Jump to content

Entry for December 2019's Guitar Of The Month is open - ENTER HERE!

noviceluthier

THe "What mistakes to avoid" thread

Recommended Posts

Keep your work surface clean when sanding. That little tiny wood chip that dents your work (happened to me yesterday) means you have to sand it (the whole surface) right back to the bottom of that dent

If this happens, dab some water on the dent cover it with a peice of wet paper and heat with a soldering iron. The steam will push the dent out. Be careful not to let the wood get dry or you will burn it and then have to sand it out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get used to cold tea with saw dust for sugar.

Buy girlfriend flowers every week because when you're not working on guitars, you'll probably be telling her all about them. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Get used to cold tea with saw dust for sugar.

Buy girlfriend flowers every week because when you're not working on guitars, you'll probably be telling her all about them. B)

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have modified the "measure twice, cut once" to "measure about 27 times, go take a nap, come back and measure a bunch more times.

Listen to what Drak says, he was a big help to me on one of my first projects. Remember, on a solid body, if your neck rout, bridge and pups are properly aligned, nothing else is really critical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For experience ......

TIRED?! - time to stop for the day, that is when mistakes happen, we need all of our fingers !!! I almost trimmed one off with my router one night !

I was close to touch the spinning bit, just cause I was exausted and my mind was elsewhere. SCARY ! I shut the router off.....had a seat......recovered from a near heart attack, took me 10 minutes to get that ugly sensation away from my legs !

ROUTER ! it's a killer, always keep it still when you complete a channel route:

never just lift it out meanwile the bit is still spinning, might chip the sides of the channel, making it messy, same thing happend to me twice douring the body slush trimming, I was on one of the horns, I tipped the router accidently (mostly cause there was not much of surface to slide on, and chipped out huge chunks......

Plan everything douring the building, improvise when you are playing the finished guitar, EYE PROTECTION always ! I use earplugs with almost all powertools, and lungh protection ( I am not so constant in that ).

Mistakes are lessons, they will make you better !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Howdy,

Things that I would add to the list of mistakes and lessons.

1) NEVER try to catch a falling tool

2) I now use a respirator, nitro or poly, toxic wood or non-toxic. Just plain wood dust gums up my lungs.

3) Unplug the router or drill or what ever when you change blades or bits or tools.

4) Good lighting is a must.

5) Don't let pools of water accumulate around you. Electricity is not the only hazard. Slipping can hurt too.

6) If you are not using a particular tool, get it off the work bench.

7) Get a good shop vac and vacuum up the wood dust frequently.

8) Don't smoke while doing wood work.

9) If you have long hair, keep it tied up in back.

10) Surgical gloves are a good way of keeping the hands clean. Loose gloves are not real safe.

11) I finally got a full length face shield, not just safety glasses.

12) Get the proper tool for the job.

13) Needle nose pliers are a good tool for holding wires while soldering.

14) Get some wax, I use paraffin, and rub your screws in it before installing them.

15) Don't be afraid to try something new or unique or unusual.

16) Follow the directions when dealing with high voltage.

17) Change the cat litter frequently.

18) Keep a journal or log of some sort and keep track of what you did and how it worked and if you liked it. And be honest with yourself about what went right and wrong. I put my log on the net for all to see and comment or ridicule, and many have.

19) Keep a log when you are mixing dyes and custom colors so that you can recreate them easily.

20) Get something called a "colorwheel" to help you with mixing colors.

21) Cruise your local guitar stores for ideas.

22) Be sure to give credit to the people who have helped you.

23) Vice grips are good for holding larger items, like pots, when soldering.

24) When you clamp something down, make sure it is tight.

25) If the wife wants the work space clean when you are done working, make it so.

26) Buy cheap pieces of wood to practice on.

27) Read through this thread everyday until you can recite every entry from memory.

28) Clean and/or sharpen your tools regularly. They will last longer.

and.... :DB):D

Take care and take pictures.

Guitar Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Litchfield Custom Gutars

8) Don't smoke while doing wood work.

Or finishing. And trust me, dont smoke while checking your work, cig burns are hard to sand! Unless you want a relic!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep your cat away from your work area.

