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Quickie Sander Fence

Quickie Sander Fence

by John Calkin

Published online by Guild of American Luthiers, July 2022

 

Every lutherie shop has jigs hanging around. Often, lots of them. Every sort of stringed instrument is easier and faster to build using good jigs. If you decide that you'd like to build all of the instrument types commonly played in America you will accumulate a serious number of jigs.

These days just about all of the most useful jigs can be purchased from a variety of dealers. They are very pretty and often better-made and more useful than a jig we would bother to make in our own shop. Well, prettier, anyhow. If you have entered lutherie in the last fifteen years you may have grown tired of old-timers complaining about this, as if making all of your own jigs was a right of passage that should never be skipped. "In my day we couldn't buy a guitar jig of any kind anywhere! We were lucky to find a book with pictures of guitars, let alone instructions to make them. Huff!"

Well, sometimes we need a jig or fixture (what's the difference, anyhow?) that isn't instrument-specific, but machine-specific. I have vague memories of making a right-angle fence for my 6×48 belt sander. I still have the same sander, so when I rediscovered the jig---er, fixture---a few weeks ago I was glad to see it. But as soon as I turned my back, darn if it didn't go into hiding again. I have bumped around my little shop a number of times searching for it but to no avail.

So, today I made a new one. I remember having to shim the old one to get it square. The new one came out dead on the money. I'll claim that forty years of experience was responsible for that, rather than blind luck. Old-farts in the game are entitled to that. Belt sanders vary enough in design that I won't bother listing any dimensions. I have included enough photos to suggest the jist of it. Anyway, you'll probably want the fence to be longer, or taller, or shaped like an animal for all I know.

I sat it on a thin spacer to clear the belt, and it remained there nicely while I put on the clamps. Use the smallest clamps that will work in order not to bump them against the underside edge of the belt. Good luck.

All photos by John Calkin.
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Questions: Making Your Own Amp

Questions: Making Your Own Amp

by Dave Raley

Originally published in American Lutherie #73, 2003 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Seven, 2015

 

Joe Oliver from cyberspace asks:

Do you know of a manufacturer of guitar amp kits? Years ago my father bought me a Heathkit, smug in the knowledge that I would never complete it. I fooled him. I played it through high school and into the local club scene up until 1980 or so; my interests changed and about 1990 I sold it to a friend, who promptly lost it.

Now I’m starting to play again and would like to build a bigger and better amp to go with my handmade bass. Of course, there is no kit maker alive anymore, so I’m kind of stuck. I would settle for a good book that catered to nonelectronic-type people.


Dave Raley of Laurel Hill, North Carolina
responds:

Jim Oliver has rattled the cage of a die-hard tube man. I’ve been building and working on them since the early ’50s. I can furnish him a diagram or two if he wants to make up his own kit, transistor or tube. Transistor amps are much simpler to build for a given output power, but you can feed a tube amp into a reflex baffled speaker or a Klipshorn and get more and smoother loudness from 10w than you would from 100w solid state into a closed baffle. Solid state amps, lacking output transformers, handle the back EMF from open baffles poorly.

My reasons to stick with solid state: finding good tubes and transformers is a challenge; no metal chassis is required; less heat, weight, and fragility.

My reasons to go with tubes: no crossover distortion; most harmonic distortion is odd, that is, less detectable to the ear, and when detected is less annoying; failure usually comes on slowly; brief overloads that would be catastrophic to transistors are likely to go unnoticed by tubes and tubes will often forgive abuse; even nontechnical people can repair tube amps. The tubes are the most likely component to go bad, and you can often tell one is bad by looking at it or swapping it with a known good one.

A good source of used tube amps is old organ tone cabinets, like Conn, Baldwin, or Wurlitzer, which you might be able to get for hauling them away. Forget about Hammond, especially if paired with a mechanical generator organ, or Leslie, as these two are worth more now than when new.

