"Liliana", my tiny Torres replica - finishing up and starting on the case.
Updated: Apr 5, 2021
I have gotten a lot completed since my last post. The back is glued on, bindings bent and installed, fretboard and neck completed, bridge completed...really all that is left is the French polishing. But...first, I wanted to get working on the case. After all, building another case after my 1852 Torres project was the main goal - making the guitar to fit into it was always secondary!
So, here is a recap of where I am in the process.
After the back was glued on and trimmed flush, bindings were bent, channels routed for the bindings, and everything fitted, glued and clamped (and taped!). The fretboard (pre-slotted from Luthier's Mercantile due to it's unusual scale length of 608mm) was tapered and aligned and glued on. Luthier's tip: I always mask the soundboard along the edges of the fretboard before it is glued on with delicate surface Frog tape to capture any of the glue squeeze out. It makes cleaning up the soundboard so much easier! After the fretboard was installed, it was tapered along it's length to achieve the appropriate height over the soundboard for my neck angle/action. The final photo shows the classic Torres pointed heel/neck join beginning to take shape.
After the neck was trimmed flush with the fretboard and shaped, frets were installed. Luthier's tip: I find that a cereal box cut to shape (my personal preference is Cheerios Honey Nut :-)), is an inexpensive and ideal way to protect the soundboard when working on the fretboard. It was then on to the bridge. After prepping the bridge blank, I drilled the string holes in the tieblock. In the photos below you can see two of my jigs for this process. First, a plexiglass template that perfectly fits the profile of the bridge has the location of the string holes pre-drilled to serve as guides for my drill press. You will notice that there are three sets of holes prepared for each string. This jig was built specifically for making my 18-hole Romanillos bridges, but easily adapts to the traditional 6-hole bridge. The second jig, made from a piece of machined aluminum holds the bridge and plexi string hole template at a precise 5 degree angle so the holes exit the tieblock at the bottom of the trough.
Once the string holes were drilled and the wings shaped, using a special sanding beam I radius sanded the bottom of the bridge to conform to the doming of the top - a 15ft. radius. I mark the bottom with a white chalk pencil and sand until it has completely disappeared at the ends of the wings. After that is complete I profile the wings to their final desired shape. You can see the curvature achieved in the final photo below.
It was time to get started on the wooden coffin case.
For this case I chose to make it very simple...and a bit less expensive than my case for the 1852 Torres replica. I used some clear pine shelving stock I found at Home Depot - four pieces @ 6' x 5 1/2" x 3/4". Two of the pieces I resawed and thickness sanded to 1/4" thick to make the top and bottom of the case. The remaining boards I kept at the 3/4" thickness for use as the sides. I first cut the pieces to size and all of the miters and then ripped them on the tablesaw to make the lower side sections @ 3 1/2" tall, and the upper sections for the case lid at 1" tall, creating a case 5" in height when the top and bottom are added. The leftover material was ripped into thin strips to use as binding.
I prepared some scrap mahogany to bend to shape in order to make the fitted inserts for the inside of the case. I paired them with some mdf to complete the forms. I used small pieces of kerfed lining material to secure the bent mahogany and mdf - just as I would to join the top, back and sides of the guitar. Once that was done I glued a piece of 1/4" neoprene foam to the bent mahogany as part of the cushioning for the guitar.