Friday, November 06, 2015

Pretty stuff!

Here’s of couple of nice shots of Youhei’s.......


Thursday, November 05, 2015

The circle of life?

I’m at that stage where I’m well into the polishing of Roland’s instruments; the shellac really brings the wood to life.
This is first time that I’ve used Pau Ferro and it really is a beautiful wood. Unfortunately for me I only bought two sets; if no one else claims the second set, I’m tempted to use it on the mandolin that I keep promising to make myself!
 So, as this project nears its natural conclusion, another starts. The next on my waiting list is a quilted maple Standard Plus which will be going off to Youhei in Japan.
Here’s the complete rim; the end graft is from a nice piece of burr walnut, although most of it will be covered by the tailpiece, I still like to pay attention to these small details.
And the neck; again lots of lovely walnut!

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Roland's guitar neck

I thought that I’d give you an idea of how I approach the carving of a neck. You’ll see some of my preferred tools.

 And here we have the completed neck.
 You’ll note that with my particular method of splicing the head, there is no short grain whatsoever in the region around the head/neck joint. Also the joint on the back surface of the neck is in alignment with the end of fretboard which to me, is the sign of well-planed and shaped neck!
Another pet hate of mine is heavy clumpy heels; there’s no need for the extra wood, it doesn’t do anything and, you want the player to get as much access to the higher frets as possible.
And a couple of extra photos for you.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Interesting Drills

I had been after a small-ish hand drill for a while and ended up buying three at a local market!
This one ended up as being used for spares……
So that this little fella (after a good clean-up) could be put back to full time use....

It’s simply stamped “FORGIEN”- from my understanding of such things, many goods made post WWII, in Germany and other such places were marked in this way so that they could be exported and sold without prejudice. It’s just what I wanted and is great for light tasks, such as drilling 1.5mm holes for tuner screws etc.
But the really interesting one is a Millar Falls drill- at first, I thought that I’d bought a lemon- there were obviously no springs in the chuck and the handle didn’t look right- as though it had been cobbled together from a “Yankee” style screwdriver.  After some research, it turns out that the chuck is a McCoy's springless chuck and the handle is detachable so that drill bits can be stored inside it! This drill's features date it as being made between 1915 and 1921.
It’s hellishly complicated with so many parts!
After rebuilding it, it too is a joy to use. What a satisfying feeling to pick-up a piece of junk and after a bit of elbow grease have a beautiful, usable “vintage” hand tool.

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mandocello Demo

I know that quite a few of you have been wondering what Jonathan's 10-string mandocello sounded like. Well, with many thanks to Jonathan, here he is with ‘cello.  The video was recorded on an iPad and the tune is "Hare's Maggot" (trad.) from Playford's English Dancing Master of 1651. The 'cello seems ideally suited to the tune and Jonathan's playing.
You’ll also note that there is one of the pin-point capos at the second fret on the bottom course, giving an open D.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

A good week

Sometimes you look back at the past week and there seems to have been little progress made, and sometimes you look back and can feel quietly satisfied. ......
This week saw Roland’s mandolin come together, set-up and playing in the white.
And Roland's guitar’s neck and body were joined together. As you’ll know, my preference is a tapered dovetail for guitar neck joints. The female section is routed; and my rule is that once routed, this part of the joint isn’t touched.
The neck has it’s half of the joint carefully marked out and then the waste is sawn off.

 Next; sharpen my favourite chisels. You may have noticed my recent interest in “vintage” tools, it occurred to me whilst sharpening these, that I’ve used them for almost 40 years!
Anyway, with sharp tools, the sawn dovetail is slowly fitted. As you’re working blind, feel gauges help you to "gauge" where wood needs to be removed.

 You also have to constantly check the alignment in two planes. It can be a good day’s work to get the joint perfect. Once it’s ready, glue is applied and the neck pushed home into the body- no shims, no clamps, the taper does it all.
Then the fretboard….
 The silver steel pins ensure correct alignment of the board.
 And here we have it, looking more like a guitar now! I must say that I’m very pleased with the way the guitar looks; it has the 19th century vibe that I was after!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Purflings and Bindings

I’ve been working on the purflings and bindings on Roland’s instruments. Around the soundboards, I’ve used two strips of fine black/white/black purfling joined together to give two white lines separated by a thicker black one; this complements the rosette nicely. Then I've bound the edges with ebony. It’s always quite amazing to see ebony bend. Below are a few photos of the process.
Around the back edge of both instruments, I decided to use a boxwood line as purfling. I’ve always liked its cream colour and it complements both the walnut of the guitar and the mandolin's pau ferro. However, rather than just a boxwood line, I made some black/boxwood/black purfling. Although the black lines are only 0.16mm thick, it’s just enough to sharpen up and define the boxwood against the backs.
What with all the tiny mitres it took a long, long time to do, but I’m very pleased with the results.

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