We started the day by glueing the top to the rim, using spool clamps and Titebond glue. We started at the neck area, were the top was registered to the block with pins, and worked our way around to the end block. I used a piece of ivoroid binding to align the top to the rim while Shin worked the clamps.
Or I should say that we worked our way to where the end block used to be. Yesterday it was removed because the top had shrunken smaller than the rim. The solution to this problem was to remove the endblock and butt wedge, and eventually replace the butt wedge with a smaller one.
This is what the guitar looked like with the top glued. The back was fit yesterday, and spacer was installed to hold the butt wedge gap to the proper length at the narrow end. We hope this works!
Notice the single scalloped X brace. This design improves string to string and note to note balance in larger guitars, and is my primary flatpicking innovation. All along I had erroniously remembered the Banjo Killer as having double scalloped bracing (which is often louder, and more bottom heavy). This kinda clears up the record but thumbs its nose at the Banjo Killer reissue of 2004, which had double scallops. So what do I know?
Then the endblock got refit and glued.
Finally, came the moment of truth. The back was dry fit with spool clamps. . . (drum roll) . . . and lo and behold, with a little artful persuasion, it fit! The remaining ledge was just enough to acommodate the binding. I sorta can't believe it. All along I figured I might have to add back purfling to fudge the difference. This would have required a lot more refinishing, not to mention routing, sizing and scraping prufling, so I'm really glad this worked.
The back was glued with Titebond. We removed several clamps at a time, pried up a section of the back, spread glue with a small spatula and re-clamped. The original alignment was so fussy that we didn't want to chance a second try.
With the top and back reglued, the butt wedge needed to be resized and replaced. New black accent lines were glued to the edges of the side using a piece of ivoriod as a clamp. After the glue dried, the ivoriod just popped out. The original butt wedge was sanded on a sanding block to fit into the new gap. I forgot to take measurements before resizing, but estimate that the butt wedge ended up about .100" smaller (.050" narrower on either side of the endpin hole). When the butt wedge was glued in place, the holes in the wedge and the block aligned nearly perfectly. An oversized endpin will take care of the difference.
Shin and I spent a couple hours fussing with the fit of the top binding (and wondering if we would ever get dinner). We had to clean out a bunch of old glue and make a number of tedious adjustments to the channel. After the fit was prepped the glue up went quickly. We'll see the result tomorrow, and I expect it to look good.
Tomorrow we plan to replace the back binding, set the neck, refret, and reglue the bridge. If all goes well we will be playing the guitar on Friday, or at least by Saturday morning. Shin hopes to visit friends in Boston over the weekend and will fly from Boston to Tokyo on Monday. We'll do some finish touch up after he leaves, but first we all want to see him get to play the Banjo Killer.