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  1. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    Not to mention the space saving! It does look a little cramped in there. Space is often an over-looked commodity in a production shop. More room to work usually means higher productivity.

    We use the Altendorf for a whole lot more than panel processing though. Straight-lining lumber before ripping saves a ton of time on the jointer. And there is no more accurate mitre box. Also: a 22" blade comes in handy sometimes. It gets used a lot more than the Unisaw, even for small pieces. It can look a little odd to see a giant expensive saw being used to make drawer parts, but it's way cleaner, accurate, repeatable and faster than anything else once you get the hang of it.

    But yeah... overkill for guitar making.

    Since you live in the birthplace of Wadkin, you should keep an eye our for one of those little old sliding saws. A different beast altogether, and very cool old-school machinery aimed more at lumber processing. Might be a bit like restoring an old Emperor though.

    Commercial wood-working of any kind is a tricky proposal. All the best to you in your venture!
    I agree about the panel saw. You can get smaller ones though including a new Wadkin.

    If I were into making smaller furniture I would still want to downsize from that Martin. The digital readouts though are good, when working.

    I have no interest in restoring, or fiddling with older machines, if it can be helped.

    I have another room bigger than that one behind me in the picture.

    Thanks for your best wishes. Please feel free to add or advise in anyway you see fit. It will be appreciated.

    Many Thanks.

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  3. #27

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    OK. Thanks for the invitation! I didn't mention it earlier as I didn't want to rain on your parade.

    I have a different experience with combination machinery, particularly in a shop with a few guys. Guy1 is in the middle of a run of planing. Guy2 needs to run one edge thru a jointer. He can either wait half a day, or interrupt Guy1, make the changeover, do his 30 second thing, and change the machine back. Some inconvenience there. We prefer dedicated machines so you can just walk up to it and it's ready to go. I liked them when I had my one guy shop for that reason as well. Always at the ready.

    I worked a shop that had this giant 24" planer/jointer/mortiser. The mortiser was really handy when it was set up, but it was a super PITA to go from jointing to mortising. Might have been a bad design though. I always felt I was taking my life in my hands when I used it for jointing. A monster.

    I certainly do understand the space saving of 1 machine VS 2. There's always a trade-off.

    The vacuum press is a great tool. We've had one for about 20 years and use it for the obvious like curved work. Curved plywood components in particular. It gets a lot of use for simple flat glue up too, and not just veneers. Much faster and often a more uniform result than cauls and 20 clamps. I haven't heard of it's use for laminate guitar plates, but I know it's ideal. No need for hard to make male/female forms that mate perfectly while allowing for the thickness of the glue up. And glueing a different thickness doesn't render them useless. The weight of the atmosphere is an awesome clamp at the touch of a button.

    I hear you on vintage machinery. I have a soft-spot for the good stuff though. I briefly worked in a place that had a 50's era Wadkin. Super smooth and very cool to operate. I bet there's still some in use in your corner of the world. There's still lots of 50's Unisaws in use over here. Built for the long run and simple to repair.

    I really appreciate the robust dust extraction on your bandsaw. Keeps those tires clean I'll bet!

  4. #28

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    What scale is this? How many people are gonna be in the business? You sure have courage.

  5. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    OK. Thanks for the invitation! I didn't mention it earlier as I didn't want to rain on your parade.

    I have a different experience with combination machinery, particularly in a shop with a few guys. Guy1 is in the middle of a run of planing. Guy2 needs to run one edge thru a jointer. He can either wait half a day, or interrupt Guy1, make the changeover, do his 30 second thing, and change the machine back. Some inconvenience there. We prefer dedicated machines so you can just walk up to it and it's ready to go. I liked them when I had my one guy shop for that reason as well. Always at the ready.

    I worked a shop that had this giant 24" planer/jointer/mortiser. The mortiser was really handy when it was set up, but it was a super PITA to go from jointing to mortising. Might have been a bad design though. I always felt I was taking my life in my hands when I used it for jointing. A monster.

    I certainly do understand the space saving of 1 machine VS 2. There's always a trade-off.

    The vacuum press is a great tool. We've had one for about 20 years and use it for the obvious like curved work. Curved plywood components in particular. It gets a lot of use for simple flat glue up too, and not just veneers. Much faster and often a more uniform result than cauls and 20 clamps. I haven't heard of it's use for laminate guitar plates, but I know it's ideal. No need for hard to make male/female forms that mate perfectly while allowing for the thickness of the glue up. And glueing a different thickness doesn't render them useless. The weight of the atmosphere is an awesome clamp at the touch of a button.

