Making "Samhain Taistealaí"

"Samhain Taistealaí" - meaning Samhain the Traveller - was made in March and April 2010.

Making the Rim:

The Colombian Rosewood sides have been thicknessed and I looked for the best bookmatch.

Then it's into the Fox-Bender with the heating blanket.

Here are the two bent sides in the mould after trimming- a little fine tuning on the hot pipe was required.

Here's the English cherry neck block with the main part drilled for the neck bolts and holes for the 6mm carbon fibre flying buttress brace rods and it has a slot routed for the extension support.

Here's the finished block and extension support.

The support is then glued in using hot hide glue.

Here's the result after tidying up.

And the back view.

The neck block was glued to the first side using hot hide glue

It's then glued to the second side.

I made the lime tailblock and this was glued in using hot hide glue

Here's the glued up rimset in the mould.

The European spruce reverse kerfed linings were made.

The top of the rim-set was profiled for the top curvature and then the linings glued - first one side . .

. . . then the other.

Then the back of the rim-set was profiled both for the back curvature and for the reduction in height from the tail-block to neck-block.

Then the back linings are glued in - first one side:

. . . then the other.

Next the spruce side linings are notched into the linings and glued in with hot hide glue.

Then the carbon fibre rod flying-buttress braces are fitted - the side sound-port has also been cut and shaped.
Making the back:

The back edges are prepared and checked for perfect fit and they are then taped and glued with hot-hide glue using the "tent method".

The back is cut close to the final shape and the bracing positions marked. The first X brace is then glued in after notching and profiling the bottom surface to a 10' radius

The second X brace is glued in.

The Colombian Rosewood cap over the X braces is glued on using hot hide glue.

The X braces are carved and then the ladder braces are glued on in the go-bar deck using hot hide glue, first the lower bout . . .

. . . followed by the upper bout.
Making the top:

The European spruce top is jointed using the "tent" method.

The top is cut close to the final shape, thicknessed and the rosette channel routed.

The rosette and purflings are test fitted and then glued in using white pva glue. The rosette is Colombian Rosewood off-cuts from the back

When the glue is dry, the rosette is carefully scraped and sanded flush.

Next the European spruce soundhole patch is cut to shape and glued on using a caul in the go bar deck.

When the glue is dry the soundhole is routed out:

I'm using Lutz spruce for the braces and the braces were prepared to just over 6mm wide. The top X braces were then profiled to a 13' radius, the notch cut in each brace and the first brace glued in the gobar deck using hot hide glue.

Followed by the second.

The spruce cap over the X brace is then glued on as a rub joint using hot hide glue.

I made the Brazilian Rosewood bridge patch and glued this on in the go-bar deck using hot hide glue and a caul.

First the A frame braces that are inlet into the neck block.

Then the upper transverse brace.

Then the brace behind the bridge-plate.

Then the first tone-bar.

I didn't take pictures of the finger braces being glued on but here the second split tone bar is glued on.

The top is "voiced" and when I am happy I signed and dated it with my usual Samhain words "Samhain Taistealaí - Dorchadas agus Solas i fuigheall" which translates as "Samhain Taistealaí - Darkness and Light in harmony".

Here's the finished top
Closing the box:

The back linings are notched to accept the brace ends and the back is cut to shape and glued on using fish glue.

When the glue has dried, the back is trimmed flush with the sides using a laminate trimmer and the centre strips glued in using hot hide glue.

The notches for the brace ends are cut in the top linings and the top glued on using fish glue.

The bwb side purfling was glued onto the Malaysian blackwood bindings, they were taped together and bent in the Fox-Bender:

Then it's out with "K9" to cut the binding channels. The channels are first cut on the top and back to the width of the linings and the depth of the linings plus side purflings.

Then the end graft slot is cut out using a Japanese saw and chisel and the Malaysian end graft made and glued in with bwb side purfling to match the binding.

