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New "Old" Tools

The term is used of fir and pine loosely. White deal is the wood of the Norway Spruce, Red Deal that of the Scotch Pine, Yellow deal that of the yellow pine; but much depends upon local custom, red and yellow deal often being the same wood, Pinus slyvestris.

Hampton and Clifford, Planecraft, 1934

I've been meaning to post some photos of tools that I acquired at meetings of the Rocky Mountain Tool Collectors.

A stick and rebate plane, a small drawknife and a small Stanley plane.

I bought the stick and rebate with the idea of making a copy to use when I make new window sashes, but that may have to wait for several years. Right now I have a router bit that will do the same job, though with much more noise!

The plane was bought with nostalgia, it is a step up from the folded metal modeler's plane that my brother and used when we were kids in the 1970's.

The drawknife was a steal at a price that was much cheaper than anything new from Lee Valley or other modern day vendor. I will "keen it" one of these days!

I wanted to photograph the slick I bought recently, but it is in the other workshop, I'm too lazy to walk out into the wind and cold. My friend, master chair maker, Terry Kelly is making a handle for the slick. I get a handle he gets a nice wooden coffin smoothing plane, a good trade!

The EverClear is for dissolving shellac flakes and use in French polishing! Honestly!


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How to Make a Traditional Froe Mallet

What holds the Holy of the Holies, what did Brahma become? Wood. Why will aspen always tremble? For the nails driven into the cross. What makes the color of wood? The soil it tastes. Cradle, fiddle, coffin, bed: wood is a column of earth made ambitious by light, and made of beauty by the rain.

Kim R. Stafford, Having Everything Right, 1986.

Rive, verb, to split
Shake, noun, a split in a piece wood. (Heart shake, ring shake)
Shake, verb, (Middle English), to split.

I know I should have been in the studio working on my back log of guitars, but the day was so nice and warm with a tall blue canopy, I couldn't stay inside. I decided that I needed to make a proper froe mallet. This style of mallet is traditional to northeastern California, primarily Tehama (where I'm from), Butte, Shasta and Plumas counties where making shingles by hand from sugar pines was an industry. I don't know if it was used in any other region along the Pacific Rim, other parts of the United States or even o…

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Ours is really a simple craft.

James Krenov, The Impractical Cabinetmaker, 1979

So, you want to build a guitar.

Since the original post, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making, click here to see it, is the most popular post on this blog, I thought I would revisit it and adjust it to what I am using now to make a classical guitar.

The first thing I recommend doing is to buy or borrow copies of the following books:

Guitar Making: Tradition and Technology, by William Cumpiano and Jonathan Natelson
Making Master Guitars, by Roy Courtnall
The Guitar Maker's Workshop, by Rik Middleton

These are required reading before you begin making a guitar.

Also required reading are these books by Roy Underhill:

The Woodwright's Shop
The Woodwright's Companion
The Woodwright's Workbench
The Woodwright's Apprentice

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The overall correct process of placing frets in a guitar fingerboard ("fretting"), is far less straight forward than most people believe. A perfect job, for perfect playability, requires some careful preparation.

Anthony Lintner, guitar maker

Twenty five years ago, I bought my first fretting saw from Luthiers Mercantile. It was made in Germany and had a straight handle on it, basically it was a gent's saw.

First thing I did to the saw was to take off the straight handle and make a nice handle for it from some wonderful Claro walnut that came from a Cottonwood Creek bottom wild grown walnut. I used it to cut fret slots in dulcimer and classical guitar fret boards. The saw served me well for several years until I made the mistake of cutting some brass with it.

Well, I never did get around to sharpening the thing.

The blade is .015 of an inch thick with the teeth set at .022-.023 of an inch. I think it has 22 teeth per inch. It is a great saw and I was very sad to see that…