Finger planes and Specialty planes.

At this time there is one super star I'd like to talk about from the bench plane family, the smoothing plane. This tool does things that no power tool can do.
It is a finishing tool which when properly set up and used truly optimizes the look and functionality of a wood surface:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...552023ef_c.jpg

Here is a close picture of the Swiss alpine Spruce soundboard I am using on this guitar. The surface has been sanded as it normally would be for gluing or finishing:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...870ce2ca_c.jpg

Here is the same top ready for finish using the smoothing plane:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...e710907b_c.jpg

The planed surface is much shinier and the grain shows much better with more depth and chatoyance. That's because the surface has not been shredded by the abrasive action of sandpaper and the porous surface has not become all jammed up with sawdust.

You get better glue and finish adhesion to a planed surface. Important things like the braces, sides and bridge are going to stick better and hold longer. The wood will even look better while doing it!

Now lets talk about accuracy. One thing I needed to upgrade was my micrometer. With a high resolution micrometer I can gauge the depth of the plane's cut by measuring the thickness of the fine ribbons of wood being shaved:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...0d196d43_c.jpg

I'm pulling just under .001" in this photo. You can almost see through that. The mouth of the plane is adjustable in front of the cutting edge to control the consistency of the cut.

To insure the plane's blade is not leaving edge grooves when doing a large surface I use this plane hammer:

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...1505258d_c.jpg

The way it works is I take a a shaving on a piece of test wood and the use the micrometer to measure the two edges of the ribbon. I use the hammer to just tap the back sides of the plane blade until the ribbon edges exactly match. The hammer head is brass so it doesn't mar the sides of the blade. The right hammer makes this set up easy.

https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/...1f523a01_c.jpg

No sawdust, no dust mask, no dust collector, no ear protection, no noise just the sound of the wood doing my bidding!

Lonzo 01-28-2021 02:31 PM

Amazing to see the difference in that top surface, quite convincing, besides the other benefits you list... and a clue for the hammer... since I stop by your flickr page at times I saw that and couldnít figure out why that was there...
fascinating.
It is quite obvious you do something you love and live. Congrats !

magirus 01-28-2021 02:38 PM

It's marvellous to see you working this way with these tools, bravo! :)

Mark Hatcher 01-28-2021 05:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jpd (Post 6617981)
"Bloodwood is harder, stiffer, and heavier that Black Ebony and unlike Black Ebony it rings like glass. It is a very resonate wood with eternal sustain."

Now I'm GASSING for Bloodwood:D

Iíve been gassing to make a guitar with this Bloodwood for a long time now. I bought a nice sized board of it and re-sawed a number of back and sides sets. The big advantage of doing it this way is if a side breaks while bending I have a number of sisters to try again.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lonzo (Post 6618026)
Amazing to see the difference in that top surface, quite convincing, besides the other benefits you list... and a clue for the hammer... since I stop by your flickr page at times I saw that and couldnít figure out why that was there...
fascinating.
It is quite obvious you do something you love and live. Congrats !

Thanks Lonzo, I do love what I get to do. I love working with these tools but,
in this thread Iím trying to separate out the actual advantages hand tools bring to the quality of my work.

Quote:

Originally Posted by magirus (Post 6618035)
It's marvellous to see you working this way with these tools, bravo! :)

Thanks magirus!

Guitars44me 01-28-2021 08:28 PM

NICE!!!
 
This thread is too cool for school. Thank you for sharing all this. Really interesting!!!

Go hand crafting, Go

Paul


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