Thank you again for your interest in my very simple theory. I believe that musical instruments of all forms are a class of art that rises above all others. I know of no other form of art that is designed to create more art. With apologies to those who make paint brushes, my passion for this theory is born out in my work and my own guitar collection. I hope you see this in my presentation below. I promise you will recognize it in my final results.

Long ago, a prestigious performing artist from Australia commissioned a cabinet to host a guitar signed by all of his friends in the business. When I saw the list of names, I sort’a fainted. Now I use his project’s status page as a shop tour. This page is an example of what I will produce for you, a tour of your lumber’s journey. Almost every step of the lumber’s path is documented, as you will see exemplified below. With my apologies for my complete vacuum of brevity, I hope you enjoy the show.


Welcome to your Private Status Page, where your entire project will be documented, start to finish.

It all begins with your guitar. Thank you for this image. It appears to be a beautiful tribute to Australia’s most prestigious contributors to Rock & Roll. How will you map out all those signatures? I have yet to find yours. Dare I ask?

it is time to sit back and watch as I mill your Rosewood into huge piles of sawdust and join me in the hope that what’s left over will be one of my finest cabinets. If you have any questions, feel free to call. I am always at your service, despite our time zones. There is also an eMail button in the footer of this page. Click on any image for a full sized version and enjoy the show.

Entry #1: Your Lumber’s History.

As we discussed, Bolivian Rosewood is technically speaking a faux Rosewood. As you know, Brazilian, East Indian and several other species referenced in the guitar world are of a class that have a stronger claim to fame as tone woods. I don’t claim the cabinet will ring as well as your guitar, however. In appearance, Bolivian is simply stunning and more importantly it is indistinguishable from its unobtainably expensive cousin: Brazilian Rosewood.

On the left, you see the rough lumber in massive slabs, right off the boat. Note the salt stains. Quickly, we stripped off this corrosive layer, as you see with the centered slab in the photo. Then we sent into a slow and patient cycle we call perMilling.

Every time a timber is split in half, both halves bend. It is inevitable and tough to deal with. It takes time for the bending to settle. Large mills do not allow enough time, that is why half of what you find at the Home Depot is warped beyond utility.

Flattening is a process of planing off the curves. We loose a lot wood when we “Flatten”. Given the value of the woods I select, I can’t afford to loose any so I must go very slowly as I split the piece again and wait for it to settle again.

When this cycle is complete, the lumber shows it’s true inner beauty and it is properly denoted as Dimensioned Lumber. It is least likely to ever warp again. In your instance, this lumber has been in a cycle of Milling and Curing for over three years. In isolated storage at constant moisture and with very little variation in temperature, I saw no variation in shape after the first two years. It was ready to find a new home! I am deeply grateful for a project so worthy of this fine timber. I placed Gold coins in the view to the right as a color reference. Keep in mind that this is still rough wood, there are no stains or oils.


October 2000 - Final Milling & Your Sizing Options

lumber is back from storage. No one will ever get near this wood except your’s truly. Unlike most projects where helpers are handling the wood in a very crowded and busy environment, yours is mine alone and safely here in my home shop. Wish me luck, please. This is an intimidating new aspect of what once was a carefree endeavor.

In the background of the photo to the right, you’ll see various stages of production of other projects, promised a little ahead of yours in the queue. They’ll get swept along quickly and yours will be the only project on my workbench when it gets into full swing.

The color of this wood is remarkable and yet, it’s still under-presented here in rough un-Lacquered view. Soon, I’ll be mailing a Lacquered sample to you and I can’t wait to hear your impressions.

On the
left, take note of the grain matching across the cuts that define these sticks. I’ll show you this again when it reAppears in the finished cabinet. Grain matched joinery defines a Luthier’s touch. I have heard that no one does that anymore, so of course, I do.

bottom panel of your cabinet is a solid slab. Any other furniture maker would build this panel out of several small strips. 250 mm / 10 Inch wide timbers are very hard to find. I humbly hope that your cabinet will be one of the most unique pieces in your home as a sum of many rare features such as this.

On the right, the types of components I’ll be fabricating to make your Mortise and Tenon joints. They knit together to form the window frames of the cabinet’s sides and top.

The standard sized stick, used in most cabinetry here in the States, is 16 x 18 (mm). The small Oak stick you see on the left is this standard scale.

