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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Shaping a bridge for a piccolo

I keep thinking I have a decent pic of a piccolo bridge somewhere on this blog, but I never find it when I try. And since they're all a bit different (even though the general evolution is slow and consistent) I thought I'd put up a couple of pics of the one I made tonight.

First pic shows the initial shaping with a wonderful Japanese gouge. Look. At those. SHAVINGS.

Then I dial in the height, mostly from beneath. And sand it with different grit Abralon mesh up to 2000. Second pic shows it prior to glueing. I will use brads, ok.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not bad, for Bad Cop

Mein Gott, pics like these make my wrists look fat. But the uke does look nice. It sounds good too, but the sound is of course muffled by my fat wrists.

Now I just need to find Bad Cop. I'll call EVL Donuts and ask for him.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Glueing a bridge, Argapa stylee

Let's have a tool post! (The bridge business is an excuse.)

When I glue bridges, I put strips of masking tape around the exact location of the bridge. I start with the one towards the neck. Measure and align carefully, making the distance between the nut and the saddle slot correct (this has gotten harder since I started using slanted saddles), and check that the tape is perpendicular to the centerline.

Then I put my wooden ruler along each side of the fretboard, and mark the extension of those edges on that first tape. I also do a final check of the bridge height and aim for the ruler to touch the top of the bridge when it sits on all frets.

With the two pencil marks it's easy to place the bridge correctly. It should be exactly in the middle of the soundboard. This time it was very close. I clamp my wooden ruler to the fretboard, getting enough pressure on the bridge to hold it in place while I put tape on the remaining three sides.

Then, with a C.I. Fall chisel from the legendary Swedish tool maker, I scrape away the finish between the tape strips. With the finish gone I put a one millimeter drill bit in my Proxxon drill. This is NOT a Dremel. Look it up. The bridge goes back on and I drill two holes in the saddle slot, down through the top.

With my brand new glue roller (ink roller really), I put a coat of Titebond glue on the underside of the bridge. Careful not to get any on the sides. I use a length of brass wire that goes into the holes to stop the bridge from slipping around. I stopped using brads because they always got lost. The brass wire lives wrapped around one of the small "f-hole clamps" I use for clamping the bridge.

Fit the bridge using the protruding ends of the wire, then clamp it with three or four clamps.

Put away all tools while waiting for the glue to grab and get tacky. Then peel away the tape and gently scrape off any excess glue. Tonight I did that with a piece of scrap softwood, the glue should peel off from the finish easily.

Then, finally, you get to play with the large bowl of beads.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oops... a keeper, perhaps.

This is one of the two piccolos that are almost complete. It's also one of the best ever. But yesterday when I glued the bridge on, it shifted a bit and is now a wee bit slanted. Not much at all, and I'm positive I can sort the intonation perfectly.

But it means it'll stay with me, or maybe I'll give to Li. She really wanted a moustache bridge, but this would be her third uke and I won't charge her.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Dang, this is gonna be good

This is after one, I repeat one session of french polishing with amber shellac.

If this plays half as good as it's gonna look I might have some excuses to make to previous customers.

The "trick" was simple, don't stop sanding until you're done. I'll read up a bit on pore filling with pumice after I've built a decent coat. Why not take this one as far as it'll go? (Or more correctly, as far as I can push it.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Secret inlay revealed

Aw, eff it. I was gonna keep it secret but I'm crap at keeping secrets. Plus I'm really pleased with how this turned out.

The fretboard is African walnut, and I'm pretty sure it comes from the same piece as the fretboard on Magnus' first Argapa. I think this is a genious move by me.

And then the inlay. Since he's Bad Cop in our fantastic bombastic duo, he gets a night stick. This also has the advantage that the recess was dead easy to make - 20 seconds on the mini router. The inlay material is bone, because it's harder and less happy looking than mother of pearl.

It did turn out pretty graphic! And less happy looking than a real kanji. Because we're hard men. With doughnuts.