Skip to main content

The Secret to Woodworking Is...

Art and life are one and the greatest of the arts is the art of living.

Dorothy L. Pillsbury, Adobe Doorways, 1952




We got to enjoy a wonderful spring snow storm over the last several days, by early this morning we got close to a total of 36 inches of very wet snow at our little house.

One small community in Larimer County recorded five feet of snow from this past storm!

My wife and I dug out the Jeeps yesterday so we could drive to town to get groceries and dog food and this is my last week of freedom before I return to my day job as a historic preservation carpenter.

Here's where I heave a big sigh, I will miss my days in the studio making guitars.


Tools for making guitar bridges

I've been very busy on 3 guitars, 2 are custom orders and one is a "speculation" guitar that I assembled several years ago but couldn't complete because of orders, work and life.



A Lee Valley router is the ticket to inlay some mother of pearl

I started French polishing 2 guitars last week. I work at a day job seven months out of the year so when I get back to French polish I have a short learning curve to work through. It is frustrating at first, then the shellac becomes glossy, the polish builds up and the wood underneath it is gorgeous.

One glory of French polishing is it makes me slow down so I can consider what is really important in life.



Mother of pearl overlay on an Indian rosewood bridge

Many people dislike French polish because they say it takes too long to complete, just go to any forum on guitar making and you will see what I mean. You have to do from 4-12 sessions of French polish to cover the guitar, not to mention you need to let the shellac harden for 2 weeks before you can do the final rub out and there is that tedious task of pore filling open grain wood with pumice and shellac.

I did go to one guitar forum to see if anyone was using a certain brand of epoxy for pore filling, sure I was thinking about speeding up the pore filling time on next guitar in line, most thought the epoxy didn't work well or it took too many coats, hence too much time. Most of the older luthiers all said to give up the new stuff and just use pumice and alcohol for the pore filling. Not many liked those comments.

One guitar maker I know of states a person can French polish a guitar in one week, and there is an article on the Internet that says you can do it in three days!

Me, I'd rather take my time at it.



Three bridges distorted by the camera lens

If you have read this much of my posting, you are probably wondering why I am not disclosing The Secret to Woodworking!

Maybe you have figured out what that secret is, turned off your computer and have walked to your shop to start making something new or continue work on a current project.

Perhaps you are thinking about "surfing" to look at another woodworking blog.

Just bear with me another moment.



A redwood/Indian rosewood guitar

There will be close to 150 hours of work on the guitar in the above photo and I will sell it for $3000. I know some people think that is not enough money for the time spent.

I am not in this game for the money, if I was I'd have a big factory of workers that would crank out 50,000 guitars a year and all I had to do is to sit and watch the money roll in.

No, I work with wood for the experience, the joy, the knowledge and all the other stuff that comes along with time spent in the shop.



A Sitka spruce guitar top with some nice bearclaw


What is The Secret to Woodworking?

It is patience and love.



Comments

  1. Hear here!

    Woodworking is a respite. Patience is the only way I find satisfying. Add some love and it's all the better!

    Well said Wilson.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A quote I came across on a luthier forum last year that stuck with me:
    "I don't make guitars to sell; I sell guitars so I can make more guitars".

    Snow also teaches us patience, I think.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Off the Bench and For Sale: Miguel Rodriguez Style Guitar

This guitar has a Western Red Cedar top, Claro walnut back and sides, Royal ebony fretboard, Indian rosewood bridge and a 650mm string length.

This guitar has a beautiful voice and is loud! I was amazed at how loud it is as soon as I got the strings on and tuned to concert pitch. It is easy to play and I am blown away by the musical nuances that can be created with this guitar.

Please click on Guitars Currently Available or Studio Model to read more about this wonderful guitar!



1961 Hernandez y Aguado Style Classical Guitar, Redwood/Indian Rosewood, For Sale

The partnership of Manuel Hernandez and Victoriano Aguado was one of the most successful in guitar making history.

Roy Courtnall, Making Master Guitars, 1993

Please note that this guitar is currently for sale at Savage Classical Guitar. Please click here to see this guitar!

I made this guitar several years ago, but because of custom orders, I had to set it aside. I put strings on it two weeks ago and it is a most magnificent sounding guitar! It has good, clear separation string to string, wonderful sustain with evenness and balance throughout with a very lyrical voice. I originally made this guitar for myself, but someone with a good strong technique and a good understanding of musical interpretation should own this guitar and play it on a regular basis.



This guitar is a fairly close copy of a guitar made by Hernandez y Aguado in 1961. The body length is 480mm, most of the HyA guitars had a body length of 490mm; string length is 650mm, many were 655mm and longer; other than that I trie…

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…