Tools and Materials:
Woodworking Marking Knife
Takumi Dozuki 9-Inch Super Fine Cut Saw
1/4″ Woodworkers Chisel
1/2″ Woodworder Chisel
Georgia Luthier Supply Drill Press Fence
Forstner Drill Bits
Plastic Tipped Hammer
On our Classical Guitar Plans that we have available here at Georgia Luthier Supply, we show our own Signature design of our guitars that we make build. You should take out a piece of tracing paper and use our plan template as a guide. Then sketch away on your own unique design and see what you come up with.
Mark Out The Rollers:
The first thing that we will do here is to mark out the rollers from the Classical Guitar Tuning Machines. Since the roller dimensions can vary not only from manufacturer to manufacturer. They can vary within the individual set.
The safest way to mark your tuning machine drum centers on the side of the headstock is to remove the rollers from the machine heads, carefully lay the tuning machine plate against the side of the headstock and put a pinpoint centerline mark where each roller is. Do this for both sides of the headstock and replace the drums on the tuning machines.
If needed, make the center lines a bit darker with a marking knife or razor sharpened pencil.
Measure the Roller Diameter:
Take a digital or dial venier calipers and measure the drum diameter. Pick out a Forstner Drill bit that is just slightly larger than the drum diameter and chuck it into the Drill Press.
Tip: See the Article Headstock Detailing Part 3 for tips on how to drill drum holes without a Drill Press.
Drill Press Setup:
Now it will take a bit of setup time on the drill press table to get the angles just right. Since the drums are inserted into the peghead at a perfect 90 degree angle, and the peghead is tapered, we have to compensage for that angle. Measure the angle of the Peghead sides as they related to the centerline of the neck. On the Ultimate Guitar OnLine Classical Plans the angle is 1.77 degrees.
For drilling these holes you should have at your fingertips a drill press vice, which incidently, comes in handy for a variety of chores. Clamp the headpiece in the vice and set the angle of the sides of the headpiece correctly. Be sure to set the depth stop on the drill press for the proper depth. It should be about 1/16″ deeper than the roller lengths.
Drill Out The Drum Holes:
With your drill press set up to drill the holes in at a 90 degree angle to the headpiece, go ahead and drill all three of the holes. Reset your vice for the opposite side and drill those three as well. Check the fit of the tuning machines and make sure there is no binding against the wood and everything aligns properly.
The String Ramps;
The string ramps are the next operation we will address. There are basically two different styles of string ramps. Curved ramps that replicate the shape of the string slots, or straight slots that follow the two edges of the string slots until they run out the peghead veneer.
Cutting Straight String Ramps:
Mark the string string ramps with a sharp knife. and strike a line of the intended exit point. Take the Takumi Dozuki 9-Inch Super Fine Cut Saw and cut as close to the proper depth as you can. Now it is time to chisel out the ramps. Use the 1/4″ Woodworkers Chisel and the 1/2″ Woodworder Chisel for this. Make sure they are razor sharp and cut the ramps out smoothly, with flat bottoms and vertical sides. Just take little pieces in each chisel stroke. Finish the string ramps with a small sanding stick and a steady hand.
Cutting Rounded String Ramps:
I feel that cutting the rounded string ramps is quite a bit easier. You can use a milling bit in a hand drill or a rounded rasp for this procedure. Make sure to make guidelines on the face of the peghead to allow you to guage you progress. Finish out with sandpaper wrapped around a 1/2″ dowel.
Note: See our article on Making Your Sanding Sticks for some of these simple shops tool aids.
What is Next?
You now have the outside of the (2) edges of the peg-head finished out and both of the string slots cut in and finished off. In the next article we will deal with the holes for the tuning machine rollers, the string ramps at the string slots and some tips on finishing-off the signature head. These are covered in Headstock Detailing Part 3.