Joining guitar tops with fire

One of the questions I often get is how a guitar or lute top is joined using traditional methods. So with hot hide or bone glue.

Well, today fellow guitar maker Joës van Went was at my shop and took some time to film the process.

I learned this technique from Belgian luthier Stijn Kenens, who picked it up at the CMB lutherie school in Puurs. It’s an old method, used by many traditional Spanish makers.

I prefer this method because it’s relatively low tech and doesn’t involve a lot of tooling. Some rope, sticks and wedges, a little cotton tip torch (I fill mine with some old Courvoisier cognac for a better, warmer tone) and hide or bone glue. The purpose of re-heating the glue to make it more liquid and allow the glue joint to be pulled tight. You can also use Titebond, then there is no need for warming up the glue joint.

This entry was posted in Guitar, Lute, Projects, Tools, Uncategorized, Woodworking, Workshop and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Joining guitar tops with fire

  1. alexholdendotnet says:

    What is the purpose of the fire?


  2. James Louder says:

    I trust those cauls are waxed–and maybe the ropes too, just in case…


  3. I just clamp down a couple beams on a flat table, set to where top sides form a roof shape (about 1/2″ at center on an average classical/dred size), spray a bit of mold release spray on surface to keep glue from sticking, add glue to seam, push down, tap will a mallet to even out any seam issues, and throw a movie grip sand bag on it. Comes out great every time! Gravity does it’s thing…


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