Don't clamp the neck too tight when you are gluing it, especially on a semi hollow body. I cracked the body into two pieces B)

Don't sand near your computer unless you want to be cleaning the sawdust from the motherboard and the circuits of the cpu.

Don't make your neck too long.

Think twice before cutting, gluing, finnishing, routing,...........

DON'T sand your finger. It hurts. And when you are furiously sanding, you CAN burn your finger, because the paper gets seriously hot. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Plan everything douring the building, improvise when you are playing the finished guitar

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some great, great, tips so far.. especially GuitarEd's he pretty muched covered all the tool safety rules.

Here are some guitar building tips that may help someone avoid some mistakes I've made over the last year or so.

1.) When painting make sure you use a good secure way of holding up the guitar while painting.

2.) If you use nitro, make sure you spray at least 12 coats so you have plenty of paint so you can sand down without hitting bare wood. Also make sure you let it totally cure before assembling your guitar, which in Nitro's case is about a month. Listen to Brian on this one, wait a month and don't get in a hurry like me.. lol

3.) Take your time, and plan everything out like you need too. What kinda bridge your gonna use, scale length, body shape, neck joint used, etc. etc. It should all be decided upon before you cut the first piece of wood.

4.) After you use sealant on the wood, don't touch it because the oil off your fingers could be enough that would make the paint not stick where you touched it or just not dry at all. I learned this the hard way.. lol.. Was showing everyone my work and letting them handle it.. I ended up having to sand all the way back down to the wood and start over.. YIKES

5.) When carving the back of the neck, make sure that you plan everything out, or you might do like I did one time and carve too close to the truss rod. So if your making a thin neck, really put some thought into it, you'll probably end up having to plane down the fingerboard that are 1/4" to a slightly smaller size to make up for the truss rod problem, and use a smaller truss rod that doesn't need as deep of a slot.

6.) When drilling the 10mm tuner holes in the headstock, make sure you have it on a scrap piece of wood so that when it goes out the back, it won't have tearout around it.

7.) Get a robo-sander if your scared to use a flush-trim router bit.

8.) Get a good pair of digital calipers, they are lifesavers.

9.) Buy good tools if you want to save time.

10.) Templates, templates, and more templates. Take time to perfect your templates, it's easier to sand a 1/4" board to the right contour than a 1 3/4" hardwood one. Basically I have templates for neck(side and top), headstock, body, pickups, control cavity, neck pocket etc. etc. And working on an MDF one for my copy carver so I can use it to make a perfect copy of the carved top on each guitar. I can't overstate the importance of templates.

11.) Buy alot of clamps you can never have enough.

12.) Practice on scrap first, like others have already said, better to mess up on a free piece of Pine, than to ruin a hard Maple or Mahogany that cost an arm and leg.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More ideas and thoughts......

1) If you do manage to burn yourself with the soldering iron, and I have, don't just jerk your hand back out of the way and break something else on the way. Be slow and patient about it.

2) Spraying a clear finish will still change the color/tint/tone just a little bit.

3) When thinking about experimenting, ask yourself why Fender, Gibson, et al., have not tried it.

Guitar Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When drilling the holes thru the heel for a bolt-on neck (very late in the total process), clamp it gently onto the body, then string up your E strings. Adjust the neck so that you have the same amount of space on either side of the E's, then clamp it down tight (use clamping cauls). THEN drill through the heel and into the neck (with a depth stop).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1) If you do manage to burn yourself with the soldering iron, and I have, don't just jerk your hand back out of the way and break something else on the way. Be slow and patient about it.

:D

Some tips on soldering...

when working in the cavity of a finished guitar....protect the finish with a couple layers of newspaper...molten metal and paint do not combine in a good way...and paper insulates reasonably well...

Always keep track of where your iron is...yeah you're best to have a holder...some don't fit in holders....be careful...they burn

clips are good to hold things out of the way while you work in a tight space with a cumbersome hot piece of metal and try not burning things with it

Denim is a really really good insulator...especially double layer denim...it'll give you that split second extra so that you don't have to jerk away when you burn yourself (yes I said WHEN)....you'll be needing your finger tips for arranging the parts...so cut the fingers off denim gloves...I usually only burn the joint between the index and thumb anyway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok let me share my soldering iron stories..... :D

Thumb and index finger severely burnt , did not play for more that a week !

