Saturday, August 11, 2018

It will plane!

I used the restored Stanley #101 plane for the first time in anger yesterday and it performed so,so well. Here I’m planning the part of the walnut archtop’s fretboard extension/support. I’m doing a video of the whole neck to body process, so watch this space.

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Saturday, August 04, 2018

Archtop #2; back to it!

With the bending iron fixed, it’s time to get back to some instrument work! So, I’ve been working on the purflings and bindings for archtop #2.
This mandolin is having fancier purflings; the main feature is a green line running around all of the edges. The green line is also in the neck laminations, head overlay and tailpiece. Coloured lines work surprisingly well as decoration on instruments-as long as you don’t go over the top and keep the design coherent throughout.
I’m really pleased with overall effect on the body- the ebony bindings making it all look very elegant. Next the neck.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Fork Lift Resurrection

Back in the 1980’s there was a great "how-to-make" TV series- Blizzard’s Wonderful Wooden Toys along with an accompanying book with detailed plans. I made a couple of the projects, the most impressive one being a Hyster Fork Lift Truck model; complete with working mechanisms. I made it for our son about 30 odd years ago and now it’s time to get it out of the loft and resurrect it for our grandson.
It needed a good clean and some minor repair work…………….
And here it is…………
I modified the plans a little, making a number of metal parts including a ratchet and pawl mechanism for the winch and other details in the driver’s cab.
Happy days!


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Iron Resurrection

For a while now, my electric bending iron has been a bit wonky and sorting it out, is one of those jobs that keeps getting put to the back.
So, before I bend the the ebony bindings for the archtop, I thought I'd take it apart, only to find this………..
 I was amazed at how much the wood had burnt, no wonder it was wonky! My main concern however, was the fact the earth wire had burnt through and wasn’t connected anymore. I cleaned out most of the burnt wood with a router.
 And then plugged the hole with a piece of scrap mahogany.
The base was then topped off with a piece of heat-resistant calcium silicate board.
After a bit of soldering………..
 The “iron” itself was fixed down with some new stainless steel screws.
If my archive is correct I’ve used this particular iron on 76 instruments, so now after some fettling we should be good for the next 76!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

101 Resurrection

You’ll remember a few posts back the old Stanley #101 plane? Since then I’ve made this new cap iron from some brass. (Just a hack saw and files used for shaping).
 And I’m glad to say this old chap is now back in service; originally made around 120 years ago and repaired by me 120 years later!
I was fortunate to have a box of nice 2BA thumb screws knocking about- when I was at the LCF back in the 1970’s, fellow student luthier Bill Dinsdale and I, used to club together to buy supplies in bulk, we must have bought at least 40 of  these for the purfling cutters that we made in the metal work classes.
 I’ve now used 3 and got 17 left!


Thursday, July 12, 2018


I’ve been slowly making progress with the next archtop mandolin. One thing that helps enormously to get the top plate to its correct thickness, is drawing a grid on the wood and then accurately mapping out the dimensions. You can then see exactly where you want to remove more material; I did this 3 or 4 times until I was 100% happy with it.
With the top plate at its correct thickness, the sound holes can be cut-out (I can’t really call them f holes, can I?). I spent a long time, on the last archtop, working out how to set-up a Dremel to cut the holes; that time invested paid off as it took a fraction of the time to produce these ones. Although you could cut them with a fret saw, I need their surfaces to be perfect in order to be able to neatly bind them.
I feel quite strongly that the holes should be bound; it protects the softwood edges from accidental damage, strengthens and helps to lessen any risk of cracking at the holes, stops moisture escaping via the end grain and looks jolly nice too!
The black veneer had to be bent using a soldering iron as a small improvised bending iron.

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Standard Plus Completed

Mike’s Standard Plus mandolin has now been completed and was shipped out to him earlier in the week. The Indian Rosewood and Redwood combination produced a truly wonderful tone! Below are some photos for you.
I’m now thinking of finally building myself (and the rest of the Nava family) a mandolin using a Redwood soundboard from the same board as this one! Watch this space……..

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