Kenneth Michael Guitars est.1978
|KMG "Success Kit" Top Assembly
Prepare the work board by taping four
contour cauls delineated by the “X”
brace. Instructions regarding how to
fabricate the clamping cauls can be
The bridge plate was glued to the top first so it can be used as an anchor point. Start
the brace gluing sequence with the “X” that has the notch facing UP. The other “X”
brace is used as a locator but is not glued at this time. As always check to make sure
you clamping set-up will work doing a dry run. When satisfied, apply glue, position the
brace, and duplicate the dry run set-up. Make sure the brace is tight against the bridge
plate. Clean up the glue squeeze out as you work. I let it set a little time to prevent
We use “Titebond” 30 minutes is
plenty of clamp time. After 30 minutes
apply glue to the other “X” brace,
including the intersection joint. Clamp
in place using the same precautions as
The bass bars can be glued in place next. Note the use of a piece of cut off material as
a caul to assure perfect contact on the inside end of the base bar
Each of the four ¼”x ¼” side braces
requires a custom fit. As with all the
bracing the grain runs perpendicular to
Cut all four braces to approximate length. Mark the angle of each where it meets the “X”
brace. Identify each brace and the corresponding location on the top
Mark the ends of each side brace at
the perimeter. These braces extend
shy of the kerfing perimeter line.
Mark the center of each brace. Note how each is numbered and that the location of the
number is used as a reference to the inside and outside ends.
From the centerline, saw, sand or
chisel a gentle contour to the
OUTSIDE end of each brace. DO NOT
CONTOUR THE INSIDE AT THIS TIME.
We need to keep that surface flat to
Glue all the side braces in the proper locations – follow the 30-minute dry time rule for
The shoulder brace is almost flat on
the edge that is glued, there is a subtle
taper at both ends to blend with the
contour of the “X” bracing.
The ends of the shoulder brace extends through to the outside of the rim so they need
to be thinned to about 1/16”.
Mark the centerline of the top, this will be used as a reference to locate the shoulder
brace, its important that the truss rod access hole lines up perfectly.
Test the clamping arrangement, if
satisfied glue the shoulder brace in
place. Clean up the glue squeeze as
Prepare the 1/8” x 1” brace using the dimension is the photo below. The glued side is
flat; sand a gentle radius on all the edges of the opposite side/upside.
Align this brace with the layout and centerline; check clamping arrangement, than
complete gluing operation.
The inside scallop/contour can now be carved on the four side braces. A piece of
veneer or shim stock is used to prevent damage to “X” brace. Use a razor saw to cut a
slot on the ends of the side braces. The veneer can then be wedge against the “X”
Use a chisel to shear away the brace to form the inside taper. Always hold the cutting
edge at angle to prevent taking too deep of cut and gouging the wood
The long legs of the “X” braces extend though to the outside of the rim. Note that they
are very thin in this area. This tiny lip is primarily to form a location tab when gluing the
top to the rim. Chisel and sand these ends to form a smooth transition back to the
Some manufacturers and custom builders choose to leave the braces flat on top, which
is OK. I prefer to chamfer and radius all the edges and peaks. The following photos
illustrate the basic steps. Use a chisel and sand paper finishing with 220 grit.
Drawing a centerline on the brace will aide in keeping the radius and chamfers uniform.
A small block plane can be used to
round over the shoulder brace,
followed with the progressive sand
Set a small block of wood on the sound hole reinforcement location. Place the 1/16”
reinforcement material along side the block. Use a straight edge to line up and mark the
brace intersection points. Repeat this process for all three reinforcements.
Make clamping cauls thick enough to get the cam clamps clear of the all the bracing.
Test your clamping arrangement, than glue the reinforcements in place.
Inspect the top for glue squeeze,
double check the sanding job and
finally proudly sign your work.