Your Rosewood
begins at 26 mm think and over 80 mm wide. It is nice and straight and hence, we’ll lose very little as we true it up (make it perfectly flat). The sticks are also about 25% longer than usual. It is a powerful statement to have oversized wood in a piece of furniture. It adds another element of uniqueness to your cabinet and so I must ask you to decide one more Design Question.

Do you mind if I oversize your cabinet? At no extra charge, of course.

You have requested a “Classic Full View” specified to have outside dimensions (cm) 105 x 50 x 20 (Height, Width and Depth Respectively). Your rough lumber offers the opportunity to build our largest cabinet, just like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has.

To help you decide, consider the comparisons below. An electric guitar, similar in size to your Maton, is shown in three different sized cabinets.

On the left, the tightest fitting cabinet for an electric guitar is the Classic Full View. Notice the margin around the guitar.

If you have ever met Mr. Howard Leese you probably know of this guitar’s story. Howard played for Heart. He hangs a priceless piece of history
* in his Classic Full View Cabinet. As you can see, he had a very small wall in the hallway of his recording studio. He was forced to use the smallest possible cabinet for this location. In his home, he has Museum Sized cabinets.

* This is Carlos Santana’s first PRS guitar, loaned to him by Howard in the late 70’s. Carlos immediately endorsed the guitar maker Paul Reed Smith, making him famous. Paul nows own the third largest guitar company in the world and Carlos is never seen without a PRS guitar. Howard also owns the first PRS ever made. I have played these priceless instruments and I can hardly get my feet back on the ground. Ann was more impressed with meeting Carlos, but jamming with Howard was a thrill I’ll never forget. Back to cabinet sizing, eh?

On the left,
you will see a similar sized electric guitar hanging in what I call the Full Sized Full View. This cabinet is about 50 mm larger in Height and Width and slightly deeper than a Classic. I highly recommend this size for you, but your wood will go even larger if you wish.

On the right, the Museum Sized Full View. When the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame pushed my design to the limits, it was to ensure that almost any guitar they had could be hosted.

Here, you see Joe Walsh’s 1959 Les Paul. This guitar is also similar in size to your Maton. I was surprised how well the oversized cabinet left the guitar to be the focal point of the viewer’s attention. The Museum cabinet is another 50 mm larger in H and W and your Rosewood will easily allow us to build this sized cabinet if you wish.

If you prefer the tight fit of the Classic, then you’ll be leaving me with leftover Rosewood. Although I’d love to have it, I recommend you get the most out of this very rare and valuable lumber. I thank you for entertaining this final design question, let me know your preference, at your convenience.

I must acquit a few older promises on my workbenches before your project will get into full swing, but soon, you will own my shop. Our agreement shows a worst case date of delivery. If I have failed to make this date, your rights to refund begin. I promise that your cabinet will be completed ahead of this schedule and we’ll certainly talk about your convenience (logistics of international delivery are daunting) as this event comes into better view down the road.

January 2001 “
In Full Production

After a few weeks of good fortune with wood & tools, I still have ten fingers and your cabinet is well on it’s way to becoming one of my finest.

Yours is the only project in my shop to ensure the safest ride and my undivided attention. Enjoy your first real look at this amazing wood and thank you again for the pleasure of working with it.

Over the last twelve weeks, your Rosewood has idled
in drying racks, interrupted periodically by millings to reduce the dimensions toward our utility and then returning to the racks to allow any stress in the wood to relax after the cuts.

Patient curing is what mass production precludes, but key to the quality of the piece, in the long run. As soon as you commissioned this piece, I began this slow iterative milling & drying technique. After Christmas, your project took over the shop and it’s about time to show you some progress.

On the left, the final rip cuts, right down the middle of three wide slabs to create what we call Book Matching Grains.

On the right, notice the symmetry of the grain, after the split sticks are turned on edge. That’s the front face of your cabinet. These effects are sometimes subtle and don’t scream out of the finished piece. In this instance, I am almost certain it will be noticeable.

While looking at the window panels
that comprise the side and top of this style cabinet, you’ll notice they are built with a lot of notched sticks. On the left, an example in Maple shows this. These notches serve to join the panels and in the end, make window frames.

Can you see that your Rosewood is about 15% thicker and wider than the Maple example? Your cabinet will have bold dimensions, and the thicker sticks assure an even strong and more stable piece of furniture.

On the right above, the first precision cuts. The notching begins. The tape ensures that the stick doesn’t fly out or shatter in the saw when we make the second pass. We’ll need these sticks later. Notice the labeling? You’ll see why in a minute...

roughing out the first (window frame) notch on the saw, the sticks are saved for use to secure the glass windows (Glazing Sticks). Each stick is labelled so that it can be replace exactly from where it came... another grain matching technique that I hope shows up in the finished piece.

