1/13/2015 9:03:09 AM
On Sunday I spent some time over at Virgil’s as we started work on my carved top. As you may or may not remember, my top was a big chunk of amazing flamed maple. Virgil sanded & trimmed the edges so that he could cut the board in half. The reason for this is to get a bookmatch, or mirroring of the grain. During the sanding, the smell was similar to pancakes – the sawdust had an almost sweet smell since maple syrup comes fr… uh, you get this, I’m sure I don’t need to explain.
My board was a bit high in moisture content, so Virgil said we’d saw it and he’d take a deeper reading. If it remains high, he’ll send it off to sit in a drying kiln for a few weeks which is fine with me. He has other guitars in progress ahead of mine, the neck & inlay need to be done first anyway, and the last thing I want to do is rush perfection.
First he used a jointer to ensure the edge was perfectly flat. He had the clearance on the jointer blades down to .05mm – the man makes my OCD look positively carefree
Each pass took fractions of a mm off the wood. In the first pic, you can see a large gap where the wood meets the table. The second pic shows why – rough edges as the jointer is taking it down. By the time he was done, you couldn’t have split a hair and slid it between the straight edge and the maple.
The next step was to use the drum sander to smooth out & flatten the sides so that the surfaces will be perfect for resawing. Any imperfections in the shape of the edges would transfer to the resawing cut as the side was being pushed against a fence.
This was the nerve-wracking part – resawing. Using the bandsaw, Virgil cuts the board in half. If the blade wanders or the edges aren’t just right, the cut can be imperfect which could lead to poor bookmatching or worse, an unusable chunk of wood.
However, the cut was damned near perfect and the grain ended up simply amazing.
There were many awesome things about this experience. Seeing the inside of the wood for the first time was awe inspiring. Watching Virgil ply his trade was another. But the one thought that kept pounding through my head the whole time was “in a few months, that chunk of wood right there will be a guitar that I am playing”. And that’s just friggin’ cool.