I grabbed it like you grabbed it by the iron part insead of the plastic, just like a chip from a bowl ......WHY ?

I was tired again, was not looking at it before picking it up from the table, I was to busy staring at the wireing diagram !

always cover the body of the wood when soldering in the cavity, I burnt a small part on my first guitar, now I use paper to cover it B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When painting a guitar, as stated already, make sure the area is dust free AND....

make sure there aren't bugs flying around.

Thankfully, it was my scrap test piece but this mosquito is fossilized in it now :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a newbie, but I have learned something already when finishing my Saga Strat kit. When using a wax based tack cloth to prep the surface for spraying, DON'T press down on the wood. Doing this will leave some wax behind that will react with the next coat of paint and produce a nasty wrinkle effect. I'm not sure if this is a good idea or not, but maybe one could even follow the tack cloth with a quick naptha wipe to remove any wax that may have been left behind. My 2 cents.

Best Regards,

Mike.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few more words of advice.....

When working from a book, make a photocopy or three of the page(s) you are working from, and put the book away so that it does not get dirty.

Guitar Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This one goes for more than just making guitars:

If you EVER start to think you are tired, getting frustrated, dont feel good, feel angry, and/or aren't PERFECTLY sure what you should do next: stop.

9 times out of 10 when I make a mistake it's because I got lazy due to being tired or frustrated and it only results in bigger problems...as dumb as it sounds, every 10-15 mintues just ask yourself if you are feeling good and know what you are doing and why, if not stop what you are doing and take a few hours to think about what you should do next.

I now have to put some wood shims in my neck because I decided hand sanding was just too slow...great idea.

Also, wear eye protection!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This one goes for more than just making guitars:

If you EVER start to think you are tired, getting frustrated, dont feel good, feel angry, and/or aren't PERFECTLY sure what you should do next: stop.

9 times out of 10 when I make a mistake it's because I got lazy due to being tired or frustrated and it only results in bigger problems...as dumb as it sounds, every 10-15 mintues just ask yourself if you are feeling good and know what you are doing and why, if not stop what you are doing and take a few hours to think about what you should do next.

I now have to put some wood shims in my neck because I decided hand sanding was just too slow...great idea.

Also, wear eye protection!

Amen Sparky.

I dropped my latest project on a concrete floor - I was tired and pissed off about sanding through my colour coat. I'm sure I wouldn't have been as clumsy if I'd just waited a day before trying to repair my colour. Now I have three repairs to make...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When gluing two large pieces of wood, like for a body blank, use 2 bar clamps on top and 2 more across the back side. Has to do with the torque that the clamps generate. Keeps the wood flatter this way.

Guitar Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When gluing two large pieces of wood, like for a body blank, use 2 bar clamps on top and 2 more across the back side. Has to do with the torque that the clamps generate. Keeps the wood flatter this way.

Guitar Ed

actually it is because when you tighten the bar clamps,it bends the shaft of the clamp into a slight curve,making the feet of the clamp run out of square,thus making the wood bend at the join away from the clamp

but yes...i always clamp from both sides...it is critical to do so

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I welcome mistakes as long as it doesn't cost me a body part.

If you built a perfect guitar with zero mistakes, fine then, you have a nice guitar.

But if you built a guitar and you made 10 mistakes along the way, and you had to correct all of them, and you had to research a better way to not make that mistake again, and you had to do that 10 times, you'll learn far far more.

As long as it doesn't cost a body part or two. :DB):D

So if your end result is to just have a guitar that you built, well, OK.

But if you want to be a woodworker, and maybe a luthier, well then my brother, mistakes are part of the path, are to be expected, are to be welcomed for the insights that mistakes give you IF you're mind is open to the experience of learning from your mistakes.

So if I had to say what mistake to avoid, it would be thinking that you can avoid mistakes, or the bigger mistake would be to take a mistake in anger and not understand and look forward to the lesson the mistake will give you.

I mean, everyone's always talking about wanting to be an experienced luthier and all that drivel, well, how do you think they get there, by making no mistakes along the way? Or by getting mad and stamping their feet when they make one?

Not. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...