Assembling the Guitar

 
Fitting the Top to The Sides
The top is simply resting on the sides in this picture. After making certain that the top is aligned properly I use a pencil to mark the location of the braces onto the lining.
On the outside of the body I mark where the braces intersect the sides.  
Now when I use a straight edge I have marks on the inside and outside of the body.  The areas I'm marking will need to be relieved so that the braces will fit. Here I've penciled in one of the areas that need to be removed.
A chisel will work fine but I prefer to use a Dremel tool. This set-up allows me to cut the pockets for the braces with a high degree of accuracy.
Here are a couple of the pockets after they're cut. Now we need to trim the ends of the braces to length and thin them so they'll just fit in the pockets.
When I first aligned the top I marked where the braces cross the lining and also where the lining crossed the brace. I used a small scrap of lining as a template to mark the end of the brace. 
Checking the height of the end of the brace where it will fit into the pockets in the lining. Close but not quite right, yet. A little more work with the dremel is needed.
See how snugly everything fits now? Braces trimmed, pockets cut, everything is ready for gluing.
One last trial fit before gluing. Now is the time to make certain that the center seam of the top aligns properly.    
Fitting the Back To The Sides
The back needs to be fitted to the sides in exactly the same manner. Here I've already trimmed the braces to length and adjusted their height. The back strip reinforcement must be removed where the back fits over the neck and tail blocks. A razor blade makes a great scrapper to clean up the left over glue.
Pockets have already been cut in the linings and during this dry run we can see that everything fits as it should. A last trial fit and it's time for glue. Remember to check that the center seam aligns properly.
I find it handy to work on a separate little table which allows me quick access all the way around the guitar. The back is glued and clamped. Notice the small blocks placed under the jaws of the clamps to help distribute the force evenly.
Trimming the Top
I'm using a flush cutting router bit in my laminate trimmer. Frank Finnochio demonstrates the proper cutting sequence on his tapes. All done!
Gluing the Top      
The back was glued first so that I can easily clean up any glue squeeze out that would be visible through the sound hole after the body is assembled.  And here is the new sound box!
A quick trim  with the flush-cutting router bit. Then we reach inside the guitar and loosen the turnbuckles of the spreaders.
And remove them from inside the guitar. Disassemble the mold.
And we get our first look at the soundbox.  It is surprisingly light.    
Cutting Binding Channel
There are a variety of methods available to cut channels for the binding.  I use router bits with interchangeable bearings like the silver one in this photo.   Simply change the guide bearing to adjust  the width of the channel and then adjust the depth of cut to match the binding you're using.
I'm using a laminate trimmer with an adjustable base instead of a router because it is smaller and easier to handle.  Here I'm cutting the wider portion of the channel. After changing the bearing and adjusting the depth of cut I'm cutting the second part of the channel.
This is what the finished channel looks like. On the back of the guitar you will need to tilt the base of your router and recut the channel at the neck-end of the body. Otherwise you'll sand through your binding before you get it level with the sides.
Install Bindings
Using tape to "clamp" the freshly glued binding in the channels. Really long rubber bands help me keep things tight at the waist. There is a trick to removing tape without pulling up grain.  Pull the tape sideways at an angle.  Never pull straight up!
Scrape Binding
Here I'm using a scraper to level the binding to the sides of the guitar. Now the body is  beginning to look like a real guitar!
Pretty Rosewood isn't it?    
Final Sanding
Now is the time to do the final sanding. Take your time and inspect your job carefully. Imperfections will be visible forever once the finish is applied. Carefully round the edge of the binding.
and finish the edge of the soundhole. Every piece needs to be sanded to perfection.
Seal & Fill Pores
I'm using epoxy to fill and seal this guitar.  3 ml's of Part A and 1 1/2 ml's of part B.
Then a teaspoon of silica thickener. Mix thoroughly.
Glop a dollop of the epoxy onto the guitar. (I've always wanted to say that!) Using an old credit card spread the epoxy onto the guitar. Keep it as thin and even as you can.
Ridges, "brush marks" and any other imperfections will need to be dealt with later so take your time. I drove myself crazy trying to get a perfect finish. (Actually it's not much of a drive, more like a short putt)
I wanted a perfectly smooth, matte finish but I kept sanding through the epoxy. Mike Doolin finally set me straight.  I wasn't happy with the credit card so I bought a shower squeegee at the hardware store.
And made it into three squeegees! It worked a bit better but it seems that the best method is to use a razor blade to scrape off as much as you can as soon as the epoxy begins to harden. If at first you don't succeed . . .
Ah . . .Much better! With few flat surfaces the neck is a bit more challenging.  Thank goodness the epoxy sets up slowly and gives you plenty of time to work.
This surface is actually all you need. All the pores are filled although they aren't perfectly level. The surface has been lightly scuffed with 400 grit to get rid of any dust or bumps. The first couple of coats of KTM9 will fill the pores completely and level itself nicely.
Fit Neck & Adjust Angle
The neck is bolted to the body & I'm checking to make certain that the centerline of the neck matches the centerline of the guitar. Next, a straightedge is laid on the fretboard and the gap to the top of the bridge is measured.
BEFORE

