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Tag Archives: cocobolo

I’ve glued on the back, so the ‘box’ is closed and it’s looking pretty much like a guitar. The next task is the binding and purfling. The cocobolo of the back and ribs has a fine figure and I thought that the straightforward black and white (ebony and maple) scheme that I used for the last instrument would set it off nicely. As you can see , I’ve already made a start with the end block inlay.

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The cocobolo guitar back that I showed in an earlier post is now jointed and I spent some time yesterday bringing it down to a thickness of just over 2 mm. The grain of the two halves runs in opposite directions after ‘book-matching’, which makes it difficult to avoid tearout along the centre join. And even without that, cocobolo is hard and difficult to deal with. The tool that solves these problems is my Millers Falls scraper plane.

I bought it several years ago in a second hand tool shop and never found it worked well enough to be useful until I replaced its thin cabinet scraper blade with a thicker one from Ron Hock. This transformed its performance and, although I suppose you could do the job with a cabinet scraper by hand, I now think of it as an indispensable tool.

Since it works with a negative cutting angle, a scraper plane doesn’t remove much material at a time. So, if you’re starting with wood that is way too thick, you need something that’s faster, even if it leaves a rougher finish, to get down to somewhere near the final thickness before switching to the scraper plane. A good tool for that is a smoothing plane fitted with a modified (toothed) blade but I’ll save that discussion for another post. Pictures of the scraper plane below.

I’m french polishing the guitar at the moment and this is not a process to be hurried. It’s important to let the polish have time to harden. If you don’t, and try to finish the front before the back is properly hard, it’s easy to spoil what you’ve already done. So to avoid the temptation to go too quickly, I’ve started to prepare for the next instrument. The person I’m making it for chose a nicely figured set of cocobolo, which I’ve just cleaned up to remove the sawmarks, and I’m thinking about the best way to bookmatch it. Here are the possibilities (click on the thumbnails to enlarge):

There’s a tiny flash of light coloured sap wood visible in the first and last and, if I chose either of these combinations, I’d have to make the additional decision of whether to leave it in or cut it out.

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