Building a Classical Guitar #4: The sides

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Blog entry by kem posted 10-04-2008 06:17 AM 19917 reads 3 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: The heel Part 4 of Building a Classical Guitar series Part 5: The top »

The first step for the sides is to thickness the bookmatched sides. In the kit, these sides are about 4 mm thick. They need to be brought down to about 1.8 mm thick. We first used something called a Safe-T planer which is a drill press attachment that can remove material very quickly. Just like a regular thickness planer it creates a big mess quickly.

A drum sander was used to get down to final thickness.

Next we jointed one edge of the sides. This edge will be the edge where the top sits. The back edge of the sides has a slight taper from where the waist of the guitar will be to the neck. This taper gives a first approximation to the radius on the back of the guitar. It will be refined later using a radiusing dish.

It was now time to bend the sides. We used the following jig to bend the sides.

Each side was first wet with water and then wrapped in moist paper towels. This was then placed on the jig making sure the taper was facing the right way. A rubber heating blanket and flashing was placed over the side.

As the wood heated up, the side became more pliable and could be bent into the shape of the jig.

A tail block was made with a slight curve to match the form that was used for the guitar. The sides were glued on to this tail block.

Next the sides were glued into the Spanish heel making sure to keep the top edge of the sides flush with the top side of the end of the heel block. It only took a couple of drops of super glue on both the top and back side of the heel to hold this in place.

Here’s the assembly in the guitar form.

Next, I scraped and sanded the inside of the sides to remove the marks left by the drum sander.

After planing the top edge of the sides and tail block so that these lay completely flat, the back edge of the sides, tail block, and heel block were shaped to conform to a 15’ radius. This was done by both planing and using a radiusing dish. I didn’t get a picture of this step, but I’ll have another chance when we radius the back braces.

With both edges properly shaped, the kerfing was glued onto the sides. To hold the kerfing in place while the glue dried, homemade clamps made from clothespins and rubber bands were used.

-- Kevin

5 comments so far

View Doug S.'s profile

Doug S.

295 posts in 5161 days

#1 posted 10-04-2008 12:41 PM

This is a very cool blog series and I’m putting this on my favorites so I dont miss anything. I’d love to build one of these some day. Has the photo taking for this blog been a disruption? Seems like it would at least slow you down some. It’s pretty cool that your instructor is letting you document this here.

-- Use the fence Luke

View rikkor's profile


11294 posts in 5328 days

#2 posted 10-04-2008 12:49 PM

You’re making great progress!

View robbie's profile


9 posts in 4968 days

#3 posted 10-11-2008 04:53 AM

Kevin is doing some nice work in the class. Nice pics too Kevin. How about some pics of that braced top?
Many of the techniques that we are using in the class can be seen in my Youtube video series Luthier Tips du Jour. You can find them here

View Minuteman's profile


58 posts in 4829 days

#4 posted 04-02-2010 03:44 PM

I use a steam drawer on the sides.

-- Major Walt Timoschuk,III

View ThomasS's profile


1 post in 2573 days

#5 posted 05-03-2015 02:57 PM

Hey awesome work have you done.
I study wood now for 5 years in Belgium en now i am building a guitar on my own because i’m playing guitar for 7-8 years.
But i have a question about the glueing of my guitar.
May i ask you how you have made the kerfing of the guitar (what’s the dept of cutting)


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