What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Questions about tools and jigs you want to buy/build/modify.
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Simon Magennis
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What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Simon Magennis »

I have never really used routers although I have two, laminate trimmer size.

So the things I am thinking about: Making bridges, slotting a neck and setting in a ready made rosette. Any tips for these items?
Any other items where a router is a real time saver?

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My total routing history:

Today, I finally tried out a flush trim bit on two guitars I am doing at the moment. I was very pleased with the results apart from one "oportunity" to learn repairing a top giving the guitar some initially unintended purfling. I will remember that mistake the next time I try it. I was also very pleased with the dust collection - it was very effective. (Bosch Colt). I used the other router a few weeks back when making my new solera. So I have now learned two tasks both of which can be improved on, but were effective. I made up binding jig, a few years ago, following the Gore&Gillet plans and have used it on a number of guitars. It might be time to make a version two of that jig.

Giving how fiddly it is to accurately adjust cheap(er) routers, I already see the attraction of have routers dedicated to specific tasks. e.g. choose a standard binding an dedicate a router and cutter to the binding jig. Switch on, do the job, turn off, done. Similarly for flush trimming and rosettes.

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What I have:
A Bosch 600 GKF (the crippled uk model) (aka Bosch Colt)
Trend T4

Alan Carruth
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Alan Carruth »

Making tooling, such as 'horse collar' outside forms for holding sides, and bending forms.

Rounding off the edge of the strip that is to be the liner, before cutting the kerfs. I use 'reverse kerf' linings, so they're rectangular with a rounded edge.

Trimming the top and back to the exact shape of the rim after the brace inlets are done.

Binding and purfling rabbets.

Neck mortise.

Truss rod channel.

I use a hand router (not powered) to clean out the rosette channel, after scribing it with a hand cutter.

Marshall Dixon
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Marshall Dixon »

Simon Magennis wrote:
Sat Mar 07, 2020 4:45 pm
Any other items where a router is a real time saver?
Saving time for some jobs is debatable considering the amount of time spent in the setup. With bindings and purflings, for example, it might take an hour to get things set up, make a test, examine the tea leaves, etc. The actual cut takes less than a minute, but then there is clean up and dry fitting that adds time depending on the nature of the joint.

My usage includes binding, dovetail neck, mortice and tenon neck, slot for truss rod, slotting peg head, quarter rounding linings, shaping neck peg head using templates and for some butchery; like removing fingerboard and bridge.

I've used it with a bowl bit to thickness wood and to rout the concave surface of my dished work boards.

I also use my drill press as a router: with a 3/32” up cut bit for saddle slots and tail block channel/inlay and with the Wagner Safety Planer to thin wings. Those jobs can be safely done with a router/template set up too.

My router is an old Porter Cable that I got from a friend 20 years who bought it used. Not a plunge type. It sounds like I might be replacing the bearings though. I like the heft of the router as it’s not as bouncy against harder woods as opposed to the Dremmel tool with a router base attachment that I use for rosette channels.

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Barry Daniels
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Barry Daniels »

I have six routers and use them for just about every operation. I've read that Olson has about a hundred, dedicated routers permanently setup for each step.
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Brian Evans
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Brian Evans »

I desperately hate using routers, to me they are a tool of the devil. I calm them down by using jigs or a router table wherever possible. I use them to cut neck joint mortices, to shape headstocks, to cut binding channels, to trim top and back to fit sides after glue up, to round over sides of electric guitars, to rout out the pickup/control recess on electric guitars, heck, to shape the entire body of solid body guitars, to chamber the inside of solid body guitars, to rough out archtop plates. Quite a lot, actually. I have to literally steel myself to turn on a hand held router, I have a Porter Cable 1 1/2hp.

Alan Carruth
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Alan Carruth »

Using a router freehand for bindings is not wonderful, especially when you make curvaceous bodies with fully domed plates and lots of taper. One of the jigs that holds the router perpendicular to the bench, with a tapered guide that allows it to guide off the very edge, is the way to go. It takes a nail-biter of a setup job, and as much as several hours of cleanup afterward, off the table. I must have mulled building mine for a year or two, but when I got around to actually making it, it took not much more than an afternoon.It's one of those things I wish I'd done years earlier.

I do still think of routers as a handful of screaming emergency, though, and use them only when I can't think of a better way to do it. Having had them get out of control a couple of times I don't trust them, but sometimes.... The rule I've come to on that is to always have both hands on the router unless it's held in something like a binding jig. This means that you figure out ways to clamp things down, and stop when you have to, to move the clamps.

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Jim McConkey
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Jim McConkey »

I use a router for making recesses for door hinges. That's about it. For me, they only let me screw up 50x faster.

The only time I have used a router on an instrument was using a Dremel with router base for cutting binding channels. Even then, it helped to pre-score by hand to limit tearout. But I build very few instruments. I can definitely see their utility for more production-oriented builders.
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Marshall Dixon
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Marshall Dixon »

Alan mentioned having two hands on the router; when those things come on they kick into gear. I bought a foot controlled on/off switch that I can use for other tools to help with control.

Let it come to a complete stop before removing it from your work.

Tear out when entering or exiting a cut needs to be prevented. I back up those cuts with an appropriate piece of MDF.

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Peter Wilcox
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Peter Wilcox »

In addition to trimming tops and backs to the sides, binding ledges, rosette channels, truss rod slots and sound holes, I make an adjustable neck that needs a neck pocket like an electric. I still haven't found a good way to attach a template for the neck pocket to a spruce top without either tearing out some wood with tape, or clamping it and having it move.
Marshall Dixon wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 11:05 pm
Let it come to a complete stop before removing it from your work.
90% of my router errors are due to impatiently not doing this.
Maybe I can't fix it, but I can fix it so no one can fix it

Alan Carruth
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Alan Carruth »

You can mess up with a hand tool, but real destruction takes a power tool.

Clay Schaeffer
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Clay Schaeffer »

I have about two dozen trimmers and about a dozen larger routers. Having a lot of experience using them I am comfortable using any of them that are less than 2 Hp one handed (if necessary). Routers do require you to pay attention, and the better you understand the task, the better the outcome will be.
There are a number of simple jigs you can make to simplify the task you want to use the router for. Books have been published on how to make and use them. They can open your eyes to all the things a router can do.

Simon Magennis
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Re: What do you use a router for in classical/acoustic guitar making?

Post by Simon Magennis »

Thanks for all the suggestions. :-)
I found a place that has some entry level Makita trimmers very cheap. I am severely tempted to buy a pair.

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