Taming bad habits

I’ve been making slow, sporadic process on guitar #2, but the past few weeks have seen a burst of activity. The sides are bent, the top and back plates are braced, and I’ve just finished sanding a contour into the top edge of the sides to mate with the slightly domed top plate. Next up: glue the kerfing (liner) around the inside of the sides to provide a gluing surface for the top to adhere to.

Today I also shaped and scalloped the three transverse braces across the back plate. I noticed that one of them did not have a perfect 90 degree angle between the bottom (where it glues onto the plate) and sides – it was canted over slightly. But the braces end up trimmed in sort of a cathedral or triangular cross-section, so I figured I’d correct that by over-trimming one side to bring the two sides into symmetry. That worked, more or less, but then I found myself rushing the process a bit, having to then stop and fix some of the unevenness with sandpaper… all in all, it felt rushed.

A local guitar maker (a retired hand surgeon) once told me that building a guitar is like performing surgery: if you are careful in executing every step, you might get a good result. But if you rush or are sloppy anywhere, the probability of success drops off rapidly. My biggest problem is not getting into that Zen, slowed down, in-the-moment space before setting down to work. Today I was able to more or less recover from working too quickly, but it was a warning. My next moves have to be done with greater care – as the build progresses there is more and more to lose if things go wrong.

So much of my work in software was at a much higher tempo, in part because one can always “undo” mistakes with a keystroke. Woodworking – like surgery – requires a much more deliberative pace. I’m clearly out of practice with this habit of mind.

Shaping the spruce braces underneath the top plate with a tiny plane.

Shaping the spruce braces underneath the top plate with a tiny plane.

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2 thoughts on “Taming bad habits

  1. Pingback: Perhaps not bad, but different habits | The Learning Curve

  2. Pingback: Oops I did it again | The Learning Curve

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