Saturday, July 19, 2014

Preservation Work on an 1860's Greek Revival House

The [Greek Revival] style disappeared in the East before the earliest attempts at mining in Colorado, but its influence was felt nevertheless as miners came west from other areas.

C. Eric Stoehr, Bonanza Victorian-Architecture and Society in Colorado Mining Towns, 1975




Those of you who follow my blog know that I work 7 months out of the year as a historic preservation carpenter for a government agency.

My latest project is working on a house that was built in the 1860's and it is need of some maintenance. I am replacing the worst pieces of siding, I've removed most of the sashes so that cracked lights can be replaced and re-glazed, and then I and another worker will scrape paint and prep the building so several volunteer groups can doing most of the painting.

This house is not stick built, it is really a log house! The timbers are hewed on 2 sides and joined at the corners with true dovetailed notches. The roof and attic are framed with full dimensioned lumber, the furring strips that hold the siding are also milled lumber. Whoever built this house was a highly skilled carpenter who knew how to use an axe. I haven't found out what the exact date of construction was, I was told 1860, I think it was a little later, because I don't think that there was a sawmill working in the vicinity that early. I'm guessing the construction date is closer to 1863-64.

To continue Mr. Stoehr's quote on the Greek Revival style:

Although no pure examples of the Greek Revival appear in these towns, a frontier adaptation of Greek detailing was present. The pedimental lintel used over the doorways and windows was a simple detail that could be added to the otherwise plain log and vernacular structures.

That statement fits this house to a "T"!

Just a little over a mile to the east of this house, there is a fancier Greek Revival house that has seven gables, it's a show piece of architecture for the little community it is part of.

I am grateful to be the lead carpenter on this sweet little house that others think is ugly, it is a wonderful part of our nation's heritage.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Grooving Planes - Some Tips on How to Make Them

An artist prepares for weeks, months, and years...but lives only for moments. Moments, then that have no sense of time.

Gustave Leonhardt, harpsichordist



This is not a "how-to" post.

I just want to pass on some things I learned about assembling them. I hope these tips help you.

I assume many of you are interested in making these neat little grooving planes, but haven't gotten around to making a pair yet.

Bob Easton was the first person to bring them to my attention, be sure to check out his blog.

I am grateful that Lie Nielsen has posted Matt Kenney's great article on how to make them. Click here for the article.

Accidental Wood Worker also has a great post on these little planes, click here for that posting.




I am making these planes so I can cut the saddle slot in a guitar's bridge without using a table saw. The skate depth is 4mm and the plane's fence is 5mm from the iron.

This morning, with Mr. Kenney's article on the work bench, I started glueing parts together.

When I started glueing the "bed" for the iron I had a devil of a time trying to keep it in it's proper position, it kept shifting under the clamps' pressure even after the glue got a little tacky.

Everything turned out fine, proper skate depth, etc., but I wanted to eliminate the risk of the next piece moving under clamp pressure.

Then it hit me...all I needed were some brass brads!




I didn't follow Mr. Kenny's instructions and made the plane about one half inch bigger than what his plans call for. I learned long ago to make tool parts larger so I can make them smaller, you know, "room for mistakes".

This extra wood gives me room to use "registering nails".

All I do for this is snip off the head of a brass brad and chuck it into a drill. This is my drill bit. Now with the wood clamped where I want it, I drill the number of holes needed and insert brass brads, that still have their heads, home into their respective holes.

Then I remove the brads, apply glue to the piece in question, re-insert the brads, position the piece, push the brads home and then apply clamps. Nothing should shift.

Pretty simple, huh?

I use this technique when I glue veneer onto the head stock of a guitar neck.




I did the same thing for the other blank to complete the plane.

I then ripped it to finished width on the table saw and trimmed it to length on my sliding compound miter saw.




Making the plane work.

I tried to keep the mouth opening to under 1/64th of an inch, it's a little wider than that, but the big problem that I ran into was the shavings constantly clogged the mouth.

I rounded over the very end of the iron wedge so the shavings would ride over it, but the size of the escapement became the next problem.

I had to chisel away some of the area in the escapement that is just above the mouth and just below the wedge, you'll see what I mean if you follow Mr. Kenney's instructions to a "T".

On the next plane, I am going to use a 3/16" or so drill bit chucked into the drill press to remove this offending area. And don't forget to make the skate a little narrower than the iron, that part is in the instructions, it really helps make the plane work better.

I finally got decent shavings from a piece of California laurel after about a half hour of fiddling with the plane.

The plane works like a dream and is well worth the time and effort.

And remember - Hand tools rule the school!


If I have posted this video before, my apologies!

Scott Tennant is an incredible musician and I really like this piece by Couperin!

Enjoy!





Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shopmade Cutter Gauges, Part 2

The most significant tools for the luthier guitar maker are the bramils.

Manuel Rodriguez, The Art and Craft of Making Classical Guitars, 2003



This is day 2 of being sick with a head cold, it is really tough for me to sit and be quiet which means I am a little bored, so I thought I would give an update on the "bramils" that I made last week.

As you can see in the following photographs, the brass wear strips were inlaid into the arms and the cutters were shaped and sharpened.

I put a very light coat of linseed oil mixed with Naptha on the walnut to bring out the wood's color a little more.

These "gramils" work very well on a stock piece of wood, I look forward to using them on a guitar.

It's been awhile since I made a tool for the workshop, I may have to make some more.








Here's a YouTube of Scot Tennant playing a 1958 Miguel Rodriguez guitar.

I might just have to try my hand at making a guitar based upon a 1976 Miguel Rodriguez this winter...



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...