Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pore Filling with Dyed Drywall Compound: It Didn't Work for Me!

I'd rather be a s--t sucker than a drywaller.

Part of a conversation that I overheard on a construction site.

I'm on a bit of a deadline.

I go back to my day job as a historic preservation carpenter in one month and I just got an order for a seven string flamenco guitar.

I've got 2 guitars in the works, I want to get them all done by the middle of this summer while working a full time job.

A long time ago, I used a pore filler on an early guitar thinking that it was "the way to go!" in finishing that guitar. All I remember is the endless sanding down to the wood only to find that I needed to fill the pores again.

It sucked.

This week I succumbed to what I thought might be quick, easy and high quality, I got some drywall compound and stained it black.

I filled the pores, wiped off as much of the compound as I could (I went through a lot of shop paper towels!), let the compound dry for a couple of hours and then sanded the back and sides. Hmm, sort of worked and decided to fill the whole thing again, I let it dry over night.

I started sanding this morning, using 320 grit paper, according to the instructions, and I ended up getting out a card scraper so I could see the wood. Again, hmph! I scraped and sanded and then blew off all the dust with my compressor and air nozzle. While I was blowing the wood I could actually see pieces of drywall compound being lifted out of the pores.

The last time I try using that technique of pore filling!

I got out some dark blonde shellac, EverClear, 4F pumice, olive oil and the French polish pads. I soaked the wood as much as I could with shellac and then I cheated - I began applying pumice with alcohol, shellac and olive oil. I wanted to fill the pores as quick as I could.

And it worked.

I will go back and level sand the finish, but first I want to seal the rosewood as best as I can. I am using ebony to bind this guitar and the binding laminate will be curly maple. The last thing I want is for the maple to become pink from the rosewood dust, I figure that sealing the rosewood before I cut the binding ledges and install the binding will save me some grief.

I really want to say that using that drywall compound was a waste of my time, I can't because it taught me that the really old tried and true methods can be the best.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Making a Copy of a Hernandez y Aguado Guitar: How a Guitar is Assembled

This is a very exciting moment. With the gluing of the Sound-board your guitar really begins to take shape; it resonates when you tap it, and you can almost hear the sonorous tones it will produce once the strings are on.

Stanley Doubtfire, Make Your Own Classical Guitar, 1981

I am in the process of pore filling this guitar today, so I thought that many of you would like to see how the sound box of a guitar is assembled. I have left out some steps, what follows are the basic steps...

Gluing on two upper harmonic bars, I add one more bar underneath the fret board. These are glued on with Lee Valley's fish glue.

The ledge for the sound board is cut into the heel block of the neck. I did this step with a router on several earlier guitars with almost disastrous results, I cut this by hand these days.

Aligning the center line of the top with the center line of the neck.

Gluing and nailing the top to the heel block. Antonio Torres did the same thing! I pre-drill the holes for these nails these days, less error in placement and the nails hammer in as slick as a willow whistle!

Clamping the top and heel block. In this photo you can see the third harmonic bar and the 1.5mm thick re-inforcment that is underneath the fret board. This reduces the chance of the top cracking with the movement of the ebony fret board.

Gluing the laminated sides to the top.

The sides are attached to the top with these little blocks, they are made from the same redwood as the top is, individually installed as I cut them from the kerfing stick. Yeah, I am a little bit of a geek.

A shop made miter box that I threw together from some scrap walnut.

The best glue on earth, fresh made hot hide glue! Each block was glued in place with this glue, it grabs quickly and is strong!

I use continuous kerfing for the back. I like to glue this on with fish glue.

Installing the pillarets for the harmonic bars.

Adding a wedge shape piece of wood to the heel of the the neck. The heel of the neck needs to contact the back for strength, the back is arched and this wedge is made so the heel is in the same arch as the back.

The back braces are shaped and the back is ready to be glued onto the guitar.

I use a rope cut from a tire inner tube to "clamp" the back to the sides. Again, I use fish glue, I really do like the stuff!

If you would like to know more about making a guitar, I highly recommend Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology: A Complete Reference for the Design & Construction of the Steel-String Folk Guitar & the Classical Guitar, by Cumpiano and Natelson; and Making Master Guitars by Roy Courtnall.

Enjoy this YouTube of Tatyana Ryzhkova!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Paul Bunyan, Logging and Model Trains: Sierra Lumber Company, Lyonsville and Porter Locomotives

Yes, I knowed Paul Bunyan. My father worked fer him when I wuz a little shaver an' I uster allus tag 'long. Logger? Wal, I sh'd say-cut m' teeth on a peevy an' rooled logs in m' first long pants. "Twuz some loggin' them days-trees all round here twelve t' fourteen foot thru.

