Sunday, June 25, 2017

Watching TV…

One reason that you might be reading my blog is that you like making stuff- it’s always interesting to see what other craftspeople do and to know that it’s just not you who’s mad! There seems to be a plethora of reality TV shows where various stuff from cakes to rat rods are made. Many of them show the main protagonists getting frustrated and swearing a lot; presumably this is what has been deemed necessary to attract viewers! And there some, where making process is more important, these are our favourites-
Sin City Motors: follows the guys at Welderup building rat rods.
Forged in Fire: a competition for bladesmiths making a variety of weapons.
Café Racer Naked Speed; various bike builders, building café racers.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

New Bandsaw

This is my new Scheppach bandsaw. Unfortunately my faithful Delta bandsaw had to be replaced; the tyre on the drive wheel snapped! Although it’s easily repaired, and normally I delight in making good, the tyres are only available from the USA and couldn’t afford to be without a bandsaw whilst the new one was shipped. So 24 hours after the tyre broke- a new bandsaw!
 My initial impression is very favourable; it’s really heavy duty and professional quality but on smaller scale! I’ll let you know how we get along………….

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Neck Carving.........and more

I've just completed the “woodwork” on David’s Standard mandolin and I thought that I’d show you a few photos of the neck carving process. For me, carving the neck is the last big job, up until now, the neck has been left square; this makes gluing the fretboard on and the whole fretting process much easier.
Step 1 take off  the waste wood- down to the fretboard's edge.
Step 2 take the neck to near its final depth.
Step 3 carve the profile
 And after much carving, scraping, sanding and checking; the final neck!

And here's a couple of photos for the family album...............

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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Mandolins progressing.........

In the last post, you saw the tailpiece that I had just completed for Andrew’s twin-point. This week I’ve set the mandolin up, prior to its finishing; one of the things that I love about making instruments with floating bridges is that, you can get it set-up and playing perfectly before finishing.
I spend long time setting-up my mandolins, adjusting the action and intonation to what I consider to be the optimum for it.
Also, this week has seen the neck fitted to David’s Standard mandolin. I use a type of open mortice and tenon joint on my mandolins. I decided to use this type of joint long ago rather than the dovetail that I use on guitars; the reason being I was concerned that narrow part of its tail would be quite thin on comparatively narrow neck of a mandolin. You can see from the photos below my joint is really chunky, so masses of strength and surface area for the adhesive.
These days I use epoxy for my neck joints- the joints are so snug and accurate that I don’t need clamps. I find that if you use Titebond on such a close fit, the moisture in it makes the wood swell and the joint locks up before the neck is in its correct place!

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Twin-Point Tailpiece

It’s Friday afternoon and I’ve just completed and fitted the tailpiece on Andrew’s twin-point. There’s quite a lot of work in it; I reckon a good 10 hours, but the outcome is well-worth it.
(I love this little anvil! Another recent acquisition)
You can see how the tailpiece complements the body, something that a commercial item won’t do.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

On the bench

It occurred to me that I currently have 4 completely different mandolins on the go; so I thought that you might be interested in a round-up
We’ve got the e-mando; I’ve finished applying the Tru-Oil so I’m just waiting for it to fully harden before it’s reassembled and offered for sale.
 Then we’ve got Andrew’s cocobolo and red spruce twin-point. The neck was shaped earlier in the week; these days my Japanese Shinto rasp is a firm favourite for the initial shaping.
You might remember my tiny Veritas plane? It’s been useful in ways that I hadn’t imagined; here, ideal for cleaning up the juncture between neck and body.
 Fast forward a couple of days and here’s the twin-point, all cleaned-up and awaiting its hardware.
Also progressing nicely is David’s Standard mandolin, some fine Brazilian mahogany and a herringbone upgrade. Maple bindings next week.
 And lastly the carved-top project. Some progress has been made! I’ve used a wonderful piece of Brazilian rosewood for the head overlay and you can see that I’ve done some very rough shaping of the back with my Wagner Safe-T planer.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Housekeeping: Chisels

It being a rather grey Sunday morning, I thought that I’d do a bit of housekeeping; sharpen chisels! When you’re in the zone, fitting a neck or carving braces, you don’t want to stop to sharpen tools, so a bit of regular housekeeping is required.
First I like to polish/flatten the back of the chisels on a stone- you can’t get a sharp edge if the back isn’t flat. Over the years they get flatter and better.
Where possible I like to use a honing guide to ensure a consistent angle.
If the chisel or plane blade doesn’t fit in the guide, I use an angled wedge to help with the correct sharpening angle.
 I use three grades of stone, the last being my hard black Arkansas stone; it gives a surgically sharp edge. 
You may remember, awhile back, Amanda bought me a set of “vintage” Stanley Hercules butt chisels? These have become firm favourites to use; they're the perfect size for mandolin work.
I also enjoy using my old Marples bevel edge chisels; I bought these about 40 years ago (1 per week) when I started college. They’ve been a great investment, although recently I had to replace my 3/8”
This Bahco 4mm chisel is also an old favourite (again about 40 years old), particularly useful for the small housing joints that I use on my instruments.
About 10 years ago I bought some Japanese chisels and I must admit that I don’t find them as useful for luthiery as my bevel edge ones; I find them a bit too thick.
Anyway here we are ready for Monday morning.