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Hi all, this is my first post ever. I am a UK based luthier that has been hobby building for a while and now decided to pack in the rat race and set up shop building professionally. I have most basic equip but am in process of buying better and new equipment. Can anyone recommend a good bandsaw for splitting blanks to make book matched tops. I also need to buy a new set of router bits. What are the essentials and best make? I will have many qs in future but these are my main two at present.
 

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Hi, Steve; welcome. Apparently I got here first so I'll suggest you only buy individual router bits, of the profiles you actually need. Make a list, and watch for sale pricing on the brands you really want, rather than buying the cheapest at any particular moment.
Cheers, and good luck with the new venture!
 

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Hi Steve - I'm in Ireland making electric guitars on a hobby basis. I've got a Metabo BAS317 which is ok for half an electric top (tele-style). You might want a bigger one if you are making jumbo-sized acoustics - make sure the depth of cut is at least the same as half your guitar's widest point. If I were you, I'd look hard at Record saws. With great respect to the members here, this is predominantly an American forum - there are brands on the market there that we can't get on this side of the water, eg Ridgid, Delta, Grizzly etc., so some of the guys won't be able to advise you. You could go along to a trade show or woodworking show and see the saws in action, then decide which one you like and which is affordable. You might find that a planer-thicknesser and/or a drum sander wide enough to do guitar components comfortably will be a bigger buy than a bandsaw. There's a joinery near where I live that has a 48" drum sander, they often oblige me and run a piece through it to thickness it for me - I could never afford a piece of equipment like that.
I get my router bits from George Hsu on Ebay, but Trend bits would be considered very good quality and they're available in the UK.
For bandsaw blades, contact Ian Johns at Tuff Saws.

What do you use to cut fret slots? There's a guy on youtube doing it on a bandsaw, but I haven't been able to source a blade thin enough to attempt it.

Regards

JC
 

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Welcome to the forum,Steve.
 

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Hi, Steve; welcome. Apparently I got here first so I'll suggest you only buy individual router bits, of the profiles you actually need. Make a list, and watch for sale pricing on the brands you really want, rather than buying the cheapest at any particular moment.
Cheers, and good luck with the new venture!
Hi, thanks, good advice as I did have my eye on a set.
I'll hold off on that now.
Cheers
Steve
 

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Hi all, this is my first post ever. I am a UK based luthier that has been hobby building for a while and now decided to pack in the rat race and set up shop building professionally. I have most basic equip but am in process of buying better and new equipment. Can anyone recommend a good bandsaw for splitting blanks to make book matched tops. I also need to buy a new set of router bits. What are the essentials and best make? I will have many qs in future but these are my main two at present.


I would get the biggest bandsaw in your budget. Re-sawing on an 18" saw will get you better sized stock, than sawing on a traditional 14". Get a low pitch blade, such as 1.3 TPI.

Router bits.....buy just what you need, when you need it. Plan in advance.
 

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Hi JC, thanks for all the advice. I will have a look at your eBay recommendation. I'm just building electric also so don't need anything that wide like a drum sander or planer thicknesser. I have been warned off using this type of equipment as it is dangerousness to use with small guitar size pieces of wood. I was told by someone you should only use them for longer planks. I have ordered a woodhaven sled for face planning with the router and will see how this goes for now. and Re splitting faces I want to use the method of table sawing both ends and then using bandsaw to split the centre. The two upper and lower cuts work as a guide for the blade. Not sure how it will work for thicknessing flat edges but will be great for LP top carving with router. I'm in the market for some quality Japanese fret saws at present. I have a Hosco account so may get them from there. Open to suggestions.
Ill let you know how it goes. What kind of guitars are you building? Do you have any photos?
S
 

