With the soundboard braced, my attention turns to the sides (or ribs). These are
bookmatched pieces of black Walnut to match the back. Once they are thicknessed I
cut them out to their rough final shape, leaving them a millimetre or two oversized;
as well as the soundboard and back being arched, the sides also taper on the back
side from the butt end to the neck. Then they are put into a bending machine holds
the wood against a form and uses heat and steam to bend the wood.
When the sides are bent to shape they are clamped into the mould where they can be
worked on. First blocks are glued onto either end of the ribs to join them together,
then linings are glued on to give the soundboard and back a larger gluing surface.
The sides must be shaped to perfectly fit the curvature of the soundboard and back.
To do this I use the same concave ‘dish’ I used to glue the braces on, but this time
with sandpaper stuck to the surface. Using a jig I rotate the dish on the gluing
surfaces, sanding them until the back and soundboard fits perfectly.
The next job is to mark onto the linings the position of the braces on the soundboard
and back. The linings are cut at this point and the braces are cut off where they
will meet the sides. This means the braces will be held securely in pockets which
ensures the braces won’t come loose if (heaven forbid) the guitar is knocked or dropped.
All that’s left to do now is to glue the body parts together. To keep the guitar
in shape, I use the mould to hold the ribs in place whilst the back is glued on using
closing clamps. The clamps are removed after the glue has dried overnight and the
mould turned over, a label glued inside and the back glued on.