Half Pencil comes to the rescue
Drawing Body Outlines
© Frank Ford, 1/1/99; Photos by FF, 1/1/99

If you want an accurate template of a body outline, all you do is trace around it with a pencil, right?

Half right.

Half a pencil does the job much better than a whole one. . .

I keep my little Stanley low angle block plane nice and sharp. It's a snap to make my half pencil tracing tool. First, I'll clamp in the vise and rough off some of the wood with a few quick strokes:

Then, turning the plane upside down and clamping it in the vise, I finish up by sliding the pencil over the blade to take the last fine shavings:

Here's my half pencil:

I've sharpened it by sanding the curved side of the point, not touching the flat side.

Now it's easy to hold the pencil directly flat on the side of an instrument to trace the exact outline with a really sharp line:

Generally, you shouldn't lay a guitar on its back for tracing. Because of the tapered sides, you'll get a distorted view.

When you lay an instrument on its face, it has a tendency to rock and roll around on its bridge, so it's difficult to keep it still enough to trace all around. If you lay it on a padded surface the bridge pokes down into the paper a bit, and you can get pretty good results. For the best tracing, block up the guitar around the rim so it's supported parallel to the desk top and not bearing on the bridge. Then you'll get a really accurate line with the half pencil.

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