Clara – a Build for Mr Wilson

I was talking with a friend who was looking for a Les Paul style guitar, but he had a very specific set of requirements.  He wants as faithful as possible a copy of Mick Ronson’s Les Paul.  I’m crazy enough to accept the challenge, so off we go.

Step one was to get some plans together.  I’m conscious that I don’t want to build a Les Paul copy – it’s not my design and it doesn’t feel right to try to pass off a build as something it isn’t, so I am adapting the plans slightly, and incorporating different design features, all without changing the overall look of the finished instrument.  More on those changes as I get to them.  With the plans in place, it was time to start on the wood work.

I already had a gorgeous piece of sapele, large enough to do two, one-piece bodies.

002 - RawWood

The only problem with it was that it was too thick (at almost 60mm, this was well over the 42-43mm I wanted to get to) and too wide to pass through my thicknesser.  Easily solved with my scrub plane, though.  It was tough work but I managed to get 15-20mm taken off in an hour or so, and then planed smooth

004 - Scrubbing.

006 - Planing

005 - planing

Next, mark and cut out the basic  body shape.  An MDF template helped me here, and will come in handy for the top too.

007 - MDFTemplate

008 - MarkingOut

010 - Shaped

Right.  That’s enough of the Sapele for now.  On to the maple cap.

I found a piece of maple thick enough to resaw down to about 20mm thick.  It will eventually need to be about 16, but it’s easier for me to joint the top and then bring it down to thickness.

Photo to come.

I also cut out a bunch of templates to help with carving the top.  This isn’t the way I would want to carve the top, but for a first LP type guitar, it will give me a good start point.

011 - topprofiles

That’s it for now.  I did cut, plane and join some more sapele for the neck, but it is currently still just a block.  I’m hoping to get to that this weekend.  I also aim to glue up the cap and body, do some preliminary routing for the binding and make a start on the cap curves.

There’s also a full gallery of the photos I’m taking during the process.

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