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  #1  
Old 01-14-2021, 09:24 AM
warfrat73 warfrat73 is online now
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Default Where to invest tool $$ for first build?

Many years ago I started a build that I never really got off the ground because of a few reasons... being a broke grad student, depression, things like that.

I've decided to give it another go. It's been a few moves since that first effort and most of the tools and materials that I bought for it are long gone.

I've ordered the materials to build the box, and if I get that done to a satisfactory level, will order the neck materials. I didn't want to spend too much on this since there's at least a fair chance that I'll start, but not finish it (I know myself).

I got a good deal on a nicely quartered, but otherwise plain, set of bubinga from ebay. And a 2a Englemann top (wouldn't have been my first choice, but the price was right) and the rest of the other materials coming from LMII. It was only after I ordered the wood that I read bubinga can be hard to bend... so we'll see how that goes, the set was only $45 though, so not the end of the world...

I have Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology by Cumpiano and Natelson, and the dreadnought plans that came with it.

I have a modest amount of woodworking skills. But patience will likely be my biggest struggle.

I have on hand the materials to build a body mold. Will build an inexpensive bending rig the old fashioned way.

Planing to buy the plunge router attachment for my Dremel.

Anyway, on to the question:

I have a fairly standard array of hand tools (i.e. hardware store chisels, a couple of small planes, spokeshave, vise, scrapper, Shinto rasp etc.) and handheld power tools (i.e. router, jigsaw, belt sander, dremel etc.), but no highend hand tools or stationary power tools.

My old man offered to buy me a table saw for my birthday... though I might ask him for a bandsaw instead.

If I were to spend $100-200 (and maybe another $200 of my father's money, since he offered) to upgrade my tools in either quality or functionality, where might that money best be spent? Better chisels? Better plane? Router table?

Edit: Another Question: I know I'll to buy some more clamps too. What are the viable options to a go-bar setup for gluing braces?
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Last edited by warfrat73; 01-14-2021 at 09:30 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-14-2021, 10:11 AM
Alan Carruth Alan Carruth is offline
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Get some good sharpening stones and learn to use them. A small bench grinder can be good to have; get a white or pink wheel rather than the grey one if you can; they run cooler.

I have a few Starret combination inch-metric rules at 150 mm, and would be lost without them both for measurements and as straight edges. You'll need some sort of good measuring tools.

A go-bar deck doesn't need to be fancy. Screw a piece of plywood to the ceiling above your bench, and get some dowels or sticks the right length. These will be the cheapest clamps you can get. Nobody ever had enough clamps...

A solid and flat bench top is one of the most important tools. You can use sheet rock screws to put together several layers of plywood or even flake board; only the top surface has to be really good. Make the top heavy and flat, screw it down to a solid base, and screw that to the wall and floor. I like a peninsula style myself, which allows access from three sides. Get a bench vice for the sort end, and drill some holes for stops in the bench top.

I can't drill a really perpendicular hole without a drill press, and since I have one I use a drill press planer to thickness stock.

With a drill press you can use large dowel stock, thread rod, and wing nuts to make spool clamps. It takes about an afternoon to make fifty and they're really handy for gluing on the top and back.

I'm particularly fond of heavy scrapers. My students liked them so much that we used to make them in classes, but it was a pain. One of my old students has a brother-in-law who runs a machine shop, so we worked up a design he could make, and got it to Stew-Mac. I understand it's been quite a success. I don't get any royalties on that; I'm just happy that I don't have to pull pieces of red-hot steel out of the little oven and dunk them in an oil bath that catches fire any more. Check it out.

It's hard to say which is 'better', a band saw or a table saw. Each will do things the other won't do as well. Flip for that.

I could go on. You don't need a lot of machines to start with. Get decent hand tools, learn to keep them in good shape, and measure often.
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Old 01-14-2021, 11:01 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Carruth View Post
Nobody ever had enough clamps...
I think I can honestly say I have enough clamps.

Quote:
Get a bench vice for the sort end, and drill some holes for stops in the bench top.
For guitar work, I've found a bench-top vice to be preferable to a standard woodworking vice. I've used a Versa Vice for decades, but others bench-top vices can also work well. (The Versa Vice went out of production a long time ago but there are now at least two modern versions of it: LMI sells one, Rockler another.)

