• bill@gourlayguitars.com

"Liliana", my tiny Torres replica - an open and shut case.

Making this guitar was always about building the case...and that has now been completed. Building a couple of wooden coffin cases has been an interesting experience, a well as a steep learning curve. But it is totally in keeping with my approach to guitarmaking - a quote by Pablo Picasso, "I am always doing that which I cannot do...in order that I may learn how to do it".


My nemesis is the upholstery component of the case building. Specifically the use of contact cement with slightly stretchable, foam-backed fabric. Contact means CONTACT! And this resulted in some unwanted wrinkles. Nothing catastrophic, but aggravating none the less. For the case I built for my 1852 Torres project, I predominately used spray-on adhesive which is a bit more forgiving. But because I wanted to improve the fabric to foam rubber adherence for this case I chose to use brush on contact cement which, unlike the spray adhesive I previously used, is quite unforgiving, hence some resultant wrinkles. Oh, well...I'll eventually get it right...I hope!


Something not shown in the photos was my need to go to "plan B" for the top and bottom of the case. I had initially resawn some of the 3/4" thick pine I used for the sides in order to create 1/4" thick bookmatched pieces for use on the top and bottom of the case. Unfortunately the thin pieces began to cup, rendering them unsuitable. So..."plan B"; 1/4" Baltic birch plywood for top and bottom covered with a pine veneer.


Here are a variety of progress photos that chronicle the building of the wooden coffin case for "Liliana". After preparing the side forms that surround the waist and upper bout of the guitar, I built two "boxes" using 1/4" mdf that joined with the side forms and run parallel to the neck. One of the boxes was fitted with a hinged lid so as to hold accessories. That is something I did not do on the 1852 Torres project case. In addition, corner blocks were cut to cushion the lower bout and like the side forms 1/4" neoprene foam was glued to their faces.

In order to hide the edges of the plywood on the top and bottom, I prepared binding strips of the same pine material I used for the sides and thicknessed them to 2mm. I build a small test piece using some scrap of the plywood and the pine sides to set my router. I routed a test channel to the dimensions of my binding strips, and once good to go I routed the channels around the top and bottom of the case and glued and taped on the pine binding strips.

I then set out to fit all of the hardware - the lock, the latches and the hinges. As with the case for my 1852 Torres project, I again used the circular brass hinges from Vertex and recessed them flush into the case sides and lid. I prepared the mortice for the lock and located the latches.

Once all of the hardware was located and interior elements were dry fitted, but before adding the interior upholstery, it was time to put some finish on the case. I first wiped on a coating of DuraSeal. This is a quick drying sealer used commercially on new wood floors which was suggested by my friend, Mark, who does custom flooring. Once dry, I wiped on a coat of Minwax Puritan Pine stain to add a bit of a golden hue. And finally, two coats of Waterlox satin finish were brushed on.

Upholstery time!!


Pre-cut strips of 1/8" foam backed navy blue suede cloth were stapled around the perimeter of the top, contact cement applied, and the strips folded down in place.

The boxes and side forms were similarly covered with the foam-backed suede cloth and glued in place, and the area for the headstock prepared like the perimeter of the top with foam/fabric stapled around edge,, glued, and folded down along the sides. Shown below is one of the boxes prepared with a hinged lid to serve as an accessories compartment being glued/clamped in place.

Finally, foam padding to cover the inside of the top and bottom of the case were glued in place (here is where some of the wrinkles appeared) and...voila! AN OPEN AND SHUT CASE!


Time to get "Liliana" French polished and strung up!



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