    I hear you on vintage machinery. I have a soft-spot for the good stuff though. I briefly worked in a place that had a 50's era Wadkin. Super smooth and very cool to operate. I bet there's still some in use in your corner of the world. There's still lots of 50's Unisaws in use over here. Built for the long run and simple to repair.

    I really appreciate the robust dust extraction on your bandsaw. Keeps those tires clean I'll bet!
    I'm not a huge fan of Combo machines because I think you end up sacrificing quality on each utility. Perfection is lots of little jobs done well. I intend to make sure each step of the process is done to its best.
    I have a Felder AD941 on order but I am thinking about switching over to a separate Jointer and thicknesser. A combo is great for space saving but if you can get individual dedicated machines, you're going to get the best result.
    Btw What you said about space and productivity really resonated. I've been thinking about it since you wrote it.

    The extraction system you see is a P&J (uk company) system. They come in and do the whole thing for you. All the ducting is earthed and is fed to an external unit that moves a serious amount of air. They make dedicated hoods for your machines so they pass a smoke test (which you can see on the big Wadkin Bandsaw).

    The wide belt sander arrived today (SCM DMC SD10). Spent a few hours in training. A mind being machine for sure. Can't wait to make my own veneers for my laminates. I'm sure you could do a masters in gluing laminations.

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55 View Post
    What scale is this? How many people are gonna be in the business? You sure have courage.
    Hi Clint. At the moment it's just me. I have spoken to a luthier who makes acoustic guitars (good ears for tuning and acoustics) and asked him to come on board for a fee. He will likely be paid per job and I'll just have to see how that works out.
    If I can't sell a single guitar, then that's that. I runout of money and start making kitchen cabinets.

    One of the reasons for my reliance on machinery, is that the machines are like an employee that accepts a one time payment, doesn't need contract and has never heard of an HR department.

    I feel like I'll end up like the man behind the curtain in the wizard of OZ frantically working away but I think I've got some great ideas to reduce certain aspects of building, that could prove phenomenally rewarding.
    I believe technology will set me free, or at least give this venture a chance of success.

    I have a company lined up who can finish the guitars but production is down to me.
    I also have a dear family friend, who can help with some of the backroom business management.

    So as of now it's just me tooling up and R&D'ing designs but I hope to bring in a skilled an experienced acoustic guitar luthier, an experienced and highly successful business advisor/mentor and a company that specialises in Nitro lacquer finishing.

  7. #31

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    SCM makes a great sander. Ours has been in constant use for at least 12 years with only one breakdown: a switch burnt up and we were able to replace it in-house.

    Space and productivity: I've worked in some really cramped shops. The tendency for owners is usually that more guys means more $$. But at some point it seriously falls apart when everybody's in each other's way, and every next operation means moving a machine or a stack of parts out of the way.

    The other related thing owners tend to do that mucks things up is holding on to too many scraps. Time is way more expensive than wood. Guys start spending too much of it wading thru bins trying to find a piece big enough. When the storage bins are full it's time to do some editing. We just use some common sense about what's likely to get used in the future and what isn't. At the end of each year several boxes of firewood go home for the Holidays.

    I've been in furniture and cabinetmaking for 35 years. It started as a part time day gig at a friend's shop after I moved to NYC. I've worked in 7 different shops and set up 3 from scratch. I've been foreman in a large commercial millwork shop with 16 hands. I'm on the admin side now and haven't been on the floor for over 10 years. It's a smaller top-end 6 to 8 man shop that I joined about 22 years ago. Looks like another couple of years and I can go back to full-time guitaring!

    You have some very good machinery. If there's anything you'd like to kick around feel free to PM me.

  8. #32

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    Wow, good job! I wish you the best!

    What do you think about offering your guitars new with the frets leveled and the ends rounded? Because manufactures don't do that. They basically say here, take this guitar that may or may not play without buzzing, have fun.

    Could be a marketing advantage. Or maybe not worth the extra work or expense?

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven View Post
    I'd like to make a series of Archtops that are distinctly English. Using English woods and including English folk law but not luthier guitars.
    Cool concept. Best of luck with business.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55 View Post
    Wow, good job! I wish you the best!

    What do you think about offering your guitars new with the frets leveled and the ends rounded? Because manufactures don't do that. They basically say here, take this guitar that may or may not play without buzzing, have fun.

    Could be a marketing advantage. Or maybe not worth the extra work or expense?
    A guitar has to arrive ready to play at its best. Creating a tool that will round over fret corners is easy. Creating one that does it whilst keeping the fret to the exact length needed as the fretboard widens, is a whole other issue. In the end a technological invention will make the process workable. What that is yet, I'm not sure.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    SCM makes a great sander. Ours has been in constant use for at least 12 years with only one breakdown: a switch burnt up and we were able to replace it in-house.