Quote:
I'm particularly fond of heavy scrapers.
Thank you, Alan, for bringing those to market. I use them and like them very much. I'm still figuring out how best to sharpen them - I have, but almost never use, a grinder. It seems they can be re-burred between grindings using a standard burnisher.

Quote:
It's hard to say which is 'better', a band saw or a table saw. Each will do things the other won't do as well. Flip for that.
For me, a bandsaw is indispensable. About the only thing guitar-related for which I use a table saw for is slotting fingerboards, which can easily be done using hand tools. (The last one I slotted using a laser cutter/engraver.)

Quote:
You don't need a lot of machines to start with.
True. For some years, I had only a router and bandsaw and a handful of hand tools. Anything beyond that is mostly to speed things up and/or reduce manual effort.

Quote:
Get decent hand tools, learn to keep them in good shape, and measure often.
If you already have basic chisels and planes, those are adequate. As Alan said, learn to set them up and sharpen them well. (One of the people from whom I learned is Rob Cosman, robcosman.com. He has a variety of free videos on basic sharpening and setup and is an excellent teacher.)

I second having a good workbench. Good lighting is also essential, even if only bright task lighting. For guitar making, perhaps I under use bench dog holes: I commonly use them in more general woodworking.

I'd also suggest making a bench hook and a shooting board. I use both extensively.

I'm not fond of Dremels for much beyond inlay work: if you already have an adequate router, and don't plan on doing much inlay work, I wouldn't buy a base for the Dremel.

I don't use a router table much in guitar making. I use it for truss rod slots and cutting dovetails, both of which could be done without a router table. Buying a router table would be low on my list. (We used a router table setup for joining tops and backs at the guitar making school that I attended, but I don't recommend it.)

You will need something to measure top, back and side thicknesses. Commercial thickness gauges are expensive but you can make your own with a dial indicator inexpensively.

At some point, you will also need tools for making nut slots. Old-school needle files are inexpensive and work well: modern gauged nut slotting files are relatively expensive and are nice to have but not essential.

Making a body (outside) mold is a lot of work for one guitar. You might want to investigate work board methods that don't involve a mold. The version I learned involves a flat, guitar-shaped board with slots. Dowels are used vertically in the slots to create a moveable sort of outside mold. This sort of arrangement:

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Old 01-14-2021, 11:54 AM
warfrat73 warfrat73 is online now
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Thank you Alan and Charles... and, really, thank you for all you do for this forum, I've learned a lot from both of you over the past decade or so that I've been a member here.

I actually do have a bench grinder. I always forget about it because I inherited it when the previous owner left it in the basement when I bought the house.

I have an Arkansas stone that I use to sharpen things in the "shop," and I have a combo Japanese Water stone 1000/6000 that I use to sharpen my kitchen knives. Should I invest more there, or worry more about technique. I'm certainly more adept at sharpening knives than chisels, but I know the basics.

I have a decent enough, and reasonably large, shop vise that i can mount and unmount from the bench with clamps (and I was meaning to install t-nut anchors in the bench to mount and dismount it... I have them, and it'll take all of 15 minutes when I do get around to it).

I have a decent work bench with lighting and a couple of work tables that I can move around and extend the work surface (once I tame the clutter beast):

And, again I kind of forgot, but I do have a cheap set of nut slotting files that I picked up to do setup work.

So I'll look into sharpening technique and some measuring tools, and alternative to building a mold.
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  #5  
Old 01-14-2021, 01:51 PM
phavriluk phavriluk is online now
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Default A thought

I found workbenches more useful to me if I can walk around them. They stay lots cleaner, as when I had benches against the wall I'd might as well have been banking a fire with all the stuff I pushed back so I could have ten inches of benchtop.

And something to sit on when working at the bench...
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Old 01-14-2021, 02:25 PM
warfrat73 warfrat73 is online now
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Like I said, I do also have two sturdy work tables that I can move around (once I clear the clutter). They're 2'x4' each. I also have stools and more lighting down there. Though the basement has collected a bit more clutter since the day I built that bench a couple of years ago.
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Old 01-14-2021, 04:17 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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If you are planning to hand plane tops, backs and sides, those benches are going to make it tough. They aren't sufficiently rigid. They will rack and move around. Hand planing is hard work.

