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Monday, February 20, 2012

Featured Restoration (A Taylor Baby Story Again)

A young boy… eating

Finger Joint is cracked

In January 2011, I restored a Baby Taylor from a cracked neck heel (see picture below). This guitar is indeed a special one because there is a portrait of the owner’s son being drawn on the guitar top plate. The cracked headstock heel in the Baby Taylor seems to have brought remembrance to certain chapters of the owner's life. Suffice to say that the restoration of the guitar wasn’t simply a job I have done, it meant something to the owner. It was a great privilege for me then but deja vu…

The link to the previous repair posting:

Last episode: Hairline crack

Anything that can happen will happen… the infamous Murphy’s Law strikes. During a missionary trip the Baby Taylor suffered another concussion on its headstock. The previously repaired joint gave way to the impact. The owner brought the “injured baby” to me for an assessment. Visually and structurally, the damage was more severe than the previous episode (see below picture). Previously, only the crown of the heel revealed a hairline crack this time the crack propagated around and within the entire neck radius.

Damage was more severe than previously

In summary, these are the steps I have taken to restore this baby once more…
  1. Remove the old mahogany stub
  2. Glue the finger joints seams an allow glue to set for 24hrs
  3. Enlarge the existing cavity slightly
  4. Make another mahogany stub that fits the enlarged cavity
  5. Glue the mahogany stub into the cavity and allow glue to set for 24hrs
  6. Trim off the stub protrusion and sand till flush
  7. Re-finish the affected areas
  8. Re-string and set up 
Apparently the steps aren’t very different from the previous episode. However there were a few tricky areas to note. I thought it might good to share it with guitar repair enthusiasts through this article. Without a doubt, you will find a myriad of ways to get it done and these were just the ways available to me.

Applying wood glue into the finger joint seams was a tricky thing to do. We know that wood glue doesn’t behavior like water and getting this viscous fluid into these finger joint seams will not be easy. I have read in the internet that applying a “special liquid” to transport wood glue into deep seams and crevices. My curiosity has driven me to hunt down this mysterious liquid but in vain eventually.

Part of my facts finding effort was querying full-time luthiers regarding the application of such mysterious liquid. However there was no answer to my query. While none have said that such liquid don’t exist, they have remarked that it didn’t make sense to “dilute” the wood glue in order to deliver it into crevices because it can be done mechanically. An assumption to this special liquid was introducing water to thin the wood glue. However it will cause the wood glue to loose its effectiveness. Anyone who knows about this special liquid, I will greatly appreciate if you can share this knowledge.

So how did I get the wood glue to those deep and narrow spaces? Actually it wasn’t that difficult and the method is perfectly logical. Simply flexes the crack joint a few times and the glue will be distributed into the cracks. Just make sure you apply glue generously. A thing to note is the amount of flexing force. Just get the job done and don’t totally over do it until things totally break apart.

The other tricky thing was enlarging the existing cavity (see below picture). In particular, lengthening and keeping the same cavity depth required some attention indeed. Setting up for routing the cavity has taken the most time because it wasn’t a flat surface and I have to take note of the truss rod.

Carefully the old stub was removed

Trimming off the excess stub can be deceptively easy. Anyone can simply sand off the excess and flush the stub surface to the neck. However, the neck possesses a radius profile. As I was trimming off the excess, I have to re-produce the matching neck radius. Failing which a flat portion will be seen along the neck. While it was not a structural issue it might affect the “feel” which is an essential quality to the owner.

After trimmed, sanded and refinished

The stub flushed in both level and curvature

Nevertheless it was done! Once again the Baby Taylor has been restored!

Once again, restored!

There is nothing God cannot heal, save, restore and renew.

Matthew 8:1-3
1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

-End of Article-


  1. Hey Adam,
    just wondering:
    What finish did you use for the neck to ensure that it's even or blends with the original finish?
    Did you strip the whole neck's finish?


  2. Thanks for your interest. If you don't mind, drop me an email and I will explain it as clear as I could.

  3. Suffice to say that the restoration of the guitar wasn't simply a job I have ...