Taking a Break

What a difference a few days can make here in New England. My last post was about being locked down by the snow, but now it’s sunny and (relatively) warm. Accordingly, I took a few hours out of the day to stack up what will hopefully be the last of this winter’s firewood.

It was a bright, crisp afternoon—the kind that makes you feel great to be alive and privileged just to be outdoors. I worked at a steady pace piling up the logs, breathing deep and stopping every so often to look at the trees and sky. Just a few steps away was our suet feeder, which attracts larger birds. As I labored, wrens, bluebirds and thrushes flitted back and forth from the nearby trees to the feeder. A noisy group of three downy woodpeckers alternated with the bluebirds and wrens for a shot at the food. At one point I grabbed my camera and got a photo of a bluebird patiently awaiting his turn while a male downy woodpecker feasts.


Once the last of the firewood was stacked I went inside to finish up the drawings for the cherry blossom guitar. The shape of the front and back plates had been finalized so it was time to cut them out of steel. My first step was to make paper templates from my drawings so I could check the shapes with the actual guitar parts.


Then it was time to get medieval on a sheet of .059″ CRS. I had a piece that was just big enough for two sets of plates, and with a little luck I’d be able to cut them without problem. This thickness will allow the engraver to go deep without denting or puckering the plates. I chose steel because of its magnetic properties. Aluminum is fine for laser or chemical etching, but it messes with the inductance of the pickups in a way that isn’t as kind as copper or steel. Besides, I’m going with hand engraving—steel will yield better detail.


Here I am checking the overall fit before drawing out the shapes on the metal.


Using some spray adhesive, I fix the templates to the sheet so that I can trace the outlines with a scribe. I want to get the material into more managable pieces.


After transferring the shapes, I roughed out the blanks with an air shear—not my first choice of tools, but it works. This gets me close enough so that I can finish the parts on the bandsaw and then the spindle sander. which is a job for another day.




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Jol Dantzig is a guitar builder, designer, writer and filmmaker. He has worked for Gibson, Fender, Guild, Ovation, Gretsch, and was a founding partner of Hamer guitars—one of the first boutique custom guitar brands. Dantzig’s work has been played by hundreds of artists including Sting, Steve Stevens, Larry Coreyell, Dug Pinnick, Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo’, Nick Lowe, KK Downing, Glenn Tipton, John Abercrombie, Glen Campbell, Rick Nielsen, Kenny Vaughan, Lita Ford, James Honeyman Scott, Elliott Easton, Andy Summers, Peter Frampton, Martin Barre, Lyle Workman, Brad Gillis, George Harrison, Jeff Ament, Dweezil Zappa, Jeff Tweedy, Nancy Wilson—and many others.

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