Hi all,
I am pretty much a newbie wanna be luthier getting into the game a bit late in life at 53 years of age but getting in finally regardless. Been playing guitar all my life and still perform professionally and now have a fully functional woodworking shop. I have built a few telecaster style electrics thus far but my primary interest is to build steel string acoustics, classical and hand carved arch tops but I am still getting my feet wet.

I have been asked by a friend to build him a square neck resonator and I wanted to go the distance with this as opposed to purchasing a kit as it seems like a good intro to acoustic guitar building albeit a bit less complicated. I purchased the Beard square neck plan and intend to use baltic birch laminate however the Beard plan calls for thickness' of 4.8mm for the top and back and 2.8mm for the sides. I don't know where to get that thickness baltic birch and it seems one would not want to thickness sand a laminate. Would a 1/4" top and back and 1/8" sides suffice? Additionally, I am assuming since I will be using a laminate that a (1) piece top and back are in order.

I had tried to revive an old thread here regarding this matter and was advised by a couple nice folks here to start a new thread. I didn't want to appear as if I hadn't searched the forum and tried to find the answers prior to posting as I do all I can to resolve matters on my own if they've been covered in the past. I belong to another forum where a lot of newbies ask questions that have been answered numerous times and its as if they don't know how to use a search engine or just to lazy to and it tends to irritate some of the old timers. I can understand why too!

I have wanted to get into guitar building for many years and what has always held me back is the lack of funds to startup. I finally bit the bullet and purchased the tools I need. Although I have a nice Dewalt Planer and am getting a new 14" Grizzly 30th anniversary bandsaw for Christmas my major investment has been in quality hand tools. I have the power tools mostly for milling my own rough sawn cause I am too cheap to pay top dollar for dimensioned S4S lumber. I have a longing to build guitars old school and I really like the quiet and working with my hands and hand planes, chisels and the like. Nothing wrong with CNC machines etc but I have no desire to own one or use one

Thanks for any advise and I am looking forward to learning from who ever is willing to assist as I love to learn. My life is one huge learning experience and I never tire of learning although it seems when I master something I bore of it and find something new to learn.

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Oh and Kerry, thanks for the clarification regarding the grain patterns in the various grades of laminates. Incidentally I forgot to mention, I place a phone call to Beard Guitars the other day (the place I purchased the resonator print) and inquired about using standard domestic baltic birch ply and they told me it would be fine. Now, the wood that comes with Beard's kits is known to be the top shelf stuff the muti-ply aircraft variety. Additionally, my research has led me to the conclusion that a good number of resonator builders opt for baltic birch laminate and it does indeed produce a fine instrument with some of Beards laminate reso's fetching prices between 2k and 3k and my research has also led me to the conclusion that Paul Beard is a highly respected authority on the topic.
I am going to begin making patterns and an outside form for this project tomorrow. I am home and available to begin today however I only have my master print for this that I purchased and I like to keep those in tact so I will be heading to Kinkos tomorrow when they're opened to get a couple more copies of this print to destroy in making patterns and a form.

There is a very informative set of approx 20 video clips posted on YouTube by a gentleman named Gary Clardy who has documented the process of assembling one of the Beard kits in detail. Ad StewMac has some info as well and I downloaded a PDF describing the resonator building process from scratch by a gentleman named Gary Dusina. There's not a huge amount of info available out there for the budding resonator builder but the info that is there is highly informative for anyone interested

Just keep on trucking Don. your doing fine.Bill....

I do appreciate your vote of confidence Bill believe me :-)

Don & Kerry:

Thank you so much for the information.

Kerry: I've seen the kind of laminates I described only 2 times. Both of the instruments were luthier built nylon string guitars.  I have not seen a production instrument with that type of lamination. I also saw it when watching a "How It's Made" TV episode which showed how Steinway Pianos are constructed :) But that's apples & ostriches.

Don: thanks for indulging my digression and for the info:). Have a great time with your project, and like my friend Kerry advises: "Post pictures of your progress, please?".