Ida Virginia Turney, Paul Bunyan Comes West, 1928

My apologies! I thought I had published this post already, Blogger is up to its usual tricks!

This book, Legends of Paul Bunyan, collected by Harold Felton, showed up in the mail the other day, and I must say, if you have never read any books about Paul Bunyan then you should read this one! It's a wonderful collection of stories, poems and songs about Paul and his life, there is even a poem by Robert Frost in this collection. There are stories by the usual Paul Bunyan authors: W.B Laughead, James Stevens, Esther Shepard, Wallace Wadsworth, etc., and stories that were gathered from real loggers. Gorgeous illustrations and many hours of fun reading.

I mentioned in a previous posting that I was born and raised where the southern end Cascade Mountain Range collides with the northern end of the Sierra Nevada Range. It was magical to grow up in a land of old growth timber, there were ponderosa and sugar pines six feet through right out our back door. Then there were all the stories about the men and women who worked in the lumber camps and surrounding communities, I miss those who told those stories.

Many of the events in those family stories took place in the sawmill town of Lyonsville, California. There the Champion Mill produced lumber which was floated down to the kilns and yards via a flume to Red Bluff, California. The Sierra Lumber Company used 0-6-0T Porter locomotives to haul the trees in from the lumber camps and log chutes to the mill, and it ran on meter gauge tracks. When the line was first laid down, Tehama County couldn't tax Sierra Lumber Company, because meter gauge was not used anywhere else in the United States. That was quickly rectified.

"Uncle Sam", near Lyonsville, CA. Wilson Burnham Collection

This "Uncle Sam", locomotive #3 that operated from Lyonsville. According to John Barnhill at Foothill Rails, click here to see his website, "Uncle Sam" was made by H.K. Porter & Co. in 1896.

CSU Chico Digital Collections

This is "Antelope", locomotive #2. I think it was named "Antelope" partly as a joke, these weren't fast engines and the Champion Mill sat right on the edge of the North Fork of Antelope Creek. It also ran on the Lyonsville line. Mr. Barnhill states that "Antelope" was by H.K. Porter & Co. in 1883.

CSU Chico Digital Collections

Here is a shot of "Antelope" pushing a load into Lyonsville (I can tell it's #2 from the smokestack. This is a great shot, I rarely find old photos of carpenters building houses.

CSU Chico Digital Collections

I believe this was the first locomotive purchased by the Sierra Flume and Lumber Company, the predecessor of the Sierra Lumber Co. Barnhill states that this 0-4-0 was made by the Marysville Foundry, Marysville, California in 1877 and that it was named "Yellow Hammer". I haven't found any information on the internet about the Marysville Foundry making locomotives, but I did find out that they made other rolling stock.

Correction -

This is an 0-4-0 locomotive that Sierra Lumber Company purchased from the Union Iron Works in San Francisco in 1881. It was called "Peter Dean", it was later rebuilt as a 0-6-0.

CSU Chico Digital Collections

This a the Champion Mill at Lyonsville. The men are stacking lumber, which will later be put into the flume to be shipped down to the Red Bluff yard to be planed and dried before it will be shipped out on the main line railroad. Diamond Match Company had purchased the Sierra Lumber Company by the time this photo was taken.

CSU Digital Collections

"Uncle Sam" on a trestle somewhere near Lyonsville. I bet that that load is just one sugar pine tree!

My own "Uncle Sam", a Bachmann Spectrum Porter 0-4-0T pulling a load of Douglas fir.

You got to check out this YouTube! Enjoy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A New Bench Stop

Bench Stop: A wood or metal pillar which projects above the surface of the Bench against which the workpiece is held when being planed.

R.A. Salaman, Dictionary of Woodworking Tools, 1989

As some of you know, my workbench is based upon the bench in Roy Underhill's book, The Woodwright's Apprentice. When I built it 20 years ago, I didn't want to use the bench stop that Roy used, I knew I would be planing fairly wide wood and at the time, such a small stop, or bench dog, didn't make much sense to me.

At the time, I owned an issue of a now defunct wood working magazine that had an article on bench accessories, and this wide stop was part of the article. I think I used a nice piece of ponderosa pine for the first one, then I replaced that with a chunk of red oak. When that broke I made a stop from a scrap of 10 ply plywood that was left at a new home construction site that I was working at.

Fifteen years or so later, I finally decided to replace that piece of plywood with another scrap piece.

May it last fifteen years.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Paul Bunyan, Logging and Model Trains: Things That I Forgot Are Important

Paul Bunyan! the mightiest man that ever came into the woods! Never do woodsmen tire of hearing of him. Never do the stories of his tremendous labors grow old to them, for not only was he the first one of all their kind, but he was also the greatest lumberjack that ever lived, the hero of them all.

