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Old 12-05-2015, 09:02 PM
Kenneth Casper's Avatar
Kenneth Casper Kenneth Casper is offline
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Default Casper Build - Indonesian RW Huron for Beth

I haven't posted a build thread for awhile. During the summer, we purchased a new home, which required moving the shop along with everything else. I am finally getting some time to get into the shop and have my next two builds started. One of these builds is for Beth, who found me here on AGF, so I thought I'd post some pictures of her build as I putter along with it over the next couple of months.

I have had several requests for a grand size model, so when Beth also asked for one, I decided the time had come to get one designed. I have named this new model the Huron (all my guitars are named after the bigger lakes surrounding Michigan), and Beth will get the first one. As with any new model, I needed to design and build new templates and molds, and I finally finished the last of these this past week.

Beth wants a bit bigger guitar without the guitar feeling big. As we talked about what Beth is looking for in her guitar, I proposed a Manzer wedge. Beth liked the idea, so I reached out to Linda who gave me her blessing. The wedge is really only happening on the lower bout, which will keep the neck joint area looking symmetrical.

The guitar we are building will have Indonesian RW for the back and sides with a red spruce soundboard. The other details, I'll add as we go through the build.

With that introduction, here is what I have done to date. The rosette is a design that Beth had seen elsewhere and liked, so I worked it up using Amboyna burl for the wood and a strip of zipflex for the shell:



Here is the finished rosette:


And a shot of the whole soundboard:


The back is pretty spectacular. The yellows and orange in the Indonesian RW really pop:


The other night, I cut the profile for the rims. These were a bit tricky to work up due to the wedge design:


Today I bent the rims, and the Indonesian RW was very well behaved:


The rims are in the mold, and I'll start working on the neck and tail blocks and kerfed linings during the upcoming week:


Thanks for looking!

Ken
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Old 12-06-2015, 03:30 AM
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Very pretty wood and rosette. I'm curious about how you cut those curved burl strips.
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:12 AM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Doesn't using a wedge on only the lower bout mean the back will have to be bent in a very asymmetrical way? It seems like that would be quite a challenge. That rosewood is truly beautiful, and so is the rosette. Looking forward to more reports!
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Old 12-06-2015, 08:48 AM
bmh1 bmh1 is offline
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Default My guitar!!

This is my guitar! I've never done a custom build before, and I'm very happy that Ken is building this guitar. I've been on his build list since last fall and, after a 6 month period where Ken couldn't build because he was moving, we've now been underway for a few weeks. I've been getting lots of pictures of molds being designed and worked up, as this is the first guitar Ken will have built that is this "grand" size. Ken suggested we do a build thread together for this guitar- after lurking on all of your build threads for several years, it seemed like it would fun to try it. So here we are!

When I was in Michigan last fall, I was able to play a number of Ken's guitars, and they all had such a rich, full tone and a great feel. He also just builds beautiful instruments and is a wonderful, patient person. He was very welcoming when I stopped by last year, and Bandit (his gorgeous Australian Shepherd) was very nice and welcoming to my golden retriever as well. We hit it off and I picked woods that day, and the dog and I signed up! She understands this is my toy and she's not to touch it- we've already negotiated this.

The one "gig" I have regularly is a small, contemplative church service that meets weekly in the chapel of the larger church. There are usually about 20 people, everyone sings, it is primarily a "sung service," and I provide the accompaniment for the singing. I fingerpick if another guitarist is there to strum, otherwise I just strum and keep the beat. We don't plug in. I have a light touch and so trying to find an instrument that works for this setting has been challenging- I need it to project and I really like a more lush tone and I don't want to play a large guitar. I love the rumble of a bigger instrument, but I'm concerned about it being too big. Ken has been very patient as we've gone through this and I've felt a bit like Goldilocks and the 3 bears- too big, too small, too soft... trying to get to "just right." While I will play this instrument often, I have had playing for this service in mind as we talked about my dreams for this guitar.

