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Finishing

Finish Material

After a lot of thought I decided to use Tru-oil to finish the guitar. I have seen a number of guitars finished like this and like the look of it. Also, it is relatively easy to apply at home (i.e. you don't need a spray booth !)

Sanding

The neck was shaped very slowly (it took quite a few hours of slow steady sanding before I was happy). The whole guitar was then sanded through the grades of paper (120, 240, 400 and 1000 grit + 0000 wire wool).

Bridge Position

The position of the bridge needs to be determined exactly. I used a straight edge to mark the position from the nut to the 12th fret, then moved it up so that I marked twice the distance. I then added some compensation (2mm for the high E and 5mm for the low E). The bridge needs to be centrally located and not rotated, so measurements are made from frets to the string centres to true it up.

Masking The Fingerboard And Bridge

I then masked the bridge location (a mask was made 2mm smaller than the bridge - first image) as well as the fingerboard and sound hole. If you look closely in the second image you can see the bridge mask.

Sanding Sealer And Pore Filler

There is a recommended sealer and pore filler for Tru-oil so I used this first on the guitar. I ended up putting on three coats and sanding back with 0000 wire wool each time. The following two images show the guitar drying after the first coat of sealer.

I ended up putting on three coats of sealer and filler. Not all the deep grain and pores were filled, but I decided to fill these with Tru-oil.

Tru-Oil

I applied the Tru-oil with a pad made from an old T-shirt.

Until all the grain was filled, I cut back quite severely with 800 grit wet and dry. Then, once the grain was fully filled (mostly on the neck), I used 0000-grade wire wool. After about 5-6 coats it started looking really, really nice.

It was then left for a week for the finish to fully cure:

At this point I decided to glue the bridge on. After that I will polish it with some buffing compund and rub in wax polish.


Glue Bridge

Bridge Position

The position of the bridge needs to be recalculated. I used a straight edge to mark the position from the nut to the 12th fret, then moved it up so that I marked twice the distance. I then added some compensation (2.5mm for the high E and 5.5mm for the low E). The bridge needs to be centrally located and not rotated, so measurements are made from frets to the string centres to true it up. I also used string to form a straight line to make sure the bridge was aligned correctly.

Gluing

I used the caul I made for gluing the bridge plate to the top to add extra strength to the back of the soundboard when gluing the bridge. It also enabled the clamps to clear the cross braces. I bent an offcut from the back to use as a caul for the top of the bridge. I drilled 4mm holes for screws (coated in beeswax) to clamp the main part of the bridge and used the home made 6" cam clamps for the wings. Then I put on plenty of Titebond, clamped it down, removed the masking tape and made sure I cleaned all the squeeze out off the soundboard and bridge.


Setup

Ream Bridge Pin Holes

First the bridge pin holes need to be reamed out. I just used some wet and dry paper and sand paper wrapped around a pin to ream the holes out to the right size and shape, rather than buy an expensive five degree tapered reamer.

Shaping Nut

I cut a pencil in half length-ways so as to mark the bottom of the frets on the nut blank (see the picture below). Rather than buying expensive nut files, I improvised by cutting teeth in a set of feeler gauges which a Dremel. This worked really well.

Shaping Saddle

The saddle was pretty straight forward to shape once the nut slots were cut to size.

All Done !

I have decided to leave the pickguard off as I will only be finger picking on this guitar and it looks so much nicer without it.

Click the images above for larger photos.

I will take some better pictures when I can get outdoors to set some up.

Final Comments

I am absolutely delighted with the sound and playability of the guitar. It has astonished me by how good it is (I really am a bit shocked !). The sound is changing all the time, but it really does compare very well with my Taylor. It has been a fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend the experience.

What Next ?

I am already planning my next projects - the first will be a solid body electric, like a PRS, but made with all English woods - sycamore and walnut. I will also build a short scale rosewood 000.