Friday, February 18, 2005


Out with the old, in with the new

I went on an eBay spree this last week and sold off almost all my recording gear that I don't use much at all anymore. This has nothing to do with guitar building, except for that it funded my recent purchase of the Performax 10-20 drum sander (which I posted about before), a Delta dust collector (which is still on backorder), and a Ryobi BT3100 table saw.

I'm about to build a stand with locking wheels for the Performax, so I can roll it out of the way when I'm not using it. That may be my big project for the weekend. I can't really use the sander anyway until I get the dust collector.

Once I get all that stuff set up and ready to go, things should move along at a quicker clip. My shop is slowly getting more organized, mostly out of necessity as I add stuff to it. I started working out a floor plan for how the shop will be laid out. Right now it's set up in a temporary fashion as I need to finish stripping paint from the hardwood floors, fill in the many nail holes, sand it all flat, and then refinish it. My "shop" is a spare upstairs bedroom in my house, in case I haven't mentioned that before.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Making Radiused Dishes

I don't think "radiused" is a word, but I use it anyhow. In my last post I showed a pictured of the rails I made for the router to ride on to make spherical and cylindrical sanding boards out of mdf.

Here's a pic of one dish that is almost finished. Those are two 24" diameter, 3/4" thick pieces of mdf glued together. I did this to add stiffness and prevent warpage, otherwise it gets pretty thin towards the center with the 15' radius. I still had a couple inches to go on this one.

I'll explain the Captain Safety getup in a little bit.

I started at the outer edge, and worked my my way towards the center in kind of a spiral pattern as I spun the dish. Often the bit would take hold and would actually start spinning the disc for me, though it quickly would get too fast to where I didn't feel like I was in control. Anytime you're handling a 1/2" wide 2" long bit with a supersharp edge spinning at 21,000 RPM's, it's a good idea if you feel in control the whole time.

Here's a finished dish. I decided to make two of them since I had gone through the trouble of setting this all up.

The next one is cylindrical instead of a spherical dish, so it uses rectangular pieces of mdf. I added the second set of rails to the base, and clamped on straight pieces on each side to guide it under the router rails. Then I would move the router back and forth along the rails, taking about a 1/4" wide swipe at the board each time. The boards are 24" long, so that's 96 times of pushing the router along the rails per board. I made two of them and I was a little worn out.

I had read warnings about how much dust will be generated making these things, but I didn't quite wrap my brain around the concept till yesterday. I really wish I would have made a vacuum attachment for my router jig so a vacuum would be running the whole time. The first two pictures were taken after I had vacuumed away piles of dust. The third picture illustrates that a little better, though keep in mind that amount of dust pictured was generated only buy routing out a couple inches of the 24" length of the sanding board. There was dust everywhere.

Here are some tips for those considering making these yourself:
1.) If you don't need a cylindrical one, and most people don't, you can buy these dishes on eBay for about $40 or so each. Do that.
2.) Get a good respirator. There were times when the wind would shift a bit and I'd have dust blowing up into my face. Those cheap little dust masks don't really do it.
3.) Use goggles. Every once in a while, I'd feel some little chip of something graze my forehead, and I know there were things hitting my goggles that would have not felt comfortable in my eye.
4.) Use ear protection. That router is loud and you'll be running it for long periods of time with your head close to it. I'm sure my neighbors were just loving me yesterday.
5.) Move anything within a ten foot radius of your set up, as it will be covered with dust. I had a bunch of tools on a nearby ledge, and had to clean everything up before I brought it back in. That mdf dust is nasty and sticks to everything.
6.) For real, if you don't need a cylindrical one, and most people don't, you can buy these dishes on eBay for about $40 or so each. Do that.

You still might be confused about why I'm making these things. You'll find out what the deal is later on when I start using them.

Friday, February 04, 2005


The Latest Dish

I'm having to go through a lot of extra steps on this first guitar that I'm making on my own, simply because with every step it seems I need to make or buy some sort of tool or jig. I spent the afternoon making the latest set of jigs which will give me a 24" diameter piece of mdf with a 15 foot radius dish cut out of it, and a 24" long and 19" wide piece of mdf with a cylindrical 25 foot radius cut out of it. It'll be more clear after I actually get done making them.

The fun thing about building guitars is that not only do you get to make neat jigs, you get to make jigs that are used to make other jigs. And occasionally you'll make a jig to make a jig to make a jig. You can see in the picture that I've made a rails for my router to ride on. The one shown has a 15 foot radius along the top of the rails. You can't really see it from the picture, but there is a plywood block fastened to the bottom of the router so it stays centered between the rails. I'll use this to cut the cylindrical and spherical shapes into the mdf. It got dark this evening before I could start routing those out. It has to be done outside because it creates an awful lot of nasty mdf dust.

Why am I making these things? The back of the guitar will have a 15 foot spherical radius, and the top will have a 25 foot cylindrical radius. I'll line these dishes with sandpaper and use them to profile the sides after they are bent, and also to sand the bottoms of the braces. I'll also use them when I'm gluing the braces onto the top and back, to hold everything in the right position. If this sounds confusing, it's only because I'm not explaining it very well.

p.s. I almost forgot to mention, I ordered the Performax 10-20 drum sander this afternoon (the one I pictured a couple posts ago), and a Delta dust collector to use with it... Thank goodness for eBay and all the expensive stuff I had that I don't use anymore.

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