With the binding channels cut the sides and end graft are scraped/sanded with the guitar in the Troji.

The router is then set to the depth of the binding only and the end graft routed at the top and bottom. Here's before . . .

And after. This means that the side purfling of the binding and end graft can be mitred.

Next the router is set to cut the top and back purflings and these are routed out. Then the long task of making sure that the bindings and purflings fit in the channels and the channels adjusted accordingly with test fit after test fit until they do.

The top bindings/purflings are then glued in using fish glue.

The back bindings/purflings are fitted and glued in.

Then it's into the Troji to scrape/sand the bindings flush.

Another view.

Here's the fingerboard extension slot routed out.
Making the Neck:  

The sycamore neck blank has been thicknessed and now the scarfe joint for the peghead is cut on the bandsaw.

The headstock pieces are trued and then glued using hot hide glue and this clamping jig.

Here's the neck shaft with the peghead sanded, and the neck layout marked.

The next job is to route the truss rod slot and the slots for the carbon fibre bars either side of the truss rod.

The carbon fibre bars are glued in first using fish glue.

The two way adjustable Gotoh truss rod is then glued in with a sycamore cap. Here's how the neck looks with everything scraped/sanded and the outline re-drawn.

Next a strip of Sycamore is glued on to form the line for the nut - when the glue is dry it will be sanded to meet the plane of the headstock.

Next the pieces for the stacked heel are cut and glued up using fish glue - each piece of the stack is offset slightly to try and follow the grain lines.

Here's the headstock with the Sycamore patch sanded flush

The Malaysian Blackwood headstock veneer has the nut edge sanded at an angle both to follow the nut line and match the headstock to neck-shaft angle.

Then it's glued on using fish glue.

When the glue has dried the headstock is cut/sanded close to its final shape.

The Malaysian Blackwood back-strap for the headstock was bent on the hot-pipe and glued on using fish glue.

Then the stacked heel was glued on using hot hide glue.

The headstock was cut to shape and the heel and fingerboard extension part of the neck cut. The neck was then fit onto the body and the neck cheeks sanded to get an initial fit.

Then the position of the two neck bolts was marked on the heel block using a 6mm brad point bit, the holes drilled and the threaded inserts fitted. A trial bolt on of the neck having gone OK, the threaded inserts are then epoxied in place being careful not to get any epoxy on the threads.

Then two holes were drilled in the heel up to the carbon fibre bars in the neck shaft to take two 6mm carbon fibre rods and these were glued in using fish glue. This gives the neck/heel added stiffness - I picked this tip up from New Zealand builder Craig Lawrence.

Next the Malaysian Blackwood fretboard is thicknessed, the fret positions marked out and the fret slots cut.

Next the sound-hole end of the fretboard is cut to match the soundhole (after allowing for binding) using my circle cutter jig - the off-cut will be used to make the heel cap.

The fretboard is then tapered.

The fretboard is going to be bound with Malaysian Blackwood with a bwb side purfling and the soundhole end binding was bent on the hot-pipe and glued on using fish glue

When the glue is dry the binding is trimmed flush with the sides and then the side bindings are glued on.

When the glue is dry the bindings are sanded flush.

Next the side dot markers are fitted at positions (twin dots), 15,17 and 19,

The fretboard is positioned on the neck and two binding off-cuts fitted to the neck with double sided tape to hold the fingerboard in the correct position whilst gluing and clamping.

The fingerboard is glued on using fish glue

Now it's one of my favourite parts - neck carving. First the overhang is trimmed flush with the fretboard and then it's into the neck holding jig using the "state of the art CNC" - the human brain eye and hands. Here the primary facets are being cut.

Now it's getting close to final shape but I need to feel it attached.

Looks more like a guitar.

The next step is to make and fit the heel cap. First the neck heel is measured and cut to accept the heel cap - it is cut so that it starts after the bwb side purfling and the angle of the heel cap matches the slope of the back. You can see the ends of the two carbon fibre rods in the heel.

