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Building with Korina and Sapele


WillMB
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Hi Everyone,

Total novice here so apologies if this is a dense question (and please go easy on me!)

I've just started to plan out my first ever guitar build of any kind - as an engineer and guitar addict it was only a matter of time! My plan is to build a tele style guitar with a chambered body, the hope being to get a tele twang with a little more warmth in the final result. As a personal preference I'm looking at making a bolt-on maple neck and fretboard (and there seems to be a lot of material online to help with that) but my current, largely aesthetically driven, plan was to use a Korina/Limba body with a Pommelle Sapele top. So the questions I was hoping you lovely internet people might be able to help with are:

1) Any general comments, suggestions or tips on working with either of these?

2) What would be the best process for preparing these woods, and really allowing the grain of the wood to look its best?

3) Any issues with using a clear Nitro finish on them to seal and protect? If not that, what would you recommend as an alternative? I've read that poly is an option but that it can be more difficult to use.

As I said I'm a totally new starter but really enthused about my first chance to make a guitar. I'm keen to learn how and happy to be patient and put in some elbow grease to get a good result.

Thanks so much in advance all,

Will

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Hi Will and welcome, where in the UK are you? You will find there are a few Brits on the forum

I've used sapele but not pommel, it is open grained like mahogany etc so will need grain filling prior to sealer/nitro if you want a glass like finish, otherwise you will end seeing specs in the grain. I've used black limba twice now, the first time I used it was for a one-piece body and it moved A LOT even though it was kiln dried ( I was working on it this time last year) so I recommend roughing out the body shape and leaving it a good while prior to getting it down to the thickness you need. Limba is a similar situation as sapele, needs to be grain filled ideally. I just used minwax poly on the last limba build, but I'm working on a limba neckthrough bass which I will be spraying with clear nitro too - I'm using Morrels lacquer which is available in the UK, they're really helpful in terms of questions if you're new to lacquer, I highly recommend them.

Good luck with your build, looking forward to seeing some pics :)

 

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Welcome to the addiction! Sir Ash already nailed many of the wood specific things I'm not that familiar with so I'll just give you some hints concerning your first question:

12 hours ago, WillMB said:

1) Any general comments, suggestions or tips on working with either of these?

  • Take all the time you need and then some more. Rushing will only make things worse.
  • Ask when in doubt. You may be on the right track which will be confirmed or you may be way off which will be corrected. This community is a bunch of evil minded bastards willing to see you destroy what you've built. Or then again not.
  • Different wood species live differently with weather so let the woods climatise a good while before doing anything accurate. Woods stored in different locations can shrink or swell no matter how well they've been dried or even torrefied. It's not much of an issue with tops and bottoms but multi laminate necks really benefit from a long storage before cutting.
  • Making the grain pop depends partially on the wood itself. Not all blanks have spectacular grain figuration or chatoyance but if you take some time to study your materials you may find interesting details. The trick is to locate them to the most visible parts of your build. 

 

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Thanks so much both for your replies!!

I'm based in Cardiff but will be building the guitar on weekends back at my parent's house in Bristol - unfortunately I'm lacking a workshop space here at the moment. It looks like this might work in my favour a little though based on both of your notes regarding movement in the wood! I will likely have a few weeks between different stages of the build so I will plan it in such a way to give the wood some time to adjust after any key steps.

I had my suspicions that i would probably need use grain filler but it's good to have it confirmed! Any particular brands you'd recommend from your builds?

18 hours ago, ADFinlayson said:

I'm working on a limba neckthrough bass which I will be spraying with clear nitro too - I'm using Morrels lacquer which is available in the UK,

Ah awesome! It's good to know that I wasn't barking up the wrong tree with the nitro finish! I will follow your suggestion with Morrels, it looks to be just what I'm after!

9 hours ago, Bizman62 said:
  • Take all the time you need and then some more. Rushing will only make things worse.
  • Ask when in doubt. You may be on the right track which will be confirmed or you may be way off which will be corrected. This community is a bunch of evil minded bastards willing to see you destroy what you've built. Or then again not

I do tend to check and overcheck so slow and methodical works for me! And now I've discovered this forum I will certainly be using it to its fullest extent... whether in pride or confusion we wait to see!

9 hours ago, Bizman62 said:
  • Making the grain pop depends partially on the wood itself. Not all blanks have spectacular grain figuration or chatoyance but if you take some time to study your materials you may find interesting details. The trick is to locate them to the most visible parts of your build. 

 

I will be aiming to get some sapele for the drop top that I know has some good pomelle figuring on - the supplier I've looked at denotes specimens with particularly good figuring separately so that's definitely what I'm going for there, With the Limba I will have to wait and see what I get - but if I can highlight some pretty buts in the grain then so much the better!

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6 minutes ago, WillMB said:

I'm based in Cardiff but will be building the guitar on weekends back at my parent's house in Bristol

That raised another potential issue: If the place you store your build in between is elsewhere than where you build it can affect the stability. The best option is that the workshop space at your parents' house has a steady temperature and low humidity so you can store the woods there.

The worst scenario for a builder is an uninsulated shed as a workshop during the British rain season called winter and a shelf over the bathroom door for storage. If the workshop is humid, try to minimise the time you have the woods there, keeping them in a dry storage as much as possible.

Also, for storing your planks and boards don't just stack them face to face as that can cause warping when the outside dries. The best way to stack wood is to use slats both under the first board and between each layer so that there's airflow all around each and every board. Line the slats vertically to prevent warping and if you're in any doubt, put a piece of plywood or other less valuable board on top and some stones or other heavy objects to keep the stack straight. In case that wasn't puzzling enough, here's a sketch:

image.png.164485486f4e4b3adc807913fbd476ef.png

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9 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

That raised another potential issue: If the place you store your build in between is elsewhere than where you build it can affect the stability. The best option is that the workshop space at your parents' house has a steady temperature and low humidity so you can store the woods there.

That ties in with what I was planning - while the workshop space is not particularly climate controlled, my plan was to work in there and whenever not working return the wood to my former bedroom which will be dry without any extremes in temperature.

13 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

Also, for storing your planks and boards don't just stack them face to face as that can cause warping when the outside dries. The best way to stack wood is to use slats both under the first board and between each layer so that there's airflow all around each and every board. Line the slats vertically to prevent warping and if you're in any doubt, put a piece of plywood or other less valuable board on top and some stones or other heavy objects to keep the stack straight. In case that wasn't puzzling enough, here's a sketch

Ah right I had not thought of that at all, thanks so much! I will need to make some templates, jigs and other bits and bobs before I get going in earnest so I will make up some slats for storage as per your drawing.

 

15 minutes ago, ADFinlayson said:

Jenkins Jecofil grainfiller is what I've been using, I recently found out that Atkin guitars also use the same stuff, so confirms it's not rubbish :) 

Perfect, thanks!

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