For the next two weeks, I’ve been given the opportunity to participate in the bi-annual Hancock Guitar Building Workshop… I was so excited to do this for so long I’ve been struggling to sleep the past week. Hancock Guitars are in the Gold Coast region of Queensland so I’ve found myself a little room to make as mine and Simba (my pup’s) home for then next two weeks.
Here’s the design of what I’ll hopefully be making…. (pending I don’t screw up majorly haha)
Day 1 was pretty cruisy. We settled into our work benches and Sean got us started on practising inlay work by giving us a clover to saw out of abalone shell. I totally underestimated how hard it would be to do this but luckily it ended up looking like a somewhat clover. After spending half the day sawing it out, we then routed it into a piece of rosewood (which smells like hot chocolate when you smell the sawdust).
Once we slowly niggled out a spot for the pearl to sit in we mixed up a 2 part resin together to set it into the wood. The trick here is to mix a fair amount of the sawdust from the same type of wood to set the resin into a similar colour.
I then got to sift through some Queensland Blackwood to choose my pieces for the guitar. I decided to go with Australian wood as I wanted something more relevant to me – and plus it’s a lot harder to come across when you’re shopping for a nice guitar. I liked the sound of making a guitar in Queensland, from Queensland wood, made by me… who grew up in the same state.
Most of the pieces are cut so they reflect each other, they call it book pages for that reason.
I’ve never used a band saw before so I let Dane show me how its done first. Once I chose my pieces for the front and back we just trimmed it a little to get the grain straight and lined up nicely.
I’m doing the workshop with one other participant, Tor who is interested into getting into some serious guitar building. He’s building a dreadnaught out of mahogany sides and back and a spruce top. This is him working the rosette to fit into his guitar. It took a lot of finesse sanding and trimming to fit them in.
This is the form ply jig that we used to glue my two sides together. I actually had no idea that every single guitar is made out of two halves. I guess it’s too difficult to find trees large enough to be able to make it out of one piece. They make such a good job lining it up on most guitars that I just never noticed! The two halves were glued and then tied up with rope and wedges for extra tension to hold them into place as it dried.
I can’t believe how dependent guitar building is on glue. It is just amazing. And to think that the glue is stronger than the wood itself. Here, Tor is using Titebond to glue the rosette into place and using a piece of wood to wedge it in to the groove.
Tor’s rosette getting clamped for drying…
As we wait for things to dry, we’ll be working on our inlay. I ended up going with my name thanks to Sean’s encouragement. Though I kind of regretted it when I started as it is just so much harder than I expected. I decided to use mother of pearl which is the white shell (which is home to pearls growing in it, in case you didn’t know).
Slowly but surely… I’m sawing it out.
Using a jewellery saw we slowly get through the shell……. It took me a while to get the hang of it. I snapped over 5 blades by the end of the day.
What a great start to the workshop! I am so excited to take on each day and be learning, not only the art of guitar building but just general useful woodworking skills. Today was the first time I ever used a jewellery saw, filers and a router!