The gap is too big.

AFTER

The gap is right where I want it.

Adjustment is made by carefully removing small amounts of wood from the neck.  It can be a time consuming proposition. You can see that I have relieved the joint so that only the edges touch the body .
Apply Finish
Because I don't currently have a compressor at home I do my spraying at work. You can't see it but there is a huge 5' x5' exhaust fan mounted on the wall. When it is running you can't even smell what you're spraying! This stand works perfectly to hold the guitar while I spray.  In the foreground you can just see the top of the spray gun I'm using. It's just an inexpensive gravity feed HVLP 
Look Ma, No overspray!  The combination of the big exhaust fan, an HVLP gun, and the KTM with it's heavier droplets makes for really clean spraying.
Freshly sprayed.  If you're used to spraying lacquer, the KTM will seem a bit strange at first. It takes a couple of moments to flow when it first hits the guitar.  If you're not aware of this then it is easy to spray too heavily. Notice the orange peel on the back? This is typical, it will sand away easily once the finish is dry. Mike Doolin is right on the money when he says this is great stuff but you've got to play by it's rules!
Wet Sand & Buff
I know that Mike Doolin sands his guitars dry but I'm from the old school and I prefer wet sanding.  I think I have more control and because I'm sanding by hand I can feel when it's time to change to the next grit. I start with 500 grit wet-or-dry paper. I then switch to Micro Mesh and sand up to 3200 grit.
After sanding I use two grades of Menzerna on 12" dia. domet buffs buffing perpendicular to the grain first then with the grain for the second pass. DO NOT  BUFF UNTIL THE KTM-9 HAS CURED FOR ONE FULL WEEK. Nothing bad will happen, but you'll be a lot happier with the result if you wait. 
Install Bridge
Sand the bottom of the bridge so that it matches the contour of the top Using a "SaddleMatic" makes  locating the bridge  a no- brainer, and  even allows you to set the saddle angle for proper  intonation.
Adjust the two little pointers to give you the proper angle for intonation. You can see that I haven't shaped the saddle yet.
Don't trust  blue tape! Clamp the bridge and THEN drill two holes for the E strings. After I've drilled the second hole I bolt the bridge on with these handy-dandy little hollow bolts and then scribe around the bridge.
I'd masked the top before spraying but now I need to enlarge the area so it matches the shape of the bridge exactly.  **Hint** Do this step within a day of spraying the final coat of KTM-9. Once the KTM-9 cures completely it is REALLY hard and the process is a LOT more difficult.
I made this fixture which bolts through the two E string holes .  Tightening the screws on the ends helps push the ends of the bridge firmly down. Spread glue on the bridge and use four bolts in the middle holes to bolt the bridge to the top, then install the fixture.
Belts and Suspenders! An extra clamp or two can't hurt!    
Install Tuning Machines
The holes for the tuners must be re-drilled to clean out left-over sealer and finish. A 25/64ths drill is 9.9 mm in case you can't find a 10mm drill bit. The tuners can now be pressed into their holes and aligned with each other.   Drill holes for the little screws.
Install the screws and you're done! Looks good!
Install End Pin
Mark the exact center of the end graft with a  center punch.  Use a brad point bit to drill a hole.
Use a tapered reamer to fit the pin. BE CAREFUL!! very little reaming is required. Push the pin into the hole and tap LIGHTLY. JUST ONCE!  Do not glue the pin into the hole.
Final Set Up
With the major assembly completed, the only work that remains is the final set-up. Much of what is done at this stage is determined by the preferences of the guitarist who will play the instrument. Fret dressing and leveling, final shaping and slotting of the nut and saddle, applying a pickguard (if desired), stringing the guitar (usually more than once) and adjusting the truss rod are all completed during the set-up stage

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