The next phase of the Martin re-topping project is to select a top. Here I have picked out a nice "AAA" Sitka spruce top. The original top would be considered low quality by today's standards, rating only a "B'" at best. A word or two about tone-wood grading: every species has its own characteristics that are taken into account by the grader and a letter system grade is given to each set. Generally what is looked for is straightness of grain, number of grain lines per inch, consistency of the grain and run-out. The grades go from AAA to D. There are many other factors to consider when choosing a top, such as across-the-grain stiffness, color and weight. Our new top rates high in all the important categories.
Now the "book matched" halves of the top need to be joined together. It is important that the edges to be glued are perfectly square and straight. Here you can see the "shooting board" that holds the pieces firmly and a specialty plane that makes the precise cuts.