ES335 style center block questions

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ES335 style center block questions

Postby Randolph Rhett » Mon Oct 29, 2018 5:27 pm

I'm hopping to tap my favorite brain trust. For giggles I was thinking of making myself a 335 style semi-hollow bodied guitar with a full center block. Because I happen to have and use a CNC machine, I was thinking of making the center block so that it already has the interior contour of the plates, rather than the essentially three piece system Gibson came up with. But thinking it through, I realized there might be unintended consequences in trying to be too cool for school.

For example, if I glued the rims to this nifty contoured center block it would be impossible for me to "drive the bus" and sand the rims flat. Any ideas on how I would get the rims flat with this bulge in the middle?

Secondly, not sure how I would glue this all up. In a vacuum bag? Would that crush the sides?

Third, it occured to me that I don't know the tolerance of Gibson's kerfed center block piece that is mated to the plates and the rim of the plates. If the spruce center block is proud, do you have a problem glueing the plate to the rims? If it is short, do you have problems mating it to the flat maple center block? How do you make sure that the spruce is EXACTLY even with the rim, and how critical is that measurement? How does Gibson do it in mass production?

Has anyone ever tried this (creating a center block that is already contoured to match the inside of the plate)? Anybody have any nifty tricks or ideas that would help putting this together?
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Re: ES335 style center block questions

Postby Barry Daniels » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:49 pm

In the one thinline that I made I made the center block in two pieces to control some of the issues you mentioned. The center block was flat on both side and the exact thickness of the rims so I could sand the rims and the block at the same time to get everything flat. Then I made another partial center block that fit the arch of the back and was only deep enough to come up to the edge of the back. The top part was basically carved out of the spruce top leaving the center part the full depth. It turned out to be pretty simple building it like this.
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Re: ES335 style center block questions

Postby Freeman Keller » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:47 pm

See my reply at OLF
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Re: ES335 style center block questions

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Oct 31, 2018 12:03 pm

I would not recommend using a vacuum bag because that will place pressure over the entire top which might crack the "wings" that are not supported by the center block.

I used chalk to fit the center block to the back. Making the center block out of spruce makes it easy to carve and keeps the guitar lighter and perhaps more resonant.
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Re: ES335 style center block questions

Postby Randolph Rhett » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:11 am

Thank you Barry. I'm definitely leaning toward doing the center block in three pieces even if I have the capacity to do it in one. I can't get over the idea of a difficult glue up. It seems much easier to glue the center to the plates first, create a flat mating surface, and then glue that to a flat center block that is also co-planar to the rims. Even if I know that the center block mates perfectly to the plates, I just don't see how I could be sure that the rims are exactly right relative to the thickness of the center block or how I would apply pressure along the rims AND center at the same time.
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Re: ES335 style center block questions

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:31 pm

I would encourage you not to over-think this. Getting the block level to the rims is as simple as sanding it on a flat surface covered with sandpaper, and do the same thing to the plates. Then clamp it up with spool clamps on the outside rim and a couple of big clamps in the middle. Lacking big clamps you can use a couple of stiff boards to span the whole guitar and then place clamps at the two edges.
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