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Hi JC, thanks for all the advice. I will have a look at your eBay recommendation. I'm just building electric also so don't need anything that wide like a drum sander or planer thicknesser. I have been warned off using this type of equipment as it is dangerousness to use with small guitar size pieces of wood. I was told by someone you should only use them for longer planks. I have ordered a woodhaven sled for face planning with the router and will see how this goes for now. and Re splitting faces I want to use the method of table sawing both ends and then using bandsaw to split the centre. The two upper and lower cuts work as a guide for the blade. Not sure how it will work for thicknessing flat edges but will be great for LP top carving with router. I'm in the market for some quality Japanese fret saws at present. I have a Hosco account so may get them from there. Open to suggestions.
Ill let you know how it goes. What kind of guitars are you building? Do you have any photos?
S
Don't be so sure about planer-thicknesser danger. Each one comes with a data sheet giving the specs for the shortest length that the machine can take. I have a Woodstar planer, readily available in the UK as are all its Chinese clones. In general, the issue with short planks is that there is a tendency to snipe near the ends of them if the plank tips as it enters or exits the planer - to avoid this I would tend to use a longer plank than I need and cut the bad bits off, if that makes any sense! You can also make a sled to 'cheat' the planer and put smaller bits through.
I make mostly tele-style guitars, not faithful replicas, but not a million miles off either. I put strat-style belly cuts and arm cuts because it makes a nicer shape, and to get some weight off. Here's a pic of what's on the bench at the moment - 'Ol' Stripey' - made of mahogany from a skip (dumpster) and spanish chestnut, with a beech neck with cocobolo fingerboard. The Woodstar planer did all the jointing and facing of that laminated body, easily. On this guitar I'm trying to install the neck pickup from the rear - unusual, and bloody complicated too!



I cut my fret slots with a 8-euro saw from B&Q - see it here - it works fine. It's like a japanese saw but not as expensive.

 

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Welcome Steve.

No answers, but a question for you or JC--looking at JC's fret cutting set-up triggers a questin i hadn't considered before. Most fretboards have a slight radius (i'm thinking 12" or so is pretty common). When cutting the slots do you need to radius the kerf to match that or is that such a small distance that it doesn't impact the ability to set the fret wire??

Thanks!!
 

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Welcome Steve.

No answers, but a question for you or JC--looking at JC's fret cutting set-up triggers a questin i hadn't considered before. Most fretboards have a slight radius (i'm thinking 12" or so is pretty common). When cutting the slots do you need to radius the kerf to match that or is that such a small distance that it doesn't impact the ability to set the fret wire??

Thanks!!


In an ideal world, cutting the fret slot bottoms--would be cut with the same radius. In reality, it doesn't make any noticeable difference cutting the bottoms flat. Main thing is the slot width.
 

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Stewmac in the US sell a fret saw with stops to limit the depth of cut, that's one way of doing it, but it's an expensive saw compared to my el-cheapo one. I rely on judgment and I count the strokes of the saw - the one I use cuts on the pullstroke and it is quite agressive, maybe three short strokes is enough. Once I've put the fingerboard through the slotting jig I can make final adjustments at any stage - the jig spaces the frets correctly and keeps them square to the centre line and parallel to each other. Of course, if you make a bound neck, it would hide the slots and it wouldn't matter then how deep they were. As far as I know, guitar manufacturers use either a CNC router or a multi-bladed table saw to cut the slots. Some of the best American builders on tdpri.com use radial arm saws or table saws, and again, Stewmac sell a thin-kerf circular saw blade. Only the CNC machine could cut a slot that would follow the camber of the fretboard.
You are right too on fretboard radius, 12" is common, but anything from 9" to 14" would be ok too. Some guys try to achieve compound radii so that the fretboard becomes a section of a cone, I haven't done that either, and I have no longing to try ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey JC, thanks again for your thoughts. I will check out the woodstar. Could it be used to strip a polly Finnish on both sides?
S
 

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Hey JC, thanks again for your thoughts. I will check out the woodstar. Could it be used to strip a polly Finnish on both sides?
S

Is that a girl called Polly from Finland? ;-) Steve - I really wouldn't do it, because the finish could melt momentarily at the point where the blades cut, and it'll end up stuck to the planer's knives. I would probably belt-sand the finish off, and re-face the wood, all you'll have them is a gummed-up belt on your sander, and you could minimise the stickiness by setting the sander to its slowest speed. I have made several fingerboards from left-over odd lengths from hardwood flooring projects, and some of them come with rock-hard coatings. I have sawn them off on the bandsaw, taking just a sliver, and thicknessed the piece again then using the underside as the reference face.
 

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Yeah, thanks, That's what I expected. I have about 6 swamp ash bodies I practiced can spraying 2pack laquer onto and they look ****. Im going to stay with French polishing from here on.
Cheers
S
 

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Yeah, thanks, That's what I expected. I have about 6 swamp ash bodies I practiced can spraying 2pack laquer onto and they look ****. Im going to stay with French polishing from here on.
Cheers
S
I've used Danish Oil and it leave a finish that I like, even though it takes a while to build up. I'm french-polishing the guitar I'm currently building, see attached. It's made of mahogany and spanish chestnut. I've never french-polished anything before, so it's a learning experience. I think it's a bit like welding, or routing for that matter - you need to get the skill into your hands and then it gets intuitive.
 

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