Taking off all of the spool clamps revealed an actual guitar body! I picked it up and just marveled at it. So amazing to see a guitar body where not too long ago, there was just some nondescript wood and some promise.
I had one little extra step to do before I get to the “biggies”. I cut the top to clear the top of the neck dovetail. Not very long ago, I would have considered this a bit scary, but today it was a no-brainer.
So now I’m at a bit of a crossroads. To truly finish the guitar body, the overhang of the top and bottom need to be trimmed. But even more to the point, something called a “binding channel” must be cut so that the trim (the binding) that goes around the front and back edges can be mounted properly. This is a right of passage for guitar builders, because to do this involves some steps that can easily destroy all the work done so far. There are many approaches to cutting the binding channels, and all I can say is that the amount of hours I’ve spent trying to figure out what I should do is embarrassingly large. In the end I decided to use a laminate trimmer, and I bought a Bosch Colt for this purpose.
I was going to make an elaborate jig to securely hold the guitar body while I was routing it. I spent much of today trying to figure out how to make it with the materials at hand. After a couple of attempts, I came up with a MUCH simpler idea. Basically, I just need the guitar to be relatively level, and prevent it from sliding around. I had a roll of that stuff you use to prevent things from sliding (sold as tool drawer liner), so I just cut pieces to secure my workboard to the table and also between the guitar and the workboard. I also used some bench cookies to level the guitar out. I used a bungie cord to hold the guitar body down. The assembly was surprisingly rock solid. I could even remove the bungie and simply press down on the guitar body to keep it in place.
So with that problem solved, I figured I should at least take the first baby step with the router. Before the binding channel can be cut, I need to flush trim the top and back to remove the overhang. I could do that with a knife and rasp, but why not do it the way the big boys do it and use a router and a flush-cut bit. My binding channel kit includes a bearing for flush cutting. So I practiced on some scrap wood, tried to control my hyperventilation, and – started a flush cut. The edge cut like butter. Only seconds later I had a portion of the guitar back cut flush to the body.
Nice! Making sure I kept track of the wood grain direction to prevent tear out, I only took about 30 minutes to finish flush cutting the top and bottom.
Afterwards, I can’t really put words down to describe how I felt. What was before me was a real guitar body – I thought I had one before, but the flush cutting made a huge difference. I was so happy, I took the guitar body upstairs to do a show-and-tell with Candi and Lucas. I think they were duly impressed.
I did make a few test cuts to check the fit for the actual binding channel – and that experiment went very well. However that operation will wait for another day. At least now I feel like I can do this! One thing I did have to deal with was the large amount of sawdust generated while routing. So I cleaned up. But rosewood and spruce sawdust is actually kind of attractive. Sort of.