Became apparent the minute Bruce Roper began to spread a thin layer of shellac on the surface. I knew it was going to be good. I didn't know it was going to be this good.
|First a layer of shellac|
Bruce, the luthier at Old Town School of Folk Music, has been working on this guitar since we picked out the wood at Owl Lumber in Des Plaines in February. We met Tuesday morning to go through the sanding process, which covered every inch of the guitar body, then some little repairs of things you might never see unless you were Bruce.
|Using an edge on a binding repair|
Binding is something you see from the front. If you are not careful in sanding, you will cut into it and wreck the sense that its all the same size and all marching along the joint between the sides and the top, where it belongs. Just here, Bruce is using a scraper to more clearly define one part of the binding. No glue can protrude from the binding channel or it will leave a blob in the finish. So Bruce covers every inch looking for those kinds of flaws.
When he finds one, he turns to one of his best tools, Superglue, to fix it. He sprays on some hardener first, then applies the glue. After it dries, he sands it all down.
|Cautious side sanding with an orbital sander|
I have to admit I was a little anxious about the next step, the application of the initial coat of shellac, a finish made from the outsides of special beetles. It's a little bit magical, at least to me. I already showed you what it looked like with just one side of the back. Here's a series of photos
That's the back. Now for the front.
|Shellac on the front|
|Hanging the body to dry|
Bruce and I just stood there and watched the thing rotate for a bit, making it quite clear what chatoyance will do for a guitar. I am well aware that it's going to take a long time for this instrument to "open up" and play at its best, but I do believe it will be beautiful from the point at which Bruce pronounces it completed.
Next week, we're going to start working on the headstock and neck of the guitar. How it all fits together will be of great interest to those of you who are afficiandos of styles of building.