On the right, the window frame notches are trimmed more precisely on a Shaper. The shims ensure that each trimming is small nibble, and hence a clean cut. High speed millings often shatter the wood and always mare it.

that the sticks are notched for the window frames, most will be used as Stiles. One of them is chopped into short lengths to serve as the Rails.

On the right, these short sections are inverted and notched to create tenons on the ends. This is the maneuver they told me never to try on a table saw... but the guide block keeps it all relatively safe.

The final
notching and trimming on the rail ends is shown here. Note that these are cross grain millings and not at all easy... if the wood is fed too quickly, the grain shatters... too slowly and it smolders and burns. This is an intimidatingly rare wood to work worth, forgive me if I whine a bit while it’s still ‘not done’.

On the
left, the Half Mortise and Tenon joints are tested individually for fit and trimmed if necessary.

The Rails are selected for grain matching with the Stiles, labelled to ensure they go where they belong when glued. This is one of the many unique features I missed when I tried to mass produce this design. One at a time is a true pleasure... thank you!

On the right above, the Dry Fit cabinet components (except the Bottom Panel) are shown. This photo presents the Rosewood as more pink than it truly appears. A sample is heading into the Lacquering Booth and then, as soon as possible, on it’s way to you. I am certain that when you see this wood for yourself, you’ll know why I called it the finest possible choice for your guitar!

February 2, 2001 “The Bulk of the Fabrication

There’s a lot to see, and I’ll get right to it...

support every gluing. Lining up the opposing faces of the joints is a challenge that I tackle with simple alignment jigs on the drill press.

On the left, the Stiles are drilled and on the right the ends of the Rails.

few views of the resulting dry fit panels.

This is probably your first view of the slab I have for your cabinet’s bottom panel. You’ll also see the sliver of thin stock I made for finish testing.

The Yoke Block can also be seen in this compilation of parts. At the end of this status, you’ll see where that comes into play.

few days of clamping while the old fashioned Hyde Glues cure.

The panels are rarely flat when first assembled and there’s plenty of glue stain to remove. On the right, the Drum Sander makes quick work of the post assembly surfacing.

most difficult steps in the entire process are summarized in the photo on the left. Hours of picking, scraping, detail sanding and surface polishing fill the gaps between every major milling step. A razor is used to true the tightest corners and clean the glue stains out.

On the right, a simple Cove shape is etched into the window frames. A little later in the status, you’ll see these in close up form.

You mentioned that
you have done some wood working.

You may recognize the ‘move’ on the left as one of the one’s we are NOT supposed to try. Nevertheless, I use this to start the notch that hosts the top and bottom panels at the end of each side.

On the right, the notch is cleaned up and ready for dowels.

The waste that pops out of the cut shown above is used for a simple
test. On the left, you may notice that each of these waste sticks is a sample of the panel’s glue line. Albeit a tiny sample, and not supported by a dowel, I am always pleased to find that the joint fails at the wood grain, not the glue line.

On the right, the bottom panel visits the sanding tale for another good polsihing.

One of the many
dry fit tests is shown on the left. Touch up of the joints and more time on the drill press to host the dowels are not shown, but once the dowels are drilled, another dry test verifies we are ready to glue it all together.

On the right, this last dry fit. You may notice that all of the major surfaces are now masked to keep them clean through what you’ll soon see to be some rough handling and messy efforts.

special jig hold it all together for a “one joint at a time” alignments and glue curing.

This level of the assembly stages is rudely slow... 18 hours of glue cure per joint. An investor once pause at this point in the pitch and told me I had to use faster glues. I am so glad I never lined up with those folks! FAst glues are not very strong.

On the left, the last joint is bound.
Soon, it starts looking like a cabinet!

In the following steps, I will sculpt the edges and dress the cabinet with my secret weapon - post assembling trimmings. Most ‘furniture’ applies all the edging before assembly, resulting in clumsy right angled joints. I like curved corners, they are more consistent with a guitar’s shape.

On the right, a series of shaper bits are employed with various bearings to pace the cuts. The key to success with hardwood sculpting is nibble cuts.

Here you see
the Monster Router Table. The door jambs are cut first, as shown on the left.

On the right, a Quarter Round is applied to all of the outside edges. As you have probably experienced, routers and shapers do not always cut a clean edge, and with hardwoods, the surface is always quite chipped and pitted after the cuts. If the wood is pushed too quickly, explosive fractures can occur.

I used to loose 1 in 20 cabinets at this stage of the process, but patient and diligent tactics have made failures a thing of the past. Nevertheless, the MRT is quite a hair raising day in the shop, especially with irreplaceable wood like yours.

I’ve polished the
millings a bit for the photo on the left, but here you see the rough forms for the door jamb and outer edges. Post assembly sculpting yields rounded corners, a rare style in furniture that is quite consistent with the Luthier’s art.

On the right, the Shop Cat inspects the rough edging.

that the door jambs are cut, a template is made with which the Acrylic Door will be trimmed.

On the left, the template is tested for an even gap all the way around.

On the right, the back panel is assembled and installed.

details of the back panels are shown here on the left.

Note that a massive screw is driven through the load bearing brace and all the way into the side panels mid-rail. Remember this trick as you test the strength of this box once it is on your wall.

You will be impressed with the stiffness and strength of this, otherwise delicate looking cabinet.

On the right, a chunk of your Rosewood was sent through a quick conversion to be the block which holds the guitar yoke onto the back panel. Three holes will allow you to adjust the height of the guitar within the cabinet and center it to your taste.

And here you see the cabinet in it’s first functional form.
My guitars hate this stage of every project ... they know a cabinet this nice is Not For Them.

The guitar you see here is slightly larger than yours. I trust that you’ll agree that there’s plenty of margin around the instrument. The cabinet frame will not block you view of the guitar in any appreciable way. You can also see that there is ample room on the back panel for other items to be displayed, such as the Plaque I suggested to elaborate the autographs with legible names.

If you’d like me to make and add such a plaque, it is your’s for the asking (a list of the autographs would be required, of course).

final milling creates the Mortises for the Hinges and Locks. The router guide you see on the left took quite awhile to perfect and before it was employed, these mortise cuts were a nightmare. These little mortises are still the toughest features to finalize, the expose so much end grain that the sanding takes forever.

Speaking of end grain, the image on the right shows the top corner of the cabinet, after a fair amount of “Final Polishing”. Given that there are many stages of Lacquer and surface polishing left in the project... it’s hard to use the word final. In this context, I am talking about the bare wood pre-finishing.

I hope that, with his update, you will know that
I have not taken your Down Payment and flown off to the Caribbean ;~} but instead that I have been toiling here to build you what, so far, is the finest example of my design I have ever made.

Wish me luck as I carry it into the Lacquering booth and look for a sample soon to help me decide if it will be Gloss or Satin as a final top coat.

March 16, 2001 - “Lacquering

In the hope that all is well with you and yours, I am pleased to offer you another peek at your project’s status. Note: Images are a bit large in this batch and will load slowly. Thanks for your patience.

left, your cabinet visits the spray booth for one of a few dozen cycles of coating and polishing.

Early in the process, sealers and grain fillers are used. Later, a type of Polyurethane Lacquer is applied.

On the right, Pumice is used to polish every coat, so that the layers bond as clearly as possible. Slight scratches in the intermediate coats are amplified by the subsequent coats, as if these later layers were a lens.

dive into a phase of surface polishing, I often wonder why larger shops don’t do this anymore.

With just a little more
attention to detail, and an extra phase of critical inspection, an amazing reward appears. After a few weeks of repetitive polishing & spraying, a thick and glossy coat has been built.

Thank you for inspiring this new level of capability... it was, at first, quite a daunting challenge.

These other views,
a few different angles, still do not do justice to the finish. The butter smooth texture can’t be photographed, it must be felt.

When we started, I suggested that you’d be impressed with my lacquer work. Let me know if this is not the case and I will happily refund your entire down payment. I am that proud of this piece and would love to see it on my wall with my guitar.

the fact that it may never be seen by anyone, the bottom of the cabinet is polished. Keep this in mind as you handle it during assembly. Most folks think of furniture as having a durable bottom.

I will be completing the project soon, and will write when it is done.

Latest Entry: April 8, 2001 “Assembly

The cabinet is complete, as you see below. I will crate it and store it indefinitely awaiting your arrival. With as little as a week’s notice, I promise I will meet you at any of our nearby airports to load it onto your jet. Customs clearances have be provided and manifests authenticated. I believe we are safe to transport this product into Australia.

Good luck with all things and let me know when I will have the pleasure of making this acquaintance more formally bound. This has been a dream come true roject and I am deeply grateful for the opportunty to participate in it.



Stephen M. Micciche - Founder