1. #1

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    Hello,

    I'd like to tackle making an archtop acoustic. I have experience building solid body electrics. I have the Benedetto books and videos.

    I'm not too keen on spending $500 on violin planes for something I'll do a couple times.

    Any recommended lower cost tools/techniques? I came across this thread that uses a StewMac Safe-T-Plane for rough shaping the archtop followed by use of three pricier planes.

    At the other end of the spectrum is the low-cost Chinese violin planes that are on eBay and Aliexpress. I imagine that with proper sharpening, they might be usable. But not really sure which sizes are appropriate.

    I imagine I'll use the drill press technique to drill the contour holes.

    Thanks
    Papa




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  3. #2

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    I have carved tops using a variety of tool and techniques looking for and efficient method that worked with my style. For me it has come down to plotting out contour lines and drilling a cluster of holes at each contour line depth. Then I use a flap sanding wheel with 60 grit on an angle grinder to quickly remove material. I have ruined blanks this way, but I used cheap wood until I was more comfortable. When I get close, I use a single small round bottom plane about 1/2" wide. I used a cheap "miniature block plane" from Lee Valley and rounded the bottom and blade my self. I didn't like the Ibex planes because they don't fit your hand well, but there is no doubt that the Lie Nielsen Violin Plane or Convex Sole Block Plane are much better and probably worth the price. Finally, once the drill divots are near gone, I use a sharp scraper.

    If you have an angle grinder, total cost is under $50. Or, if you get the a Lie Nielsen plane (which I would recommend), you are still under $150. But don't worry, there will be plenty of other tools to buy. ;-)

  4. #3
    Thanks! Maybe I'll try the Lie Nielsen Violin Plane + an angle grinder.

    In terms of other tools-- for building solid body electrics the most expensive tool I bought was the nut file set!

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    I have carved tops using a variety of tool and techniques looking for and efficient method that worked with my style. For me it has come down to plotting out contour lines and drilling a cluster of holes at each contour line depth. Then I use a flap sanding wheel with 60 grit on an angle grinder to quickly remove material. I have ruined blanks this way, but I used cheap wood until I was more comfortable. When I get close, I use a single small round bottom plane about 1/2" wide. I used a cheap "miniature block plane" from Lee Valley and rounded the bottom and blade my self. I didn't like the Ibex planes because they don't fit your hand well, but there is no doubt that the Lie Nielsen Violin Plane or Convex Sole Block Plane are much better and probably worth the price. Finally, once the drill divots are near gone, I use a sharp scraper.

    If you have an angle grinder, total cost is under $50. Or, if you get the a Lie Nielsen plane (which I would recommend), you are still under $150. But don't worry, there will be plenty of other tools to buy. ;-)
    PS-- what size of flap wheel do you use?

  6. #5

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    Regular 4-1/2” for an angle grinder. Like these:


    amoolo 4 1/2 Flap Disc (10 Pack), T29 Zirconia Angle Grinder Sanding Disc (60 Grit), Abrasive Grinding Wheel (7/8 inch Arbor Size) Sorry! Something went wrong!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  7. #6

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    From the age-old book by Irving Sloane :


  8. #7

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  9. #8

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    I can second rlrhett's angle-grinder/flap disc suggestion. It's loud and (very) dusty, but it cuts well. But go slowly -- it cuts well! Once you've got it roughed out, you could even go low-tech and go through the grits on a power sander to get it close to shape, ready for final finessing and working the recurve.

    If you're handy, and by the fact that you're making guitars you might well be, making your own small planes is not unmanageable. Here are a couple that I've made out of mahogany offcuts:

    Lower cost planes and carving tools for carving an archtop-front-jpg

    Just cut the irons out of a larger Stanley plane iron, and file them to shape:
    Lower cost planes and carving tools for carving an archtop-blades-jpg