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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Making braces

The new year has seen me shipping two ukes already, and I am currently working on four more; a piccolo, two resos, and a soprano of walnut and cedar. I've done the rather tedious job of thickness sanding all the wood (plus a large number of fretboards) so it'll be the pleasant wind-in-the-back feeling of assembly for a while. I didn't sand the cedar though, that was hand planed to thickness. 

Yesterday I made the braces for the piccolo, and put the neck block and the kerfed linings in the bent sides. I made the braces from old wood reclaimed from a loom, lovely stuff. 

I split the wood with a knife to get the grain perfectly straight, then planed the braces with my Lie-Nielsen no.1, which is a great plane for small jobs. 

I make the profile with my knife, but I do use both hands off camera. 

Here they are, ready for glueing. And in the last pic they're glued. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Resawing cherry

Well this weekend I was going to resaw a load of walnut, to make a load of resonators clad with... well walnut. But my plank wasn't where I thought it would be, due to a car getting some repairs and another car being unceremoniously unloaded. 

Lucky then I had a HUGE plank of cherry and I really like cherry better than walnut so expect to see a load of cherry resos. 

I don't know if you can see it but there are pencil marks at the end of the plank. The leftmost 12 centimeters have the growth rings parallel to the faces of the plank, so that'll be ripped off and sliced to sides. Then the growth rings dive down and the 19 cm to the right are more or less quarter sawn. This matters less in my resos of course, but I wouldn't want the flat sawn look on the bodies. 

In the pic I'm cross cutting at 90 cm, a piece long enough for one piece rims and three smaller slabs to be ripped to one piece tops and backs. 

Then I ripped those 12 cm destined for sides. The daylight was disappearing fast. And my rip saw needs sharpening!

Remember the kerfing plane? Well of course you do. It gives me a kerf on all four sides of the slab, to guide the frame saw. I decided to make several kerfs at the same time. 

And that was hard work. The vise is heavy and grips securely, but it's mounted too high for this. I have a sore elbow now. 

But why the hand tools? Am I amish? No, my bandsaw is too tiny innit. See here. It can handle one piece soundboards for piccolos and acoustic sopranos, but the resos are too wide. 

So out came the frame saw. This was the morning after, I snuck off to the workshop before my family woke up. 

I will finish those handles before I use the saw next time, I promise myself.

One and a half hour later, knackered but pleased. The wood was kiln dried and had some case hardening so the pieces bowed a bit as they came off the slab. It'll cause no problems, but it's interesting to see the tensions inherent in a piece you perceive as totally inert and stable. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Fitting tuners and stringing up

This is the cherry piccolo I started in December. I finished the French polish before nipping off to Buenos Aires, so this morning it was ready to rub out. I made the bone nut and here are the steps of fitting the violin peg tuners. 

All the tools are at the ready. 

First I shape the pegs in the shaper. It's a lot more than the pencil sharpener that popped up in your head. I sharpened the blade on a few waterstones and it's razor sharp. This gives a circular section in the entire length, and the correct taper to match my reamer. Both came from Metropolitan Music, a fine webshop. 

Here's the grim reamer. I check for square by eye. 

I shoot for something like this, where the topmost pegs sit deeper. It goes well with the taper of the body. 

All pegs protrude to the same height fanx to my depth stop. Before I put the leather guard on there was a lot of thumb blood to wipe off. 

I round off the ends with a file, and drill the string holes with a mini drill that some folks call a pin vise. All tuners must be set in the same direction. 

The holes are countersunk with a tiny ball router bit that I turn by hand. 

Here are the strings I currently use - fluorocarbon fishing leader off of ebay. 

I feed the string through the bridge, fish it out of the soundhole, put on a magic bead and tie a knot. 

Done, and sounding reet nice!

And the headstock stamp, for those of you keeping count.