Guitar Side Replacement Sequence--page 1

Soto remove old side.JPG (17614 bytes) Restoration whiz Harry Becker, my shop partner for around thirty years, has started to literally carve off the original smashed side of this 1950s Tatay requinto classic, a treasured "sentimental value" instrument that was dropped. Peripheral damage: a cracked back and end block. Harry is being careful not to shave off the entire back lining, but to leave a full-length remnant about 1/16" high. This will serve later as a "key" for the new side. This would not ordinarily be necessary, except that in this case, the guitar has no back binding, and the new side plate has to meet up perfectly with the back plate. Had there been a binding, the resulting seam could be simply routed back for a new binding.
Soto side off back repair.jpg (15123 bytes) Harry has succeeded in perfectly (and tediously) removing the original side, leaving no trace of it whatever (except for the edge "key" trace of the old back lining) and without damaging the rest of the guitar in any way. Harry capitalizes on the side being off completely to do a thorough back-crack and end-block repair, which would otherwise be extremely difficult once the new side is on the guitar.
Soto side key closeup.jpg (11524 bytes) Here's a closeup of the "key" that Harry has left on the back, a remnant of the original back lining. Harry will include a slot in the replacement lining that will "key" into it and ensure the accurate alignment of the replacement side. Note also the cross-grain back-crack reinforcement on the back.
Harry bending side.jpg (9791 bytes) Harry has traced off the guitar and made a new side template, and is using it as a guide to bend a brand new side for the project. He bends the new side slat on a propane-fired hot pipe. He went to some trouble to select a replacement mahogany side slat that matched its mate, as closely as possible, in its color, texture, pore pattern and thickness.
Soto fit new side.jpg (37196 bytes) Harry fits the new side into the side cavity. Its perimeter has to be trimmed precisely to fit all its boundaries. This step took the better part of an afternoon. Ensuring tight seams all the way around is crucial to a flawless job. This is particularly tricky, since all the plates are fairly floppy and move all over the place during the process.
Soto side fit from back.jpg (16249 bytes) The new side has to also meet the end graft at the bottom of the guitar and form a tight seam. Harry's focus and endless patience ensures this.
NEXT: Assembling the new side onto the guitar.