First You Cut Down a Tree... (part 10)

posted Apr 13, 2012, 3:12 PM by Hiram Philo   [ updated Jul 13, 2013, 5:46 PM ]

      I have been looking forward to writing this post since the beginning of this guitar project.  Why do identical guitars sound different?  One reason is the bracing for the soundboard.  Just about all guitars have bracing made from scraps of a very light strong wood, usually  Sitka Spruce.  I found a unique sourse for some well cured Sitka Spruce... the wing spar of a Citabria Airplane.  
      When visiting my airplane mechanic brother, Cassius Philo, in Talkeetna, Alaska, I noticed a cracked wing spar which had been removed from a 1970s Citabria.  (Citabria is airbatic spelled backwards.  I am fond of Citabrias because I learned to fly in one.)  Cassius let me cut up the wing spar and bring is back to Iowa.  Every one of my guitars have soundboards braced from this wood.  My theory is that this could give my guitars a "leg up", or better, a "wing up" on other guitars.  
      In the end the bracing from the Shadow Valley Cedar guitar will have been harvested in Alaska, traveled to the Ballanca factory in Wisconsin, flown back to Alaska where by brother extracted it from the airplane, traveled to Iowa with me, shaped and  glued into the Shadow Valley Cedar guitar and flown to Idaho for its final residence...  Whew.
Shaping one of the braces with a jig on a router table:

 Gluing top braces with a vacuum bag clamping system:

To view the next post in this series click:  First You Cut Down a Tree... (Part 11)
To see this series of posts from the beginning click:  First You Cut Down A Tree