Mopus chapter 1 : The story so far…

At this point, I can say that Mopus is underway. For a while there, the project was stuck in a murky swamp called “just one more thing before I really start”. There was some major prep work to be done first, the most significant was the purchase and setup of a bandsaw. That alone took a few weekends before it was ready to go, outfitting it with a moble base and a riser block, and fiddling with various blade setups. Still more to do there – no dust collection yet, and I need to rig up  some better fence options.   

Then there was the whole hide glue extravaganza. I’ve decided to use hide glue on Mopus for various reasons – bottom line being it really is the perfect glue. It’s super easy to clean, it’s reverseable if a repair is necessary, it’s natural and non-toxic, and it sets so fast that clamps are often not needed. However – and this is a big however – it needs to be heated to a very precise temperature and kept at that temperature. Even a 5 degree difference matters, so you can’t just wing it. I eventually rigged up a temperature controlled water bath for this purpose. I’ve also prepared enough glue for Mopus, and have made frozen glue ice cubes for quick use. Hide glue has a short shelf life if not refrigerated or frozen.  


I also mixed batches of shellac by using ground dewaxed flakes mixed with Everclear, but I’ve done all this before so at this point it’s no biggie. But I did use nicer bottles this time. I made 2 pound cuts of various tints, and will dilute to 1 pound or less when I get to the French polishing stage.


The true start of Mopus was when I started working on the guitar mold. The mold determines the shape of the guitar body, in this case a standard OM. It is important to me that I make the mold myself,  rather than buying one, giving me a lot of flexibility in the future. Besides, as they say, “if you can’t make the mold, you can’t make the guitar”. In the process I did run into issues using a router to trim plywood. I wound up making an impromptu router table, otherwise I could have easily lost some fingers. I need those fingers.

Here’s what the mold looks like so far, a little more to go before it’s ready for action.


Finally it’s time to work on some real wood! The first step is to prep the rosewood sides. These come as a book-matched set, but they are way too thick to use as is. Making them a uniform ~0.1″ thickness poses some real challenges (unless you have a thickness sander, which I don’t). I did some rough thicknessing with a Safe-T-Planer and a jig I made for this purpose almost 2 years ago. At the time I thought I was preparing to make another acoustic, but then wound up taking a 3 electric guitar detour. And now two years later, my Safe-T-Planer setup is finally being taking out for a spin. 


After rough thicknessing, quality time was spent with scrapers. This takes a great deal of effort, and I still have more to go. And after this, I have to do the same thing (only more so) for the back. It does help to have good and correctly sharpened scrapers,  and I’m getting better prepping and using them. So I do have some hope.


I tried out a new random orbit sander to do some additional smoothing.  I love this thing! I should have gotten one of these long ago.

 That’s where things stand today. I’m getting very close to bending the sides and starting the rim.  I may even get to some of that this weekend. 

Stay tuned to see a guitar take form out of (almost) thin air!


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