Tips

These are tips and tricks that our member Luthiers want to share with other luthiers.  We hope they help you in some way in your quest to make amazing stringed instruments!

Great Guitar Holding Jig Allows Unobstructed Access to Sides

Jig to hold guitar or other stringed instrument while it is being built or repaired.Here is a great holding fixture from Steve Kinnaird.  It doesn't interfere with the sides of the guitar. The cross arms are cork lined and radiused to match the arch of the top. The cork lined holding dog pivots thru the sound hole and then is tighten down with a wing nut on the threaded rod. The vertical support can then be held in vise leaving the sides totally unobstructed.

Two Great Spreadsheets for Fret Placement Calculations

Image showing the user interface for the Fret Calculation spreadsheet.  Click on the links in the article to access the spreadsheets.Need a custom scale? Here are two links to fret placement calculators. This link is for a free Windows program that you can download by clicking here. For an on line calculator click here. This is a metric calculator and the site has some other good information.

Hold Wood Securely in Your Vice Using Rubber Jar Grippers

Rubber jar grippers can be found at your local supermarket.Photo showing how to use the rubber jar grippers to hold wood securely in a vice.Ever have a work piece slip in your vise's wood jaws? If you line your jaws with these little rubber jar opening grippers the piece will not slip under even the greatest pressure.  These little guys are in the kitchen gadget section of your supermarket and cost about a buck.

String Tension and Nut String Spacing Calculator

Click to open spreadsheet in Excel.  Right click for other options.Varying string diameters make getting the string spacing visually correct a tedious trial and error process. Here is an Excel spreadsheet courtesy of the GAL magazine that calculates the string centers in millimeters for various nut widths and string weights. Also includes a string tension calculator. Right mouse click the image and choose "...save target as" to download. (Mac users option click)

Spreadsheet that Calculates Guitar Nut Slot Spacing

Click to open spreadsheet in Excel.  Right click for other options.Here is a second spread sheet from Steve Mayo that calculates nut slot spacing in inches. Right mouse click the image and choose "...save target as" to download. (Mac users option click). Double clicking will fire up "Excel" if you have it on your system.

Jig to Help Manage Binding Installation

Ever feel like you're wrangling cats when binding an instrument?

This shows how Bo uses the jig to help with the installation of purfling.View of the jig with the separate lines of purfling inserted.This little wonder is from Bo Walker. Bo first glues an inch or so of the purflings and then uses this elegant little jig to manage the lines as he glues his bindings. The brush is a hobby shop item that has had most of the bristle cut off so it is quite stiff and spreads the glue evenly.

Spyrograph Rosette Jig

Bo Walker's Spyrograph rosette jig.Here is another from Bo. Its a "Spiro-Graph" for grown ups. The patterns are the asymmetric sound holes for a Selmer reproduction that he is making. The templates are made from thin model plywood. The disks are have a radius of the I.D. & O.D. of the rosette. By holding the template in place and using a pencil as the axle, he rolls the disk around the template for a perfect layout.

Improved Jig for Making Rosettes

Improved jig for making guitar rosettes.When Bo saw the genius of Steve's dry assembly method he dashed home and created his own version of Steve's jig. Bo used maple cam clamps, wax paper and masking tape covered disk. Click here or the picture for a complete article on this jig.

Jig for Making Guitar Rosettes

Jig for making guitar rosettes.This is a Steve Kinnaird jig for making rosettes off of the soundboard. The center disk is the ID of the ring. Around the perimeter are dowels that plug into holes on the workboard and have been threaded to accept the thumb screws . Before use Steve covers the surface around the rosette with wax and then assembles the whole ring dry. Once everything is in place he floods the assembly with super glue.

Device to Cover Soundhole While Spray Finishing Your Instrument

Device to cover soundhole while spray finishing your stringed instrument.Here is a slick device by John Fitzgerald to cover the soundhole while spraying finish. The hinged disk is slightly larger than the soundhole. The block that presses against the back is threaded. You flip up the flap to insert in the sound box, open the flap and then turn the disk counter clockwise to raise the disk to the back of the sound hole.

Layout Aid for Drawing the Fret Height on the Nut

Layout aid for drawing the fret height on the nut.Using the layout aid for drawing the fret height on the nut.This is a layout aid to draw the fret height on the nut. It is just a block of wood with a small groove that holds a 0.5mm lead from a mechanical pencil. Draw a second line to denote the string depth by taping a 1/16" brass shim to the underside.