Wallace Wadsworth, Paul Bunyan and His Great Blue Ox, 1926

A couple of weeks I had a few bad days in the shop, mostly having fits over my French polish technique or maybe it was the shellac I was having problems with, I don't know. I walked away from the bench, sat down, glanced at a bookcase and my eyes fell on my collection of books about Paul Bunyan. Then I remembered what is important - family, stories and hobbies.

Paul Bunyan was a hero of mine since I was a little kid, when you grow up in a family of storytellers who simply told about the things that they did in everyday life - ranching, logging, mining - the exploits of Paul Bunyan aren't that far-fetched. The West is a big place and you compare everything else in the world to it, many places pale to the wonders that lay West of the 100th meridian.

About 20 years ago I started collecting all the books on Paul Bunyan that I could lay my hands on: W.B. Laughead's original stories; James Steven's colossal whopper of a tail; Ida Virginia Turney whacked out vignettes; Wallace Wadsworth's decent retelling; but my favorites are those by Dell Lomax, Glen Rounds and Louis Untermeyer. There are several other authors whose works I need to add to my collection, I don't know their stories are original or just rehashing of what W.B. Laughead wrote back in 1914, but that is why you collect, to learn.

This past Christmas, my wife got me a HO scale model train of the Durango & Silverton line. I never had a model railroad when I was a kid, my brother got a Marx G scale train one Christmas and he rarely let me play with it. It was a delight to have my own model train. This, of course, has started me down a slippery path - model railroading.

This is a photo of "Paul Dean", the first 0-4-0 locomotive purchased by the Sierra Flume and Lumber Company from the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California, and was later converted into a 0-6-0 locomotive. This meter gauge locomotive operated only 9 miles from where I grew up in northeastern California. Now I want to make a logging railroad layout of the line from Yellow Jacket to Lyonsville.

This is "Uncle Sam", Engine No. 3 bring in a load of logs to Lyonsville. It was a 0-6-0 saddle tank locomotive also built by the Union Iron Works. There is a photo of this engine in the my grandparents' photo collection. If you go online to the CSU Chico Digital Collections and search for Sierra Lumber Company you can see more photos of the logging railroads from my neck of the woods.

The logging industry put food on our table and me through college, my dad was a mill wright. He worked for Diamond International (remember Diamond Matches?) in Red Bluff, California, then went to Kimberly-Clark and retired with Simpson Paper, both plants were in Anderson, California.

This is the Champion Mill at Lyonsville, California. My grandfather, along with several other relatives, worked at this mill. My great uncle Frank Black told us a story about when he was a kid, he and some friends loosen the brakes on the log cars and watched them crash into the mill. I don't remember if they got caught, but the mill foreman had an idea who did it.

This is a Spectrum On30 Scale Steam 0-4-0 Porter locomotive that I want to buy. It's a close match to the "Paul Dean". I'll get this, a couple of log cars and a Dolbeer "Donkey" log skidder to start my logging railroad layout. The Model Railroader's Guide to Logging Railroads is on its way to my mail box. It is either this or building muzzleloading rifles.

Enjoy this YouTube from the Greeley Freight Station Museum!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Making a Copy of a Hernandez y Aguado Guitar: Gluing the Fan Braces

Hernandez y Aguado guitars are very highly regarded and rarely seen.

Aaron Green, luthier

It was -15 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday morning with snow. The temperature got up to 2 degrees by noon, but quickly dropped back down to
-3 degrees for the rest of the day. Needless to say, I went out only twice, I am so glad I don't have to work out in that kind of weather anymore, even the dogs realized that it was too cold to be outside.

I spent the day doing the final rub out on the guitar it the photo above, it is based on a Hernandez y Aguado guitar. It has the same plantilla, or shape, as a HyA guitar, but is built with a 640mm string length. It has a Douglas fir top with mahogany back and sides. I had to do some touch up on the finish, I figure 3 more quick sessions of the French polish touch up, let shellac harden and this guitar will be ready!

The new copy of a Hernandez y Aguado guitar is coming along fine, I got the braces glued on Tuesday afternoon. Once again, I will say that I love hot hide glue! I posted about its wonders while I was making Julia's guitar, click here to see that post.

Top, back, sides and neck for the Hernandez y Aguado copy. The top is redwood reclaimed from a barn outside of Yosemite National Park, the back is Indian rosewood, the sides are Indian rosewood laminated with Alaska yellow cedar and the neck is made out of a stick of Spanish cedar that is over 40 years old.

Now that the humidity is close to 36 percent I will glue the upper harmonic bars to the top and hopefully tomorrow I can start assembling the guitar!

The Best Workshop in the World!

The best workshop in the world is the one that you are working in! I know that there are people who complain about their work space - it is ...