Thursday, September 25, 2008

Slotting a Fretboard and New Tool Chest

Ideally, the work bench should be situated near a large window that gathers north light.

Irving Sloane, Guitar Repair, 1973


I see that this blog is getting alot of hits, can you folks tell me what you are interested in: slotting a new fret board or the new tool chest? I would like to know so I can create a new blog to answer questions. Wilson 7/8/11

I recently purchased a new fret saw from Stew-Mac, my old saw was getting very dull and I am having a difficult time in finding a saw sharpening business that is willing to resharpen it. The new saw arrived with the saw blade reversed so that the teeth would cut on the pull stroke, which is fine if the teeth are shaped like those on a Japanese pull saw. Western style teeth were designed to be cut on the push stroke. Anyway, I used the saw as it came to me and I failed miserably with it, all the slots were terribly angled off perpendicular to the fret board, I wasted a $20 piece of ebony. My solution was to tap the saw blade out of the brass back spline and replace it so that the teeth cut on the push stroke. This gave me much more control.



However, even after doing that and using the block setup that you see in the above photo, I still had the problem of the blade cutting slightly off of perpendicular.



In this photo you can see how I held the saw blade against the block with my fingers making a "galoot" miter box. I managed well with this system, but was perplexed about the saw's cutting ability or lack thereof. I pulled out a set of calipers, I measured the thickness of the blade and the set of the teeth, both were the same measurement! When that happens on any saw the saw will binding in the kerf and make sawing difficult. Good handsaws, Disston, Simonds, Keen Cutter, etc., have hollow ground blades, where the "back" of the saw is ground thinner then the part where the teeth live. I measured my old slotting saw, purchased in 1992, and its blade is thinner then the set of the teeth.




What I have learned from this is that I have several options - 1.) I need to spend the money on a good Lie-Nielson saw and purchase the expensive slotting miter box from Luthiers Mercantile, 2.) I buy a slotting blade from Stew-Mac and put it on my table saw and make a slotting jig, 3.) I purchase all my finger boards already slotted, LMI does that for an additional $9 when you purchase a finger board. Hmm, not a bad idea!



I made a new tool chest for the move to Mariposa, it's loosely based on Duncan Phyfe's famous tool chest, mine isn't as large, I made the carcase out of birch plywood and I made seperate tills to hold my tools. I just have to make a lid, install handles and I am ready to go!


Early Spanish Guitar-A Musician's Review


The Martinez-inspired guitar has an intimate size but a surprising energy of volume, while exhibiting a crispness that does not lose proper warmth. The guitar maintains its sweet tone even when played hard-but soft picking with the pads, rather than the nails, does not result in mushiness. The intonation is perfect, action as delivered just low enough for a convincing flamenco rattle while high enough for clean notes even "at speed". Amplification using Markley or Schaller transducers is not finicky and the finish gives up the traces of mounting putty easily. The slightly slender neck and comfortable scale make this a good companion for a steel-string player; it simply asks to be played.

H.D.W

I received this from the owner of the Martinez copy I made, he has performed on it all summer.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

King Japanese Water Stones

Life is for doing things slow, like trees.

Makoto Imai, Japanese builder of Shrines




I finally bought some water stones from Lee Valley and all I can do is ask myself why did I wait so long! These stones are phenomenal, the speed that they sharpen at and mostly importantly, they make plane blades sharp! For years I have been sharpening my tools on wet/dry sandpaper adhered to a piece of plate glass with decent results, but whenever I would sharpen freehand the paper backing allowed the edge to roll over. The last couple of months I pulled out a sharpening jig I bought years ago and have been using it with so-so results. That is why I also bought a Mark II honing guide from Lee Valley, I want my tools sharp and I want to be able to repeat the results. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend who gunsmiths for a hobby, he enjoys working on older double barreled shotguns, about sharpening, he is having a hard time getting his inletting tools sharp. I recommended that he read up on the skill and try the "scary sharp" system of sandpaper sharpening and told him he would see better results. I hope he tries it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Peak Bagging

In Northeastern California, at the very heart of that magnificent mountain region of the southernmost Cascades, lies Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Collins&Lind, Lassen Glimpses, 1929




"Peak bagging" yesterday, it was nice and cool here in the Northstate so my wife and I hiked up to Harkness Mountain lookout station to see our friend Rob, who is the lookout, and then drove an hour to Butte Lake to hike the Cinder Cone.



We got to Butte Lake around 3pm and were pleasantly surprised to find that the day use parking lot was almost full-consider that this is the northeast corner of the park and you have to make an effort to get here. On the hike up and back we met over 20 people, families out for a nice hike and gorgeous views, again something we didn't expect because it seems like every one has to "scale" Lassen Peak. Cinder Cone is young, it last erupted around 1670, and is part of a dramatic volcanic field. Go and check it out!

Ebony Classical Guitar Bindings, New Neck for a Lacote Style Guitar

  There is still one guitar in the shop for repair, with the other repairs out the door I have some extra time to catch up on other work, li...