    Space and productivity: I've worked in some really cramped shops. The tendency for owners is usually that more guys means more $$. But at some point it seriously falls apart when everybody's in each other's way, and every next operation means moving a machine or a stack of parts out of the way.

    The other related thing owners tend to do that mucks things up is holding on to too many scraps. Time is way more expensive than wood. Guys start spending too much of it wading thru bins trying to find a piece big enough. When the storage bins are full it's time to do some editing. We just use some common sense about what's likely to get used in the future and what isn't. At the end of each year several boxes of firewood go home for the Holidays.

    I've been in furniture and cabinetmaking for 35 years. It started as a part time day gig at a friend's shop after I moved to NYC. I've worked in 7 different shops and set up 3 from scratch. I've been foreman in a large commercial millwork shop with 16 hands. I'm on the admin side now and haven't been on the floor for over 10 years. It's a smaller top-end 6 to 8 man shop that I joined about 22 years ago. Looks like another couple of years and I can go back to full-time guitaring!

    You have some very good machinery. If there's anything you'd like to kick around feel free to PM me.
    Totally with you on the scarps bin. We had a shelf full of scraps, all sitting on top of each other. The other day, I was looking for a small piece of ply wood and it took too long, to find the one I wanted.
    I realised that this is not productive so I took all the scraps, threw them on the floor in roughly sized piles and then threw 60% of each pile away.
    I then put the scraps back in sized order and now, I can even see which piece I want, before I even get to the shelf.

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    I did the same with my house keys. I constantly had to sift through them, to find my front door key and I worked out that every time I did this, I wasted about 10 seconds and got unnecessarily annoyed.
    Now I only have 2 keys and they are different types so they're easy to recognise. The ones I didn't use as much, I decided to leave in my car, so they are close but not cluttering my immediate life.

    Thanks for your offer of help. The kindness of others on here will be the 3rd man in the workshop and a really valuable part of the experience.

  12. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven View Post
    ... I can even see which piece I want, before I even get to the shelf ...
    Welcome to the promised land my friend! All you need now is some apostles that see things as you do. Harder than it sounds :-)

    The current place started with just the owner and myself. We'd both been foremen in 2 large competing shops and we both just wanted to build again. We see eye to eye on space, scrap bins, and organization in general. Probably from our similar experience managing a large crew.

    We have 2 really productive lead hands who most definitely do not work like this. It used to drive me nuts when I'd go into the shop to see what we had and what needed ordering for the next job. To the point that it caused real friction and disruption.

    I realized I needed to step back and let them do their thing the way they do it. The shop doesn't look like it, but we're more productive if I just leave them to their way of working. I just try to stay out of there now. Which is pretty easy since I do all the shop-drawings, quoting, etc from the home office now. Covid might be the best thing that ever happened to me! My stress level is waayyy down from where it was.

    Managing growth has to be the trickiest part of the puzzle.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    Welcome to the promised land my friend! All you need now is some apostles that see things as you do. Harder than it sounds :-)

    The current place started with just the owner and myself. We'd both been foremen in 2 large competing shops and we both just wanted to build again. We see eye to eye on space, scrap bins, and organization in general. Probably from our similar experience managing a large crew.

    We have 2 really productive lead hands who most definitely do not work like this. It used to drive me nuts when I'd go into the shop to see what we had and what needed ordering for the next job. To the point that it caused real friction and disruption.

    I realized I needed to step back and let them do their thing the way they do it. The shop doesn't look like it, but we're more productive if I just leave them to their way of working. I just try to stay out of there now. Which is pretty easy since I do all the shop-drawings, quoting, etc from the home office now. Covid might be the best thing that ever happened to me! My stress level is way down from where it was.

    Managing growth has to be the trickiest part of the puzzle.
    Interesting.

    I'm currently trying to get my level of capacity up and this chimes with what you have achieved, or are trying to.
    Letting go of smaller things in order to focus on the bigger picture, allows you to accomplish so much more. It's a hard thing to understand for me because little things make big things.
    Last edited by ArchtopHeaven; 11-29-2021 at 11:54 PM.

  14. #38

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    I have just spent about 5 days experimenting with different types of plastic binding and different glues. I recommend avoiding PVC purfling and binding, almost nothing can stick it or melt its edges. I hope you are more productive than I am.
    Last edited by plasticpigeon; 12-02-2021 at 08:32 AM.

  15. #39

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    I've tried PVC as well, without success.

    Stick to ABS with Weld-On 16, you can't go wrong! (And if you do go wrong you can fill the gaps with a slurry of ABS melted in acetone.)

