My approach to wood working is very traditional in many respects. I am VERY highly influenced by builders like Charles Fox and almost everything I do is done by hand with the aid of jigs and fixtures. I once heard James Olsen say that if you are going to make a cut more than once you may as well make a jig for it. So, that's what I do. Much of my guitar building process has been meticulously planned out. I go through an order of operations to make my parts the exact same way, every single time. What this does for me as a wood worker is, to have VERY consistent quality and to be able to build predictability into my guitars. Once the parts are made for the guitar and I have the consistent platform I am looking for, the wood worker in me takes a seat and the Luthier finishes the job.
One of the most common questions I get as a luthier is "What makes my guitars different from other Luthier built guitars?" and you may be shocked to know the answer is ...nothing. ...except..."ME". At the end of the day once a luthier reaches a certain level in their skills, the resulting guitar is nearly always going to be a very nice guitar. But what I believe, is that only I can build a Caton Guitar. Picasso didn't paint the way he did because that's the way you are supposed to paint. His painting look the way they do because that's who Picasso is, just as my guitars look and sound the way they do because they are built by ME and they reflect who I am.
I want my clients to know that when they purchase a Caton Guitar they are not just purchasing a guitar, they are purchasing a part of my life's work. To me, luthier built guitars are works of art that are no different than a painting or a sculpture. When I give an instrument to a client I am giving them a physical representation of who I am, not only as a luthier but, as an artist and a person, and I take it very seriously. I will take the time to decide how thick a simple purfling line should be, not because it really effects anything but, because I have decides that little detail matters. I will sometimes just stare at a top waiting for a rosette to pop into my imagination, and if it doesn't, I put it away and come back to it when inspiration strikes. I tap tops and backs, I shave a brace and tap some more. I flex, tap, listen, shave a brace and repeat. There is something amazingly tangible about the way sound escapes a piece of wood. I have found that some wood just WANTS to become a guitar and if you know how to listen and what to listen for, the wood will tell you when its ready.
I absolutely love being a luthier and building instruments.