We decided that this will be Ken's new Huron model. Dimensions:

Upper Bout: 11 5/8"
Lower Bout: 16"
Waist: 9 5/8"
Body Length: 20"
Body at Heel: 3 1/2"
Body at Tail: 4 5/8"

Ken has a 13-fret option, so that's what we're going with. 25" scale. Indonesian Rosewood back and sides, old growth Adirondack spruce top, cocobolo bindings. And a Manzer wedge.

Ken said he wouldn't abandon me to this thread on my own, so I'm counting on him to chime in periodically to answer your questions. He was having withdrawal symptoms after having having no workshop for 6 months, so he's greatly enjoying "making sawdust" again (that's what he told me). He seems to disappear into his workshop for hours and then emails me with progress reports when he surfaces. I'm trusting he will eventually surface to provide his insights on this thread.

John- I have no idea how he cut the burl. One day, he just surfaced from his workshop and sent me pictures of cut burl and a beautiful rosette! That one will have to wait for Ken.

And SJ VanSandt- Ken emailed me the following on Friday night: "What most builders do is cut the rim profiles close to final size, then oncethe rims are assembled, use a huge radius dish covered with sandpaper to sand the profile so it matches the top and back radius. I used a similar approach when I started out, but eventually drew up some 3D models on my computer and cut some templates that I would then trace on the wood, then I cut out the rim with a bandsaw. This was closer, but still needed some clean up with a radius sanding bar once the rims were assembled.

With your new model, I decided to take the whole process a step further. The two rims are now longer symmetrical. One has a higher side in the lower bout, and the other side has a lower side. The rims from the waist to the neck joint are symmetrical, so the back will lie just like normal through that area. However as the back moves towards the tail it will twist to provide the wedge. This makes sanding with a radius dish impossible. I need to get the rims as close as possible to the finished dimensions prior to assembling. So I modeled the wedge on my 3D program and programmed the CNC to cut each side to finished dimensions.

Tonight I cut each side on the CNC. Let's hope my 3D model and programming were correct! I'll bend the sides tomorrow. At which point, I should have a pretty good feel whether they are. I designed the wedge the way I did so the upper bout would look symmetrical when looking down from the neck."

When he surfaced last night, he emailed me that he had gotten the rims bent and "all went swimmingly." If he's happy, I'm happy. Not sure that answers your question, but Ken can elaborate when he has a chance.

I'm looking forward to going through this process and sharing it here!
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Old 12-06-2015, 09:01 AM
bmh1 bmh1 is offline
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Oh- one more thing on SJ's question.... The wedge will max out at .75" Ken thought that would be enough to make the guitar more comfortable for me. Ken did computer modeling and I tried to attach a link for it, but it's not working. On the model he sent, the back looks good.

Last edited by bmh1; 12-06-2015 at 09:05 AM. Reason: link didn't work
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Old 12-06-2015, 10:53 AM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Thanks for the detailed reply to my question, Bmh1. I'm very curious to see what Ken does with the back bracing, which is what will be keeping the back in its final shape, after all. I'm having trouble visualizing how he will get those shaped without a radiused dish. Probably his computer program can work it out, but I know I couldn't!
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Old 12-06-2015, 11:22 AM
roberts roberts is offline
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Quite a nice collection you're building, Beth! Regards....Robert
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Old 12-06-2015, 02:58 PM
bmh1 bmh1 is offline
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Thanks Robert! I am feeling very blessed
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Old 12-06-2015, 04:20 PM
Aubade Acoustics Aubade Acoustics is offline
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Nice looking rosette Ken. I know it will be a beauty.
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Old 12-06-2015, 07:46 PM
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Kenneth Casper Kenneth Casper is offline
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Thanks folks. My slow start on this build has given Beth lots of time to mull options! The wedge is one of these additional options. Thanks for jumping in Beth. I'll add a few additional details below:

SJ, no doubt this wedge design will present some challenges. I tried to overcome the biggest of them, correctly shaping the top of the rims where the back attaches, by cutting the rims to the exact profile prior to bending. I am only putting a 3/8" twist in the back just below the waist, so the back with my standard bracing should be able to manage that. The plan is to glue the linings in just a bit proud of the profiled edge and carefully use a radiused sanding bar with one end resting on the opposite side of the guitar to sand the 15' radius on the linings, taking them down to where they just touch the rim profile. In my head, this works. Stay tuned to see if it will work on the actual build.

