Sunday, May 26, 2019

Archtop; the story so far

The video says it all...........

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Top Plate III

As promised, I’ve got the braces/tone bars fitted to the top plate. The fitting takes quite a bit of time and the one thing that you can’t do is run out of patience. This is how we start off…………
As the inside of the top plate is curved in every direction, you need a jig to ensure that the tone bar is always held in exactly the same position.
The first step is straight forward, roughly mark it out and then cut it.
And then it’s a painstaking procedure of sand, check, sand. The best way to check for a good fit is to use feeler gauges to locate any gaps. It took me about 1 ½ hours to get this one fitted and then using the same jig it was glued in place.
The next day, after allowing the glue to dry overnight, the process is repeated for the second tone bar. And on the third day the bars are shaped and the top plate fitted and glued to the rim.

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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.


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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