Operation Plaid Hammer: Makin' Sawdust

The plan for Operation Plaid hammer is as follows; alder body in Taos Turquoise (a '56 Lincoln color), a maple neck with a wenge fretboard, a Mastery trem, and Lollar Regal humbuckers. The starting point, though, is a block made of two pieces of alder.

 I got wood!

I got wood!

An alder blank and an Arcturus template! And indecent enthusiasm! Not the first time. Or the last. I regret nothing. Where was I? Oh yeah! The template is used to visualize where on the blank the body will be cut. In this case, there was a nasty knot to be worked around, so Doug had to measure the edge of the blank for an extra spacer to get the CNC router to cut closer to the edge.

 Yes, Dave, it's wood. Settle down.

Yes, Dave, it's wood. Settle down.

The blank in its original condition needs smoothing and thinning. First stop: the wide belt sander.

The blank is run through the sander multiple times on both sides to level the block and get it to the correct thickness. Arcturi with Mastery trems can be run a bit thinner than those with Strat-style trems - that's the case here.

 Making use of the Persuasion Stick

Making use of the Persuasion Stick

At this point, Doug left to do many important things, and Andrew took over. Next stop: CNC router.

 Dave isn't a crappy photographer, the CNC is blurry in real life.

Dave isn't a crappy photographer, the CNC is blurry in real life.

There are a series of programs that must be run for each body. Each part of the process has separate programs for the controls, control cavity, neck pocket, trem, and so on. Andrew calls up and runs each of those programs, stopping to measure progress after each step, occasionally re-running a program with minor depth adjustments as necessary. 

 Andrew does SCIENCE!

Andrew does SCIENCE!

About halfway through the process, the blank looks like this.

 Making a guitar is easy - just take a piece of wood and cut off everything that doesn't look like a guitar.

Making a guitar is easy - just take a piece of wood and cut off everything that doesn't look like a guitar.

Next step is a table router with a flush trim router bit to take off the flashing around the body. I completely failed to take pictures of this, but I did take some artsy-fartsy macro shots of the rough arm contour cuts looking all art deco.

 Looks like a modern art museum. Made of wood.

Looks like a modern art museum. Made of wood.

Next comes another table router with a roundover bit. I did the routing for the flash removal and nearly all of the roundover, but Andrew stepped in to do the bits closest to the neck pocket.

 Andrew "ten-fingers" Rascher demonstrating router safety.

Andrew "ten-fingers" Rascher demonstrating router safety.

And now? TIME TO MAKE SAWDUST! As Doug says, lutherie is 10% inspiration, 9874% SANDING. There are three different air sanders, an dual action orbital sander for the face and back, a square sander for the sides, and a detail sander for the contours. The guitar is carefully sanded with three to four different grades of sandpaper. To make sure the whole guitar has been worked evenly, it's hit with quick-drying spraypaint between each grade.

 That does have a certain amount of rat rod charm. Taos Turqouise is gonna be better.

That does have a certain amount of rat rod charm. Taos Turqouise is gonna be better.

 Workin' them contours. Ladies.

Workin' them contours. Ladies.

After the rough sanding has been done, it's time to drill for the output jack. For this, a Shopsmith is rigged to be a side drill, and a clamping template holds the guitar in place. Like most Kauers, this guitar will have an Electrosocket output jack. One bit cuts a lip for the socket to recess into, and another bit cuts through to the control cavity.

 Drill, baby, drill!

Drill, baby, drill!

After many, MANY hours of snading (it's actually more fun than it looks), what's the result? Grab a handy neck blank, and...

 Great Googly Moogly, that thing looks like a guitar!

Great Googly Moogly, that thing looks like a guitar!

Not a bad batch of work for day one - stay tuned for day two: Necking in Public!