Big Plans for SIMSCal in the Coming Year

Hi, I’m Larry McCutcheon, your current SIMSCal president. For those of you who couldn’t attend the Annual election(s) meeting, I volunteered for the job (as did Sheri and Dan and Eric and Bill) – no pleading was required.
The reason that I volunteered is that the club seems to be stagnant – the meetings have become generally routine and opportunities for growth in guitarmaking skills have been largely AWOL.
One solution to both issues is to have member participation in hands-on workshops at our meetings.


Two topics for such meeting/workshops are:

  • Royal Lac – and its family of polymerized shellac products
  • Hide glue – and its brethren

Royal Lac is claimed to have the appearance of shellac yet stand up to heat, water and alcohol. Its sibling, Seal Lac, is sold as a sealer and pore filler. Participants will test the products. According to the Shellac Finishes website, Royal Lac, which is a gloss finish, will soon be joined by a satin finish product. After using the products on small work pieces, participants can decide for themselves whether Royal Lac has a place in their guitarmaking future.
In the hide glue workshop participants will use products from the hide glue family: hot hide glue, Old Brown Glue, Titebond Liquid Hide Glue, and fish glue. Participants can then decide for themselves whether hide glue fits into their personal arsenal of guitarmaking tools.
There will be a surcharge for participation in the workshops – $10 annual dues won’t cover expenses. Details to be determined.


Beyond such workshop/meetings, I suggest that we develop some “Upper Division” Guitarmaking Seminars. Things that can be investigated in an afternoon, or two, or three. The goal of these seminars is NOT to build a whole guitar, but rather to set you up to add a new feature(s) to your next guitar. I think the logical place to start is with finishes.
As our guitarmaking classes are considered complete with a guitar “in the white,” we still have to put an appropriate finish on them before they are complete.
To fill that need, I suggest that we investigate the steps to finishing a guitar – Prep, Pore Fill, Finish, and Polish – testing various products and methods to determine what works “best.”

  • First Seminar: Sand, Wash Coat, and Pore Fill with
    • Shellac & pumice (alcohol-based evaporative cure)
    • Vinyl sealer (solvent-based, evaporative cure)
    • Timbermate or LMI Aqua Coat (water-based, evaporative cure)
    • Epoxy (chemical cure)
    • CA glue (chemical cure)


  • Second Seminar: Finishes – applied over the previously pore filled pieces
    • Rattle can nitrocellulose lacquer (solvent-based)
      • ReRanch or Deft or something else ?
    • Target Coatings Emtech or KTM-9 (waterborne)
    • Royal Lac (catalyzed shellac) applied over epoxy or CA, e.g.
    • Tru-Oil (polymerized tung oil) perhaps,
    • French polish of shellac is too big a topic to cover here


  • Third Seminar (?) Polish

The idea here is for you to try various pore fillers and finishes (and combinations) to determine one that works well for you – on practice pieces in a learning environment – before you commit to a final finish on your instrument.
Yes, there will be lectures to listen to, literature to read, and websites to visit. And homework.
These seminars are best scheduled for after the conclusion of the regular guitarmaking classes.
Other “Upper Division” Guitarmaking Seminars
Again, “Upper Division” Guitarmaking Seminars are things that can be investigated in a few afternoons, or less. The goal of the seminar is NOT to build a whole guitar, but learn a new aspect of guitarmaking. A list of potential subjects include:

  • Template, mold and bending form-making for guitar shapes other than Dred, 000/OM, and parlor
  • Cut-aways (requires template/mold and bending form)
    • Venetian (curvy)
    • Florentine (pointy),
    • Faux – no new template/mold or bending forms required
  • Arm bevel
  • Sound port
  • Manzer wedge
  • Build a side bender
  • Fan fretting



There you have it – some pretty good ideas for the membership for the coming year. Pretty ambitious, too. Not something – in aggregate – that I can do myself. To pull this off, I need help. Time for the membership to come off the bench and participate, not just in attendance, but also in teaching and sharing.
For example, if you have experience with hot hide glue or its siblings, you can lead the talk on one of those; if you have experience with Aqua Coat or epoxy pore fillers, you can lead the talk on one of them; ditto rattle can nitro, Tru-Oil, or any of the other areas listed above. Same goes for any other workshops we do. Many hands make light work.
Please let me know – are you interested in participating in: 

  • Hide glue meeting/workshop ?
  • Royal Lac meeting/workshop ?
  • Finishing Seminars ?
  • Other Seminars (please name) ?

RSVP via email to:
I look forward to hearing from you.
Larry McCutcheon
Pres. SIMSCal
April 2015


SIMSCal Family Photo, March 2015
From left to right: Dan Greene (Director of Communications),
Sheri Peterson (Secretary/Treasurer), Larry McCutcheon (President).
Not pictured: Eric Nichols (Director of Guitarmaking Operations/Instructor),
Bill Gourlay (Webmaster/Instructor).