I would patch it, it's less work, and you preserve as much of the original guitar as possible. First I'd align and glue all the cracks, next using cardboard as a template I'd make a football shaped patch to cover the damage. The cardboard can also be used to trace the patch onto the side, make a tapered cut out of the side then make a patch to fit. The patch will also have to be bent to fit the side curvature. Try and match the wood as close as possible, also after the patch is glued in place I'd reinforce it on the inside with some thin wood strips.
I would only add finish to the patch and blend it in the best possible with the original finish, will probably also need some staining.
I have a gibson arch top it it is a 51 that I used the top and back and neck. It is time to put the finish on .
Kudos for finishing a hard work !
I'm with Pierre, really nice job.
The arched top Gibson was a year ago & I now am Working on a 1929 Gibson arch top round hole.This is the worst job I have seen . IT looks like about 20 years ago it was under water and came apart and they used it for a club and the sides and top were cracked and splintered awt warped beond repairable.But now it is about redy for finish. Any thing is fixable. The imposable takes a little longer. You did a good job & should be proud if it..
It looks really good, John. What's next?
Since I closed my store last June, the day to day stuff has slowed down. I'm starting to get through some of these bigger, time consuming, interesting but not so lucrative jobs. I'm thinking that Hensel Minerva is next Ned. I don't own an interesting acoustic right now.
I had to go back and look at the thread where we talked about this last spring, John. That looks like an interesting acoustic to me. I like this sort of thing. I'm interested in how it turns out.