Monday, March 23, 2015

Mark's Standard Plus

This weekend saw Mark’s left-handed, Standard Plus completed and delivered. It has English walnut back and sides with a red spruce (Adirondack) soundboard. I’ll let the photos do the talking!

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

A new project!!

We came across this little chap and just couldn’t resist. It’s a Royal Hawaiian soprano uke made from koa throughout. It’s in need of restoration so when I’ve the odd 5 minutes or so! Until then here are a few photos………….







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Friday, March 13, 2015

Getting the inside out

So, I'm now carving the inside of Jonathan’s mandocello soundboard. You need some kind of “cradle” to hold the soundboard steady. Building jigs for one-off instruments can be time-consuming and therefore expensive for the client, so I came up with a very easy way of making a great jig to support it.
Using some thin sheets of polystyrene and a sheet of non-slip matting I made up this cradle. 
Polystyrene is reasonable strong in compression so it supports the force of me pressing down whilst using a plane, yet it's soft enough not to damage the outer surface. 
Holes are drilled to a certain depth and these give you a target to aim for your during the initial rough shaping.
And, here’s the rosette for Alex’s twin-point- it’s a dot and diamond design but this time using abalone- the variety of colours make for a very pretty rosette! 

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Post #300!

Welcome to my 300th blog post; and with about a quarter million page views, my sincere thanks for your continued interest in my work.
So, here’s some more about the carving of Jonathan’s mandocello soundboard. Carving a soundboard is an iterative process; you’re continually shaping with planes, checking against templates and sanding smooth. The removal of wood in one area allows access to another area of the soundboard and once that wood has been removed from the new area, you’re back to the original spot, slightly modifying it, in the light of what you have just done. That said, here are some photos of the soundboard being shaped…………
A profile gauge helps to ensure symmetry.......
As I got close to the final profile, the soundboard was aligned with the rim using dowels, most of the excess is trimmed away. I then used the Wagner again to ensure that the outer 10mm of the soundboard is a consistent thickness and then a bit more shaping!
Next step is the internal shaping!
Here’s a fun photo of the ‘cello along with Alex’s cocobolo twin-point.
And for the sake of completion; the polishing of Mark’s Standard Plus is now complete and we’re just waiting for it to harden.


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mandocello Soundboard Part I

I've just started carving the soundboard for Jonathan’s mandocello and here’s a description of the process so far.
Carved top soundboards come in the shape of chunky wedges and the first thing is to plane one surface of each piece completely flat.
With one flat surface, the join can then be tackled, however before I started to shoot the joint, I cut two slices of the spruce away, to use later as braces.
The join in a carved top soundboard has to be perfect all the way through and it takes a lot of time and skill to achieve this when working solely with hand tools.
Once the joint has been glued, the back surface has to be trued-up and the ‘board taken down to the required thickness and then the shape can be cut out.
Now we look at the profile of the soundboard. After much thought, design and planning, the first wood is removed and this will be a flat area to which the fretboard will eventually be glued.
Then I use the Wagner Safe-T-planner! A tool not for the faint-hearted, but very effective at generating a rebate around the edge of the soundboard. 
The rebate gives you a target to aim for once you start shaping the profile. First I like to work along the centre line and all of the shaping is done with a selection of planes. 
Wood is gradually taken away until the profile fits the template. 
With this profile shaped, I then start working at 90 degrees to the centre line.
More soon……………..

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