Saturday, January 29, 2022

New Chisel Handles

Chisels and their handles need to be balanced and comfortable, something the original handles of these chisels lacked. I purchased them from Luthiers Mercantile International about ten years ago, I have no complaint about the quality of the steel, the chisels take an edge that lasts a long time.

The other day, I got around to replacing the original handles, which are made from “tintul”, aka tamarind, with English walnut and European beech handles. The handles are a cigar shape, a shape I first used on a pair of skew chisels twenty years ago, I find this shape very comfortable and balanced.

The beech has a nice solid feel to it…

and the walnut is quite handsome, I turned those handles from a blank I had for almost ten years and it needed to be used!

Don’t be afraid to change out the handles on any of your hand tools if you find them uncomfortable and unbalanced, the tools are an extension of you and your creativity!

Friday, January 7, 2022

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 too small, the machinery isn't set up for proper work flow, there isn't enough storage space, the lighting is poor, not enough heat, etc., etc., etc., but in those spaces these same people produce wonderful work. 

Ten different work shops, or so, I have lost count, have served me well. My first workshop was a barn that my grandfather had built, I couldn't control the heat or humidity in the space but I didn't let that stop me from making mountain dulcimers. My smallest shop was six feet wide by twelve long, it held a workbench and a bungee powered lathe that help me make dulcimers, wooden top banjos and buckets of spoons. 

I have built two "dream shops" only to move away for different work and jobs once the construction and finish was completed. Yes, I have bitched a little about losing those dream spaces, but I moved on and found other places.  For the last two years I rented shop space at 40 West Art Studios in Lakewood, Colorado, it was great to share a building with other artists, the rent was reasonable, but I faced a 15 minute commute depending on traffic and weather. Two months ago, I left the studio and moved into our spare bedroom where I have to contend with forced air heating that makes humidifying the room a hassle.  The spare bedroom isn't an ideal workshop,  if I want to use a table saw, router or air compressor I have to go out of the car port storage, pull out those tools and set up in the driveway. 

It may sound like I am complaining, I don't mean to because I am very grateful to work at home, I get to have lunch with my wife every day, take walks and play with the dogs when I want and enjoy the fact I don't have drive the wild, crazy, crowded streets to a shop.

I am grateful for everyday.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Double Top Classical Guitar - Redwood/Nomex/Sitka Spruce/Curly Black Walnut, Part 2

The double top classical guitar assembly process.

I sanded and cleaned the interior of the body and covered over my label, it is much easier to glue the label in before the top is put on!

The new top ready to be glued in place...

and I am very glad that I made all these spools clamps! They make this process so much easier! The top is aligned with the neck center line. 


This guitar original had East Indian rosewood bindings and end graft, the rosewood didn't have enough red in it to go well with the walnut, I opted to try out some Ceylon satinwood bindings.

The color of the satin wood goes well with hues of the walnut. The bindings are doubled up, meaning that there are two pieces of satin wood instead of the usual one piece of binding, this makes for a wider binding. I can round it over to make the guitar more comfortable to hold.

The guitar also got a new fret board.

The wood is torrefied purple heart (Peltogyne paniculata, Peltogyne spp.) and is being sold as Royal Blackwood. The company that is selling it claims that its "density falls right between Ebony and Indian Rosewood". I did notice that the wood doesn't have the same ringing tap tone of ebony or rosewood.

The entire guitar got a sealer coat of shellac and after it dried...

I started the pore filling process, using a pad filled with alcohol and 4F pumice rubbed onto its face. The sealer coat of shellac provides enough "glue" for the pumice and wood dust it creates to be "captured" by the wood pores.

The sides are always so much easier to pore fill, less surface area!

I was able to reuse the original bridge and put strings on the guitar before I started the French polish. 

How does it sound? It is simply amazing! There is an incredible amount of projection with a true bella voce, and the strings are even sounding. It has an wonderful high "e" string! Just imagine what it will sound like with just two weeks of playing!

Stay tuned! More French polishing on the way!

1912 Ex-Segovia Cedar/East Indian Rosewood Classical Guitar

Inspired by AndrĂ©s Segovia’s famous 1912 Manuel Ramirez guitar, I chose Western red cedar top and East Indian rosewood back and sides from m...