Have you ever heard of a “Go-Board“? That is the slang term for a great jig or specialized Luthier tool that will quickly and efficiently aid in gluing braces to the top and back plates.
If you have ever have tried to glue top braces on a top plate with a combination of deep throat clamps, wood cam clamps, spring clamps or a combination of them, you know that it is not an easy task. Some of the negatives of using the direct clamping system are as follows:
- Clamps are cumbersome to deal with, slow, and often there isn’t enough time to deal with glue cleanup before the glue dries. The wooden cam clamps are a good deal better, but they are still a challenge.
- Usually there isn’t enough room to clamp all the braces on a top plate at one time and the gluing operation needs to be extend into several gluing operations.
- Clamps are often too large to effectively clean glue squeeze-out. The top plate has to be dealt with very carefully so as not to dent under the pressure of clamps. Also, damage can be common to braces with any kind of metal clamp.
- Even clamping pressure is difficult
- Using the proper number of wooden cam clamps can be very expensive for a luthier just starting out.
The “Go-Board” Clamping System:
This is a great tool to have in the shop, even if you make only one instrument at a time or several. It’s main components are 2 pieces of 19mm (3/4″) cabinet grade plywood that form the top and bottom and (4) posts (1 at each corner) to anchor the top plywood to the bottom plywood. Also, there is a movable platform made from 19mm (3/4″) plywood which allows adjustability of clamping pressure and adjustment to accommodate Arching Molds to clamp arched back plate bracing. Some people use wood for the columns and other use pieces of steel conduit with threaded bolts. I prefer the wood as it is more traditional and I just like to have all of my tool look in cabinet-grade condition.
The second piece in this brace-clamping pie are the actual rods that apply pressure to the braces. The best possible clamping rods are 3/16″ diameter rods that have vinyl ends or feet which help keep the rods in place at the top of the jig and give really great gripping power on the brace tops. The rods have remarkable resiliency to retain their straightness after long usage and seldom require replacement. The same cannot be said if wooden dowels would be used.
The biggest trick of the entire go-board construction is getting the length of the corner posts just right so the rods bend enough to get the right amount of pressure, but not too much. This will take a bit of trial and error, but I think you will find that if the rods are 2 to 4″ longer than the distance from the top of the highest brace to the underside of the top go-board plate, you will good. The adjustability of the platform will allow trial and error testing.
This system can very quickly clamp bracing to a top or back plate, clamp with adequate and even pressure, allow great access to glue-cleaning operations and minimize damage to the plate and braces. The one problem with the go-board is clamping braces with a crown, such as back braces. There are two ways to handle this. Either slip tight-fitting wedges between the back plate and the go-board -or- which I feel is a much better solution, use a arching dish or our Arch Mold.
There you have it. One of the easiest tools to make in the shop and one that will save you a great deal of time.
At Georgia Luthier Supply we offer electronic plans so you can build one of these essential tools yourself. If you don’t want to spend time building tools, we can building one for you and ship it to your shop.