John, I cheated with the burl and used my CNC to cut the pieces. I buy my amboyna burl in small blocks, so I have to cut fairly short pieces to inlay. The pieces blend so the cut lines are practically invisible. We are also using amboyna burl around the top perimeter, so I'll be doing more of the same when I get to that.

Ken
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Old 12-15-2015, 06:56 PM
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Kenneth Casper Kenneth Casper is offline
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I made the neck and tail blocks and glued them in along with the linings. Given a few of the questions regarding how I was going to radius the rims of this wedge, I am posting a few more pix. The rims had been cut to the final profile prior to bending. I glued the linings in a bit proud then used my radius sanding bar to sand the linings down the top of the rims. I used care to rest the opposite end of the sanding bar on the opposite rim in a similar location. As my bracing will run across the back with a 15' radius, this should ensure a nice fit. Where I sanded the radius at the top of the upper bout or bottom of the lower bout, I rested the bar on the opposite bout. I set my radius gauge across the rims and swept the other end around the rims in several locations, and it looks good. The twist in the back at the waist isn't that severe, so I am confident with the back braced, it should fit good and tight.

I'll post a few more pix once I get the back glued on. BTW, this Indonesian RW has the greatest coloring, and I am really enjoying working with it.

Ken

Here are the rims with the back lining being glued in:


Sanding the linings with the radiused sanding bar:


Checking the radius at the lower bout:


The end result is a wedge only in the lower bout:
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Last edited by Kenneth Casper; 12-29-2015 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 12-18-2015, 08:57 AM
SJ VanSandt SJ VanSandt is offline
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Beautiful work. That's really spectacular wood!
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Old 12-28-2015, 12:37 PM
bmh1 bmh1 is offline
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Default Holiday Update from Ken

Holiday week greetings to you all!

Ken has had a busy few days in the workshop (and plans on having some additional full days this week) so the Huron is moving along. He sent me about the best holiday "card" I've ever received- lots of new pictures! Here are some of them:

Gluing on side reinforcements


Rims ready for the top and back




Gluing on the back reinforcement strip


Using hot hide glue to glue on the back braces


Ken said he would glue the bracing on the top today and while the glue is drying, he will shape the bracing on the back. He thinks he may even get the back glued on this week. He's building another beautiful walnut OM along with mine, so he's busy. But the box should be closed up soon!

Thanks for looking! beth
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Old 12-28-2015, 01:21 PM
Rod True Rod True is offline
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Looking great Ken!!!
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Old 12-28-2015, 08:39 PM
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Kenneth Casper Kenneth Casper is offline
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Thanks Rod! Been awhile since we traded greetings on a forum! Hope you have been well.

Yes, Beth, I did get the top braces glued on today. But of more interest is I glued the back to the rims! I spent some time shaping the mahogany back braces and gave the back a good sanding. I then notched the rims so the back braces can pass through the rims, checked the fit, and glued on the back.

I'm really happy with how this wedge turned out. I was able to preserve the symmetry in the upper bout while giving the lower bout a nice wedge. The seam where the back attaches to the rim is nice and tight all the way around.

Tomorrow, my wife and I are off to see the new Star Wars, but I should be able to get the top tuned and maybe even get it glued to the rims Depends on whether I want to get this box closed or move my other built along to the same point.

Ken

Using a small thumb plane to shape the mahogany back braces:


Notching the rims for the back braces:


Gluing on the back:


The back is on!:


Another view of the back through the rims:
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Last edited by Kenneth Casper; 12-31-2015 at 11:40 PM.
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