Jump to content

Recommended Posts

I keep thinking there ought to be a thread dedicated to cross referencing the products that StewMac sells that anyone can buy for less money somewhere else.

First is the 7/32 router bit that you have to buy for installing the Hot Rod truss rod. Get it here for 6 bucks less.

http://www.routerbits.com/cgi-routerbits/s...10314558_4592+1

I'm also a big fan of the little belt sanding sticks that SM sells for fret work.. SM wants 9 bucks per stick.. You can get a 4 pack at Woodcraft for 20.99 with 20 belts..

http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyid=274

Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, i watched a "master luthier" recrown some frets the other day, took him an hour with a "cheap triangle file, thats all ya need". He charges $75 an hour, so a fretlevel is $150.

I have the PROPER tools, and can do the same quality job in 45 minutes, with less effort, and charge the same amount of money (which works out to $200 an hour).

He saved $50 on one tool, and losses $75 worth of labour, every time he uses it. Smart man.

You're gunna spend HOW LONG (??) making a jig to avoid buying a $20 file?? How long did the radius sanding block jig take to make?? Do the cauls come out perfect, honestly?? I doubt it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
You know, i watched a "master luthier" recrown some frets the other day, took him an hour with a "cheap triangle file, thats all ya need". He charges $75 an hour, so a fretlevel is $150.

I have the PROPER tools, and can do the same quality job in 45 minutes, with less effort, and charge the same amount of money (which works out to $200 an hour).

He saved $50 on one tool, and losses $75 worth of labour, every time he uses it. Smart man.

You're gunna spend HOW LONG (??) making a jig to avoid buying a $20 file??  How long did the radius sanding block jig take to make?? Do the cauls come out perfect, honestly?? I doubt it.

I understand your point and for the most part agree.. You have the privelege though of being established (or at least appear to me to be) in the business that I would love to be established in. With the failure rate of most businesses and ventures I can't afford to sink so much in up front that I start out in the hole. I think the majojrity of folks on this board are either hobby builders or budding/aspiring luthiers that might want to take up the next level. Sometimes you have to be thrifty and do things on the cheap to be able to afford the good stuff later.

I do hope that didn't come cross at all as terse. I appreciate greately you and the other pro and semi pro luths that offer advice and participate.. but the only reason I started this thread is that this forum and site are the "project" guitar forum.. not the Professional Luthier's forum.. In fact, projectGuitar.com is full of ways to make your own jigs, tools and save some bucks because for a one-off project guitar builder, you can't afford to spend more on toos than you do your instrument.

Anyway.. that's it. didn't mean anything "snotty" by it :D Cheers..

-marcus

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey again,

What everyone has to figure out is what you like to do. If you like the process of doing this stuff and really aren't concerned with the time factor more power to you.

I personally have always enjoyed coming up with jigs made out of "stone knives and bearskin rugs" (to quote the guy that taught me). I also enjoy having the right tool for the job, that someone smarter than me has made.

I have got a shop with a whole bunch of professional grade power and hand tools, but I see work shown here that is much better than some of what I'm currently doing. It's being done in garages and closet sized spaces with little more than hand tools and intense dedication to craftsmanship.

Finding the same thing from a cheaper source just makes sense when you're doing this for love and not for money, or even when you're doing it for money! I see a lot of stuff on the sites that sell to luthiers that I can get from woodworkingand industrial suppliers for a lot less.

Just so you'll know, I started out as a professinal woodworker with a borrowed tablesaw, a hand drill, some screwdrivers,a couple of hammers, my great-grandfater's layout tools a couple of old handplanes and a couple of good chisels. And $300 in my pocket. Used one job to pay for the next and buy what I needed as I went along. Mostly bought clamps at first.

Link to post
Share on other sites

well, admittedly.. a big part of my problem is that I enjoy building jigs.. There's a level to which the process in itself is as much fun as reaping the reward of the finished product..

I'm what you described.. getting by however I can. Luckily, one of my best friends has a full shop and his dad does too and they are consolidating and want to help me.. so I went from nothing to a shop with 2 or 3 of every power tool you can imagine. Still i'm learning my way around spokeshaves and rasps and really trying to do things the old fashioned way.. enjoy the process along the way and produce good stuff as a result.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This place:

http://www.widgetsupply.com/

has lots of goodies, but quality is all over the place. Prices are a good guide, and if it's $.50, it's probably not worth much more.

Sometimes that's good enough, though.

Here:

http://www.sciplus.com/singleItem.cfm?term...tegory%20Filter

is a set that looks like the nut files StewMac used to sell.

What a gem! This 3-piece set of 7" double-sided diamond files has slightly beveled 2-1/2" x 5/8" abrasive areas and nicely shaped wooden handles. Three grits: 150, 300 and 400. Vinyl storage pouch.

91982 DIAMOND FILES $9.50 / EACH

Both these stores have many useful things.

Monty

Edited by Monty Cadenhead
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know for sure but I think one thing Perry may have been concerened with was that beginners may see this thread and think that avoiding Stewmac (and others) tools is the "right" thing to do. Building your own tools/jigs is the proper way for a true hand-crafted instrument to be built.

