Kerfing or kerfed linings (sometimes just called “linings”) are not part of the guitar that a guitar buyer will routinely look at. Luthiers, on the other hand, place them on the list alongside all the secondary elements of the guitar which deserve serious attention if one is to push a guitar from the ‘good’ category into ‘great’. Briefly, every little thing counts, even if it’s just a little bit, and that includes one’s choice of kerfing!
To this end, Luthiers Mercantile Int’l provides a wide selection of kerfing for you to consider. We will go over the options for you here and in the followup blog, and we will survey the various theories which might draw you to one over the other. Yes, the scent is a deciding factor for some! Who doesn’t recognize and enjoy the fragrance that emanates from the unfinished inside of a newly built instrument?
First, we will go over the species available, and then the profiles. Note that not every combination of species and profile are available.
We will list the species from heaviest/densest to lightest.
Mahogany—A hardwood coveted for its stability, Mahogany’s interlocking grain makes it ideal for carving into fine, detailed shapes. Cinnamon brown in color
Spanish Cedar—A little bit darker than Mahogany, this wood is unrelated to Western Redcedar except that it has a similar pleasant scent.
Basswood—This wood has a clear, white color, can be carved and is flexible. It is among the lightest in weight among LMI’s hardwood offerings.
Port Orford Cedar—A versatile, light-colored softwood that is used in tops, backs, and sides and also necks. It too has a Cedar like scent but it is even spicier and more pronounced.
Cedar—This wood is well known as a crisp sounding and responsive soundboard material. The color ranges from light brown to reddish-brown. It is, of course, famous for its scent, making it the primary choice for humidors. As a natural repellent to moths, it is also used for clothing and linen chests.
Standard bevel—This is a trapezoidal shape the offers a flat surface meant to more easily accept a clamp when gluing to the sides.
Triangular bevel—This shape emphasizes the triangle’s structural advantage and offers a clean, uncluttered look.
Reverse bevel—Some prefer the look of this kerfing as the saw kerfs are mostly hidden from view. It the thickest, ‘beefiest’ of the options.
Square—This is the only feasible choice for smaller instruments such as the mandolin and ukulele.