Saturday, April 30, 2016

Improving My French Polishing Technique

Varnishing can be done by any person with little or no practice, and is suitable for common articles of furniture; but French polishing cannot be done successfully without considerable practice, though when skillfully managed it enhances the beauty of most woods.

Paul N. Hasluck, Wood Finishing, 1897

Practice, practice, practice.

We all know how that goes, keeping at something until you get better at it, but if you go about the work inefficiently then you won't get any better. At least, that is how it is with me. You must observe, remember the results and work on improving them the next time you step up to the work bench.

What was it that Yoda said in The Empire Strikes Back?

You must unlearn what you have learned.

There are times I wish I had learned from a master French polisher, as it is I read whatever I can get my hands on about French polish, and I often reference Ron Fernandez's wonderful video on French polish. I know I need to French polish on a regular basis. I also know that there will be times I chuck some of the things I learn out the window.

The beauty of French polish is that you can make it what you want and it will, in the end, work well for you.

But you have to practice and practice well to reach that end. If you want something easy, then burnish soap into the wood's surface.

Some videos/books say to build up a thick finish by using a 1lb cut of shellac, I discovered that I can build up thicker layers of shellac faster by using a 2lb cut instead of a 1lb cut.

This photo shows the back of a guitar after three sessions, not bad!

I do level sand, the best sandpaper that I have found for this task is MicroMesh.

Don't settle so quickly for "something easy", using a lot of elbow grease can result in some spectacular results!

Woodworking is a lifetime skill, you should always want to learn something new, to improve the skills that you have and strive for excellence.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Off the Bench and For Sale: Miguel Rodriguez Style Guitar

This guitar has a Western Red Cedar top, Claro walnut back and sides, Royal ebony fretboard, Indian rosewood bridge and a 650mm string length.

This guitar has a beautiful voice and is loud! I was amazed at how loud it is as soon as I got the strings on and tuned to concert pitch. It is easy to play and I am blown away by the musical nuances that can be created with this guitar.

Please click on Guitars Currently Available or Studio Model to read more about this wonderful guitar!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tool Collecting

Tools thrive with loving use and perish under thoughtless abuse.

Roy Underhill, The Woodwright's Shop, 1981

I started collecting vintage tools when I did't make much money.

I know that sounds strange, but when you think you are always strapped for cash you want things around you to make you feel wealthy. Vintage tools were cheap and readily available twenty years ago when I started, now I notice it is hard to find good, inexpensive quality tools in flea markets and antique stores in Colorado. It seems like collecting good user tools is "the thing to do" because they are less expensive than new quality hand tools that are on the market. Or is it "the thing to do" because many woodworking magazines and internet forums say it is?

I use hand tools by choice, they are quiet and allow me to do excellent work. When I was a framing/finish carpenter I used power tools because the job/work demanded speed and not quite so much excellence, "good enough" sometimes was too high of a goal.

Collecting tools doesn't appeal to me anymore, collecting seems a little silly now, maybe because I know that I need to make classical guitars and I have all the tools to make them. I also know that having having three or four tool chests full of tools doesn't make you a carpenter or a wealthy carpenter at that, it means you have tool chests full of tools.

Those are some reasons why I am selling off my tool collection, the best reason is I just don't need all that stuff anymore.

When my maternal grandfather was a carpenter back in early to mid 1900's, he either bought new tools or traded for second hand tools that were fairly new, none of the tools he used were considered "vintage" at the time. Why can't I buy new quality hand tools?

Right now my goal is to eventually replace most of the vintage tools I use on a regular basis with new ones, such as the rip and crosscut panel saws I purchased from Lie-Nielsen. Most of my Stanley planes will be replaced by Lie-Nielsen planes, I am supplementing my set of chisels with new chisels from LMII. By the way, those are excellent chisels. I will keep my Ohio Tool Company drawknife, it is the best one I have ever used, the Stanley No.45 plane, and a few others.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I will "blend" the old with the new and have quality tools that will help me work more efficiently.

What was that James Krenov said in The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking?

Balancing your environment in a way that gives you harmony is all-important.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Handmade Carpenter Hat

One learns by doing a thing; for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.


I love hats.

After seeing a posting on the Lost Art Press blog (click here) about making your own carpenter shop hat, I had to try it.

I used the instructions that you can find at Tools for Woodworking (click here) and ended up with a really nice hat.

It goes well with my English heritage, my progenitor, Gabriel Burnham, sailed from England to Maryland in the early 1700's, but when I was working full time as a house carpenter I always wore a baseball cap.

Here's a challenge for all you woodworkers - make such a hat and post a photo of you wearing it on your blog.

Don't be afraid, I did it!

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...