Here is the bowl after a few coats of varnish. Yew is a very dense wood and doesn’t have the pores that hardwoods have; so finishing requires less coats. This is a homemade varnish that is all natural, which means NO chemicals. It is spirit based and applied with a french polish technique. After there are enough coats of varnish, the surface is polished to a luster with pumice.
I measured out the placement for the 9th through 12th frets on the belly of the lute. These are made from ebony and planed down to about 1 mm thickness. First they are glued on and then I applied a few coats of wax for protection on the spruce belly. It is tricky to keep the spruce clean from any ebony dust contamination. A sharp scraper helps to keep dust to a minimum.
After the pegs are shaped on the lathe, the round head must be shaped into a flat head so it can be easily turned. I use a reamer with a 1:30 taper for the peg holes. The taper makes the pegs stick enough into the pegbox so that the string won’t slip at full tension. It takes awhile to fit the pegs into the pegbox so that they turn freely without binding and stick out in an aesthetically pleasing way. After the pegs are finished completely, I polish the heads with a coating of beeswax.
I have begun to prepare the bowl for varnishing. After scraping all the residual hide glue from joining the ribs, any irregular areas are sanded smooth. I burnish the wood with a very hard and smooth stone before applying any varnish. I show an example of what a burnished vs. non burnished rib looks like in the photo. The wood is pacific yew and it is very dense. It burnishes to a nice luster pretty quick.
The neck is first shaped, then a thin layer of hardwood is veneered over it. I continued the design into the bottom of the pegbox shown in the last picture. I used cocobolo, ebony and holly for the stripes. The pegbox is still separate from the neck; I will drill, ream and fit all the tuning pegs into the pegbox before gluing these parts together.
The renaissance lute bridge is a one piece, fully functional object. The Classical guitar bridge developed over time to have a slot cut into the top of it, and a bone “saddle” perfectly fitted into this slot. This was to aid adjustment to the height of the strings over the fretboard. A very complicated situation at first glance, but once you understand the rules and where you want to end up with your string height; it is not that difficult. You must build the lute bridge with all of this information already known, because of the difficulty in adjusting the string height on the bridge. The lute bridge design is very small and light to aid in the quick response of the instrument and to minimize unwanted sustain. The bridge I made here is constructed from swiss pear. After it is finished I coat it with a black stain and varnish over the stain to seal it. Below the finished bridge is the blank of swiss pear that it was made from.
Here is the rose after all the cutting and carving is completed. Cutting out the design from the inside and carving the detail from the outside. I left this design without a border for a cleaner look. After the carving is finished, a light coat of varnish is applied to protect and seal the wood. Tiny support braces are glued to the underside, they are stained black so they do not distract from the rose itself.
This is the preliminary cut from the back to the front. A paper pattern is glued on the back of the spruce and a very sharp knife is used to cut out the pattern. This is a piece of Engelmann spruce that I have already planed down to a specific thickness. It is less than 2 mm in thickness and the part where the rose is cut has been reduced to about 1 mm.
this is a miguel rodriguez style guitar that I built in 2013. It has a Western cedar top, Indian rosewood back and sides, ebony fretboard, ziricote headplate, mahogany neck, and an Indian rosewood bridge. I used some old growth redwood for the braces inside the guitar. The scale is 650 mm. I wanted to build a guitar with more of a radius on the fretboard, so this was the first attempt. I like the radius, and most people who play it seem to like it. It is more dramatic than a traditional classical radius.