Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Advice for Woodworkers

Simple woodwork for the common man, that's what all this is about. By all means glean what you can from reading what the experts say. But don't let that get in the way of your woodwork! Remember that every day that you do some woodwork, your techniques improve. Even when everything goes wrong, that is still an important day, when you will have learned something you won't easily forget.

John Brown, Good Woodworking magazine, 1998




Happy New Year!


Friday, December 28, 2012

End of Year Thoughts, Ramblings and Thanks

You know more than the devil about what goes on in Heaven, so if you assure me that angels play the guitar then I can die happy.


Andres Segovia, An Autobiography, 1976




What a year! It was great! Not only do I get to live in this wonderful house on these 5 acres at the very base of the Indian Peaks of the Rocky Mountains, but I also had the chance to work at many of the great properties owned by Boulder County Parks and Open Space.

I've also posted more on my blog than ever before and the number of"hits" to my blog is over 62,000, most of those have happened in just the past year! I owe that to Luke Townsley, previous owner of unpluggedshop.com, and I just found out that Luke sold the site to Joseph and Paul Sellers which is maintained by New Legacy Woodworking. I extend a hearty Thank You to Luke for finding my blog in the first place and to New Legacy which continues to post my posts on Unplugged Shop!

I want to thank Leif at the Norse Woodsmith for putting my blog on his aggregator; Terry Kelly of TKelly Furniture for being a good email penpal, he is a great fellow woodworker with higher standards than most; Robin Gates of The Offcut for checking in with me every now and then; but most of all I thank my wife, Amanda, for allowing me (re: putting up with me) to work at guitar making.






2 guitars that are finished and for sale. #5 is in the foreground, it has a Sitka spruce top with black walnut back and sides. #3 is in the background, it has a western red cedar top with black walnut back and sides.

If you have been following my blog you'll remember that I stripped the old varnish off both of these guitars. I built them 10 years ago, it's taken me that long to discover that some varnishes don't work for me, but I know now that French polish is not as hard, or tedious, as many professional wood workers claim.



These guitars have been refinished with shellac by French polishing which has increased the quality and loudness of their sound. As a classical guitar player I would use either one of these guitars in a recital or concert, and not just because I made them! They both possess wonderful singing qualities and pack some punch, both will improve with daily playing.




Another guitar, #6, that is being refinished with French polish, it has a Douglas fir top with Honduran mahogany back and sides. This guitar is based upon a guitar built by Manuel Hernandez y Victoriano Aguado in 1968, it's going to be another wonderful guitar!



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Look at the Lathe that Santa Brought Me!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf...

Clement Clarke Moore, A Visit from St. Nichols, 1823




What a wonderful thing, we got snow on Christmas Eve! It was only four inches, but there was still 10 inches on the ground from the last storm. It also got down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit last night!




Wow, look at this bench top lathe that I got! It is a sweet little lathe, it runs quiet and smooth! Just the thing for turning tool handles, tuning pegs and crochet hooks for my wife!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Miter Cuts by Hand

The most important possession of an instrument maker is his workbench.

Stanley Doubtfire, Make Your Own Classical Guitar, 1981


You know you've gone completely nuts when you take a bone keyboard tail, cut it into three pieces and then glue all the pieces back together again with some added black veneer. I did this to make a veneer overlay for the tie block on one of the guitar bridges I am making.





After I cut the three pieces and super glued on the black veneer, I made a miter box out of a piece of scrap pine.





I've cut many a precise cut when I was a full-time finish/trim carpenter, though I never did any work this small on a custom home. I think these Xacto brand mini back saws are the best!






Testing the cuts as I go.






The end pieces are so small that I had to put everything on a piece of double sided carpet tape.





All the pieces and miter cuts are coming along nicely, though if you have a good eye you can see a piece that was cut just a hair's width too short.

To assemble the overlay, I first tacked the center piece to a sheet of paper with cyanoacrylate glue, then with the help of the wicking action of the black wood veneer I glued each piece into place. It went pretty fast.






The overlay is ready to be glued onto the bridge tie block.

The photo in the background shows an original bridge made by Hernandez y Aguado.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

15 Inches of Snow and Guitar Bridges

The smoothing planes require not only sharp edges, but also an understanding of the use of a backing iron. When doing the final planing, this iron should be as close as possible to the cutting edge of the blade.

Jose Romanillos, The Classical Guitar, 1979




We got a good snow fall over December 18th and 19th, I measured 15 inches in the meadow by 2pm yesterday and then temperature dropped down to 3 degrees Fahrenheit for a while last night. Even with this snow the ground is still so dry that when the snow shovel hits bare dirt it kicks up dust!






Got the strings and string action set on a guitar (western red cedar top and black walnut back and sides) yesterday, it's a nice sounding guitar, just some touch up with French polish and it will be ready for sale.

Today, as a reward to getting the aforementioned guitar ready, I started making bridges-one for a close copy of a Hernandez y Aguado guitar and the other for a copy of a Rene Lacote guitar, circa 1830. I am using padauk for both bridges, it is a light and strong wood, I weighed a padauk bridge blank against an ebony one, the padauk bridge is one ounce lighter in weight.

