Rosettes by the bunch

Before bracing can begin on the soundboards, rosettes have to be inlayed. (Its much easier working on a flat surface than a slightly arched one that doesn’t lie flat.) I use a small router with a circle cutting base and the appropriate sized router bits to do mine. For the commissioned guitar, I am using bloodwood and blackwood to divide the rosette into four quarters, representing the four major parts of the heart. (The gentleman commissioning the guitar is a heart transplant recipient who goes by the nickname ‘Tinman”. He intends to use the guitar to encourage others going through a transplant.) After sketching out my design, I milled the wood to approximate shape, and used a chisel to fit the pieces tight together.

These then get glued into the routed channel with liquid hide glue.

Then, to frame the woods, I rout a thin channel on either side and glue in some black-white-black purfling strips. The purfling strips are purchased premade using a dyed cardboard type material that is flexible and stays white and black no matter the finish or age. After glueing these get scraped flush. Then everything gets sanded smooth. (There’s a couple of areas on the blackwood that are depressed, and there is some glued reflecting back in the picture. These will disappear after the finish sanding and finishing process.)

It doesn’t show as well in the pic due to the lighting, but the bloodwood is truly vibrant against the whiteness of the Italian Spruce. (The rough bit at the top will be covered by the fingerboard, so its a good area to make test cuts with the router.)

The second rosette, which will be for my personal guitar, will have a fairly standard design of paua abalone in between two rings of purfling. The purfling channels are routed and the the purfling is glued and then scraped.

Then a channel for the abalone is routed and the abalone pieces are prepared. They come pre arched, but the ends need to be mitered to provide a seamless ring with the 15 pieces of abalone. This is done at the sander with a simple jig. When everything is ready, the pieces are selected to minimize any abrupt changes of pattern between pieces. The abalone and border purfling are glued in together using extended cure epoxy. Then everything is scraped and sanded flush to a sparkly shine.

Brace yourself for what’s coming next!

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