Luthiers tips/tricks and show off Projects

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by JCamp posted 11-20-2017 11:04 PM 722 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JCamp's profile (online now)


1182 posts in 1329 days

11-20-2017 11:04 PM

That I know of lumber jocks doesn’t have a specific place for luthiers and wanna bes to show off and gain info for instrument building
I’m a wanna be. Ive been wanting to build a flat top mandolin for years and I’ve about talked myself into trying it this winter so I’ll kick it off with some questions
1-lumber- do u builders buy it precut and thinned to desired thickness or do u resaw lumber yourself?
2- where do you get your plans from?
3- will titebond glue work fine or does it hav to be hide glue?

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

4 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4426 days

#1 posted 11-21-2017 12:00 AM

1. I don’t build a guitar very often so I find
it makes sense to buy plates. Ebay has a wide
selection. After the plates are glued together
for a top or back they need to be thinned
further. Hand planes work fine if you don’t
have a drum sander. Wood binding would
be really tricky to make without a drum sander.
You might want to get the plastic ivoroid or
tortise shell binding for a first build.

2. The Guild of American Luthiers sells a lot of
full-scale plans. Plans can be bought through
lots of suppliers and of course found in books
too. Ebay is a good source for all sorts of luthier
supplies at competitive prices.

3. White or yellow glue work fine but some
luthiers prefer to use instrument makers white
glue sold by LMI because it dries brittle, more
like hide glue. Hide glue is fine too. Brittle
glues supposedly transfers vibration better but
glue choice is a probably a minor factor in the
overall sound of an instrument, especially a
first try.

You may be tempted not to thin the plates as
much as the plans direct you too. For classical
guitars tops are often as thin as 2.2mm and
the top starts feeling pretty fragile around 3mm.
Soundwise though I recommend going all the
way to the recommended thickness because it
does make an appreciable difference compared
to a thicker top.

View Planeman40's profile


1499 posts in 3539 days

#2 posted 11-21-2017 01:48 AM

Loren gives good advice. Years ago I made a classical guitar from scratch reading only from a how-to book. It came out great. Lot of work, though. I recommend looking around luthier’s supply houses like Stewart McDonald Lots of expensive fancy tools and supplies for those who do this every day for a living, but most you can adapt from something else or make yourself.

One point about glue. The long time favorite is hide glue for luthiery. As Loren says, it dries hard unlike modern glues that have some “give” to them, Also, hide glue can be remelted using a heated thin blade like an artist’s spatula forced into the glue joint. This enables the parts to be
separated for future repairs if and when necessary. The heated glue pot needed for hide glue can be nothing more than a Rival “Hot Pot” ( Works great and is cheap.

And one last thing. Be sure to use shellac as an initial finish before applying lacquer or anything else. Shellac is a hard and fantastic wood sealer that “chalks” when sanded. Shellac makes a beautiful gloss finish in itself. Look up the term “French polish”. French polish is the standard for fine violins, cellos, string basses, etc. It is a good bit of patient work, though.

Lumber. Wood for luthiery is readily available online. Simply Google the term and look around luthiery supply places. Good stuff ain’t cheap, though. On the other hand, this will be your first build so no need to go overboard.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View jmartel's profile


8931 posts in 2928 days

#3 posted 11-21-2017 03:32 PM

I don’t play, and I haven’t built anything yet. But one day I’d like to build a Cello or a double bass just to see if I can.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View Texcaster's profile


1292 posts in 2452 days

#4 posted 11-21-2017 10:39 PM

I don t play, and I haven t built anything yet. But one day I d like to build a Cello or a double bass just to see if I can.

- jmartel

I say go for your life! Sooner rather than later. After building many electric double basses my second go at an acoustic instrument was a double bass. This book was lent to me by good db luthier in Sydney, it covers every thing. I try to do my bracing at a relative humidity of 40%. The moisture content of seasoned timber in S E Queensland is 9% – 14%.

So You Want To Make A Double Bass – Peter Chandler


Lulo Reinhardt with one of my basses at an OzManouche festival.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics