Hamley Fine Guitars

"Play to Express not to Impress"

Guitar Building

Hello everyone and welcome to my website. If your passionate about woodwork I’m sure you will like to ask questions regard my woodwork at some stage or just enjoy checking out whats on the bench. Present projects for 2017, 2018 are two Concert Ukulele’s, a Tenor Ukulele, an OM size acoustic guitar, a mini sized Acoustic guitar and a Les Paul style chambered body electric guitar with f holes and P90 pickups. These projects have been on going for about twelve months now and they are all ready for the finish stage.

My next projects are going to be some Torres inspired Classical guitars. More on that later as I have a solera and mould to make before tackling the guitar builds.

Thanks for checking out my new site please have patience with me regard the building of this website and I hope you enjoy my journey into future stringed musical instrument building.



Cajon Drum Project


This Cajon Drum project has been on the bucket list for a while and I have started the build. The drum will be built from Tasmanian Blackwood for the base, top, back and sides and the front Tapa will be 3 mm ply. The back is 7 mm thick and the sides top and base 14 mm Blackwood. I intend to use hand cut dovetail joints and glue the back in with the Tapa face screwed on. Not sure yet about which snare arrangement to use maybe a little more research needed. The Blackwood came from Tasmania from a good friend in four roughly cut pieces. First job was to slice it into rough sizes and then feed them through the drum sander to correct thicknesses. The book matched pieces where then joined to yield a box approximately 30 cm x 45 cm. The Blackwood is a nice rich colour and should sound good. A few pics of the the wood preparation so far can be found on the projects page. Any comments, advice greatly received. Thanks for looking. Cheers Alan

DIY Dovetail Gauge


Well if I’m going to use dovetail joints to build the Cajon drum then I need a dovetail gauge. Some quick research found all the info I required. There are a few different designs out there however they all do the same thing in the end. I decided on the simplest design and have selected a nice 1/4 sawn block of Figured Queensland Maple for the tool build. See some pics in Projects of the tool taking shape. I have started out with a block 100 mm in length, 35 mm wide and 25 mm in depth cut with a square guide on the bandsaw. The next step is to get the block perfectly square which I will do with the block plane and a flat sanding base. I just happen to have a piece of marble 60 cm x 100 cm x 20 mm thick and it is ideal for gluing sandpaper to and squaring up small pieces of wood like neck block, brace stock all sorts of jobs.

More on the project as I go. Thanks for looking and I hope you find it interesting.

Cheers Al


Well I tried to make the gauge following the youtube video however it turned out not very accurate so I have started again using a different idea. I had some Cooktown Ironwood that was already 7 mm thick sanded and it was the right length although not as wide at 28 mm. I didn’t think that would matter to the accuracy of the tool however the 1:6 pitch needs to be spot on. The first piece was cut to 100 mm long x 28 mm wide x 7 mm thick. There where two pieces so with the other piece I cut one end square then calculated a 1:6 pitch for the dovetail angle which is about standard for most softwood and hardwood dovetails. After calculating the correct 1:6 pitch I transferred the measurement to the small pieces of Ironwood and glued these to the 100 mm piece. I spent a lot of time on the pieces making sure they where flat and square and double checked the pitch before cutting that with the Japanese saw. After the glued dried I checked the dovetail angle and it is more like 1:6.5 but I am happy with that.




Today I have been working on the Cajon drum. The shell has hand cut dovetails with the top and bottom tails cut but no waist removed as I run out of time. There are a few more pics added today on the link if you would like a sneak preview. This week the Tenor Ukulele neck was shaped, the instrument sanded to 320 grit and it has had several coats of shellac. The plan is over the weekend to mix up a new brew of shellac ready to apply the final finish over the coming weeks.




Finished off removing the waist from the tails but on trying a dry fit it looks like a little wood will need to be removed. Waist removed on the bandsaw as close as possible to the knife lines. Some fine tuning and we will have a drum shell. More shellac applications during the week on Vikki’s Concert Ukulele and Marion-Graham’s Tenor Ukulele. Looking good!