Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Side Project II

I’ve been wanting to make my own round bottomed plane for a while; although I have a couple of commercially made ones, I feel that the curves are too tight for the internal shaping of the archtop’s top and back plates, they tend to act like scrub planes and I want to achieve a finer planed surface. If I don’t make one now, I won’t make one once the next instrument is underway and I’m in the zone!
You can see how the curve is much tighter compared to my carving template.
 Here's the finished plane and it works!
Although I suspect it will need some fettling once I’ve got a top plate in front of me. Equally, having made one, I’m open to making some different sized ones too- we’ll see how we go!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Side Project

Whilst the Tru-oil is hardening on Dave’s e-mando, I’m trying to get some side projects, that have built up, done before I get fully involved in the next instrument. I made this box about 38 years ago; made from elm and inspired by James Krenov. It’s been languishing in the loft for years, so it needed a bit of restoration work.
It was made as coursework for a City & Guilds course that I did. I used to cycle everywhere, so I designed it so that the individual parts would fit in my back-pack!
 This board of stunning pommele sapele is waiting to be made into the next archtop, I keep looking at, working out the best way to cut it for the back and sides. I don’t like to rush into things; I’ll keep mulling it over whist doing the other stuff.

Friday, February 28, 2020


With the Tru-oil underway, I’ve been finishing-off the various hardware components for Dave's new e-mando. So, apart from the instrument here are the other parts that I’ve made; as I said in the previous post, I don’t have any metal-working machines, if had a lathe I would have made the control knobs and strap pin!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Making progress

As mentioned in the last post. I’ve been working on the hardware for Dave’s e-mando. The tailpiece is made from some chunky aluminium alloy angle. I like using ali angle, being extruded means that it’s always clean, crisp and dimensionally accurate. 
You couldn’t bend a 5mm flat sheet and get the same quality angle. Not having any metal-working machines means that it’s all done by hand.
So after, cutting, filling, drilling etc. here’s the tailpiece- it’ll need a final clean-up once I’ve had the e-mando playing.
Next is the bridge and this one will be adjustable for height. The base can be fully shaped, but the saddle portion is left rough until the strings are on and it can be shaped to give the correct intonation.
With some strings on the e-mando for its “first fix” I used some off-cuts of steel string to ascertain where the break point has to be in order for the intonation to be correct. 
Positions located, the bridge can be shaped and using my test pick-up, hey presto the e-mando is playing!
Next; take it apart and add Tru-oil!

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Using my new bench extension.........

Above, you can see that all the woodwork has been completed on Dave’s new e-mando; and I must say, it’s looking good. Next stage is to make all the hardware.
 If like me, you’ve ever bought anything from StewMac, you’ll be getting copious offers from them. Awhile back they were offering their “body board” I liked the concept but not the price, so I came up with my own simplified version using a couple of quids worth of plywood.
As you can see it fits neatly on the bench.
It really came in to its own, whilst shaping the neck and head of this solid body. The body being relatively heavy, meant that the instrument kept slipping down in the vice- the bench extension, offered extra support. 
Good inspiration Mr StewMac, thanks!

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Hybrid mandolin complete

As you can see from the photos above, Robin’s mandolin has now been completed and he came over last week to collect it. After months of emails, we always enjoying meeting a client in person and seeing their reaction to their new instrument.
I was very pleased with mandolin, as its design (which can best be described as hybrid- flat-top and arched back) isn’t one that I would have naturally thought of!
We say “flat-top” but it isn’t really flat. The thin (3mm) soundboard is forced into a gentle dome shape by the internal braces, but it just looks flat in comparison to the arched back which gets its shape by being carved from a much thicker (20mm) piece of wood.

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Friday, January 10, 2020

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year to one and all!
Here are a few photos showing the progress of Dave’s e-mando. At the moment, without any points of reference, you’d probably think that I was making a bass guitar.........now there's an idea!