Tools and Jigs


Tools and Jigs: An American Lutherie Anthology


Tools and Jigs is the newest title in our series of American Lutherie Anthology books. It’s a soft cover, 100-page book with articles selected from the 2006-2011 issues of American Lutherie. Unlike the original issues of AL, this book is printed in full color.

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The Never-Ending Barber Chair Workbench

by Michael Sandén

What kind of lutherie workbench has a stick shift? One that is made out of a barber chair! Swedish luthier Michael Sandén was a barber in a former life, and first reported this interesting idea in 1987. Later he overhauled it to fit his changing methods.

Product Review: SawStop Table Saw

by James Condino

Why does it take two guys to play this one harp guitar? Look closely. It is because they each have just one hand. They lost their hands in woodworking accidents. Don’t let that happen to you. This article is a review of the SawStop, a table saw that stops instantly if the blade touches flesh. Could be the best money you ever spent.

Sixty Seconds or Less

by Daniel Fobert

Daniel Fobert was inspired by Fred Carlson’s Universal Worktable to make one for carved-top instruments. He can set an entire array of clamps for gluing on a top in under one minute flat! See how he does it.

Product Review: LuthierTOOL Tools

by John Mello

Veteran luthier John Mello gives detailed reviews of the edge vise, head slotter, and rosette cutter from Chris Klumper’s LuthierTOOL Company.

The Universal Vacuum Island

from his 2004 GAL Convention workshop by Charles Fox

Lutherie legend and jigmeister supremo Charles Fox is a true believer in vacuum for holding guitar bodies and gluing things together. He describes his vacuum island, a self-contained unit that can function in even a tiny lutherie shop.

Making a Brass Plane

from his 2004 GAL Convention workshop by Ken Altman

Bowmaker Ken Altman guided several luthiers through the process of making a small brass plane in a hands-on workshop at our 2004 GAL Convention. Here’s a step-by-step pictorial of cutting out, soldering, and shaping a lovely and practical tool.

Spherical Workboard Update

by Brent Benfield

Benfield was an early advocate of spherically dished workboards when he first wrote about using them in 1997. Later he refined his method, and he brings us up to date in this article.

Breakaway Clamp

by Jeffrey R. Elliott

Jeff Elliott designed and built a simple lightweight clamp especially for getting to the far reaches of a classical guitar soundboard. The jaws pop apart so the lower one can easily be inserted into the soundhole. Clever and elegant.

Fox Bender Upgrades and Bending Updates

by John Calkin

Over at Huss & Dalton, they bend more sides than the average luthier, but fewer than, say, Taylor or Martin. They do it by maximizing the effectiveness of the familiar Fox-style bender. Their tricks include spring-steel sheets, brown paper, aluminum foil, and “the magic juice.”

Thicknessing Router Jig with Magnet Holddowns

by John Park

Here’s a compact and inexpensive alternative to an abrasive planer. The thing that makes work so well is the use of high-powered magnets and steel balls to hold the work down to the platen.

Homemade Edge-Following Bearings

by Greg Nelson

Modify a pattern-following router bit to have exactly the bearing diameter that you want.

Cheap Machines: Table Saw

by John Calkin

Power tools are cheap these days. Does that mean they are a good bargain? Would you even want to use one of those fold-up units from the Home Depot store? Our curmudgeonly reviewer casts the cold, hard eye of experience upon one such saw and gives us a reality check.

Charles Fox Benders, Old and New

from Charles’ 2008 GAL Convention workshop by Jonathon Peterson

Charles Fox invented the Universal Side Bender back in the ’70s, and now the majority of everybody uses some permutation of it. Charles later had several new ideas about it and built a new version with some new features. He learned a lot in the process, and he shares it all with us. That’s how the GAL works, folks.

The Binding Frame

by R.M. Mottola

There are many ways to clamp the binding of a guitar into its recess while the glue dries. Here’s one we have not seen before, involving an MDF frame and some rubber wedges.

Cheap Machines: Drill Press

by John Calkin

If you are starting a lutherie shop, a drill press is one of the first things you should get. And you don’t need an expensive one. Calkin likes ’em old, dirty, and cheap. And he shows us a bunch of basic operations that get the work done fast.

Product Review: Two Dovetail Neck Jigs

by Roger Alan Skipper

You want to cut clean and reliable neck dovetails with a router. Do you get the expensive aluminum jig, or the much more affordable plywood one? Skipper runs two commercial neck jigs through their paces. Read his detailed and lavishly illustrated review, then you decide.

A Lower-Tech Ukulele Side Bender

by John Calkin

Calkin worked out his bender chops both in his own work and as a part of the Huss & Dalton team. Here he shows us a form that is easy to make, and a simple process using a heat blanket, a couple pieces of sheet metal, a pistol-grip clamp, and a cheap thermometer.

Legend of the Veneer Saw

by Federico Sheppard

The really good veneer has always been sawn, not sliced. It's rare these days, and veneer saws are relics of the industrial revolution. But there are still a couple of shops in France producing highest-quality sawn veneer on antique equipment. Our intrepid globe-trotter Federico Sheppard sought them out and brings us a photo essay.

Evolution of an Archtop Brace Fitting Jig

from his 2008 GAL Convention workshop by Tom Ribbecke

Tom Ribbecke developed a relatively simple jig to make fitting a brace to an archtop guitar more precise and efficient. He then collaborated with coworkers at the Ribbecke Guitar Company to make a more elaborate gizmo that does the job even better. He shows both jigs in detail and describes the working process.