(Yes, I cheat when making bridges, I use a table saw to cut the slots! So much easier and precise then using a dovetail saw and a 3/32 inch wide chisel. Now, if only I had a Veritas Small Plow Plane I can only imagine the wonders I could accomplish with it!)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guitar Neck "V" Joint Construction

Yes, we three were so happy, my wife, my guitar and me.

Big Bill Broonzy



Remember this guitar?





It is a close copy of a c.1839 Rene Lacote guitar that I made some time again. The peg head was fitted with mechanical friction tuners.




The tuners never worked that well, I had a hard time keeping them tight to the peg head and when they were tight, they were hard to adjust. I wanted a better solution.




My solution was to cut off the original peg head back to the original "V" of the joint and pare it down to the glue line.




I thought a piece of Spanish cedar would contrast well with the black walnut, in this photo I have cut out the female part of the joint.




Both male and female parts are mated and ready for glue up.




I have found making full size drawings a very helpful and time saving practice, I wanted to make sure that the tuner slots won't cut into the male part of the joint.



Thanks goodness for long reach "C" clamps!




Gluing on the top veneer.



This drilling jig from Stew-Mac was awfully expensive (overpriced comes to mind!), it's less of a hassle to set up than the jig from LMII.




Here is the final product.



The back side of the head. I'll use silver Hauser tuners from Schaller!

The guitar is ready for French polish. It's a sweet sounding guitar and now it will be even easier to play and tune!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Ten String Classic Guitar-My Latest Obsession Part 6

If there is such a thing as a perfect instrument it will, more than likely, be in the "eyes of the beholder".

Jose Oribe, The Fine Guitar, 1985



It's been a busy past 2 days. First, I drilled the holes for the tuning machines...



Then I got ready to cut the slots...




I cut the slots and smoothed them out.




Now comes the fun part, carving out the heel block! By the way, I made this turning saw over 20 years ago from an oak tree on my grandparents property and the blade is a bow saw blade that I bought at WalMart! The handles are mulberry from a tree on my parents' property, the only metal in this saw is the blade and the brass nails that hold the blade! I would like to make a new saw, but hey, this one still works!




A good sloyd knife is your best friend. It's kinda like that old saying "and Bob's your uncle!"




The finish product, so far... The block might change for the smaller!




Just for your TK! This is how I know that I had a good day, a messy workbench!



I play the ukulele when I can so when I came across this YouTube on the Ukulele Hunt blog I knew I had to share it. All you Tears for Fears fans will love it!






Monday, December 3, 2012

Which is Better? The Old Plane Irons or the New Plane Irons?

Wood must be smoothed, squared up and made to fit--the three main jobs of a plane.

Aldren A. Watson, Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings, 1982




I mentioned in an earlier post that I thought that the best way to soup up your antique metal hand plane was to replace the original chip breaker with a thicker one. I have a Lee Valley breaker on a #3 Stanley plane and a Hock on my #4 and #7 Stanley planes, both are great chip breakers and reduce iron chatter by an amazing amount.



A #3 iron on the left, a #4 iron on the right

My #3 and #7 sport Hock blades, wonderful blades to use and sharpen, but on one of my #4's I kept the original iron and installed a new breaker. That iron works just as well as the Hock irons, but I find the original Stanley iron sharpens to a razor more quickly and easily and holds an edge just as long as the Hock iron. The same goes for the iron that is in my Stanley #35.

After using those old irons for over 30 years, I know that those old timers sure knew how to make good steel.

Now, go sharpen your tools and get to work!


New "Old" Tools

Deal-
The term is used of fir and pine loosely. White deal is the wood of the Norway Spruce, Red Deal that of the Scotch Pine, Yellow deal that of the yellow pine; but much depends upon local custom, red and yellow deal often being the same wood, Pinus slyvestris.

Hampton and Clifford, Planecraft, 1934


I've been meaning to post some photos of tools that I acquired at meetings of the Rocky Mountain Tool Collectors.




A stick and rebate plane, a small drawknife and a small Stanley plane.






I bought the stick and rebate with the idea of making a copy to use when I make new window sashes, but that may have to wait for several years. Right now I have a router bit that will do the same job, though with much more noise!

The plane was bought with nostalgia, it is a step up from the folded metal modeler's plane that my brother and used when we were kids in the 1970's.

The drawknife was a steal at a price that was much cheaper than anything new from Lee Valley or other modern day vendor. I will "keen it" one of these days!

I wanted to photograph the slick I bought recently, but it is in the other workshop, I'm too lazy to walk out into the wind and cold. My friend, master chair maker, Terry Kelly is making a handle for the slick. I get a handle he gets a nice wooden coffin smoothing plane, a good trade!

The EverClear is for dissolving shellac flakes and use in French polishing! Honestly!

A Basic Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar - Another Look

I was looking at a blog post of mine from eight years ago, Basic Hand Tool Kit for Making a Classical Guitar, Revised and saw that I have m...