I see it too often at work - people spend so much energy in finding a way to do something, they don't take the time to think if they even should be doing it in the first place. The challenge of finding the solution blinds them from seeing that it won't be worth doing in the end.

Maybe not - but I can see how someone who is just starting out might see it this way. I'm one of those guys who really enjoys the challenge of solving problems and creating my own stuff but after building several guitars, I have found that I prefer spending the extra money on things like sanding blocks, fret levelers, ... The precision of Stewmac's tools ends up saving me a lot of headaches in the end.

Having said that, I can certainly understand and appreciate finding alternate sources for things like router bits and sanding supplies. I think there was another thread that someone started on this a while ago though - wasn't there?

I know Derek found a real nice pattern bit somewhere for a much lower price than stewmac - I'd like to add it to your list but I can't remember right now where the heck he found them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would never not own the guitar specific tools that stewmac comes up with... Aluminum sanding blocks, nut files...

But there are some things in the catalog that they sell as specific guitar tools that can be found else where for much less.

Mouser.com can get you all the electronics you need for about 1/4 of the price that stewmac sells. The tele input jack is one that comes to mind, also 1meg pots. just dig through the catalog. The end nippers are another tool that costs about half of what it should be..

If I remember more will post...

-derek

Link to post
Share on other sites
I know Derek found a real nice pattern bit somewhere for a much lower price than stewmac - I'd like to add it to your list but I can't remember right now where the heck he found them.

Hey I understand and appreciate that. There are some things so specialized that when you can afford them, you should get them.. but like BigD said.. there are a lot of things that you can get elsewhere that SM just resells for the convenience of the buyer.

Grizzly has some great deals on pattern bit sets.. Even the 1/2" shank stuff.. I think most of StewMacs stuff is 1/4" and it's worth the little bit extra to go 1/2 and not worry about breakage.

Another Grizzly find is their spiral pattern bits which are supposed to significantly reduce tearout. WOodcraft sells the whiteside bit which is 90 bucks for a 1 1/2" spiral cutter on a 1/2" shank. The same thing from grizzly is 39 bucks. 39 bucks is a small price to pay when you're dealing with 100 dollar top wood sets.

I lost a piece of plain ole swamp ash to a straight flush cut bit just a week ago.. Rounding off the heel and bam.. thee went about a 3 inch chunk out of my glueup.

It's worth it to sign up for Grizzly's luthier catalog. It's mostly geared for acoustic builders but it's a good source of tools and their prices are really attractive on a lot of stuff.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread makes me remember something from a lotta years ago. I got a job at a sheet steel fabricating shop, sort of "one-up" from my previous job, also at a fabricating shop (making electrical panels). On the previous job I operated a large steel shear, punch presses etc. but did not have a lot to do with the actual layout. There was always someone around to guide me through each step. It was all piece work.

When I got started at the new job the forman handed me some blueprints, said "make five of these" and then walked away. They looked to be some sort of doorway hatches for a boat, about 4' X 4' with rounded corners inside and out. So I get my 12 ga. stock cut and spent some time measuring and etching out the corner radii. Then cut everything out with a nibbler. I figured on making one unit then using it as a template for the rest. When I was done the foreman came over and said I spent too much time to make those units and I would have to go. I damn near punched him in the mouth when he pointed at the stack of templates leaning in the corner that NOBODY told me about. All I had to do was cut out my stock, slap the template over it, etch it out then cut the patterns.

But my point in this thread is that if you plan on stamping out large numbers of product then time definitely IS an issue. If I won the lottery I would probably set up a shop and order one of EVERYTHING from Stewmac. But for the time being I make maybe one guitar a year along with a few little repair jobs on the side. I don't have the bucks to buy those specialized tools that I might use once or twice a year. But I've gotten very proficient at crowning frets with my trusty triangular file and cutting 3 degree nack angles with a Skilsaw :D .

I almost think that having all these tools that make perfect edges, faces etc. etc. takes something away from the craftsmanship involved in building a guitar. Its too easy and not as much fun. You don't really have to use your noodle as much and you don't develop certain skills to that craftsmanship level. May as well go take some CAD courses and buy a CNC machine if I'm really in it for the money.

Edited by Southpa
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey. I can't rip stew-mac. They ship fast, they always ship what you order, and in my limited experience, I was always better off ordering from them. I tried to save some money buying screws and spring from a local hardware store, but in the end the stuff wasn't exactly the look I wanted. I'm sure the economies of scale could be a factor, if you're making a lot of guitars, I could see where that would enter into the equation. Myself, I kind of like to go out to the mailbox, and get all the right hardware for whatever I'm building.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey. I can't rip stew-mac. They ship fast, they always ship what you order, and in my limited experience, I was always better off ordering from them. I tried to save some money buying screws and spring from a local hardware store, but in the end the stuff wasn't exactly the look I wanted. I'm sure the economies of scale could be a factor, if you're making a lot of guitars, I could see where that would enter into the equation. Myself, I kind of like to go out to the mailbox, and get all the right hardware for whatever I'm building.

