A week in the drawing room…

Panormo with case

The Panormo resting in its original case. Yes, I will publish plans for the case along with it.

Work in the shop has come to a temporary halt. The reason is that our landlord has chosen to renovate the bathroom at home. So someone has to stay at home while they work.

But this doesn’t mean I sit still… These two weeks are a good opportunity to catch up on my drawing…

Panormo, Schelle and other masters

Contestant one is from Great Brittain, made in London in the workshop of the famous Louis Panormo. A lovely small romantic guitar, made in the Spanish tradition.


An early model from the 1820’s. The sound is fascinating, perfect for playing music by Fernando Sor. I will give more details when the plans are published, but there are some nice surprises… The owner brought it to me for a checkup because he plans on selling it. When you are interested, please send me an e-mail or drop me a line at Facebook.

A lute form

The second subject is the inner form for the Schelle theorbo. I do like to use ‘skeleton’-type forms instead of the solid models. They are easier and cheaper to make, lighter and can be taken apart for storage. But one of the main advantages is that you can get your hands inside of them while working.


I start with making a template for the inner outline of the soundboard, this will be used as a router guide for making the base plate. Made of hardboard, often salvaged from other projects or backs of book cases. This piece may look a little bit ragged and ugly, but it was the only one large enough for this lutezilla…

Dividers and coffee... Some of the basic ingredients for a lute...

Dividers and coffee… Some of the basic ingredients for a lute…

I like to use scratching dividers to form the outline. This was probably the tool of choice for the old masters. But this lute bowl is so enormous that my normal stick divider was too short for the large radii…

But help was on its way. Recently someone gave me this old pair of dividers. It had belonged to his father, a carpenter who used it to mark out joints in wooden barn constructions. It’s about 100 years old, and well used. One end has a spike, the other has a small hole to hold a little pencil. I attached the scribe to the outside with some rubber bands. Perhaps it looks like a shiv, but at least it works…

A wolf in sheep’s clothing…

The third project is going on the rack as we speak… An enigmatic guitar, also from the 19th century. Looking Viennese all the way; wide shoulders and bottom, narrow waist, low soundhole and a headstock typical for the workshop of Stauffer and his followers.


But here is the strange part: it wasn’t made in Austria. In fact it wasn’t even made in Europe, but across the ocean…

This guitar was never restored before. I’ve worked on it on and off. I never rush restorations, because it’s better to think before you act. And I want to give the instrument some rest between the interventions. To see whether glued cracks will hold. This might seem overly careful. But it is in the interest of the instrument’s integrity.

Making plans 

I do love to make drawings of guitars and lutes. It’s an integral part of my work, giving the opportunity to study the instruments back to the essence of their design. And on of the best things is that these plans can be shared with others. Helping them to build these instruments.

Back in lutherie school drawing was one of the most important parts of the curriculum. And while we all thought it was a bit of a drag, I now see its value. Many of the techniques and tricks we learned are used on a daily basis in the shop. Design, measuring and laying out the instruments; it all starts with drawing, both digital and manual.

I hope to publish these plans in a short while and also make the rest of my portfolio available again. So stay tuned…

This entry was posted in Guitar, Lute, Research, Restorations, Uncategorized, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A week in the drawing room…

  1. Darin Molnar says:

    Really nice entry, Jan.


  2. Carla Kelly says:

    It’s rewarding to see these old guitars here and hear your thoughts on them. I love the great ones, Panormo and Stauffer, especially, and how they influenced the early American builders like Martin. This is wonderful input!


    • Thanks, that’s the reason I draw plans like these. To make them available to other builders for study and get copies of these great guitars in the hands of players.

      In the fall we will start making these guitars as part of a Dutch guitar making course…


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