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"kick Starter" Tutorial Video: Veneering A Carved Top

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So, the topic of veneering carved tops comes up more and more and more these days. I've consistently said "It's not my technique to teach." Well, it's finally come up enough times that I contacted the person who did teach it to me and asked if he'd mind if I just went ahead and did a video on it. He said to go ahead and do it. In case you're not familiar with what I'm talking about:

This is actually a spruce carved top I built with just the quilted maple being veneered on:

gotm1.jpg

Or for instance I couldn't find high enough figure birdseye without getting heart wood color in bookmatched carved top thicknesses, so this is just plain maple with birdseye veneer:

7225c398.jpg

However, here's the predicament I'm in. I usually make the videos as I go through the process on a build I'm working. But right now I have a TON of stuff on my plate. New home owner, have about the next 1.5-2 years worth of projects already started (none of which I've planned a veneered top on). So basically, I'd be putting aside all this stuff to carve and veneer a top that I don't even have a project for. Considering I'm very "theme" oriented on my projects, chances are whatever I carve and veneer here will sit for a long time, or just never get used. This is kind of wasteful.

I have always said that my video tutorials would be free, and I have no intention of changing that policy; I will do this video, and it will be free. However, if you've enjoyed my videos in the past, would like to help support the creation of this one by sending something; a carved top blank to replace the one I'll have to use, a fretboard, or a cool drop top; whatever, it would be much appreciated.

Once again, I will make this video regardless of any donation, it will be free for everyone when done, you don't have to do anything. But if you would like to, it'd be nice to at least offset the cost of doing this video since it's just not something I have time for or planned to do on any build any time soon.

If you'd like to donate to the cause, please drop me a PM and I can give you my address. If not, no worries.

Chris

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:D I'm in....I have a ton of veneer just waiting for someone who knows what they are doing. Shoot me your address, and what you are looking for.

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And so it begins...

9a2af76f.jpg

I had this nice perfectly quartered spruce top cut out to a PRS shape because a friend wanted to build one (and then ended up not wanting to after all). Since I'm not big on building other peoples' shapes I figured this was the perfect piece to use for the tutorial. I did the topographic section of the carve just now. It will be a nice .6" deep carve (.85" total depth with 1/4" edge).

Chris

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As an accomplished woodworker I'd say one of the major issues will be, how to maintain it's pliability throught the process. I have done plenty of veneering in my life but all flat work. Most curved or circular work is done in multiple pieces and species so surface forming is not an issue. I too look forward to seeing how you've solved this issue.

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A little more progress made in and out of the busy daily life stuff:

bd2534c6.jpg

Gettin' there on the carve. That's the long part. Once the carve is perfected, the veneering and videoing is the easy part!

For those that are super excited to learn this please consider donating to the cause. I'm putting off other projects and working on this in the little free time I do have to try and get this out there for folks to learn from. Even small stuff like some inlay material, or a cool headplate, or something is highly appreciated. Drop me a PM if you would like to. If not, no worries either.

Chris

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Carve is done. I don't build too many small guitars (13" or so) so I figured I'd bust out the big guns. Some guns that only do just over 13". And...

b493688f-1.jpg

Chris

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Holy crap, that macassar ebony (I assume...) is amazing!

I doubt I'll ever need or use this veneering process, but I will certainly enjoy watching and learning.

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Alright folks, it has arrived! I even spent the time to learn how to get iMovoe hi-res export to behave with YouTube and not cause audio out of sync issues. You're welcome Postheta :P

Although its done, you're obviously still welcome to donate to the cause with some lumber or parts or something. But as always, my stuff is always free if you'd rather not.

Enjoy!

Chris

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Nice!.... A couple questions: The veneer seems to "flex" more than I had expected (in the carved areas of the waist). What is the overall carve depth on your top? Does the scoop carved in the lower bout cutaway/neck area ever give you any problems with wrinkles? Have you ever tried a softening agent with say a 1 piece veneer? And finally, has the neck & FB arrived?

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So this is a 5/8" to 3/4" carve. Somewhere in there. Started at 3/4" CARVE depth, 1" total billet. But by the time I was done a little probably came off. Never had wrinkle issues. Never tried a 1-piece with softener. I have used softener on crazy burl veneer (that one I said was my friends at the start).

Chris

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Chris what are you doin with fillipo's guitar?

great video, I have been currious about this for a long time. I am not really sure that I will ever use the technique, but its very interesting to know. The the thought did occur to me however, is there any particular reason for not using a one piece veneer? would it simply be to many complex curves for one piece? it just seems like if you could use one sheet it would be a lot less work that trying to get a perfect seem in the middle provided you could keep it from buckeling or having big air pockets and stuff.

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Filippo's guitar was having electronics problems. It went home with him last night good as new.

No clue about the one piece. This is the way I learned. Give it a go and let us know :)

Chris

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Great video as always Chris.

I'm thinking there should be some way to have a rough guestimation of the shaping needed for the sanding of the veneer overlap so that there might me a few less attempts in the bag. Have you tried to put them on a carved top unsanded, line them up on the top of the arc, have them overlap at the neck and butt end, mark the overlap and then sand the veneer "sandwich" halfway to the marked line? Or maybee som other way to have a good starting point without making a complete 3D-model in CAD...

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Honestly, after a couple times, you just get a feel for it and it's really quick. Also, even the ever so slightest difference makes a visible gap. So I question that a template or something could be made with CNC precision or something.

As for marking the overlap, I bet that's work. But like I said, once you do it a couple times, you have the shape in your head anyways.

Now you sir, I'd be curious to see what you could do with this idea!

Chris

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Like I said, I'm sure there is if you have CNC precision. But god knows my tops, carved by hand, aren't exactly the same each time. So the best a 'centerline template' will do is get me in te ball park to start. I can do that by eye now.

Chris

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Definitely a good video for anyone interested in veneering.

Good work.

Definitely a good video for anyone interested in veneering.

Good work.

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