I haven’t yet built or bought a circle cutter, which means I can’t yet work on the guitar top. Once the spruce plates that will make the top, or sound board, are joined the next move is to install the rosette, the decorative inlay that encircles the sound hole. I do have a small router of the size that most luthiers use to cut the shallow channel that receives the rosette, it would only take me an hour or so to rig it as a circle cutter/channel router. …


Photo by Mahdi Bafande on Unsplash

As president Biden has said, “Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value”. There’s a corollary to that in the Texas state legislature’s latest attack on abortion rights; Show me your legislation and I’ll tell you what you despise. There’s little doubt that many of the Texas legislators are acting out of personal moral and religious beliefs as they try to destroy a woman’s constitutional right to choose an abortion. Looking at the law they carefully crafted to avoid Supreme Court review, there’s also little doubt about what they are willing to destroy to get their way.


There’s one half close

At some point in any project you have to stop stalling and start working on the expensive wood. I’ve managed to put this off while I built or bought the stack of tools and fixtures I need to build a guitar, but the arrival of my Ebay Stanley #12 1/2 veneer scraping plane has removed my last excuse.

That excuse was moderately excusable; the sides of a guitar must be worked thin enough to bend without cracking, about 80 or 90 thousands of an inch, and doing this with hand tools is a challenge. The wood set I bought has…


Photo by Landon Parenteau on Unsplash

Another smoky summer here in the intermountain west and the fires in California, Oregon, and Washington have turned our air into Los Angeles 60’s smog revisited. We literally never had this kind of smoke in the decades after I moved to Utah in ’72, not until the mega drought that has plagued the west for 20 years expanded the fire season from a late summer and early fall problem to a year long scourge.

There’s no shortage though of finger pointing and blame, too much of which reads like Captain Renault’s cynical order to “round up the usual suspects” in…


Just needs some varnish and a bag

So, my buddy and I decided to try some new rivers, which usually means slow fishing unless and until we figure those rivers out. This time I decided to fall off my wallet and hire a guide for a couple of days. This is a fairly spendy option, but even when the fishing is slow, especially when the fishing is slow, river guides are usually great people, and if you’re willing to listen you can learn a lot.

Jon with Crazy Rainbow Ranch did not disappoint. He showed an uncanny ability to read a river that had presented few clues…


I Fall Back on Old (new) Tech

When I got home from my wanderings in Wyoming last week my package from Stewmac Luthier supplies was waiting, and in it was the plans for guitar#1. So far I have been building parts that need no pattern or close measurements, but the next steps require the actual outline of the guitar, and now I have it! That outline determines the shape of the mold to which I will bend and fit the sides and in which I will assemble the “box”, the sides top and back that will receive the neck.

There is nothing sensual or woody about this…


What’s left of the night’s storm

Where do we experience the voyage today? I’m not talking the cruise, or the road trip, the hotel and complimentary sweet rolls or the solid 1500 calorie breakfast at Denny’s. Probably voyageurs are as rare today as they were a century and a half ago. People back then mostly stayed close to home. Before the advent of the car, relatively few Americans ventured farther than fifty miles from their birthplace, even though a rail system existed that could take them across the continent.

We celebrate the sailors, the trappers and explorers, the people who left the comfort of their homes…


Maybe I Don’t Have To Buy This One

The list of specialized tools I will need to build a guitar is daunting. Some are more like wants than needs, but unless I want to buy pre-bent sides for my project I’m going to need a bending iron. I could buy one from Stewmac or LMI, great luthier suppliers, but after browsing through YouTube I think I got this. First and huge disclaimer: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, or in your shop. I can think of few better ways to burn down one or both. …


cut and ready for planing

Usually I scarf down pizza or chocolate cookies, but building a guitar neck can involve gluing up this particular “scarf joint” and so I grab the mahogany neck block in my wood room and start sawing. Most builders will rip the one inch thick neck blank on a band saw or a table saw, but for no good reason I’m sticking to hand tools on this build so first I score the cut lines on the blank with my marking gauge and then employ the rip side of my Suizan Japanese pull saw.


The plate joining jig

Can I resurrect a dream?

It all started with a terrible English teacher in my senior year. Everybody lauded her, the counselors, her old students; supposedly the best head start I could get on college English was to take her class. There was just one problem; I loved English class with a passion and she could and would beat any novel to death. No doubt someone finds the symbolic structure of The Scarlet Letter fascinating, worthy of a month’s intense dissection. …

John Griswold

Master carpenter, watercolor artist, beat up old jock and somewhat reluctant care giver, owned by Black Lab Bo who considers two tennis balls a minimum mouthful

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