Making Kerfed Linings

Sides Reinforced with Scallop Braces and Ready for Gluing to the Back

Sides Reinforced with Scallop Braces and Ready for Gluing to the Back

Although you can purchase guitar lining rather inexpensively, I still prefer to make my own. That way I have complete and total control over the wood that is used, how it is cut and the final appearance after installation.

Tools and Materials:

Table Saw
Wood Slicer Blades
Band Saw
Stationary Belt Sander
Try Square
Router Round Over Bit
Dremel Rotary Tool

Preparing Kerfed Lining:

Kerfed lining is perhaps the most involved of an of the linings from a milling standpoint.

Choose The Proper Wood:

First decide on the wood species. I usually choose a nice Mahogany or White Basswood board and make sure it is at least 3/4″ thick. If I wish to wind up with a 3/4″ high x 5/16″ wide triangular lining, I will cut the board into strips about 7/16″ wide. The best place to do this is on your table saw. If you don’t have one, use a band saw.

After you cut all of your strips, take them to the Stationary Belt Sander or The Belt Sander and sand them smooth and all the exact same size.

It is usually a good idea to have a “lining assembly line” set up so you can pump out enough for 3-6 guitars at one time. As long as you have your machinery set up anyway, you might just as well run the stock through a few more times and finish this time intensive task.

Cutting Triangular Lining
Cutting Triangular Linings:

Now set up your band saw to cut diagonally across each strip. You will need to tilt the table and use the fence for this cut. I usually cut it as indicated in the diagram. Keep in mind that I use a Wood Slicer Blade  and it cuts an extremely narrow kerf of about 1/32″ so you will need to compensate if you use a different blade with a wider kerf cut.

Cutting the Kerfs:

Setting up the bandsaw for cutting kerfs takes a bit of time. I love to see kerf cuts that are spaced out exactly. It is a pet pieve of mine to look inside an expensive guitar and see the kerfs unevenly spaced.

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Here are some photos of a jig I came up with to cut evenly cut kerfed linings. The jig works on the principle of a placing small wood spline the width f the blade kerf to cut evenly space slices over the length of the lining. You should space this spline the distance away from the saw cut line that you wish to space your kerning cuts. A good place to start is about a 5/16″ center to center spacing. To cut the kerfs on the band saw you will need to take the fence of the band saw off completely. Next set up the miter gage with a sacrifice piece of plywood behind the binding. Also, you will need to add a stop in the miter slot to keep the blade from cutting completely through the back of the lining. Usually about 1/32″ or .5mm of wood is left to allow easy bending around curves.

Modified Rectangular Kerfed Lining:

This kerfed lining is processed in exactly the same manner as the triangular lining with the exception that you do not cut the lining diagonally. The best way to do this is to first cut the radius on the board before you cut it into strips.

Take a router or a Dremel Rotary Tool and put a round-over router bit into the chuck. Make your cut down the board and then cut that strip off. Repeat as necessary for each additional lining.

Cutting this lining is exactly the same as the triangular kerfed lining so follow the directions above for that.

Separate Block Lining:

Follow the triangular lining directions above. The only difference is to cut through the block completely on the band saw.

Solid Lining:

For solid lining I like to cut the strips first, then round the edge with a small radius plane and then place about 6 or 8 of these all together on the Heated Side Bending Jig. Make sure you do not have any Spring Back and that they fit nicely. Touch them up on the Bending Iron if necessary.

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