I'm not trying to rip stewmac.. completely.. They have a ton of good stuff that is great and you can't get it anywhere else. I would never try to find substitute screws and small parts at a hardware store. I use AllParts and WD for that stuff. But for instance.. a precision rule? Stewmac wants 20-30 bucks for these things. You can get a cabinetmaker's rule at woodcraft.com, engraved markings at 1/64" graduations in a 24" length for 9.99. Woodcraft is GOOD stuff, it's a cheap alternative in price only. Things like that when you're building your first guitar, or a small run of guitars can kill your budget.

I can't afford to be nickeled and dimed 20 bucks at a time on tools when my budget is tight already. Stewmac has it's place but there is a large part of their inventory that is just regular hardware and tool products that you could get a lot of different places and save a considerable amount of startup money. I simply wanted to pass those instances along so others can save some $$ too..

Save $$ on tools and put the extra into some nicer hardware or electronics or something..

Link to post
Share on other sites

I make my own radius sanding blocks with the copy carver. Just buy whatever radius block I need, then use it to make more, plus I got smart and used the 8" long one that Stew Mac sells, made three of them, then put them together and made a perfect copy on the copy carver. Now I can use it for a long clamp to hold the fingerboard in perfect place until the glue dries, or for leveling the fingerboard, frets, perfectly flat.

There is one thing I wish someone would find a cheaper alternative for though. The table saw blade for cutting your own fret slots. That thing must be Stew Mac exclusive because up until now I've had no luck in finding them. Anyone?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I make my own radius sanding blocks with the copy carver.  Just buy whatever radius block I need, then use it to make more, plus I got smart and used the 8" long one that Stew Mac sells, made three of them, then put them together and made a perfect copy on the copy carver.  Now I can use it for a long clamp to hold the fingerboard in perfect place until the glue dries, or for leveling the fingerboard, frets, perfectly flat. 

There is one thing I wish someone would find a cheaper alternative for though.  The table saw blade for cutting your own fret slots.  That thing must be Stew Mac exclusive because up until now I've had no luck in finding them.  Anyone?

Well, LMI sells theirs for 40 bucks.. better than StewMacs 80.. but LMIs needs stiffeners.

I'm working on this one. I have found hobby table saw blades that are .023 kerf however they are 2.5" diameter.

I will say, however, that 80 bucks is not unheard of for a table saw blade. Good woodworkers don't cut good wood with 10 dollar blades from walmart or home depot.. My friends table saw is outfited with a new Freud blade that he spent 80-90 bucks for.. I cut 3/4 inch ply with it, even stopped during the rip to switch sides, it never splintered, burned, or anything. Slices through it like it was nothing. LMMI for 40 bucks is probably as cheap as I would go on a table saw fretting solution. And honestly, 40-80 is nothing considering you can cut your slots in a matter of minutes rather than using a backsaw and doing them all by hand.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is one thing I wish someone would find a cheaper alternative for though.  The table saw blade for cutting your own fret slots.  That thing must be Stew Mac exclusive because up until now I've had no luck in finding them.  Anyone?

Really, this blade is not that expensive for the job it does, it paid for itself in no time for me, and compared to some of the table saw blades I've got, it's cheap! I've got diamond tipped blades that were almost $200! I never found the Stewmac fret slotting blade expensive, hell, all it takes is 1.25 saved hours and it's paid for compared to doing it all by hand :D

Link to post
Share on other sites

About the saw blades. Some folks on MIMF have all complained that the .023 kerf is too thin.. Is that because those guys primarily build acoustics? I thought .023 was the standard.

Anyway.. Several over there like the stew blade.. One guy says his is still going strong after 15 years and over 100 boards. However, some others said you can buy a plywood blade and have a machine shop rim grind it to your desired kerf and it doesn't cost much at all. To me, there are more advantages other than saving money.. it would be a standard size and you wouldn't need stiffeners.

Some others mentioned metal cutting blades from MSC. Inexpensive but you have to alter the bore for the table saw arbor. Doesn't seem worth it to me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I'm gonna have to side with Jeremy on this one. I'm making a new order with stewmac either this afternoon or tomorrow, and I'm getting that tablesaw blade with it. I'll have to make a jig for the tablesaw to use it, but it's not going to cost much more than the hand saw fret slotting setup they have. Especially since I'm going to have the plywood for the jig already. The tablesaw blade is $76.27. The fret slotting mitre box with saw is $80.69. I'm not sure how much I would trust the tablesaw set-up without a nice tablesaw, though.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have to go with the stewmac blade definitely over the LMI. No extra stabilizers to have to purchase.. The only alternative I would consider is the ground down plywood blade as the standard size would be nice.

Someone posted an image in MIMF of a home made fret slotting jig for the tablesaw that was pretty neat looking.. but for the tablesaw i guess all you need is the template piece and teh pin attached to your fence.

It's definitely well worth the 80-140 bucks alltogether to do the tablesaw fretting system if you're going to build more than one guitar.

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...