Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Now Playing: Bob Weir

Oh my! Truly wonderful- I defy you not to love this new Bob Weir album.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Even more OM

Since the last post, the neck on Philip’s octave mandolin has been carved; essentiality the last major woodworking task. 
The bridge and tailpiece have been made, and the instrument set-up and playing in the white. If you regularly read the blog, I’m sure your fully conversant with this this process!
 One interesting element of this build is the tailpiece. Philip wants to use ball-end strings which meant that I had to design and make a new style of tailpiece. So below are some photos of the process………….
As you can see it’s a completely time-consuming, mad thing to make but the end product is rather cool and I must admit I enjoyed the challenge!
Next step; strip it down and add shellac.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

More OM

In the last post, I hinted at the fitting of Philip’s OM neck.  So, a tenon is cut on the end of the neck and painstakingly fitted.  It takes quite awhile to get both a snug joint and the neck’s alignment correct.
Fast forward………..Here you can see the neck, fretboard support and two-way truss rod in place, all ready for the fretboard to be glued on.
Fast forward again……I always put a compound radius on my fretboards and the crayon lines are a quick visual guide as to how much wood has to be removed.
Then the dots and a cup of tea whilst the epoxy sets.
 And after a real good clean-up I’m ready for the frets. Now when you look at luthier supply websites, you’ll be amazed at how many tools are available for the fretting process. There is a trend to use “press” type tools to squeeze frets into their respective slots. I think that this is a response to more makers using bolt-on necks which are shaped before they are fretted. This makes the the neck tricky to support whilst hammering in frets.
 As you can see below, I like to leave my neck square, this way they can be firmly supported so that they don’t bounce when a fret is hammered in.
 Also above, you’ll see my favourite fretting tools; a pair of 120 year old piano wire cutters and a ball-pein hammer. You can buy fancy dead blow hammers etc if you wish, but if the neck is well supported you won’t have any problems. I’ve polished the face of my hammer so that it doesn’t mark the frets.
The only really “specialist” tool that I use is a fret rocker- I use this to double check that each fret in seated correctly. I believe that some young folks would call this approach “Old School."
Job done.

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Monday, September 05, 2016

OM body

The body of Philip’s octave mandolin is now complete. Below you can see the sequence of the herringbone purflings and the maple bindings going on.
And here are a few choice photos of the body, all cleaned-up.
With the body complete, the next stage is to route the pocket for the neck joint into the end of the body joint (not for the faint hearted!) and then to fit the neck……..
More on that anon...............

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

A trio of rims

Just to complete the story, here are all 3 rims.
The twin-point rim takes a surprisingly long time to construct as there are 17 separate pieces to be fitted together, glued etc!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ten Years On

Would you believe that it’s ten years (almost to the day) since my first blog post? If you’ve been following the blog all that time, many, many thanks for your support. The first entry back in 2006 saw me working on a couple of classical guitars and over those past ten years things have evolved to the point where I’m now making mostly instruments from the mandolin family. Anyway, let’s not get all nostalgic! On with the show!
I’m currently working on rims. What’s a rim; well that’s my collective noun for the assembly of sides, blocks, linings and end graft.
All of my rims are essentially the same-

  • solid wood sides bent using a hot iron,
  • a plywood tail block to join the sides at one end (plywood resists splitting when fixing the tailpiece)
  • the neck block- joins the sides at the neck end and is sturdy enough to take the neck joint
  • linings- these increase the surface area for gluing the soundboard and back to the sides
  • the end graft- the decorative insert where the ends of the sides meet.
Here’s the completed rim for the carved top- note the neck block is spruce to cut down on weight, but is laminate from 3 pieces to resist splitting.
This will be going on the back burner for a while, whilst I progress with commissions.
You can see some of the step’s of “rim making” here with Phil’s OM.
Sides being bent-
Tail block glued in position-
Linings going in-
There are quite a few styles of linings; my instruments have evolved to having a double thickness of solid linings. This equates to 8 separate pieces being bent and glued in place- a time consuming process but well worth the effort in improving the overall quality of the instrument.
And the completed rim.
Patrick’s twin point is more complicated! Each side is made up from two pieces which are held together at the point with a spruce block (just like the points of a violin).
In order to protect the end grain at the points, a piece of ebony is glued on and shaped to blend in with the curve of the sides (believe me, this is easier said than done!).
And eventually we get to this- the four side pieces held together by their respective blocks- next step the linings.
And the next ten years.....?

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Sunday, August 07, 2016

A couple of dates for your diary-

Two of the above bands; The Fried Pirates and The Tildens have members who are friends and "Nava" users. You may remember Adrian of the Fried Pirates? He has had a number of instruments- mandola, OM and zouk. And the lefty emando that went out a few months ago is played by Chris of The Tildens (new links to their website on the side bar). Looks like a great weekend.
And the incomparable Phil Hare’s Under the Bridge gig and workshop; more details on Phil’s website.