Have a great week guys :)

I have very old dobro on my bench right now, it's such a cool sounding instrument that I decided I want to make one just like it. The top and back are made from 1/4"lumbercore plywood (solid basswod core -many prices edge joined- and mahogany on the outsides) and the cone is held up with four peices of this same plywood glued underneath to create a rabbetd edge.

I would prefer proper wood pot for a square neck. If you're making your own pot, there are numerous videos and lots of instruction among the banjo builders.

As far as the lumbercore plywood goes, I'm going to glue some up for my project I'm interested in how the side bending turns out with yours.

Hello Don. Welcome to our addiction. Glad to see your old school. I too am an old timer (68)two weeks ago. I'm just getting up the power tools to assist me in my builds. I've rebuilt 4 old guitars in the last year. Just finished an old Parlor Guitar which I gave to a little girl just this last Friday. I'm constructing a thickness sander right now before I start my next build. A size2 Martin, instrument that's been around since 1858. Lots of smart builders on this forum. I will defer to the experts on your questions however. Just wanted to say hi.

Hi there Lonnie and thanks for the welcome! I have my work board/jig made for this project and my master template cutout. I borrowed a bending iron from a friend and practiced on a piece of scrap. Pics to follow
Got started today and cutout my master template for the body and built a jig to do this build following Gary Clardy's YouTube series on building a Beard Resonator from a kit. I cut my sides from the 1/8" baltic birch to width which is 3" and had a 2" piece of scrap left over so I practiced bending the sides with the scrap. This was the very first time I have ever bent sides and I started to scorch the piece a bit but finally found the appropriate temperature. I also discovered the bit of scorching would sand out very easily with 180 grit. The 1/8" baltic birch sheets were 24"x 30" and the 30" just made it with about 1/4" extra at the centerline at the neck block and end block. Had me worried for a minute.

Here's a few pics thus far and John it took a little time but those 1/8" sides bend with no trouble but you can't force or rush the process. I have wanted to bend a side forever and a day and now I know what it's like and it is way cool.

Don , the wrecked tops I have seen were 3 ply. 

Hi Folks,
Well, I have got my sides bent and they came out real good. Turns out what I thought was scorching on the initial practice side was nothing more than build up from my friends bending iron that he hadn't kept clean. I heated that iron up and hit it with a damp rag and it cleaned up beautifully. Why do people neglect their tools? Good tools are expensive man.

Anyway, I used a soft damp rag when bending my 3" sides to be certain and I was very excited as to how they came out. I am letting them acclimate in my shop clamped to my form and dry out for a couple days before joining the sides to the neck block and tail block. In the mean time, I orders some kerfing strips and binding etc from StewMac as it just seems to me the time it would take to make my own kerfing that its one place where it would pay to spend the small amount and have them ready to go.

This project is most definitely a confidence builder and doesn't break the bank and I will have a couple of instruments here for a small cost and have learned some of the required skills it takes to build a fine hand crafted instrument. Personally, I feel this is the way to go over a kit guitar as you learn everything you will learn by assembling a kit and some other needed skills too and it's way cheaper than buying a kit. Granted, the quality of the instrument might not be that of a kit guitar with the nicer tone woods etc but it's a skill builder none the less.

I am going to do bracing and sound posts with a baffle in one of these guitars and a soundwell or pot in the second and compare the different characteristics between the two to judge for myself. Some say the sound posts are the way to go and others the soundwell so we shall see.

When finished with these two resonators it's on to building my wife a nice hand made classical utilizing the Cumpiano book and I already have all the wood here to do it however I purchased lower grade tone wood for my first but this resonator project is a huge confidence builder I must say.

I will post some pics on MyPage when I get the tail block and neck block installed. Probably tomorrow and I am also just using some poplar I had laying around here for the blocks on these two learner builds. So far so good but it's only the beginning but I am excited and happy none the less

Have a great day everyone!

Don I posted a link to pictures of my kerfing jig a few weeks ago. There are lots of other kerfing jig designs out there for bandsaws and table saws. Its not hard to make.


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