Those guitar backs are really beautiful. About how thick are they? My daughter lives with a masterful guitarist, and I'm amazed at how thin, yet strong his Les Paul and acoustic guitars are given they're made of such thin material.
I know the surface of sanded material isn't the same as planed wood, do you think there is enough difference to justify a planer rather than sander? I'm thinking of violins where the material is hand planed because of curves on the back and front.
I find instrument making fascinating, but way above my skill level and pay grade.
Tom, if you just take it one step at a time anyone can build an instrument. When you look at it as a whole it is a bit intimidating but not when you break it down.
I confess to a period a couple of years ago where I stockpiled Cocobolo, Padauk, Indian Rosewood, Bubinga, and many more types of exotic woods for guitar backs and sides. Some are awesome enough to just use as wall art. A finished acoustic guitar back is around 0.100" thick and sides are often around 0.080" thick. Tops are usually around 0.090" to 0.100" thick.
If you have a helical head planer and take light passes you could certainly plane down to within a few thousandths before sanding or scraping but these are about 16" wide so you'd need at least an 18" planer. I have sanded mine to that and usually use a cabinet scraper to finish it off because it cuts the pores rather than rolls them over like sanding and I think it looks cleaner. You have to look pretty close to see the difference and if you don't have them side by side most people can't tell the difference.
The Walnut feather I posted in the 'Found a nugget'
thread would look good on a guitar back but I doubt I'll use it for that. For one thing it is 19.75" long and I would want it 20" for the Grand Auditorium size I like to work with. It would work for a 00 size, though. But at its current thickness of 0.210" I would have to either cut it back apart, resaw each half to about 1/8", then glue back together or do a LOT of sanding which would likely be my choice!
Just for grins, here's a few of the sets and billets I have on hand - I need to get busy building guitars!!
Curly Mahogany -
Bubinga, Walnut -
Walnut stash -