Friday, May 17, 2019

Top Plate II

So here is the top plate fully shaped and with the sound holes cut and bound. I feel quite strongly that the holes should be bound; it helps protect the softwood edges from accidental damage, strengthens and helps to lessen any risk of cracking at the holes, stop moisture escaping via the end grain and looks jolly nice too!
Next week I’ll get the top braced and we can think about assembling the body.

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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Top Plate I


I’ve been working on the top plate for the latest archtop. For this one, I have some superb Sitka spruce (not easy to say quickly).
The two halves were joined with same method as I demonstrated in my back plate video, taken down to thickness and the profile cut-out so that it fits into my jig, which holds the wood firmly whilst I carve it.
However, being a slab rather than a wedge, there’s too much waste to just plane, so first step is to use my Wagner Safe-T-planer. 
As an object, I love its heavy duty casting but no matter how many times I use it, it’s always with trepidation. What’s always more dangerous with wood working machinery compared to metal working, is that you fed the work into it with your bare hands. But with so much wood to remove, it’s a sensible option.
Once I’ve got down to this kind if stepped profile, the rest is done with planes, scrapers and sanding, as you would have seen, again in one of my previous videos.
Here you can see the how tight the grain is on this Sitka.
And then flip it over and work on the other side (sounds easy eh?)

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Thursday, May 02, 2019

I've been remiss!

I seem to have been a bit remiss with posting lately, so this one should make up for it!
Firstly, the octave electric mandolin is now complete and below are some photos for you; I must admit that I’m very pleased with the outcome.
Next; I forgot to show you the video of how I tackle the 8 tuner holes on a mandolin. If you use 4-on-a-plate tuners, you have to be extremely accurate with your drilling and here you’ll see the pains that I take. It’s worth mentioning that I use a StewMac drilling jig, but on the top/face side of the head. They recommend using it on the reverse side, the reason being that traditional F-style mandolins had tapered heads. Why? I don’t know, seems to make life even more problematic.
Also I’ve just made the fretboard and tailpiece for the archtop. If you look a few posts back you would have seen the bright colours that were exposed when the rosewood billet was first cut. As you can see it’s started to mellow a bit and is now tending towards an orange/brown instead of pink. I'm very pleased that I managed to get the tailpiece out of the same piece of wood, so that’ll match nicely. The tailpiece has had a good soaking of lemon oil hence the slight difference in colour and sheen.

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Sunday, April 07, 2019

Back plate, back joint

I imagine for younger folk, it’s inconceivable to imagine a world without the WWW. When I first started out, I devoured as many guitar making books as I could find. Amanda, then girl-friend, worked for a publishing house, so when in 1976, I wanted a copy of David Russell Young’s book she wrote to the American publisher, waited for a letter to come back with the cost etc, bought an international money order, posted it to the States and waited…………….
Like many, I still like a physical book and have quite a lutherie library but sometimes descriptions of making techniques can be a bit lacking. Try, for example, looking up, in one of the definitive books, “how to join an archtop back plate together.” Wouldn’t it be easier to look at a video on YouTube?
And here’s the aforementioned back fully carved……….

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Friday, April 05, 2019

Do digital cameras wear out?

Do digital cameras wear out? I don’t know, but we bought a new one and hey-presto!
Much better eh?

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Archtop progress

I’ve been having a bit of difficulty taking some good photos lately; don’t know why but I can’t seem to do the wood justice. So just to keep up-to-date, here's the best I can do. The completed rim-
I’ve made up the neck blank and you can see that I’ve used Brazilian rosewood for the head overlay. The inlay is from black pearl; I like its subtlety; in some lights, it disappears into the wood! The neck itself is maple with a rosewood core, you can see that I’ve started to carve the volute.
I cut up a billet to use for the fretboard and was really surprised by the bright rose-pink colours (is that why, along with its sweet, sickly smell, someone named it “rosewood”?). 
Quite a spectacular pieces of wood, although the colours will tone down over time, I’ll have to decide whether it’s a step too far!

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Saturday, March 30, 2019

Using up my precious stuff (wisely) OR archtop mandolin #3

Whilst we’re waiting for the Tru-oil to harden on Dave’s e-mando, no good twiddling thumbs, on with the next archtop!
Over the years, I’ve built up quite a collection of exotic tonewood, and I feel a responsibility to use it in the best way that I can. As the pieces aren’t particularly large, I need to be imaginative. So, for my next archtop mandolin, I’m going to incorporate into its construction, as much Brazilian rosewood, from my collection, as I can.
One aspect that will be a bit unusual is that although I’m using the Rio for the sides, its carved back will be made from figured maple.
I’m going to do another series of videos, but try to cover different aspects of the build, not covered in the previous two build video series.
So here’s the first dealing with bending the sides and making the rim.

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