If it is flat, the 1000/6000 water stone is adequate for honing. Usually, a second stone - or abrasive sheet on a flat surface - are used to flatten them. They don't have to be all that flat for knives, but they do need to be flat for chisels and plane blades. You'll use the grinder or courser stones for shaping cutting edges.
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Old 01-14-2021, 04:47 PM
warfrat73 warfrat73 is online now
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Any thoughts on shoring them up? I'm a bit hesitant to start from scratch on those.

What I was thinking about doing was anchoring the larger workbench and then, setting up one of the smaller tables as a peninsula or "L." The work surfaces line up closely, and then I could use the the larger bench to anchor the smaller one with clamps or something. Or else I could add some weight to it?

I'm a bit embarrassed that I used drywall screws for them. But I tighten those joints up with lag bolts.
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Old 01-14-2021, 05:14 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Your current workbench is essentially comprised of pinned two-force members. Shore them up by using cross members or by facing them with plywood, particle board or MDF. You'll probably need to bolt to the floor the one for hand planing.

I attempted to find a quick, simple explanation of two-force members, but didn't find one that didn't get too complicated for general consumption. This illustration was the best that I found:



In the image on the right, the box is comprised of four two-force members. A force applied to any side of the box, will introduce a moment (torque) causing the box to deform into a rhombus, a deformation called "racking". Adding cross bracing adds an additional force on each member, creating four three-force members that can counter the moment of an applied force. Doing so will reduce/eliminate racking. Fastening a sheet or "skin" to the members (sides) of the box can further reduce racking.

If you face each side of your bench - the ends, front and back - you won't have access to the interior for storage. Facing the ends and back will reduce racking considerably.

Test your current bench by pushing on the edge of the bench top. If it deforms significantly, you'll be fighting your bench while you are trying to plane. Your work, fastened to the bench, gets pushed away from the plane while you are trying to plane it. The plane blade won't actually engage the work until the bench deforms as far as it is going to - or breaks: the work runs away from you as you try to plane it. After each stroke, the bench returns to its starting position to be pushed away on the next stroke. If the amount of movement of the bench is sufficient, it can make accurate planing very difficult as you chase the work around with your plane (or chisel).

Not all benches need to be that rigid. It depends on for what you are going to use the bench.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 01-14-2021 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 01-14-2021, 05:21 PM
warfrat73 warfrat73 is online now
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Thanks. I was going to mention cross members as another possibility to help, but it slipped my mind as I was writing.

I should have enough scrap lying around for that. And I have a fresh sheet of 3/4" particle board that I was going to use to make a mold or two.
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  #11  
Old 01-14-2021, 06:32 PM
warfrat73 warfrat73 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charles Tauber View Post

Test your current bench by pushing on the edge of the bench top. If it deforms significantly, you'll be fighting your bench while you are trying to plane. Your work, fastened to the bench, gets pushed away from the plane while you are trying to plane it. The plane blade won't actually engage the work until the bench deforms as far as it is going to - or breaks: the work runs away from you as you try to plane it. After each stroke, the bench returns to its starting position to be pushed away on the next stroke. If the amount of movement of the bench is sufficient, it can make accurate planing very difficult as you chase the work around with your plane (or chisel).

Not all benches need to be that rigid. It depends on for what you are going to use the bench.
I went and tested it a little while ago. There's a little bit of racking. But they're not too bad. All of the horizontal surfaces on all of those benches are framed out ~16" on center, and are pretty stiff, which helps.

But I will add some cross members and do some facing to stiffen them up, and figure out some anchoring.
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"What have I learned but the proper use for several tools" -Gary Snyder

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Old 01-14-2021, 07:01 PM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warfrat73 View Post
I went and tested it a little while ago... they're not too bad.
If they aren't too bad, there's no need to reinforce them. When you try planing tops, backs and sides, you'll know if they are rigid enough.
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Old 01-15-2021, 09:33 AM
DickHutchings DickHutchings is offline
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Start building and you'll quickly find out. Be prepared to open your wallet.
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Old 01-15-2021, 11:34 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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One of the things I wanted to suggest, and forgot, was humidity control. It doesn't necessarily have to be expensive or elaborate, but is necessary in many climates.
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Old 01-15-2021, 03:55 PM
warfrat73 warfrat73 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DickHutchings View Post
Start building and you'll quickly find out. Be prepared to open your wallet.
I'm well aware of that... which is fine if I stick with it. Just don't want to start throwing too much money at it and not stick with it (like I did the first time around). Thus the easing into it part.
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"What have I learned but the proper use for several tools" -Gary Snyder

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