Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ebony Bindings

You need very few tools to go into the woods and bust a chair out of a tree.

John D. Alexander, Jr., Make a Chair from a Tree: An Introduction to Working Green Wood, 1978



94 degrees F. in my shop just now, a lazy Sunday afternoon with a high pressure sitting on top of Northern California. This morning, I glued in the last of the ebony binding on the maple guitar, this guitar is visually very striking, the contrast between the big leaf maple and the ebony. I am not sure that I mentioned that I got this maple from a friend in Estes Park, Colorado, his name is Leo Weber and he is a wonderful furniture maker and carver. Go to www.starroutestudio.com and click on "Artists" to learn more about Leo. He gave me this wonderful maple just so I could make something and he was trying to decrease the amount of wood in his wood shed.
In the above photo I have just taped the binding end at the end seam and proceeding up to the heel. Now all I have to do is to make and install the fingerboard and the finishing begins.

More later.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

End of Summer

I know just enough about wood to know what I do not know.

Art Overholtzer, Classic Guitar Making, 1974




Thanks to all of you who have voted in my poll! Any suggestions for the next question?

Next week is my last week of work at Lassen Volcanic National Park and I am very glad of that, I will have spent 2 months doing nothing but power washing old paint off of shake roofs and then repainting the shakes. When I am done I will start getting our household ready to move to Yosemite National Park, I have a lot of work ahead of me, please be patient with my blog updates.

Check out Ottmar Liebert's diary, there is a blurb about how some computer designers are being taught to use their hands again, seems that all these people can do is move a mouse. How sad. (One of these days I will learn how to create a link to the article).

Oh, the above photo is the peghead of guitar #3, western red cedar top and black walnut back and sides.

Enjoy the rest of August and have a safe Labor Day weekend!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cutting Binding Rabbets

I do a fair amount of rework. No one ever has so much experience that he can do things right all the time. I tell my students, "The difference between good work and ordinary work is rework." Sometimes people will say, " Oh my, that's beautiful. How do you do it?" I reply that I do it over and over and over."

Eugene Clark, luthier, "Building with the Spanish Solera" 2004 lecture



Today I got at routing the binding rebates (channels) in the maple guitar. I used my trusty Dremel with base to rout out the rebates and you can see in the bottom photo I added a base to the base, a piece of rosewood adjusted to compensate for the doming in the top and back of the guitar. The idea is that the router bit can address the side of the guitar at a right angle, not canted because the dome pushes the front of the router up. When that happens you end up scraping away most of the bindings because the bindings lean out at the top. I did that on my 3rd guitar. Well, the idea sort of worked, thank goodness I have the skills to use hand tools to finish the rebates (rebate is the British version of rabbet). One of these days I'll have to ante up and buy a laminate trimmer and some jig to hold it.


It seems like that every luthierie article or book I read the author is saying that the only way to build a guitar is to have lots and lots of power tools and jigs. I didn't take shop in high school, my training was at a shaving mare with an 8 inch "Lakeside" draw knife learning the ends and out of traditional wood work. I was a high end finish carpenter for seven years before I went back to the National Park Service and I had over $3000 worth of power tools in the back of my pickup to help me with trim/cabinet installations. For what I did those tools did exactly what I wanted, but I have discovered when I do true high end craft work, power tools bite back because they represent speed and money. I want to point out that those old masters-Fleta, Simplicio, Barbero, Panormo, Lacote and Ramirez used hand tools, not Black and Decker, and they had to crank out guitars to make money. Even 200 years ago time was money. Today there are makers in Spain that use hand tools exclusively and crank out 2 to 3 guitars a month! I have the luxury at the moment to take my time and do things by hand, what a wonderful way to continue to improve my skills!

My attempt at an improvement without having to drop $400 on a binding router jig.

All Wood Double Top Classical Guitar

  Double top , or composite top, classical guitars are all the rage these days, especially among young guitarists and I decided that I would...