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Maplewood Center for Common Craft

2014 Two Week Guitar Making Intensive Class PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty   
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 16:34

Hello once again!  For those of you who are interested in a pleasurable shop experience along with making your very own guitar, this blog post is for you. It will center on the upcoming "Two Week Guitar Making Intensive Class" (September 15th-27th) offered through Maplewood Center for Common Craft here in upstate New York.  This class is unique in that the entire process is a hands-on experience using hand tools.  So, grab yourself a cup of coffee and let's get started.....

Day #1

The class begins in the timber frame wood shop at Maplewood Center for Common Craft. I consider it an honor to work in such a beautiful space.  We will begin by gluing up the top and back of the guitar using the shooting board method.

We will join and glue the top and back, and then scrape later.

We use a scraper to smooth everything. This will keep the reeds in the wood open and doesn't fill the pores of the wood with dust which adds weight and is not conducive to sound.

We will then construct the sides.  This will entail bending the sides using a natural flame over bent metal.

The guitar molds will hold the sides in the correct shape.

After this, you will plane your sides to the correct height.  We will then end the day with gluing in the blocks and linings on the back.

The model that I have chosen for this class is based on the Martin D18.


Day #2

We will start off the second day of the class with a cup of coffee or tea if you prefer. (Actually..we will start off each morning in this way)  We can gather together and talk about the days work.  Next, we will begin by doing a little smoothing out of our top and back with the scraper.  Now, we will need to plane and put the radius on all the tone bars.  I use a method that works great and makes a perfect radius tone bar every time.

You will then glue the bar for the back in.

Now we can switch our attention to the hand cut dovetail the way Martin used to do it in the beginning.  Its going to be fun!


Day #3

We will work on the roset using hand inlay tools.

You can choose your own design based on the assortment of inlay we have.

This is a really nice detail that we will take the whole day to do.  Before we are done, we will shape the bracing.

Lastly, we will glue the back on.


Day #4

We are now well on our way in the process of making a guitar.  We will start the morning gluing the upper support bracing on your top.  We can then concentrate on fitting the X bracing together.


Day #5

We will glue the finger bracing and bridge plate.

Basically, we have a lot of bracing to do at this part of the process.  We will then cut excess off the back.

We will then glue the linings.  We use lots of clothes pins!


Day #6

We will spend this day carving all the bracing.

We will carve the linings and clean up the inside.

Now, it is time to close the box.


Day #7

First thing this morning (after our coffee of course...) is to cut the excess off of the top.

We will then clean up the edges.

It is time to do the binding using a violin purfling knife, marking gauge and a chisel for a little clean up.

Now, we fit our wedge in.


Day #8

We are now more than halfway through the process.  We are going to clean up the box and smooth everything out.

We are now ready to carefully apply our first coat of sealer as to not let it sink into the pores of the wood.

We will continue this process in between the stages of building the neck.  We will end the day cleaning up the mortis for the neck recess.


Day #9

The hand dovetail joint.  This is a very satisfying and I feel better joint, because it is pressure fit.  A very tight fit is good for tone.  We will start with a neck blank and map it out.

The knife wall line is for where the neck fits to the upper bout.

Cutting the dovetail.


End the day with varnish.


Day #10

What is nice about this dovetail joint, is that there is little excess on the top of the neck where the fingerboard is glued.  This makes it easy to calibrate our neck angle to the bridge height.

We will now tack glue the fingerboard and start shaping the neck.

Lots of shaping to do.

At the end of the day we will glue on the head stock veneer.


Day #11

We will begin with planing off the head stock veneer that we glued on Day 10.

There will be a continuation of filing and sanding.  We will end the day gluing in the neck, fingerboard and heel.


Day #12

Today we will position the bridge and saddle for intonation.

Next, we glue.

The rest of the day we will set up for the hardware.


Day #13

The last day we will string it up and enjoy its sound!

This guitar class will take you through the whole process of building your own guitar using hand tools.  In the end, you will not only have learned the process, but will have a beautiful, handmade instrument to enjoy for many years to come.

You can register for this "Two Week Guitar Making Intensive Class" at

Take Care,














Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 07:17
Home from Grey Fox 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty   
Sunday, 20 July 2014 19:54

Greetings! We are now back from Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival 2014...  It was a great festival this year and here is a recap of some of the things that stood out from this years event....

This year I brought along a workbench to set up in my booth area.  Therefore, I was able to do some repairs as well as some demos on different aspects of instrument making.

Sunday morning I did a few guitar making demos for an upcoming workshop that will be offered through Maplewood Center for Common Craft

Saturday morning I was able to participate with a few other luthiers in a luthier forum entitled, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Stringed Instruments But Were Afraid to Ask".  It went real well and the audience had some good questions to ask.  I hope they feel they received some good answers!

As always, we heard some great bluegrass music too!  Here are the Gibson Brothers poking some fun at each other. We also enjoyed...

Steep Canyon Rangers...great vocals and musicianship..

and Balsam Range...(my wife's new favorite bluegrass group)..I talked with their guitar player whom is a maker of some mighty fine guitars as well.

Our sons participated in the Kids Academy at the festival this year.  Hats off to the staff involved there..  The children were taught several songs as well as working on different harmonies for the songs taught.  The staff is very good at helping all the children involved in their different skill levels with playing more skillfully on their instruments.

Some pretty good jams took place right at the booth....from old to young, the bluegrass tunes are fun to play and sing!

Thanks Grey Fox for a great 2014 festival!

Take Care,



Grey Fox Festival 2014-Workshop News PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty   
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 21:20

Well, summer is well on its way, and it has been very busy in shop and out of shop for me so far...   It is now July and time for Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival once again.

This year, I will be part of an instrument building panel workshop with two other local luthiers.  We will be discussing all sorts of topics from instrument set-up to instrument up keep.  The workshop is at 10:00 on Saturday in the Slow Jam Tent.  So...grab a cup of coffee and come join us for a great workshop...I think you will find it very informative.

This festival I will also have a workbench set up so that I can work on some instruments while at the festival.

These are three A-style mandolins that I will be working on at the bench... I find it is always interesting for people to come by the booth and watch the process that takes place in making a handmade instrument.  I look forward to meeting and seeing you all that come by!

I will also have some F-style mandolins that are finished and ready for sale...

Because I have a workbench set up, I will also be doing repairs, set-ups and adjustments as needed. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have an upcoming guitar making course that is being offered through Maplewood Center for Common Craft.

Therefore, I will be doing a few demos for that course as well..  Looking forward to a great festival!

Take Care,







Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 21:54
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