Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ebony bindings

That was hard work! I’ve just finished the ebony bindings on Chris’s Hare. I use 50m of cloth tape to hold on the bindings whilst the glue dries and I glue on one binding at a time; so it takes awhile. Once the guitar is unravelled from its cocoon; it’s clean-up time!

Without doubt, the best tool to use for this sort of task, is a cabinet scraper- if you’re unfamiliar with them, its that rectangular piece of hardened steel, in the photo below.

The other tool is a burnisher, which is used to sharpen the scraper by putting a burr on its edge. That burr, if you get right, will take a shaving off the wood without tearing up the grain. If you’re serious about woodwork, you must master the scraper! It’s flexed between your thumbs thus....

At this stage I try to get the body really clean and get any tiny imperfections sorted out. For example, any tiny hairline gaps between the bindings and the sides need to be filled, especially if you French polish as the finish will accentuate them. Hence wearing a head magnifier whilst cleaning up.
Three hours later.....

The scraper is also used one the front- if you use just abrasives, you increase the possibility of grinding dust from the bindings into the relatively soft soundboard.

As I said, this Hare Signature is for Chris and I’ve added a link at the side for Chris’s Ceilidh Band, Whirligig.

Standard Mandolin II

I’ve been spending a bit of time on t’interweb looking at other luthiers’ sites. Mainly at looking mandolins- one thing that strikes me, is the puny looking dovetail joint for the neck. Clearly they work else there’d be thousands of angry bluegrass players about, with their mandolins in two pieces. I’ve just glued the neck on Standard mandolin II and thought that I’d show my joint.

As you can see, I use a fairly hefty mortise and tenor joint. There is a mass of surface area for gluing and I’m confident that this baby is built to last!

You can see the Koa back, bound in Indian rosewood, nice eh?

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grain Filing amongst other things

Grain Filing!

I’m just recovering from spending far too long filing the grain on Alan’s rosewood model 1! Well, I say far too long but it is one of those jobs that you just keep going at until it’s done and in reality time spent filing the grain, is time saved when polishing. The trouble is, that it isn’t a very interesting or challenging task and physically you can only do a few hours a day otherwise you risk RSI by constantly applying downward pressure and moving your hand with a circular motion. Ibuprofen cream is an essential part of any French polishers kit! I have tried other types of filler but the traditional pumice method still, for me, produces the best results. You can see the before and after shot above.

Alan’s guitar is now starting to look shiny!

Hare Signature II

You can see that Chris’s Hare is coming together; the body has now been assembled and next week sees the binding and purfling go on.

Standard mandolin II

Also Standard mandolin II is progressing. Those who follow my blog will know that I’m a great advocate of solid linings. I generally bend two strips of Spanish cedar which are then glued together, however, what I’ve done this time is a kind of stepped lining- still two pieces glued together but the inner strip isn’t as tall- why? I still get the surface area for gluing and the stiffness to the rim that I want, but save a little weight. Big deal, you say- but I like to progress in small degrees.

Standard II’s body also went together this week and you can also see the neck blank- I’m going for a maple neck on this one with a Koa head overlay- should look pretty! Under those mahogany fillets is carbon-fibre.
I had intended making this mandolin with a Douglas Fir soundboard- I’ve had one knocking around for years, it’s incredibly stiff so I though that it would be great for a mando. However, having thicknessed it, cut the soundhole etc resin started to come to the surface rendering the soundboard useless! I’m only too glad that I hadn’t inlaid some fancy pearl rosette! You live and learn.

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