Like your sander, Kawika


Shop Tips

Routing the Soundhole
and Soundhole Trim Channel

Routing the Soundhole and Soundhole Trim Channel is actually a fairly straightforward procedure once you have the jig made. This "making the jig" thing is such a truism for lutherie that there was once a joke in American Lutherie about it: Question: "How many luthiers does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer: "Only one, but he has to build a jig first." As in several other instances, this jig was loosely patterned after several designs from the early Data Sheets from the Guild of American Luthiers, now recompiled and improved in their first book publication, "Lutherie Tools". This jig is not particularly flexible like the one sold by Stewart McDonald. One of the jigs described here is required for each size instrument or application, but it does its job extremely well and without any adjustments or fiddling around, something which is a plus for me.

Once again, I wish to stress safety. You can use a router or laminate trimmer to do the cutting here, but at 25-30,000 RPM things can go badly very quickly. Routers are dangerous and all precautions listed by the manufacturer must be observed in order to "have a nice day". Don't use this when tired, under medication which causes drowsiness, etc. The author writes this article as a community service, but assumes no legal responsibility for the final functionality of this jig. view

The first drawing shows a plan view of the jig. Plexiglas ~ 1/4-3/8" thick works well for this application. Most of mine are about 6"x9" with the corners rounded. There are four different sets of holes in this jig:

Operator view--waist level

The first photograph shows the jig alone resting on an instrument top with the rotation pin sticking up through the Pivot Point. The Router Bit Pocket is to the right of the pin, the Anchor Point above it and the Trim Channel and Soundhole Points below. Actually, careful observation will show that the jig is upside down since the machine screw head pockets are on the upper surface; in actual practice this surface would be against the soundboard. The soundboard is resting on the base plate and is held in place by three clamps and (until the soundhole has been cut out) the rotation pin.

View of rounter in place

The second photograph shows the router in place on the jig. Note that the rotation pin is visible through the router frame and the router bit is at the top of the soundboard.

Order of Operations for Cutting the Trim Channel: