I’ve begun my latest guitar build(s). I’ve been commissioned to build a small jumbo sized guitar for fingerstyle playing. At the same time, I’ll be working on a second one for my own use, and as an example to show prospective customers. These guitars will also be adding to my skillset, since they will have a Venetian cutaway. (A Venetian cutaway is a cutaway with a rounded upper bout, allowing easier access to the higher frets. A Florentine cutaway has a sharp angle to the resultant ‘horn’.)

After making the molds, (which because of the cutaway design, require two different sides), I got the bending pipe heated up and ready to go.

The customer ordered a back and sides of osage orange, and I will be using Oregon flame myrtle for mine. In order to warm up, I bent the myrtle sides first, starting with the non-cutaway side. No big problems, although you do have to be careful when there is a big curl in the wood not to let it bend on an angle, which it really wants to do. Got it bent and clamped in the mold fairly quickly. The myrtle bends much like walnut, except at the curly bits. The cutaway side didn’t really pose too many problems, it just takes longer. Because of the extra bends, reversing on each other, working on one curve tends to start to unbend the opposing curve. So there is a lot of redoing involved. Once its clamped and dried in the mold for a few days, it finally sets up. Next was the osage orange, a wood I hadn’t worked with before. It bent relatively easily, with no figure its curves came out very smooth.

(It might make a good dye, though. While working with the wet, steamy wood, my hands took on a distinctive yellowish hue that took a couple of washings to get out. “They call me Mellow Yellow…(quite rightly)”)

Taking the OO sides out of the mold, there was a bit of spring back, so I’ll have to do some touch up bending before attaching the top.

Next up was thicknessing and glueing the soundboards. Mastergrade Italian red spruce for him, and ‘Bearclaw’ sitka spruce for me. Nothing new here, I used a simple jig to clamp the thin (0.115″) boards. Supporting one side with nails and a boarder, I tent the two halves up 3/8″ and nail in the opposing support.

Pushing down the glued boards provides just enough clamping pressure to the two sides without the thin wood bowing out.

A little weight on top helps keep the joint aligned and flat.

After an hour, I scraped the squeeze out before it completed dried and left them to cure.

You can really see the ‘Bearclaw’ figure ready to pounce from the sitka spruce top. I can’t wait till I get the finish on it (but that’s a bit of a ways to go.)

Next up will be outlining the small jumbo pattern and layout the braces. I’ll be doing two different layouts since the customer wants a 12-fret model, and I’ll do a 14-fret design on mine.

I definitely need to find a better name for this style other than “small jumbo.” No paradoxes allowed at Acorn House!

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