Build Your Own Guitar – Day 7

Click here to read the review of Build Your Own Guitar – Week 1.

Given that we’re covering quite a lot each day, I’m going to try and update this diary on a daily basis. The information is fresher that way and it means less photo handling at the end of the week.

Monday was all about two things – bracing and shaping.


We stuck some horizontal bracing along the back of the guitar last week. One of the little jobs completed on Monday was shaping the shoulders of these braces. Done with a chisel.


We also inserted some diagonal braces and shaped those, too. Here’s the back with me halfway through shaping the braces.


That’s the bracing on the back of the guitar. There’s bracing on the front of the guitar, too. Our guitars are using a relatively modern form of bracing, known as Falcate bracing system. I’ll talk more about that later.

On Monday we made the braces, which involved several thin lengths of timber and a shaping iron, which is used to bend the timber.


We made two of these braces and then glued them together and bound them to a pre-formed mould to ensure they set at the right angle. They’re bound using giant rubber bands.

These moulds will make two braces – one on a mild angle and another a lot tighter. When they set we’ll cut them in half and have four braces. See how they’re applied to the top of the guitar in another section below.


You can see me using a shaping iron in one of the photos above. The shaping iron heats to 180 degrees and the heat, combined with sprayed-on water and a little pressure, helps to slowly bend the wood. It’s a wonderful, almost addictive process. The steam coming off the wood smells amazing!

We shaped some of the internal bracing on Monday but the lion’s share of the day was spent shaping the sides of the guitar.

That kink in the waist of the guitar is a real tough one and it takes quite a bit of time to get all the angles right.

I ended the day with one side complete and the other 80% of the way there. That’s my first job for tomorrow morning.


Thanks for reading.

More to come tomorrow!


A footnote:

This course in Tasmania is a once-a-year affair and word’s getting around as to how good it is. Today we learned that next year’s course is already fully booked, a full year in advance. Sadly, I’m not able to do it again next year, much as I’d love to.

I’ve told Strato to save a place for me in 2016, though. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Eggs. The build is great fun.

      And yes, there’s around 25kg less of me compared to when we met in Boston a few years ago. Feels much better.

  1. As an amateur guitar player, this looks fascinating. I had no idea there were courses like this that the average Joe could take. I can imagine the fun you are having learning to do this!

    1. If you can find a similar course and are even just half inclined to do it, then jump in. It’s great fun and very, very satisfying.

  2. Great work swade, fantastic endeavour.
    Like Eggs, I too congratulate you on your new svelteness. From one big guy to another and all that.