Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A guitar, ukulele and mandolin!

I’ve been working on the two Blackwood instruments: Matt’s guitar is now constructed and is being finished.

An added complication with this is that I’m using two types of finish on one guitar; French polish on the soundboard and Tru-oil on the rest of the instrument. The Tru-Oil will give a very natural looking finish to the Blackwood and a fast feel to the neck. You may remember that I finished my son’s bass, that is regularly gigged, with Tru-Oil as a test and it has really stood up well.

I’ve also completed construction of Morgan’s uke.

Shaping the neck was interesting I tried using one of these little chaps on the heel.

This is a Dura-Grit sanding drum; it fits into a Dremel and has proved very useful. The instrument is held down and is not subjected to the same harsh physical treatment that can happen whilst using a rasp or chisel for shaping.
Another revelation has been using 120 grade silicon carbide paper on the end grain; it removes the wood quickly without leaving deep scratches.

Those are today’s top tips!

I think that you can tell a lot about a luthier by the heel on his instruments and it’s often an area that I look at closely on others’ guitars; some are very clumsy, lumpy and poorly finished. I’m slowing moving towards a conical shaped heel that takes its inspiration from early parlour and romantic guitars.

Below is the heel of Shelly’s guitar (as in poet) that I was fortunate enough to examine at the Bodlien Library a few years ago. See where I’m heading?

Jill’s Mandolin IV

Jill’s mandolin is progressing nicely too. With the sides bent, I’ve been working on the points. To join the two side pieces together I shape a piece of cedar; I made up this simple sanding jig to ensure that the cedar fits perfectly.

Rubber bands are used to apply pressure whilst the glue dries on this awkward shape. Once the two side pieces are joined the point is flattened off and, in this case, small blocks of burr walnut are glued on and will form contrasting points. The burr walnut is cut from the same block as the head overlay so will match perfectly.

The soundboard is being braced and below you can also see the wonderful quilted maple for the back.

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