STAGE 2 – PREPARING THE TOP VENEER
This 1990 Japanese-made Ibanez RG550, originally metallic red, was badly damaged in a bizarre plumbing incident. What better subject for a complete transformation? Huw Price rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.
David Dyke (www.luthierssupplies.co.uk) came up trumps with the bookmatched veneer they sent for the body – and at 3mm thick it was about the same as an acoustic guitar top. We had to join the two pieces together. They were placed on top of each other, edges closely aligned, then clamped to a shooting board (you can make a shooting board from two pieces of MDF; see Pic 4). A block plane will remove wafer-thin shavings from both edges simultaneously until both are straight and true. To test the joint, place the edges together, hold them against a window pane, and look for any daylight. This is called ‘candling’. Keep working with plane and shooting board until not a speck of daylight shows through.
You don’t need any specialist tools to glue the veneer halves together – just a flat board, some small nails and some heavy weights. Place the pieces with joint edges together and something under each end to hold the joint a few centimetres above the board – like a shallow ‘roof’. Draw along the outer edges with a pencil, remove the veneer pieces, then hammer in a nail every few centimetres along the outside pencil lines. Place the two pieces back on the board with the outside edges butted up against the nails, and apply wood glue all along one edge. Press the centre edges flat against the board, allowing the nails to push the joint together. Place a long, flat piece of wood all along the joint, and put heavy weights on top. Make sure you apply plastic packing tape to the backing board and the piece of wood supporting the weights; some glue will squeeze-out, but wood glue won’t stick to plastic (Pic 5).
On a flat-bodied guitar the 3mm-thick veneer would have been fine, but it’s too thick to bend around the body chamfer, so it was back to the woodworking shop to sand it down to 1.2mm.