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Questions: Damaged Ironbird

Questions: Damaged Ironbird

by John Calkin

Originally published in American Lutherie #94, 2008

 

Adam from the Internet asks:

I have a B.C. Rich 2003 Platinum Pro Ironbird. Got seriously damaged in shipping. The body has five cracks, in some places that I don’t know are even possible to fix. I play technical death metal, black metal, Gothenburg death metal, and all those styles, my favorite being neo-classical metal. The body is agathis. I have an EMG Zakk Wylde set in it. (I could care less about Zakk Wylde. The set, though, is the standard 85/81 combo.) There is a large crack that goes down the middle of the body from where the neck goes on (bolt on neck — the action is great though), then two cracks around the cutaway near the neck (I need to have that so I can have fast access to the 24th fret). There’s another on the back that’s spread just past the serial number plate. I think I’d just want to fix it so I could play it again. I’m not at all concerned about looks right now.

B.C. Rich 2003 Platinum Pro Ironbird. Photo by Adam G.

John Calkin from Greenville, Virginia responds:

Go to a hobby shop and buy water-thin superglue. Also buy superglue accelerator. Take all the hardware and electronics off the guitar. Mask off the cracks with a heavy coat of good car wax — don’t use tape. Push/tap the broken wood back into alignment and trickle in some superglue. It will wick into the crack. If it wants to run out of the crack into a cavity or out the other side of the guitar, use some accelerator to solidify it at the point of runout, not at the fill point of the crack. Keep trickling the glue in. Work slowly and keep looking for exit points for the glue so you don’t make a big mess on the other side of the guitar or something. Keep wiping the glue buildup off the wax and rewax as many times as you have to to keep the paint surfaces clean. Eventually the wood will be completely sealed inside and the glue will stop seeping in. It’s almost like welding wood. If you’ve been careful, there should only be a line of glue right at the crack to clean up. Scrape it clean with a razor blade, sand level with 1000 grit wet/dry paper, polish with automotive rubbing compound, and you are good to go.

I’d bet a lot of money that your guitar will be as sound as it ever was if you do this right. I also have to warn you that I’ve seen guys make a horrible mess of their guitars trying to do this, with glue drips and buildup everywhere. But unless they ran glue into the pots or something, their guitars were fixed. If this sounds intimidating, find a pro to do it. It’s not that big of a deal, you just have to be very careful.

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A Different Way of Defining Body Shapes

A Different Way of Defining Body Shapes

by Mark French

Originally published in American Lutherie #88, 2006



As I look through American Lutherie, I am struck by the advances in the tools some of us use to make our instruments. While there will always be the traditionalists who do most of their work by hand, more of us are using computer-controlled machines to make jigs or parts. Even the musical instrument lab here at Purdue (www.metalsound.org) has its own CNC router. Large manufacturers like Taylor Guitars use CNC equipment for the majority of their building operations.

An obvious advantage of all this cool stuff is that parts can be made much more precisely. However, the parts can only be as precise as the instructions that are driving the machines. Look through your favorite book on guitar making and find the section on laying out the body shape. Even the best books, like Making an Archtop Guitar by Benedetto and Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology by Cumpiano and Natelson, offer only the most basic description of the shape. It’s pretty common for the instructions to start with something like “draw a straight line on a sheet of brown wrapping paper to use as a centerline.”

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Let’s Get Busy

Let’s Get Busy

Chris Brandt Says You Can’t Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

by Jonathon Peterson

Originally published in American Lutherie #26, 1991 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume Three, 2004



When he was eleven, Chris Brandt converted a $13 guitar into a 12-string by installing autoharp pins. He now owns a successful repair shop in the Portland area. I visited him there to find out how he makes it work.


Chris, you have almost always worked with other luthiers, either as an employee, in a cooperative shop, or as an employer of several repairmen. You seem to prefer working with others. Why is that?

There are a lot of benefits to working in a shop with other repairmen. It’s a rich learning situation. You are exposed to so many more instruments. It enables you to specialize more, and conversely, to not specialize where you don’t need to. There are a lot of jobs which I don’t do anymore simply because I don’t need to and they’re not my preferred jobs.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.