Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Plans for a Saw Vise

There are lots of things you can do with tools if you learn to use them. It is twice as hard to use tools the wrong way as it is to use them the right way. You will be using tools all of your life.

Boy Scouts of America, Bear Cub Scout Book, 1971



Life has been a little crazy lately, the temperatures dropped down to -10 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit last week which froze the water line from the well head to the house. We're still waiting for the well guy to show up with the waterproof heat tape to put inside the water line. I've been having to drive 3 miles to the nearest water source every other day to fill up water jugs. I really don't mind it, we lived with limited water supplies at Cedar Grove in northeastern California. It's warmer now, it was 42 degrees F this morning, it's the end of January and we live at 8,500 feet elevation, go figure.



Yesterday, I decided to be bad and not French polish, I pulled out my favorite Disston rip saw and started to re-saw a walnut board that has been leaning in the corner of the studio. I plan on making a close copy of Antonio Torres' very famous FE 17 guitar from this walnut, so I thought that there is nothing like the present, besides re-sawing the wood will help clear out the studio a bit.

Well, the saw was a little dull so it was out to the shop to pull down the saw clamp that I made 10 years ago and haven't used in about 4 years. I clamped the vise to the bench, clamped the saw in the vise and then discovered that I don't have a sharp saw file in the studio. You can imagine my frustration, but I did manage to find one that did a fair job.

After the first round of re-sawing I decided that I would share the plans that I used to make this vise, here they are. I really don't want to give the title of the book that I got them from, I'm afraid that woodworkers will start searching for this out-of-print book and drive the price up so high that only wealthy collectors can purchase it. I say this because I just saw that Mike Abbott's book on green woodworking can sell for as much as $1000! I bought it brand new at MacBeath Hardware in Berkeley, California for 12 bucks in 1994!






Please feel free to make a copy of the vise and share the plans. I used Douglas fir for the entire vise, though I wish that I had used maple for the jaws, maple might absorb some of the filing vibrations.

I like this vise in that it brings the saw almost up to chest level, I'm glad that I made it.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Advice for Beginning Woodworkers

Much can be accomplished with saw, hammer and rule, and the third of these even is not essential.

Bernard Jones, The Complete Woodworker


Table saw and sliding compound miter saw. Yes, I still use them, they work.

A recent posting on The Offcut about how many tools a person should have in their tool box has given me reason to mull over my career as a carpenter. When I was a full-time framing and finish carpenter I had close to $5000 worth of power and hand tools in the back of my ’84 Chevy pickup truck. The tools I used were tough, dependable and increased my efficiency-in the world of construction making money for the contractor was all that mattered. It was hard, brutal work, I remember the physical and verbal abuse I had to endure on the job site from my supervisor, co-workers and contractor. I put up with it because I wanted to be a carpenter and I became a cracker jack one, but when I finally did walk away from that life I was very happy. The historic preservation carpenter job I have now is very laid back, there isn’t any production work to speak of and I don’t have to supply my own tools.




Slick, drawknives, a Monkey Wards chrome vanadium hammer, a handmade gauge for making out shingle bolts and a full tool chest.


If you love woodworking and love what you make you are on the right course. Be passionate about it. If you are just starting out in woodworking and are not sure what it is that you want to make, then by all means sample, sample, sample many different things, don’t be afraid to try something new. After a while you will figure out what it is you want to focus on. I grew up with traditional woodworking, it fascinated me so much that I had to explore as much of it as humanly possible. Seven, eight years ago, though, I realized that I wanted to focus on guitar making, which right now for me means just making and selling guitars.




MDF milled for molds to laminate guitar sides, I spent the last 2 days working on these.


Here is some advice I always give to beginning to intermediate woodworkers-don’t spend all your time making tools and tool chests, unless that is what you want to do and make! I know that many wood working magazines today tend to push tool, work bench and tool chest making, that doesn’t mean that you have to make those things all the time. If you want to make copies of Stickley furniture, then make copies Stickley furniture. The tools are there to help you make that chair, cabinet, violin, etc., which is the whole point of woodworking! You need to be your own influence! Read the great classic how-to woodworking books by Moxon, Asher, Nicholson, Ellis, Hayward, Jones, Hasluck and Underhill, those authors show the tried and true methods that have been passed down since the days of cruck house construction. Learn from the masters first, then go look at the stuff published by current and trendy woodworking magazines.

Some more advice-learn how to use hand tools before you learn how to use power tools. I found out that no beginning woodworker wants to hear that. No one wants to learn how to draw first, they all want to paint that masterpiece first thing.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Carving a Hernandez y Aguado Style Guitar Head

The head design is bold, and includes two central areas which are carved out, and finished with a textured effect.

Roy Courtnall, Making Master Guitars, 1993



As a follow-up to my last post, here are some photos of what can be done with "stippling".


Oh, what things you learn whenever you work with wood! Always double check your layout and make sure all reference points are where they are suppose to be!




I look forward to the next Hernandez y Aguado copy I make, even though the carving on the head is quite basic and simple, it was quite exciting to see the work progress. I discovered what I need to do to improve the next head I carve.


Jory Vinikour will be the director of the Early Music Festival and Workshop at the Rocky Ridge Music Center this coming August. Rocky Ridge is located at the base of Longs Peak and is just six miles north of my house on Highway 7! I hope to attend some concerts there this summer.

In this YouTube video he plays one of my favorite pieces by Francois Couperin, Les Barricades Mistérieuses.




Friday, January 4, 2013

How to Stipple Wood

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Albert Einstein, scientist, mathematician



This morning I spent several hours grinding and filing on a spike (large nail) with the idea that in the end, I would have several wood stippling tools, also known as background punches.

The peg heads on the guitars made by Hernandez y Aguado have carving channels on them that are stippled, and since I am making a very close copy of such of a guitar I need to figure out how to do the stippling.





Since I no longer have my leather carving tools and those stipple tools (available at brownells.com) cost about $27, excluding tax,




I thought that I would make my own. They work, but not the way I wanted them to, and I found out that it is really hard to stipple bubinga! That is what I was practicing on.


Off to the computer and the world of the Internet and after a little research I found this article. Reid Cofffield's article was very helpful, I went out to the shop and quickly ground some 16 penny box nails I have. I need to find some stouter 16 penny commons or bigger and try them. You can see the how the stippling looks on the bubinga which is what the Indian rosewood is resting on.




In this photo you can see the points I ground and the results of stippling on a piece of Indian rosewood. This solution was far simpler than the other punches. Now, I need to practice some more and try other shaped nails for the work.


Here's a YouTube of Anders Miolin on his 13 string guitar made by Ermanno Chiavi





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...