Category Archives: Plate Templates


Not finished with you guys yet. It has been a while since I last posted but I have been busy. Finally got around to completing the guitar, staying up late last night doing the string setup in the peace and quiet of a late night workshop.

I must say finishing is probably my Achilles heal. Not that I am terrible at it but for good reason I have always used the Sam Maloof finishing method; fool proof and ridiculously easy. And here on this I turned to spraying lacquer for the first time. There is a bit of a learning curve to spraying.

That said spraying takes some practice and patience. And on a couple of occasions my patience was wearing as thin as one coat of lacquer. I had to go back and redo a couple of times. In the end I have 12 coats of nitrocellulose lacquer sprayed on with my HVLP gun. Then I wet sanded it level with P-1000 grit and took it up to P-2000 grit wet sand. Where I messed up twice was on the buffing wheel so in the end I only hand buffed it.

The string setup was the final step to completing. It is not hard but needs to be done in order to do it correctly. First step is to string it up to tension and measure the bow in your neck with a straight edge. You want a slight bow in it measuring about 0.2mm. You should be able to adjust it with your truss rod. When that is complete put a capo between the 2nd and 3rd fret and measure the space between the string and the 1st fret. You should aim for around .05mm depending on how you like the action. You can adjust this by lowering your string slots on the nut, dropping the height of the nut by sanding the bottom (of the nut) or if you have to shim underneath the nut to raise it. Once that is done you go to the 12th fret and measure the space there. You should aim for around 2-2.5mm. The spacing from the first to the sixth is graduated. The low E being 2.5 and the high E being 2mm. This is due to the amount of vibration on the lower strings causing fret buzz. As I said I did the setup last night and am very happy with the action. I have it strung up with light strings.

So here are some pics of the final guitar. I will get around to doing a vid of me but don’t hold your breath it may take me a while to get it done.

My spray setup: A drop curtain with the guitar hanging from above. Not the most ideal but it’s what I got.

Overall I am very happy with the final result. The guitar sounds good and plays well. The tone is bright and full in the tonal range. It took longer than expected (what else is new) but it was worth it. I learned a bunch of new woodworking skills. In body mass it is a respectable 2.2kg. (A Takamine I have is the same.)

May thanks to all of you for your support in this ongoing thread. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And quite frankly doing this project here made me much more conscience of my methods and processes.  The original thread can been seen at

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The first plates

The plans
The plans

The plans cut out and folded in half with number 1 plate template made from 6mm ply.
The plans cut out and folded

Screw the template to a rough cut of ply mark your center line clearly from top to bottom and route the edge clean. Make sure you mark a cross point midway in your center line for lining up when you flip over and do the same on the opposite side.
Screw the template

Cross point midway in your center line.
Cross point

Remove the half plate and there you have your top and back plate template. These two templates (half plate and full plate) will also be used for making your side bending jig and the body mold.
Remove the half plate

Check for accuracy.
Double check

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This I my first time to build an acoustic stringed instrument. For this I am using several books for reference, Youtube videos and online forums like Musical Instrument Makers Forum. I am using the plans from Jonathan Kinkead’s book, Build Your own Acoustic Guitar. His plans are based on an early Martin (no more details provided) but it looks like an OM model. I am also augmenting his plans with others, making small changes here and there as I read and learn more.

There are several good kits available through stores like Stewart MacDonald and Luthiers Mercantile International. The kits are high quality and can make many of the steps much simpler but I wanted to make one from scratch building all the templates, jigs and using traditional timber species for a steel stringed guitar.

For this build I am using Sitka spruce, Indian rosewood, Honduras mahogany and African ebony. This combination of timbers will make quite a traditional sounding 6-string acoustic.

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