So I'm making a new bridge that will be a facsimile of the original Martin bridge and hopefully will be an improvement on the bridge that was on the guitar.
I happen to have a new 5-17T from the Martin Custom Shop on hand. The trickiest part of the bridge is the curve on the end pin side. There are templates online for a 6-string bridge in this style, but not a tenor bridge. So I use a compass to copy the curve onto a sheet of tracing paper.
You see the template here lying on the top of the guitar. Looks pretty good I think.
I have an ebony bridge blank, and I need to cut about a third of its thickness away (lengthwise) so it will be close to the final thickness I need. With a bandsaw, I could just slice it off.
Instead, I use a coping saw to cut most of the thickness off, then I use my trusty ROSS to sand the blank level. Makes a lot of ebony sawdust, which seems wasteful. So I bag it up to use as fingerboard filler in the future.
This part actually goes fairly quickly, and while doing this cut I remind myself that Torres didn't have a bandsaw - he did it all by hand.
Vintage Martin web site. He happened to have some pictures of an orignal O-18T bridge which really helped with the shaping.
I think my use of these falls under the "personal use" clause in copyright laws. I hope. I used to work with librarians who drilled that in to me, so I think I'm ok.
So I moved on to making a patch for the bridge pad. The pad itself is in good shape, but the string holes have become oval-shaped over time. I made up a small, thin patch of maple to glue on the pad to give the string ball-ends something to latch to.
The patch is only about .028 of an inch thick (0.7mm) - I kept it small and thin to not affect the tone of the guitar. I even beveled the edges a bit to make it look like a real luthier did the work.
You can see how thin and delicate the bridge pad is. Really wonderful - it's just big enough to provide some support under the bridge, but not big enough to dampen the top.
If you look closely, you'll also see a previous repair to the top seam - see the two diamond-shaped cleats. Nicely done. They could have been a bit smaller, but they were clearly done by a pro. Very nice work indeed.
The other detail is the scalloped braces. This is a feature of all pre-war Martins. I'm pretty sure they're spruce - and look at how nicely carved they are. Wonderful craftsmanship!
That detail is why I try to do the best work I can - to honor the people who took so much care in building this guitar in the first place.