Redwood/California Laurel Classical Guitar - My Latest Guitar

It's been nearly six months since I made my last guitar, that was due to buying the house in New Mexico and moving into the new house. Now that we are here at the new place, I can start "playing catch up" with all the guitar parts that are in my new, very tiny workshop. This guitar has an old growth redwood top that I put together maybe four, five years that I never got around to using, and the back is some outrageous California laurel (it's only called myrtle if it is in Oregon) that I purchased about six years ago. California laurel is wonderful wood to work with and makes for a great classical guitar, I expect this guitar will have a big, lush voice with a quick response. All the bracing, both top and back, is made from some very stiff and light old growth redwood, I'm looking to make this a light weight guitar. The plan for this week is to glue on ebony binding and fretboard. Stay tuned for the next progress report!

Calf Canyon Fire, New Mexico

  The Calf Canyon Fire is just over the hill from us, this is a photo I took of the smoke plume at 10:30 this morning, it is a whole lot taller and wider this afternoon. This morning the US Forest posted on Inciweb  that the fire is 204,000 acres in size, it grew a little over 6,000 acres last night and a couple of days ago it grew near 11.000 acres in one day. We have been experiencing unprecedented high winds, historic the papers say, and it doesn't help that the Southwest is in the midst of devastating drought, the likes that has not been seen in 1,200 years!  Tres Ritos and Angostura were placed under evacuation orders about 3 hours ago, those two communities are about 20 miles from us by road, 10 miles as the crow flies. High winds are expected again tomorrow.  We need a good rainstorm without any wind.

Breve Tormenta

  A passing thunderstorm. My wife and I are in our new home which is about twenty five miles south by southeast of Taos, New Mexico and the house is at 8,000 feet elevation, PeƱascoso Mountain to the southeast is just of 11,900 feet tall. It is so good to be back in the mountains!

Classical Guitar Festival Experiences, Part 3

 “I would like to buy the DVD about Daniel Friederich  .” “Sure! May I ask if you are here to see the competition?” “I’m one of the vendors.” “So you’re the guy all the kids are talking about” “Excuse me?” “Quite a few of the kids have stopped by and said, ‘There’s an old cowboy here who makes the most awesome guitars!” “That would be me!

New Mexico, Double Top Guitars and Moving to a New Shop

My wife and I are moving to a small adobe house that is located about 20 miles southeast of Taos, New Mexico sometime this coming April. I spent last week packing up our possessions that fill the house while my wife works at her day job,  last Friday I started packing up my workshop. There is more packing to do, the drawers of both workbenches are empty... the toolbox is slowly giving up its tools for cardboard boxes. The red tool chest is completely full of tone wood, the bottom chest has some tools with tone wood filling up the remainder of the chest and there is more tone wood to pack! I had to move some boxes so I could sit down at the computer to write this blog post. This will be our new home is New Mexico, it is an adobe house on 1.5 acres of pasture with water rights, a big deal here in the West. And yes, I know how to flood irrigate, I helped my father irrigate our hay fields in Northeastern California. From one tiny shop to another. This will be my studio until I can build a

A New Tool

When I build a new guitar, I need to shape the fretboard after it is glued onto the neck. The fretboard needs to be a flat taper, it gradually becomes thinner on the bass side then the treble side at the twelfth fret and this taper continues to the end of the board. This taper givea the bass strings extra room to vibrate, less chance of an open or fretted string hitting a fret. To achieve this I usually start with my Lie-Nielsen No.62 low angle jack plane and finish the job with long sanding blocks. The Lie-Nielsen is a wonderfully versatile plane, but it is a tad long for leveling the fretboard after it is glue to the guitar neck and the Lie-Nielsen low angle block plane is a little too short for the task. I decided to look at the low angle bevel up planes offered by Lee Valley. I bought a Veritas Small Bevel Up Smooth plane this early this month and I am very glad that I did. With just a little honing of the blade, it stepped up and did the tasks I asked of it, such as smoothing a p

New Chisel Handles

Chisels and their handles need to be balanced and comfortable, something the original handles of these chisels lacked. I purchased them from Luthiers Mercantile International about ten years ago, I have no complaint about the quality of the steel, the chisels take an edge that lasts a long time. The other day, I got around to replacing the original handles, which are made from “tintul”, aka tamarind, with English walnut and European beech handles. The handles are a cigar shape, a shape I first used on a pair of skew chisels twenty years ago, I find this shape very comfortable and balanced. The beech has a nice solid feel to it… and the walnut is quite handsome, I turned those handles from a blank I had for almost ten years and it needed to be used! Don’t be afraid to change out the handles on any of your hand tools if you find them uncomfortable and unbalanced, the tools are an extension of you and your creativity!