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by plasticpigeon View Post
    I have just spent about 5 days experimenting with different types of plastic binding and different glues. I recommend avoiding PVC purfling and binding, almost nothing can stick it or melt its edges. I hope you are more productive than I am.
    Thanks for the tip PP.

    Binding is a fascinating part of the build. There have clearly been several examples of builders having issue with it. A few that spring to mind are:

    Heritage,
    Guild
    Ibanez (1980's)

    If someone buys something you've made, it should be down to them and how they treat the item, as to what condition it's in.

    For that reason I'm incredibly keen to get binding right. It's been applied for nearly 100 years, so the answer should have already been found.
    I have no doubt research through forums will give the answer. Doing your own experiments over a short period of time might not reveal the best result but worth doing and fun no doubt.

  17. #41

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    I've done a few more experiments that might be helpful. If you are interested we can converse through DM if you like.

  18. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by plasticpigeon View Post
    I've done a few more experiments that might be helpful. If you are interested we can converse through DM if you like.
    Hey PP

    That would be great. I'm going to start collecting data over the next week too.

  19. #43

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    Martin Saw is out to create more space.

    The vacuum press is in position but I will need to build an area for glues and other small tools, used in the process.
    I will also need a gluing up table for the lamination process.

    The area the vacuum press is in, will be the area I make my plates and sides, as it is away from the cutting room and thus dust free, for higher quality control.

    I've not done an update for a few weeks, as I was away on Holiday for two and had to quarantine for 6 days on return.
    Now things are back up and running.

    Today started at 6:30am to get the panel saw ready for collection. Finished at about 5:30pm

    I'm coming up with a few plans to lay out the cutting room, any ideas would be great. Will post some plans tomorrow.

    Ooo, CNC machine arrives on Wednesday!!!

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  20. #44

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    I'm going to carry on getting as much as I can out of the cutting room so I can put the belt sander, mitre saw, jointer/planer and the re-saw band saw all on their own wall.
    These 4 machines will be placed in the centre of the walls to give the maximum length for any material to be cut.

    The CNC will likely go in the centre as will the sanding equipment. Things might start getting tight but I'm very keen to have a nice open working environment to move around in. As Croft said, a more spacious environment helps with productivity.

    Let's see how I get on tomorrow.

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven View Post
    a company that specialises in Nitro lacquer finishing.
    Fibonacci Guitars and Wilcock basses outsource their finishing to Bow Finishing: Welcome to Bowfinishing - Website of bowfinishing!

  22. #46

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    Excited in following the growth. Keep sharing!

  23. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by David B View Post
    Fibonacci Guitars and Wilcock basses outsource their finishing to Bow Finishing: Welcome to Bowfinishing - Website of bowfinishing!
    Thanks David. Very thoughtful of you. Stay tuned and if you have any advice, I'm more than happy to take it.

    Cheers.

  24. #48

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    Today the centre piece of my operation turned up.

    6 Years ago I thought about building Archtop guitars using a CNC machine. I realised that having one would allow someone like me to compete with the Japanese in terms of QC and build things that would others takes decades to learn and master.

    Now I realise I just have to spend decades learning to master a CNC machine

    Onwards and upwards!

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  25. #49

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    More shifting things around.

    I'm taking the sander out for now and putting the wide belt sander in, plus moving the CNC around to find out where it all best fits. The pin router still needs to come out but that is about two tons of Wadkin heavy metal.
    I still need to put a little panel saw in the middle of the room so It's going to get tight but hopefully still a great space to move around in.

    We took out the ducting that was going to the old panel saw and I suspect I'll take all the shelving down above head hight, allowing me to customise the ducting further, to suit the new tooling layout.
    Whatever that may be.

    As I said before, I want to keep this room as the cutting room if possible.

    (the 3rd picture should be last).

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  26. #50

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    Just a catch up with some pics on how things are progressing.

    CNC machine has arrived.
    Had a big clean up and organise today, to get ready for the planer and the panel saw.

    I've also secured a fantastic wood supplier, which I was worried about, being the UK.

    The workshop seems to get chaotic then calm, then chaotic again. It's not easy being that it's someone else's shop. We're making good progress but it's two steps forward then one step back.

    I'm also learning how to use Fusion 360 as I need to understand it in some way, to help with small issues that will arise from the CNC side.

    In regards to the shop, I'm working out of two rooms here:

    Room 1 is the cutting room
    Room 2 is the assembly and pressing room.

    Here's some before and after pics of the clear up today.

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    Last edited by ArchtopHeaven; 01-18-2022 at 07:16 PM.