The heel cap is Malaysian blackwood with bwb veneers glued on. The edge of the heel-cap has to be at the correct angle and follow the body shape - this is cut close to shape and then sanded against a piece of sandpaper stuck to the body edge with double-sided tape.

Next the heel cap is cut close to the outside heel shape and checked for fit.

Then the heel-cap is glued on using hot hide glue and a hand pressure rub joint.

When the glue is dry the heel-cap is profiled into the heel using files and bootstrap sandpaper strips. You can see that the bwb purfling under the heel-cap matches the side purfling

The fretboard is radiused to 16" checking for straightness with the straight edge and radius with the caul.

Then the lower frets are pressed in using a little hot hide glue to help them seat.

Here's the finished fingerboard after the edges of the frets have been filed down. I aim to get all of the frets seated level so that there is no need for levelling the frets - all of the work goes into getting the fingerboard prepared. So far it looks good but we'll see where we are when all of the glue has dried.
Making the bridge:  

The Malaysian Blackwood bridge blank is thicknessed and marked out for the saddle slots to be routed.

The ramp behind the saddle slots is made and then the bottom of the bridge is then profiled to match the top's curvature.

The bridge pin holes are drilled out (4mm drill) and countersunk. They will be reamed later for the pins to fit.

The rest of the bridge is then shaped.

The bridge is positioned in the correct place on the top and clamped with a caul underneath the bridge-plate. The outside two holes are then drilled through the top for holding the bridge when gluing.

The holes are reamed with the 5° reamer enough for the ebony bridge-pins to hold the bridge in place. Apart from drilling for the tuners, the rest is the "finishing" process.

The body has to be sanded and scraped and checked for any blemishes that need rectifying. Then the back and sides are pore filled - I use Z-poxy finishing resin for this and a number of coats have to be applied, allowed to dry and then be sanded back. Here's the first coat on.

Then the second

Then when I'm happy, the top is sanded, a sealer coat of shellac applied and the body sprayed with pre-catalysed lacquer. The bridge is put on with the two outside pins, it's outline carefully marked on the top with a scalpel and the finish underneath the bridge removed.

The bridge is then glued on using hot hide glue.
Final Set-up:  

The bridge is left clamped overnight and then any remaining glue on the bridge is cleaned up. The inside four bridge pin holes drilled through the top and bridge-plate using a 4mm brad point drill. Then the bridge pin holes are reamed so that the ebony pins fit.

Four done, two to go.

The bridge pins fitted.

The next job is to slot the bridge so that the string is locked in place by the unslotted bridge-pins. I use a small jig saw blade and needle files to do this.

Here's the result.

Next the saddle blanks are fitted.

Then the label is glued in.

Setting up the instrument involves fitting the Gotoh tuners and nut to the neck, bolting on the neck, fitting strings and cutting the initial nut slots, bringing the strings to pitch, capoing at the first fret and adjusting the truss rod to give the correct neck relief, adjusting the saddle height for desired action at the 12th fret and finally cutting the nut slots to give desired clearance at the nut. I have the neck unfinished at this stage as I want to play the instrument and for the "feel" to see if further fine tuning of the profile is required.

Satisfied with the neck the tru-oil finish coats are applied. I also have to make the Malaysian Blackwood buttons for the Gotoh tuners - these are made from the bridge off-cut. The button blank is thicnessed, the buttons marked out and holes drilled using a 3.2mm drill.

Using a 3mm router bit the holes are milled to the shape of the Gotoh shafts.

The fit is checked on a spare Gotoh tuner.

Next the top of the button holes are countersunk

The individual buttons are cut from the strip and the side and top/bottom radius sanded using jigs.

The individual buttons are then hand sanded through various grits of sandpaper and Micromesh up to 12,000 grade. The end result is this.

Here's Samhain Taistealaí with the finished neck fitted and its first set of new strings.