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Showing posts from March, 2018

My Forty Year Old Shaving Horse

I've made all my tools, matter a'fact, everything I got. Well, this shaving horse I guess is about fifty years old.
Alex Stewart, bucket and butter churn maker, Foxfire 3, 1975

I made this shaving horse in 1978, when I was fifteen years old. I was tired of trying to hold stock in the leg vise on our grandfather's workbench, sticks of wood often would slip out when I took Grandpa's drawknife to it, and the jaws limited access to the wood I was trying to shape. I saw a photo of one in Foxfire 3 and decided I could make one.



My parents had all sorts of pieces of wood cached up in the attic of the old workshop, both were children of the Great Depression, they squirreled stuff away "because you never know when you are going to need it!" There was a five foot long piece of chainsaw milled incense cedar, pieces of old painted window, miscellaneous Douglas fir 2x2's and one piece of old growth Douglas fir that was just right for the bridge table.




I can't reme…

The Impractical Guitar Maker - Why I Make Guitars, Part One

The gifted hands of these makers turn these rare old woods, ideas and dreams into beautiful musical instruments.

James Sherry, classical guitar importer

I am often asked by the people who view and play my guitars how I got into this thing called "guitar making".

My pat answer is "I couldn't afford the guitar that I really wanted".

Good classical guitars are never cheap and here are some examples of prices past and present.

When I started studying classical guitar in 1974, at the age of 12, a Jose Ramirez III 1A classical guitar cost something like $3000 to $4000 - $15,175 to $20,234 in today's money. Back then, great players such as Andres Segovia, Christopher Parkening, Liona Boyd, Douglas Niedt played a Ramirez, because those guitars were the best.

In 1990, I stopped by a well known guitar maker in New Mexico to check out one his higher end guitars. It was $3000.  I think my take home pay at the time was only $800 a month, and I had to decline because I …

More French Polishing

Whenever you smooth down a freshly polished surface, always use your glass paper very lightly...

The French Polisher's Hand Book, 1910

I've been very busy lately pore filling two guitars, which gets to be a pain in the ass, pore filling is my least favorite part of finishing. It seems like no matter how hard I try to get the pores completely filled with wood dust and shellac, that when I get ready to start padding shellac I discover spots that aren't completely filled. I go ahead and pad down some shellac, wait for it to harden then go at those spots with a pad loaded with shellac and pumice then sand with Micro Mesh when the shellac is hard.


I pore fill with a combination of shellac and wood dust, East Indian rosewood dust for this guitar.



It makes a goopy mess that I sand back to (almost) bare wood with 400 grit sand paper. Lots of elbow grease and heart ache.

I know the old recipes for French polish use tallow or tinted whiting for pore filling, but for some reason in th…