Here’s a caul I made for fitting inside the body on glue-up jobs like this. It’s a single piece of 3/4" plywood, surfaced with non-stick Delrin plastic. The notch in the caul straddles a brace, protecting it from the clamps while pressure is applied to flatten the top. For making this and many other cauls, I used our clear acrylic dreadnought bracing template as a guide, which is seen here under the caul.
My exterior caul is 1/2" thick clear acrylic. I clamped this in place for about 40 seconds and watched through the caul as glue squeezed out. I unclamped, cleaned up the squeeze-out, then final-clamped with waxed paper under the caul. I left this to dry overnight.
The next morning the top was flat and the spruce filler strip was flush.
Next I put a finish on the bare wood:
Two coats of #20 medium-viscosity super glue with a half hour drying in between. This provides a clean, sealed surface to put the new pickguard on, and will make it easier to remove in the future if necessary.
Although the crack and its spruce fill won’t show (the plan is to overlap it with the new pickguard), I sealed the crack and spruce fill with two coats of dark garnet shellac. I allowed an hour in between coats and then five hours to dry completely before applying the pickguard.
OK, let’s make the pickguard!
After lightly penciling the old guard’s shape onto a piece of black pickguard material I roughly shaped it with scissors, staying well outside the penciled line.
Using small scraps from the adhesive sheet I'll use for attaching the completed guard, I stuck my roughed-out blank onto a piece of thick acrylic. The acrylic is shaped so the pickguard blank hangs over the edges to let me shape it with a 6” fret leveler laying on its side. I file right up to my traced pencil line.
Rather show you than tell you.
This info is from one of many quick lessons that I've just videotaped for a new DVD coming out soon. It shows this whole process in just about five minutes.
Belt sander? No, bowl sander!
I shaped the soundhole curve using 80, then 120 grit Stikit sandpaper stuck on a porcelain bowl that just happened to be the exact 4-15/16" diameter that was needed.
The new guard looked too shiny for a guitar of this age, so I de-glossed it with a Micro-Mesh finishing pad (12,000 grit). This softened the sheen of the plastic, making it fit the older guitar better. (With a little buffing, it could easily be brought back to a high shine.)
After applying the pickguard adhesive sheet to the underside of the new pickguard, I set it in place and gave it a masking tape hinge. Then I peeled away the remaining backing and swung the guard down into position.
Just like new!
Or maybe "just like old” makes more sense. Anyhow, this D-35 has a pickguard again! The adhesive sheet under this new guard has more “give” than the old glued-to-spruce guard. This'll allow the wood a little room to move, so this guard should have longer life than the original.