Published On: Thu, Feb 11th, 2010

Lap Of Luxury – Starting Out

If you were inspired by last month’s lap steel special and fancy having a go, why not build your own? It’s the perfect project for a budding luthier, and Huw Price can tell you exactly how it’s done

Once the centre block was cut to length I drilled the machinehead holes to avoid any chipping-out, then made a straight cut using the mitre saw where the neck taper meets the base of the peghead. After this I removed the unwanted timber using a chisel and smoothed everything out using a Carroll drum sander attached to my electric drill, held tight in my drill press. Drill presses for conventional hand drills are cheaply available in most DIY stores, and you should be able to get a Carroll drum sander in any specialist tool shop, or try Axminster Tools (www.axminster.co.uk). Be careful not to apply too much pressure – especially if, like me, you only have a cheap drill press – because the Carroll won’t sand straight. Also make sure you wear a breathing mask and a pair of goggles. That exotic sawdust can be irritating.I had decided to fit a T-style bridge, partly because I happened to have a spare one already along with a load of T-style pickups. The other good thing about this kind of bridge was that I knew I could buy a bridge cover if I needed a hand rest. After I had drilled the string and screw holes for the bridge, I clamped one of the wings onto the centre block and drilled a through-hole to get the pickup wire into the control cavity. I drew the curves of the lower bout onto the wings and knocked off the corners with the mitre saw. The plan was to round them off later with the Carroll sander (most pros would probably do this with a bandsaw, but I don’t have one, and I wanted to show that this project could be completed without specialist tools). Next I brushed on some Titebond glue and clamped the body parts together. Besides drawing up the plans, I’d estimate that all the work so far had taken me less than five hours. After sitting overnight the clamps were removed, and Day Two began.

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